Aktuelles | Federalism and Ethnic Conflict

Donald L. Horowitz (Duke University/USA)

Federalism and Ethnic Conflict

Tuesday, 11 July 2017, Freiburg University room 1098, 8.15 pm
in cooperation with the Colloquium politicum/University of Freiburg and the Freiburg Southeast Asian Studies Group



Federalism is usually seen as a way to mitigate ethnic discontent in divided societies by devolving power to relatively homogeneous units that can run their own affairs. In fact, it can perform many additional, generally unrecognized ameliorative functions in such societies. Yet, in practice, it has proven difficult to realize these benefits, because central governments are reluctant to devolve substantial power to subnational units, often because they fear devolution will encourage attempts to secede. When power is devolved, an additional problem arises, deriving from the capacity of regional majorities to repress regional minorities or to treat them as properly belonging to some other regional unit.  This lecture will deal with the functions of federalism, the reluctance to adopt it, and the most prominent externalities when federalism is implemented.


Donald L. Horowitz is the James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science Emeritus at Duke University. He holds law degrees from Syracuse and Harvard and a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. Professor Horowitz  is the author of seven books: The Courts and Social Policy (1977), which won the Louis Brownlow Award of the National Academy of Public Administration; The Jurocracy (1977), a book about government lawyers; Coup Theories and Officers’ Motives: Sri Lanka in Comparative Perspective (1980); Ethnic Groups in Conflict (1985, 2000); A Democratic South Africa? Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society (1991), which won the Ralph Bunche Prize of the American Political Science Association; The Deadly Ethnic Riot (2001); and Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia, published in 2013 by Cambridge University Press and issued in a Bahasa Indonesia translation in 2014.