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Home » Pedagogy » Teaching Strategies » Conceptualizing Chapter 4 & 5

Conceptualizing Chapter 4 & 5

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Conceptualizing Chapter 4 & 5
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Conflict & Harmony in Multi-ethnic Societies


What is the purpose of the chapter?

How does Chapter 4 connect to other chapters?

  1. Factors that make/break multi-ethnic societies via comparisons of two foreign case studies. 
    • Understanding the concept of ethnicity as a composite identity shaped by different elements. 
      • Difference between race and ethnicity
      • Ethnicity: sense of shared cultural identity can be built upon different combinations of several elements ranging from shared religion, language and sense of history. 
    • Opportunities to connect with national identity formation. Some nation states are closely linked to certain ethnic groups - the ethnic identity is closely tied to the national identity (but in cases, this close linkage is disputed e.g. the association of Jews with the state of Israel; a less disputable case may be Japan or Korea). Most nation states do have many different ethnic groups living within them. 
    • Appreciating the potency of ethnicity in shaping relationships between peoples and societies, thus the sometimes explosive and intractable nature of conflicts which are linked to ethnic-based issues.  
    • Understanding how ethnic-based factors play a role in contributing towards and aggravating conflicts. The ethnic factor may be a key but it is usually one contributory factor and it is the combination with other factors that shape conflicts. These other factors could include historical (past conflicts), governance (livelihoods affected, sense of belonging to country), leadership (specific leaders’ actions).
    • Strategies for managing conflict will depend on the multi-faceted causes. Assessments of other societies’ approaches to managing conflicts should also take into account these contextual factors.
    • Tackling just the ethnic factor will not resolve tensions effectively if there are other factors involved. Our assessment of other societies’ abilities to resolve conflict should also be based on an assessment of the management of all contributory factors. Depending on complexities of the factors, conflicts can take a long time to resolve. 
  2. Multi-ethnic relations in Singapore to demonstrate governance in action. How does it demonstrate? 
    • Appreciation of role of ethnicity in Singapore’s national history and identity.
      • Recent history of ethnic-based tensions and Singapore’s geographical position in the region mean that ethnicity will feature prominently in the way Singapore perceives itself (and shape national policies) and how others (especially our neighbors) perceive us. 
    • Awareness of the visibility of ethnicity in many aspects of governance.
      • Measures to ensure protection of interests of ethnic groups are deeply rooted in many aspects of national policies, ranging from the housing to electoral representation to the Internal Security Act and Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act.
      • Opportunities to bring in structure of government when appropriate. E.g. Elected President’s role and Presidential Council for Religious Harmony. E.g. Roles of Ministry of Home Affairs, National Development and how GRCs are organized.  
    • Appreciation of multi-pronged approach to maintaining harmony (education, political, community level) 
      • Can refer to efforts related to heritage development and preservation. The ways through which Singapore define and preserve our heritage also shows the influence of ethnicity; and shows another dimension of how harmony is maintained. 


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