A note on the term ‘Ethnic Security Dilemma’

Dear Editor,

The idea of ‘Ethnic Security Dilemma,’ has been wrongly attributed to Ravi Dev and, recently, by Tarron Khemraj, to the British Guiana East Indian Association:

Neither of these are the origins of the formulation ‘Ethnic Security Dilemma.’ In fact the term ‘security dilemma’ is part of a theoretical approach to ethnic conflict and occurs in studies of the field. Prof Donald Horowitz, who studied Guyana also, writes in Ethnic groups in conflict about the use of security dilemma as a factor in studies of certain cases. The idea of ethnic security dilemma was revived during the nineties and the problems in ex-Yugoslav Europe.

Jiaxing Xu of Illinois Wesleyan University writes in the journal Res Publica that “The security dilemma concept was first used by John Hertz in 1951…” and goes on to a critique of the concept.

Occasionally Guyanese writers, myself included, have looked at and done critical reviews of that version usually offered in our context.

It is bad history and based on entirely false premises. In addition it ignores the political psychology of the various groups.


Yours faithfully,
Abu Bakr  

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