Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

Gary Uzonyi

Committee Members

Gary Uzonyi, Wonjae Hwang, Krista E. Wiegand, Matthew Wells


Studies in the literature on intrastate conflict onset have focused on opportunities and material grievances whereas non-material issues have not been given sufficient attention. The increasing importance of the ethnic dimension of intrastate conflicts since the mid-1970s suggests a growing prominence of ethnonationalist ideologies as a cause. Following constructivist and institutionalist theories on nationalism, this study argues that assimilationist policies, mainly centered around educational languages, induce the spread of minority ethnonationalism to the masses. This spread results from assimilationist policies being perceived as attacks on their dignity by the members of a discriminated minority group who, as a result, feel like second-class citizens in their ancestral home. Consequently, ethnonationalist sentiments contribute to identity construction in which the state is depicted as the enemy. Discriminatory policies and the subsequent spread of ethnonationalism facilitate mobilization by making it easier for the elites to recruit, and thus, increase the likelihood of conflict onset. Statistical analysis in the MENA region between 1946 and 2018 at the group level indicates an association between educational language policies and conflict onset. The Kurdish cases in Turkey and Iraq also lend support to this claim.

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