Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics

By Kanchan Chandra | Go to book overview

12
Deploying Constructivism for the
Analysis of Rare Events
How Possible Is the Emergence of “Punjabistan”?

IAN S. LUSTICK

The purpose of this volume is to demonstrate that a rigorous conceptual framework can enable constructivist insights to be deployed for the solution of a variety of theoretical and empirical problems. In this chapter I offer a use case in which the framework set forth by the editor, if not the exact details of its entire vocabulary, is employed to solve a difficult empirical and policy-relevant problem. The general problem involved is to evaluate a future for Pakistan involving the secession of its Punjabi core—a future whose probability experts have had difficulty assessing. Since secession is itself a rare event, and secession of the center an even rarer event, data relevant to addressing this problem must be generated by a computer simulation model designed and implemented in conformance with available social theories, including constructivist theory, along with information about Pakistani society relevant to the categories of those theories. The thrust of this chapter is to demonstrate that by integrating constructivist approaches to political contestation, via the framework offered in this volume, with specific knowledge of a complex and important case—the future of Punjabi-dominated Pakistan—an agent-based modeling approach can be used to analyze the conditions under which secession of the center can take place and to estimate its likelihood.

In the study of secession, most analyses of regionally concentrated ethnic demographies consider problematic peripheries from the point of view of the

I am especially grateful for the assistance of Kaija Schilde in the preparation of this chapter. Important contributions to the development of the VirPak model and to the underlying sof ware were made by Vladimir Dergachev, Ben Eidelson, Quratul Ann Malik, Dan Miodownik, Vali Nasr, and, Mathew Tubin. I also wish to thank the members of the CAEG group and of the Laboratory in Comparative Ethnic Processes for their helpful comments. Partial support for this project was received from the National Science Foundation, Award No. 0218397. A somewhat different version of this chapter appeared in Lustick 2011.

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