The political geography of the control of minorities

Dennis Rumley, O. Yiftachel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The political geography of plural (or deeply divided) states is elaborated by analysing four key areas of 'ethnic contrasts': the politicisation of ethnicity, socio-economic gaps, power disparities and competition over land control. Governments have attempted to preserve political stability in plural states by using control or consociational policies. Most theories postulate that the use of control policies is likely to cause long-term instability by intensifying the four areas of ethnic contrasts, while consociational policies tend to moderate these contrasts. States have thus generally been classified as one of two types, consociation or control. The present article discusses the political geography of public policy and ethnic relations in Malaysia. It contributes to the debate between various interpretations of the nature of Malaysian state policy towards its ethnic minorities. The findings indicate that a mixture of control and consociational approaches form the basis of key aspects of public policy. Thus, the article concludes that the Malaysian state can be classified as a third type, most aptly named a 'limited control' polity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
JournalTijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Publication statusPublished - 1993


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