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State Strategies in Multi-Ethnic Territories: Explaining Variation in the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc


After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, its twenty-seven successor states were charged with devising policies with respect to their ethnic minorities. This shock enables an analysis of the conditions that render states more likely to repress, exclude, assimilate or accommodate their minorities. One would anticipate that groups that are most ‘threatening’ to the state's territorial integrity are more likely to experience repression. However the data do not validate this expectation. Instead, the analysis suggests that minority groups’ demographics and states’ coercive capacities better account for variation in ethnic minority policies. While less robust, the findings further indicate the potential importance of lobby states and Soviet multinational legacies in determining minority rights. The results have implications for ethnic politics, human rights, nationalism, democratization and political violence.

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Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Political Science, Stanford University and, beginning August 2013, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Notre Dame (email: Support for this research was provided by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under Award No. FA9550-09-1-0314, the Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies and Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation. I am particularly grateful to Roger Petersen, Chappell Lawson, James Snyder, Kanchan Chandra and Monika Nalepa for their sound guidance and exceptional feedback on this project. I further wish to acknowledge the valuable comments of anonymous reviewers and workshop participants at MIT and the Association for the Study of Nationalities. An online appendix with supplementary material and tables is available at Replication data are available at

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