Democracy and ethnic conflict: Blacks in Costa Rica

  • Purcell T
  • Sawyers K
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The article highlights socio-political situation of Costa Rica. One enduring legacy of colonial empires of the past five centuries has been the voluntary and involuntary movement of peoples and the creation of new and arbitrarily bounded territories, process that bring together formerly racially and culturally distinct groups. For politicians the issue has been how to mould functioning, if not equitable, nation-states out of contending, and at times, seemingly incompitable social segments. In Costa Rica two attempts at ethnic mobilization by African Americans were made in 1948. African American's efforts at resolution were less than successful, not because of any inherent antinomy between the organizational principles of democracy and those of ethnicity, but because of two related factors: the socio-economic and ideological differentiation of the group, and the co-optation of the group by the national ideology of equal opportunity and racial tolerance on the one hand, and the cultural hegemony of Hispanic Costa Ricans on the other.

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  • Trevor W. Purcell

  • Kathleen Sawyers

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