Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

David Earnest

Committee Member

Francis Adams

Committee Member

Fran Hassencahl


Samuel Huntington , almost half century ago, explained how the state capacity is fundamental to guarantee order in societies in transition. Francis Fukuyama , recently, recuperated this concept arguing that a strong effective state is fundamental for stability of democratizing countries. But strong institutions are not enough to make democracy and political order compatible: institutions need to be also inclusive, to foster participation and respect the freedom of all parts of society, including ethnic minorities.

The main question this study wants to answer is: what factors explain the differences in how democratizing Muslim countries treat their ethnic minorities? Studies of social conflict or democratization in Muslim countries typically emphasize sectarian divisions but ignore ethnic differences. The research is a comparative analysis of two similar cases with different outcomes: Turkey and Indonesia. The focus of the study is to analyze specifically two cases and outcomes: the securitization (Buzan et. al., 1998) of Kurds in Turkey and the “autonomization” (Lijphart, 2004) of Acehnese in Indonesia, to understand what independent variables affect these different results. The cases chosen are the two most scholarly recognized democracies in the Muslim world. The hypotheses to test are four: the elites’ power interest, following the Rational Choice theory, the international factors, following the structural theories, the institutions and history of the state, following the Historical-Institutionalist theory, and finally the ontological security of the country, following the Critical theories. Also, by examining states with ethnic diversity but very little religious diversity, the research controls for the effect of religious conflict on minority inclusion, and so allow future generalization and comparison to minority inclusion in democratizing states that are not Muslim. The research design is based on the ‘most similar systems (Miller criteria) and on ‘process tracing’, to clarify the causal chain.


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