Date of Award

Summer 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Studies

Committee Director

Regina Karp

Committee Member

Simon Serfaty

Committee Member

Chandra de Silva


Drawing on democratic theory, this dissertation explores a thesis that the experience of ethnic restructuring significantly effects the ability of a democratizing state to successfully consolidate its emerging democracy. Ethnically restructured states, it is hypothesized, have an especially hard time creating inclusive democratic political communities, which is a necessary prerequisite for a consolidated democracy.

To test the thesis, the comparative case study method is applied to the ethnically restructured states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The goal of the case studies is to examine the approaches that the Baltic states used to reduce polarization. The historical background to the case studies includes an analysis of recently released archival documents and historical studies conducted in the Baltic states that deal with the demographic history of the Baltic states.

One of the most important findings of the three case studies is that the shape of political communities and the political arrangements devised to accommodate ethnic differences in the Baltic states were conditioned by the historical memory of deportations and planned migration. Consequently, successful approaches to community building should be responsive to both the historical sensitivities of autochthonous ethnic groups and the need of the immigrants to have a say in community building and everyday affairs. Such approaches are likely to be implemented at the local (sub-state) level. They are likely to be process-oriented and capable of incorporating flexible forms of political organization.

International actors interested in helping states to reduce ethnic polarization should focus their efforts at the local level. Using political conditionality from “above” for this purpose is likely to have some negative consequences, such as intensifying the activities of nationalist groups and prompting searches for new ways to preserve what is perceived as an endangered ethnic identity.