The prevalence of ethnic violence across many nations has led scholars to explore the different areas of this phenomenon. There are different levels of analysis and dimensions used to understand ethnic conflict, yet it is still puzzling why certain ethnic conflicts are more severe than others. This study contributes to the existing literature in the field of ethnic conflict, and specifically focuses on analyzing negative rhetoric and cultural policies implemented by the government across three cases in Southeast Asia. The comparative study illuminates the conflicts in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand, where ethnic violence has either occurred or is still ongoing. My research aims to explore the impact of the severity of conflict by analyzing negative rhetoric and cultural policies. I find that a rhetor who has a high status in society has an influence on the negative rhetoric, which provokes a sense of othering and allows for violence, especially when the negative rhetoric is from both sides. Drawing from pre-existing attitudes, it develops an “us versus them” mentality. Cultural policies that aim to homogenize or assimilate the nation, and policies driven by hatred and fear that aim to restrict and eliminate a certain population lead to greater animosity and hostility towards the targeted outgroup. Thus, the presence of negative rhetoric and cultural policies that create a sense of othering the outgroup increases the level of severity.


N’Diaye, Boubacar


Political Science


Comparative Politics


Ethnic Conflict, Rhetoric, Cultural Policies, Ethnic Violence

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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