Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2009

Publication Citation

16 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 28 (2009)


The world is full of boundaries. Whatever their nature, boundaries provide the conditions for communal or individual identity and agency, and they make collective action possible. That very capacity to define and contain, however, allows boundaries to "close off possibilities of being that might otherwise flourish." Paradoxically, boundaries "both foster and inhibit freedom." This article explores how one particular boundary-ethnicity- has served both as an important source of identity and a cause of deep fracture in societies that this article calls "severely fractured." The purpose of the article is to explore what institutional structures and processes might be appropriate to respond to the challenges that severely fractured societies face. After examining the two well-known approaches- consociation and integration-that have dominated studies of, and prescriptions for, severely fractured societies, the article concludes that each unwisely underemphasizes one or another of the two necessary conditions for long-term stability in these societies: institutions that are both highly inclusive and have the capacity to foster interethnic dialogue. The article then outlines and defends a version of deliberative democracy that it argues responds to the needs of inclusion (pluralism) and the cultivation of interethnic dialogue. A well-structured deliberative process in the context of a highly inclusive institutional environment has the best prospect of transforming the hard parameters of ethnic identity into the soft parameters of diversity that this article argues will lead to a more sustainable form of pluralistic solidarity.

Operationalizing Global Governance, Symposium. Indiana University Maurer School of Law-Bloomington, Indiana, March 19-21, 2008