Federal versus Unitary States: Ethnic Accommodation of Tamils and Kurds

Dylan O’Driscoll, Irene Costantini, Serhun Al

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


This article contributes to the debate on whether federalism leads to ethnic accommodation and is peace-preserving through comparing the methods of ethnic accommodation in federal and unitary states. Rather than focusing on a large dataset, this article offers an in-depth picture of the role the two systems play in ethnic accommodation, offering a more nuanced understanding. The Kurds (Iraq and Turkey) and Tamils (India and Sri Lanka) have been chosen as they form territorial minorities in both federal and unitary states. The article suggests that federalist states offer a degree of acceptance toward political, cultural and economic equality with ethnic minorities. However, federalism may not be the cause of ethnic accommodation; it may be on the one hand the expression of a state willing to concede cultural, political and economic equality to an ethnic minority, or on the other hand induce such behavior. Thus, federalism without recognition of such equality does not guarantee ethnic accommodation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-368
Number of pages18
JournalNationalism and Ethnic Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • Governance, Leadership and Trust
  • Peace and Conflict


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