Now available: Ethnogenesis and Statelessness

My paper with Louis Rouanet on how ethnogenesis (i.e., the formation of new cultural and ethnic groups) can serve as a means of producing governance in situations of weak states or statelessness in order to allow exchange to take place has now been published. It is available at the European Journal of Law and Economics. The link is here and the article’s abstract is below:

The process of ethnogenesis (i.e., the formation of new ethnic groups) is here considered equivalent to the production of “governance goods” in situations where the state is weak or absent. In these cases, the process of ethnogenesis is a response to (1) the problem of social distance between heterogeneous groups which functions as a barrier to trade, and (2) the problem of providing public goods. As an investment in governance, ethnogenesis reduces the costs of trading and cooperating, and expands the scope for specialization. We rely on two examples of peaceful and productive relations between First Nations and European settlers in Canada between the early seventeenth and mid-nineteenth centuries to support our hypothesis. The emergence of “hybrid” cultural groups and identities fostered peaceful relations and facilitated trade in borderland areas in which state rule was virtually nonexistent. It also permitted these new groups to provide key collective goods within their own communities. This, in turn, facilitated international trade (especially in furs). Both of our examples suggest that cultural processes can be endogenous responses aimed at the production of governance.


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