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How do inter-ethnic interactions and nation building policies affect identity formation?

Institutions & Governance Zambia

Kariba Dam, Spring 1997 | John Law

Study Context

This study aims to experimentally investigate the persistence of nation-building policies and inter-ethnic interactions on the formation of ethnic and national identities. Specifically, this study investigates whether there are differences in co-ethnic bias and group cooperation between Tongas who were resettled in Tonga minority areas, compared to those resettled in majority communities.

In particular, researchers will examine the Gwembe Tonga community in Zambia, who were involuntarily resettled to enable the construction of the Kariba dam in 1958. The Tongas were split into Tonga-majority villages in Zambia and some already-occupied villages in Zimbabwe where the Tongas became a minority.

Study Design

The researcher will recruit 250 resettled Tonga and 250 non-Tonga for a total of 500 participants living in rural areas.

Participants will play:

  • the Dictator Game, where researchers will vary the identity (Tonga or non-Tonga) to use the difference in point allocation as a measure of ethnic bias.
  • the Public Good Game, where researchers will measure study participants’ willingness to cooperate with others by varying the ethnic composition of the group.

To elicit their beliefs, the study will distribute a survey around stronger national or ethnic identity (e.g. language knowledge and use, inter-ethnic marriages). Lastly, researchers will conduct qualitative interviews to gain more in-depth insights and to capture other dimensions and drivers of ethnic and national identification.

Results and Policy Lessons

Results forthcoming.

  • Cleopas Sambo
  • Theodore Alysandratos
  • Kacana Sipangule Khadjavi

2023 — 2023

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