As empires are reorganized into national states people are inevitably stranded on the wrong side of new borders. Rogers Brubaker (Nationalism Reframed) has examined the case of national minorities separated from their larger, external "homelands" by national boundary-making, generating persistent problems between adjacent nation-states. Robert Cribb and Li Narangoa examine a different kind of case, in which the numerical preponderance is reversed, such that the national minority is larger than its external "homeland" population. The instances discussed in the paper are the Inner Mongolia region of China, containing many more Mongols than the Mongolian Republic of the former USSR; the Laos of Thailand, more numerous than those of Laos itself; and the Malays in Indonesia, more numerous than those of Malaysia. "Orphans of empire" of this kind follow a different path; they are not the source of endless conflicts between neighboring states, but tend to draw apart from one another on either side of the boundary. In this case boundaries seem to have their way, making transnational identities impossible to maintain in the long run and creating, thereby, new ethnic identities.
|Comparative Studies in Society and History
|Published - 2004