Ethnic engineering: the deliberate manipulation of a territory’s political borders and/or demography for the purpose of ensuring one group’s unquestioned dominion over the territory. This can include:

  • Genocide: "Acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." The most extreme form of ethnic engineering, and the only one that without question demands some form of international intervention. Special emphasis should be given to the word intent; it's only genocide if extermination is the direct purpose of the act.
  • Ethnic subjugation: The intent to destroy, in whole or in part, not a group, but a group’s political aspirations/capacity to be a political force. While this can often involve mass suffering, it is distinct from genocide in that, because it targets the political goal and not the group, once the conflict is over the groups can potentially safely live alongside one another without fear, depending on the outcome of the conflict. Unlike genocide, which is rare, ethnic subjugation is common. It can take the form either of a single campaign to defeat an adversary, such as the defeat of a secessionist bid, or a continuous regime of enforced and, sometimes, legally codified vertical hierarchy, although at this point it bleeds into ethnic zoning. It can also be the means by which other forms of ethnic engineering are imposed on a resistant population.
  • Ethnic cleansing: “rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area.” Note that the manner of force and intimidation is not defined. Any involuntary identity-based population transfer, including through bureaucratic enforcement of existing immigration laws, is ethnic cleansing. Ethnic cleansing is widespread in the international system. Note also that it is not an independent crime under international law.
  • Negative ethnic cleansing: Maintaining an area’s ethnic homogeneity or current demography by using force or intimidation to block persons of other groups who would wish to migrate to and live in the territory from doing so. This includes any identity-based immigration control or blood-based citizenship regime.
  • Ethnic swamping: Changing the demography of a disputed territory by importing members of one’s own group into the area until they outnumber other groups. There are two forms, but only one of them is “engineering” per se. Top-down swamping occurs when an identitarian political entity imports members of its own group for the purpose of solidifying demographic dominance of a disputed territory. Bottom-up swamping occurs when large numbers of members of another group or groups migrate to a territory, not as part of an organized campaign of conquest but usually to seek economic opportunity or refuge, with the cumulative effect of changing the demography of the territory. A middle ground between these two forms would be an un-state-sanctioned land grab by settler colonials. Top-down swamping usually requires ethnic subjugation. Both forms usually breed an ethnonational backlash by the existing population.
  • Negative ethnic swamping: In the context of a collapsing political order such as an empire, taking in large numbers of refugees belonging to the dominant group in order to secure control of disputed territory (and often replace ethnically cleansed populations of other groups). This could also be thought of as a mutual, though often violent, population swap between groups in the context of a post-imperial or post-totalitarian partition.
  • Ethnic zoning: Using a hierarchical or segregation regime to separate groups within a territory, usually for the purpose of blocking the access of marginalized groups to certain physical spaces, neighborhoods, opportunities, resources, or wealth. This can take the form of vertical zoning or horizontal zoning or a combination of both, depending on whether the parties are divided geographically or in terms of privileges within the society. While both vertical and horizontal zoning are usually subjugatory, the manner of their enforcement depends on the relative demographic strength of different groups, and viable resolutions to the inequities inherent in such regimes vary based on demographic distribution.
  • Assimilation: Eliminating or downplaying the differences between groups by absorbing groups into the dominant group.
  • Negative assimilation: Blocking the spread of a new identity, usually a religion or language, by using force or intimidation to prevent its spread or acceptance in a territory. As a corollary, denying a group its own self-defined identity.
  • Right-sizing the state: Changing the boundaries of the territory controlled by the group to ensure demographic dominance. This can either take the form of increasing territory through acquisition or surrendering territory largely populated by another group or groups either through partition, ceding of the territory to another polity, or border adjustments. In the former case, the territorial acquisition can be of land already containing the group's members (the logical outcome of "homeland nationalism")... but if it isn't, it will be followed by a dual ethnic swamping and ethnic subjugation campaign.
  • Nationalization: Rather than attempting to subjugate, expel, eliminate, or zone groups apart from the dominant group, instead switching identity layers to form and/or emphasize a national identity that supersedes sub-identities within the polity. This is distinct from assimilation in that the national identity does not have to correspond explicitly with the identity of the dominant group, and so other groups can keep their identities while downplaying them relative to the national identity. The classic nationalization quote comes from Massimo d'Azeglio in 1861, following Italian unification: "We have made Italy; now we must make Italians."

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