Document-based question: societal diversity

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The following question is based on the accompanying documents. (The documents have been edited for the purpose of this exercise). The question is designed to test your ability to work with and understand historical documents. Write an essay that:

  • Has relevant thesis and supports that thesis with evidence from the documents.

  • Uses all or all but one of the documents.

  • Analyzes the documents by grouping them in as many appropriate ways as possible and does not simply summarize the documents individually.

  • Takes into account both the sources of the documents and the authors’ points of view.

Essay Prompt

Determine how a nation can encourage diversity and stability; differentiate these policies from those actions, which undermine national unity and weaken the fabric of society.
Based on the documents, discuss how diversity challenges and benefits nations. What kinds of additional documentation would help access the impact of diversity on modern states?
Historical Background

Throughout history rulers and societies have had to deal with all types of diversity. This challenge was never so daunting as it has been in large states, empires created by conquest, and in the 20th century, with its increased focus on the rights of minorities. Although many states and their ruling elites have accepted, protected, and encouraged diversity, other leaders have found such a situation threatening to national unity. Today, as modern technology brings distant peoples together at a faster rate and eliminates traditional barriers such as language, religion, culture, and politics, and as once marginalized, ignored groups seek input in society, the question remains whether societies can effectively deal with diversity.

Copyright @ 2001 by Paul William Philp

Document 1

Giuseppe Mazzini (1805­1872), the founder (1831) of Young Italy, was the leading figure in liberal Italian nationalism, from his book, On Nationality, 1852

“The [type of ] nationality founded upon the following principle, namely

whichever people, by its superiority of strength and by its geographical position,

can do us an injury, is our natural enemy; whichever cannot do us an injury,

but can by the amount of its force and by its position injure our enemy, is our

natural ally is the princely nationality of aristocracies or royal races. [On the

other hand], the nationality of the peoples has not these dangers; it can only be

founded by a common effort and a common movement; sympathy and alliance

will be its result. In principle, as in the ideas formerly laid down by the men

influencing every national party, nationality ought only to be to humanity that

which the division of labor is in a workshop-the recognized symbol of

association; the assertion of the individuality of a human group called by its

geographical position, its traditions, and its language, to fulfil a special function

in the European work of civilization.

Document 2

Proclamation of the Young Turks, a nationalist reform movement, describing their plans for a new Turkey, 1908
The basis for the Constitution will be respect for the predominance of the

national will. . . . The Turkish tongue will remain the official state language.

Official correspondence and discussion will take place in Turkish. . . . Every

citizen will enjoy complete liberty and equality, regardless of nationality and

religion, and be submitted to the same obligations. All Ottomans, being equal

before the law as regards rights and duties relative to the State, are eligible for

government posts, according to their individual capacity and the education.

Non-Muslims will be equally liable to the military law. The free exercise of the

religious privileges which have been accorded to different nationalities will

remain intact. . . . Education will be free. . . . All schools will operate under

the surveillance of the state. In order to obtain for Ottoman citizens an

education of a homogenous and uniform character, official schools will be open,

their instruction will be free, and nationalities will be admitted. Instruction in

Turkish will be obligatory in public schools Secondary and higher education

will be given in the public and official schools indicated above; it will use the

Turkish language.”

Copyright @ 2001 by Paul William Philp

Document 3

Eva “Evita” Duarte, wife of Argentine dictator, Juan Peron, from her own autobiography, Eva Duarte Peron Tells Her Own Story, 1952

Our people have lived under more than a century of oligarchical governments,

whose principal task was not to attend to the people but rather to the interests

of a privileged minority, refined and cultured perhaps, but sordidly egoistic.

After that century, interrupted only by someone or other who tried to establish

a government for the people, . . . Peron during the three years of revolutionary

fire reached the people as governor and as guide. And the people already know

how that contract benefited everyone. For three consecutive years, men and

women, labor, economic and political groups, the entire people, had come in

procession with their old problems and their old hopes into the constructive

presence of their Leader, and all their problems and all their hopes had been

satisfactorily settled by him. . . . And to attend to all this – big things and small

  • it was necessary that the people should not leave off looking to Peron as their

guide. I chose the humble task of attending to small petitions. I chose my place among the people so as to see from there the barriers, which might have hindered progress of the revolution. I chose to be “Evita” . . . so that through me the people, and above all the workers, should always find the way open to their Leader.”

Document 5

Document 4

Gustavo Gutierrez, Roman Catholic priest, from his book, A Theology of Liberation, in which he supported socialism and accepted class struggle, 1971

“Unity is a gift of God and a historical conquest of man. Unity is not something

already given. It is a process, the result of overcoming all that divides men. The

promise of unity is at the heart of the work of Christ; in him, men are sons

before the Father and brothers among themselves. The Church, the community

of those who confess Christ as their Lord, is a sign of unity among men. The

unity of the Church is not truly achieved without the unity of the world. In a

radically divided world, the function of the [religious] community is to struggle

against the profound causes of the division among men. It is only this

commitment that can make of it an authentic sign of unity. Today, in Latin

America especially, this unity implies the option for the oppressed; to opt for

them is the honest, resolute way to combat that which gives rise to this social

division. The Church itself will become more and more unified in this historical

process and commitment to the liberation of the marginated and exploited.”

Copyright @ 2001 by Paul William Philp

Document 5

Immigration: How It's Affecting Us” from the American Atlantic Monthly, article by James Fallows, November 1983
The glory of American society is its melding of many peoples. But that has

never been an easy process. Few threads run more consistently through

American social history than concern about racial and ethnic change. Since

colonial days, members of successive ethnic groups have warned that the

American national character, embodied by their group, was endangered by

incoming aliens. The roster of groups that represent the "American" character

has slowly expanded: the original British and Dutch Protestants have been

joined by Catholics and Jews, Central and Eastern Europeans, and, most

slowly and arduously of all, people of color.”

Document 6

Interview with Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Mayan woman and a refugee from Guatemala, shortly before she received the Nobel Peace Prize, 1992

“Guatemala, with nine million inhabitants, is a nation that has not yet felt the

soft breezes of peace that have touched other countries of the Central American

region. It is a country in which the extermination of the indigenous peoples

continues to be a reality. During the last thirty years, this country has been torn

by a civil war that, to date, has left more than 100,000 dead and 30,000

disappeared. The vast majority of these victims have been indigenous peasants.

In the case of my country, Guatemala, 65% of the inhabitants are indigenous

[Indians]. The constitution speaks of protection for the indigenous. Who

authorized a minority to protect an immense majority? It is not only political,

cultural and economic marginalization, it is an attempt against the dignity of

the majority of the population. The human being is to be respected and

defended, not protected like a bird or a river. Racism in our countries is a fact

in that the Indian is not allowed to be a politician or aspire to being head of

state. It has reached the point that 99% of the indigenous women have not gone

to school. The indigenous are condemned to live in a situation designed to

exterminate them. They receive a pittance of a salary, they neither speak nor

write the language, politics dictates their situation.”

Copyright @ 2001 by Paul William Philp

Document 7

Helmut Tuerk, Austrian Ambassador to the United States, speech delivered at the Town Hall of Los Angeles, California, 1994
“Europe has been a mosaic of peoples with different cultures, languages,

traditions, and religions. This diversity has often been a source of conflict. The

tragic events we are witnessing today in parts of the former Yugoslavia are a

case in point. . . . This diversity, however, constitutes, a crossfertilization

process, a powerful source of richness. If preserved and allowed to flourish

under conditions of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law,

this diversity can be a[n] asset instead of being a source of chaos. It is obvious

that the living together of different ethnic, linguistic and/or religious groups

presupposes that one group forms a majority while one or more groups

constitute minorities. With dozens of distinct ethnic groups, the ideas of a s

separate state for each one of these groups would be totally unrealistic if not

altogether absurd. Often ethnic groups forming the minority in one country are

the dominant nationality in another country. . . . Totalitarian states resolve the

problem by either denying the very existence of such minorities or the

theoretically granting them certain rights which in practice remain largely on

paper. When such systems collapse, the minorities’ aspirations to safeguard and

develop their identity may take on a violent form. The collapse of Communism

has been accompanied by a resurgence of nationalism among peoples and ethnic

groups seeking to right the wrongs to which they have been subject.”

Document 8

The CIA’s World Fact Book, 2000 describing the diversity of India’s population

Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3%
Religions: Hindu 80%, Muslim 14%, Christian 2.4%, Sikh 2%, Buddhist 0.7%,

Jains 0.5%, other 0.4%
Languages: English enjoys associate status, but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication, Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people, but the following languages are official and may be legally used: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit. Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India. Note: there are 24 languages each spoken by a million or more persons, and numerous other languages and dialects, for the most part mutually unintelligible.

Copyright @ 2001 by Paul William Philp

Document 9

Bill Berkeley, American journalist in Kenya, from his article, “An Encore for Chaos?” published in the American journal, Foreign Policy, 1996

“President Moi and members of his ruling clique have sought to deflect

responsibility for violence [In Kenya] by blaming age-old hatreds--stirred up,

they claim, by the advent of multi-party democracy. But the evidence of state

complicity is strong, and it fits a pattern that has become striking in post-Cold

War Africa. Daniel arap Moi, who is seventy-one years old and widely loathed,

presided for years over a predatory single-party regime that was made possible

by the patronage of the West. No longer a Cold War asset, and pressured to

democratize, Moi has clung to power by playing dirty. Skillfully manipulating

the levers of coercion and bribery, he has sabotaged Kenya's monetary system,

emasculated the rule of law, and stoked the destructive fires of ethnicity. . . . To

be sure, some opposition parties are identified with ethnic groups, and they, too,

engage in exclusivity. The difference is that Moi suffocates and divides his

countrymen using the institutions of the state: the police, the courts, the powers

of arrest and detention. . . . Why, then, has Kenya not disintegrated? What

happened in Rwanda scared Kenya. The fact that civil war has not already

occurred is an indication of how dreaded the prospect of war is. . . . Kenyans

generally are much better educated and better informed than their neighbors. A

generation of Kenyans has grown up with the benefits of relative stability,

which have resulted in a substantial middle class. Elsewhere in Africa the

vertical ties of ethnicity represent both the only source of identity and the only

channel for economic and political power. Kenya's middle class cuts

horizontally across ethnic lines. . . . And the Kenyans who have been most

provoked by the clashes--the Kikuyu and the Luo --are also among the best

educated. . . . The Kikuyus and the Luos are most involved in the market

economy, and they were in the forefront of the struggle for independence, as

well as in the move toward democracy. They understand that the problem is one

of bad government and corrupt economics, not bad tribes. Once you

conceptualize the problem as dealing with bad governance, then you know the

solution lies in good government, human rights, and sound economic

management, not tribal warfare.”

Copyright @ 2001 by Paul William Philp


  1. Paul Halsall, compiler, Internet Modern History Sourcebook (Fordham University, New York, accessed May 28, 2001); [database on-line]; available from; Internet.

  1. Alfred J. Andrea and James H. Overfield, The Human Record: Sources of Global History, 3rd edition, Volume II: Since 1500 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998), 312-314.

  1. Eva Duarte Peron, Evita by Evita: Eva Duarte Peron Tells Her Own Story (New York: Lippincott and Crowell, 1980), 53-56.

  1. Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation, edited and translated by Sister Caridad, Inda Eagleson, and John Eagleson (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1973), 272-279.

  1. James Fallows, “Immigration: How It’s Affecting Us?” The Atlantic Monthly Company, November 1983, volume 252, No. 2: 45-68, 85-106.

  1. Paul Halsall, compiler, Internet Modern History Sourcebook (Fordham University, New York, accessed May 28, 2001); [database on-line]; available from; Internet.

  1. Perry M. Rogers, ed., Aspects of Western Civilization: Problems and Sources in History, 4th ed., Volume II, (Upper Sadler River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000), 547-548.

  1. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Fact Book 2000 (Washington: The Central Intelligence Agency, 1999, assessed March 26, 2000); [database on line]; available at; Internet.

Bill Berkeley, “An Encore for Chaos?” The Atlantic Monthly Company, February 1996, volume 277, No. 2: 30-36.

Copyright @ 2001 by Paul William Philp

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