Ethnicity and Territory


One very advantageous strategy for a genetically similar group is to control a territorial area and its resources and to exclude non-group members from this territory. Certain events may temporary greatly reduce the population size (such as famines, epidemics, or wars), but as long as the group retains control of the territory (and there are no recent inventions such as contraception), it is possible to relatively quickly rebuild the population size to the maximum carrying capacity of the territory. This is argued to be one explanation for the great importance ethnic groups have placed on controlling territorial areas.

All hunter-gatherer societies (as well as chimpanzees who are humanity’s closest relatives) have been stated to defend their territories against incursions by neighbors. More generally, persistent ethnic identities all include a territory as part of their identities, either presently or once occupied by the group. Removed from its land, a tribe’s social…

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