Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Stanley Kornblum

Subject Categories

Ethnic Studies | Political Science | Sociology


development, ethnic conflict, race, racism, social stratification


The study presents an alternative framework, from the dominant political and economic theories, for explaining the feeble and relatively slow pace of development of an ethnically divided, resource rich country.

The study, using primary and secondary sources, empirical evidence, and interpretive analysis, examines the emergence and role of racial conflict and its stifling impact on national development in Guyana, which represents an extreme case of a society plagued by racial division. Organizations including labor unions and political parties, as well as occupations and aspects of the economy, among other social constructs, are all racially divided. Utilizing an inter-disciplinary (sociology, political science, economics, history, anthropology, culture) scope of investigation, the study explains: how Guyana became a multi-ethnic state, how ethnic rivalry emerged during colonialism; how ethnicity has shaped its development; how racial conflict was advanced by colonial forces to serve their interests; how it became institutionalized; how it was used by the US and UK to delay the independence of the colony; and how the race conflict affected the political and economic development of the post-colonial state including its debilitating impact on social change.

The study determines that the failure of development in Guyana is tied to a range of interrelated social issues and problems associated with ethnic identity and rivalry. The study discusses various theories on economic development and on ethnic conflicts in order to explain Guyana's ongoing racial conflict and illustrates some effects of conflict on Guyana's development. It examines, discusses, interprets, and analyzes various variables (power and economic control) impacting on ethnic relations and politics in Guyana and their effects on the country's overall development. It also looks into the causes for heightened ethnic competition and conflict attributing blame to both major (largely ethnic) political parties, PPP and PNC, and their respective founding leaders, Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. Forbes Burnham as well as their respective supporters, Indians and Africans.

The study also proposes solutions as models of governance to manage ethnic conflict to facilitate development. The study has implications for similar societies serving as a guide to help resolve ethnic conflicts that could affect national development.