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Article

Kristin P. Johnson and Ashlea Rundlett

Conflicts that occur along ethnic or nationalist lines are often the most protracted, violent, and difficult to resolve in the long term. Civil wars are often divided into two distinct types: ethnic/religious wars (identity), and revolutionary wars (nonidentity). The distinction between these conflict types is based on whether cleavages within a society occur along ethnic lines or along lines that cut across ethnic divisions and are focused on issues including class, ideology, or seeking significant policy orientation of change. The most significant theoretical and empirical contributions to the understanding of ethnic conflicts in recent years come from the disaggregation of civil wars focusing on micro- and group-level dynamics. This disaggregation supports theoretical advancement and a departure from using macro-level data with micro-level mechanisms supports transition from a monadic to dyadic study of ethnic conflict, and supports examination of potential causal mechanisms of ethnic violence. Scholarly traditions and theoretical approaches explaining identity mobilization along ethnic or nationalist lines, the contributing factors that explain the transition from mobilization to the exercise of political violence, the duration of identity-based conflicts, and the long-term prospects for settlement of the conflict have enjoyed a proliferation of studies using newly available data featuring subnational units. These include explanations of conflicts based in sociological foundations focused on the formation and maintenance of identity, structural explanations for internal conflict focus on the capacity of the state and the distribution of political authority within a political system, and the opportunity for rebellion.

Article

Ethnicity, nationalism, and migration are popular topics in many academic disciplines, but research on public opinion in these areas has suffered from a lack of good data, disciplinary fragmentation, and a dearth of studies that engage one another. This is evident in the case of public opinion survey research undertaken in the world’s hotspots of ethnic conflict. As a result, ethnic conflict scholars have had to rely on proxy measures or indirect studies to test “opinion” towards ethnicity and nationalism in the developing world. In the developed world, however, there is more to work with in terms of opinion measurements. A prominent example is the European Union’s “Eurobarometer” surveys, which gauge attachment to and identification with “Europe” and the individual nation. Research on national identity and ethnic conflict has often been the starting point for theories of public opinion regarding immigration. A common finding is that there is a weak connection (if any) between opinion and policy on the immigration issue. Several areas need to be addressed as far as research is concerned. For example, the picture of xenophobic hostility in rich countries must be understood in a context of general changes in word migration patterns, with some emerging economies also experiencing high levels of immigration, and concurrent anti-immigrant public opinion. Two shortcomings of the literature also deserve closer attention: a focus on developing-to-developed country migration; and a lack of analyses that combine push and pull factors, to measure their relative causal weight in terms of bilateral immigration flows.

Article

Stathis N. Kalyvas and Paul D. Kenny

A civil war, also known as intrastate war, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country. It is a high-intensity conflict that often involves regular armed forces. One of the reasons for the lack of consensus in the study of civil war is disagreement over what exactly civil war means. Theoretically, civil war overlaps with other categories of armed conflict, particularly revolution, political violence, ethnic conflict, and terrorism. Civil wars since the end of World War II have lasted for over four years on average, a considerable rise from the one-and-a-half-year average of the 1900–1944 period. While the rate of emergence of new civil wars has been relatively steady since the mid-19th century, the increasing length of those wars has resulted in increasing numbers of wars ongoing at any one time. Since 1945, civil wars have resulted in the deaths of over 25 million people, as well as the forced displacement of millions more, along with economic collapse. According to scholars of civil war research, the causes of civil war include economic motivations or greed, and political or social grievances. Greed-based explanations focus on individuals’ desire to maximize their profits, while grievance-based explanations center on conflict as a response to socioeconomic or political injustice. A third concept, opportunity-based explanations, talks about factors that make it easier to engage in violent mobilization.

Article

Jonathan Paquin and Stephen M. Saideman

Foreign intervention in ethnic conflicts has received significant attention in the last 20 years. Scholars have initially considered the sources for these interventions through instrumental and affective factors, though a better classification involves grouping these motives between domestic and international factors. The former category assumes that a third state’s internal politics best explain motives of intervention, and that domestic groups within the state have the greatest impact on foreign policy decision making. Theories based on domestic explanations assume that domestic politics greatly matter in the formulation of states’ decisions to intervene or not in ethnic conflicts elsewhere. As for the external explanations, scholars share a common assertion that the international environment is the central determinant explaining third state intervention. These explanations focus on the impact of institutions and international norms on the international relations of ethnic conflicts. In addition to these approaches, this area of research still contains many issues left unaddressed, such as how interference from outside might affect an ethnic conflict, and what forms of analysis might be used to study foreign interventions. Scholars have applied both quantitative and qualitative techniques, and the diaspora literature stands out for relying almost exclusively on case studies and on very notable cases. Otherwise, the rest of the work in this field follows the current standards by using a mixture of case studies and quantitative analyses depending on the questions in play.

Article

Since the second half of the 1940s, the Middle East has experienced intense migrations. In 2005 alone, the region received a total of approximately 6 million refugees. Migration flows to and from the Middle East have been linked to nationalist movements and ethnic conflicts. However, these relations have received little attention from scholars. Scholarly work on migration in the Middle East that has accumulated between the early 1950s and the late 1980s falls into two broad categories in terms of subject matter: Jewish migration to Israel and the Palestinian refugees, and migrations to labor-short countries of the Gulf and Europe. New trends in the literature on migration in the Middle East can also be identified, including those relating to the gender aspects of migration, population displacement and resettlement, return migration, and the relationship between migration and security. Although the field has made significant progress—the scope of the literature with respect to subject matter has broadened from the 1980s onward, and the methods used by scholars have become more sophisticated over the years—there are some shortcomings that need to be addressed. A number of important issues, such as citizenship or economic dynamics, remain unexplored. Since labor migrations to and from the Middle East are central to economic development, a focus on the evolution of migration may shed light on numerous relevant themes.

Article

Craig Douglas Albert and Mary Frances Rosett Lebamoff

A review of syllabi from members of the ethnicity, nationalism, and migration studies (ENMS) section of the International Studies Association shows that “teaching ethnic conflict” covers has several parts: the classical literature, main themes used in the classroom, including theories of ethnicity/nationalism, causes of ethnic conflict, responses, and regions of the world. One of the most prevalent themes in classical texts is identity formation. EMNS professors appear to focus on three approaches: primordialism, instrumentalism, and constructivism. It is assertable that each approach has dominated the discipline at specific times. While one approach may be the focal point of ENMS, each coexists with the others. The next most widely used topic in ENMS classrooms is theories of ethnic conflict. Ethnic conflict studies focus on in-group/out-group relationships and how the two conflict. Migration is also studied within the framework of ethnicity and nationalism, which may be attributed to their many interconnections. For example, the harsh treatment of ethnic minorities within a state may result in mass expulsion, ethnic cleansing, war, and even voluntary exile by the oppressed group. Government oppression may include mass violence, but also economic discrimination. This may result in ethnic peoples outside of their traditional homeland seeking asylum in another state that is friendlier to them.

Article

Ethnicity and nationalism, interethnic conflicts, and human migration have been major forces shaping the modern world and the structure and stability of contemporary states. A notable reason for the current academic interest in ethnicity and nationalism is the fact that such phenomena have become so visible in many societies that it has become impossible to ignore them. In the early twentieth century, many social theorists claimed that ethnicity and nationalism would decrease in importance and eventually vanish as a result of modernization, industrialization, and individualism, but this never came about. Instead, ethnicity and nationalism have grown in political importance in the world, particularly since the Second World War. It is important to note that ethnicity and nationalism are social and political constructions, as well as modern phenomena that are inseparably connected with the activities of the modern centralizing state. One characteristic of a modern state is the presence of population diversity brought about by migration. Human migration can be defined as the movement by people from one place to another with the intentions of settling permanently in the new location. One of the reasons why immigrants choose to migrate to another country is because globalization has increased the demand for workers from other countries in order to sustain national economies. Known as “economic migrants,” these individuals are generally from impoverished developing countries—usually people of color—migrating to obtain sufficient income for survival.

Article

For more than four decades, advocates of consociationalism and their opponents have been engaged in a debate over about how to design institutions to achieve sustainable peace in divided societies. In general, existing theories acknowledge the importance and usefulness of institutional design in conflict resolution, but offer rather different prescriptions as to the most appropriate models to achieve stable conflict settlements. Three such theories are of particular significance: power sharing in the form of its liberal consociational variant, centripetalism, and power dividing. Consociationalism, centripetalism, and power dividing offer a range of distinct prescriptions on how to ensure that differences of identity do not translate into violence. They often go beyond “politics at the center” and also provide arguments on territorial dimensions of ethnic conflict settlement. Practitioners of conflict resolution recognize the need to combine a range of different mechanisms, giving rise to an emerging practice of conflict settlement known as “complex power sharing.” None of the three theories of conflict resolution fully captures this current practice of complex power sharing, even as liberal consociationalism appears to be the most open to incorporation of elements of centripetalism and power dividing. A theory of complex power sharing would need to explain why there is empirical support for a greater mix of institutions than existing theories recommend.

Article

Influenced by similar historical forces and intellectual trends, the fields of anthropology and international relations have begun collaborating in areas such as migration, human security, and non-state activism. One area of potential interest to international relations scholars is archaeologists’ study of the emergence, development, and decline of states. Another area is cultural anthropologists’ study of war, peace, and violence. Both international relations scholars and cultural anthropologists have begun studying non-state actors and globalization, as well as transdisciplinary topics such as gender, human rights, and nationalism. Moreover, international relations research on ethnic conflicts is growing, with many scholars drawing from anthropological works on the link between internal political processes and ethnic violence. Another area in which some international relations scholars and anthropologists have collaborated is human security; increasing numbers of anthropologists are studying cultures undergoing armed conflict. One controversial arena was applied anthropology’s recent involvement in U.S. military efforts in the Middle East. Most anthropologists agree that the use of anthropology for national defense purposes violates anthropology’s code of research ethics. Overall, the field of international relations has shown increasing interest in the question of “culture” and in the qualitative research methods that characterize anthropological research.

Article

Robert English, Ekaterina Svyatets, and Azamat Zhanalin

Nationalism contributed to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and helped put an end to the epoch-defining East–West rivalry, while ethnic conflict rearranged borders and peoples across the post-communist regions. After these initial shocks, however, most international relations (IR) scholars saw a region that was generally on a path toward political stabilization and international integration. This belief was reflected in the predominance of research on democratization and civil society, privatization and economic transition, and integration with the European Union. Nearly two decades after the collapse of communism, a simmering ethnic conflict in Georgia has sparked another major geopolitical shift. Nationalism remains a potent force not only in the post-Soviet and post-communist regions, but also for IR more generally, in the “normal” politics of parties and elections, development and trade, foreign policy making, and even war making. Regarding the politics of eastern Europe and central Eurasia, at least three distinct international dimensions of post-communist nationalism can be identified: the immediate impact of national or ethnic conflict on state-to-state relations as well as conflict spillover; nationalism’s impact on the foreign policies of states, the ways in which domestic ethnic issues can shape foreign policy debates and decisions; and the transnational spread of nationalist ideology. Present circumstances offer an opportunity not only to end the animosity and even reverse the hardening of antagonistic post-Cold War identities, but also to assess the respective impact of cultural–historical, economic, and leadership factors on the ongoing development of national identity and nationalism.