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War and ethnicity: Global connections and local violence in North East Africa and former Yugoslavia

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  • David Turton
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    Many of today's wars are explained (by observers) and justified (by participants) as the result of deep and ineradicable ethnic differences. But ethnic differences are not given in nature and the relationship between ethnicity and war is not a simple matter of cause and effect. Five questions are considered in the light of recent internal wars in North East Africa and former Yugoslavia. First, in what historical circumstances do ethnic differences become salient? Second, by what techniques do political leaders seek to use ethnic differences as a political resource? Third, how can we explain the special power of ethnic ideas to move people to collective acts, sometimes of horrifying brutality? Fourth, how can we explain the growing importance of local identities in a world which is also becoming more unified, politically, economically and culturally? And finally, what can politicians, aid organizations, journalists and academics do to help prevent and mitigate the terrible consequences of politicized ethnicity?

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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Oxford Development Studies.

    Volume (Year): 25 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 77-94

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:25:y:1997:i:1:p:77-94
    DOI: 10.1080/13600819708424123
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