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The Reason We Don't Know

Protracted conflicts over the status and demands of ethnic and religious groups have caused more instability and loss of human life than any other type of local, regional, and international conflict since the end of WWII (Harff and Gurr 1989; Eriksson, Wallensteen and Sollenberg 2003). Yet prior to the 1990s, ethnic conflict was an important topic of empirical research mainly for sociologists concerned with interethnic relations in immigrant societies, and comparativists tracing the rise of nationalism “from peoples to states.” The breakup of the USSR and Yugoslavia along ethnonational lines prompted much new research, limited not only to post-Communist states but also to the rise of self-determination movements in other multiethnic states. As the focus of research broadened, it came to include all ethnic and religious identity groups that provide a basis for political mobilization and action. The etiology of ethnopolitical conflict remained a core question, along with newer questions about the outcomes of ethnic conflict, the conflict-management strategies of governments in multiethnic states, and the international consequences of, and responses to, ethnic warfare

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Birnir, Johanna, and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, James Fearon, David Laitin, Ted Robert Gurr, Dawn Brancati, Stephen Saiderman, Amy Pate. 2012. "The Reason We Don't Know." Stanford University Political Science (March): 1-56. http://politicalscience.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/workshop-mater…