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Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War

by Stuart J. Kaufman Cornell University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 280 pages
AU$59.99 NZ$64.34
Product Status: Out of stock. Not available to order.
Ethnic conflict has been the driving force of wars all over the world, yet it remains an enigma. What is it about ethnicity that breaks countries apart and drives people to acts of savage violence against their lifelong neighbors?

Stuart Kaufman rejects the notion of permanent ''ancient hatreds'' as the answer. Dissatisfied as well with a purely rationalist explanation, he finds the roots of ethnic violence in myths and symbols, the stories ethnic groups tell about who they are. Ethnic wars, Kaufman argues, result from the politics of these myths and symbols--appeals to flags and faded glories that aim to stir emotions rather than to address interests. Popular hostility based on these myths impels groups to follow extremist leaders invoking such emotion-laden ethnic symbols. If ethnic domination becomes their goal, ethnic war is the likely result.

Kaufman examines contemporary ethnic wars in the Caucasus and southeastern Europe. Drawing on information from a variety of sources, including visits to the regions and dozens of personal interviews, he demonstrates that diplomacy and economic incentives are not enough to prevent or end ethnic wars. The key to real conflict resolution is peacebuilding--the often-overlooked effort by nongovernmental organizations to change hostile attitudes at both the elite and the grassroots levels.

1. Stories about Ethnic War

2. The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War

3. Karabagh and the Fears of Minorities

4. Georgia and the Fears of Majorities

5. Elite Conspiracy in Moldova's Civil War

6. Government Jingoism and the Fall of Yugoslavia

7. The Power of Symbols


''Kaufman teases out the roots of hatred and violence from myths and stories, finding symbolic connections to counter the purely rationalist explanation of ethnic violence. He finds that appeals to emotion by use of symbols are more persuasive than such rational incentives as money could ever be.''-Perspectives #23-24, December-January 2002
Stuart J. Kaufman is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware. He is the author of Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War (winner of the 2003 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order), also from Cornell, and coeditor of The Balance of Power in World History.