Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Priorities for Research on Conflict in Multiethnic Countries Charles Tilly Columbia University olitical conflict in which at least one participant claimed to speak in the name of a distinctive national, ethnic, racial, or religious group- ethnic conflict for short became common in many parts of the world during the nineteenth century. It takes a wide variety of forms, from peaceful demonstrations to genocide. Ethnic conflict accelerated world- wide after World War II, as rival claimants for state power recurrently argued that they spoke for distinct, authentic nations. Africa and Asia experienced a great deal of violent ethnic conflict from the 1940s onward. It reached new heights, however, toward the end of the twentieth cen- tury. In the Soviet Union and its successor states, such encounters swelled from the late 1980s to the early l990s, then diminished except in a few regions, such as the Caucasus and Tajikistan. As it fragmented, Yugosla- via bled with ethnic conflict. Both within the post-Soviet world and elsewhere, ethnic conflict, broadly defined, currently takes far more lives than any other form of political conflict. Yet participants, politicians, public authorities, interna- tional agencies, and academic specialists lack consensus about explana- tions of ethnic struggles. In hopes of reducing uncertainty and increasing useful knowledge, this report summarizes the major recommendations for further inquiry that emerged from discussions among Russia- and U.S.-based specialists in political conflict during 2000 and 2001. It pre- sents the common points of the discussions by working groups on sys- tematic comparative study of conflict events; culture, identity, and con- flict; and collective violence.
2 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES Although working group participants drew on their familiarity with particular conflicts, competing explanations, and available methods for collecting and analyzing relevant evidence, in this workshop they did not aim at empirical generalizations, theoretical syntheses, or methodological recommendations. Instead, they sought to identify open questions con- cerning ethnic conflict that appear to be tractable, significant, and suitable for collaboration between Russian and American scholars. Disagreements concerning what exists, what is possible, and what cause-effect chains are in operation lie behind many policy disputes. The world at large has much to gain from better knowledge of causes, con- straints, means of termination, means of prevention, and processes of conflict settlement in the area of ethnic conflict. Superior knowledge would have a supremely practical advantage. It would improve the ca- pacities of responsible specialists, officials, participants, and third parties to anticipate the consequences of alternative policies, and even to design creative, nonviolent ways of settling conflicts. Academic specialists themselves play four quite different roles in the search for answers, as · investigators seeking better explanations and more effective forms of intervention · communicators with students, intellectuals, and the general public · advisors and critics of governments and other agencies that seek to resolve serious conflicts, suppress them, prevent them, or terminate those that are already under way · advisors to participants in serious conflicts and advocates for their causes Specialists engage in the last three activities from day to day. The first challenge takes time, collaboration, extensive exchanges among special- ists, access to evidence, and support for research. In the present state of knowledge, specialists in ethnic conflict have identified a number of long- term, contextual, and immediately precipitating influences on open con- flict without arriving at a widely accepted synthesis of all these elements. With that state of knowledge in mind, we concentrate here on agendas for the longer-term investigation of ethnic conflict without laying out a spe- cific set of policy recommendations for day-to-day action. Specialists in such regions as Africa, Latin America, and South Asia have no choice but to recognize the importance of ethnic conflict in the polities they study. Most embed their analyses in knowledge of their regions' distinctive histories and cultures without paying much attention to similar conflicts elsewhere. A few scholars examine ethnic conflict, genocide, or collective violence in general, but they generally lack the
PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH ON CONFLICT IN MULTIETHNIC COUNTRIES 3 local knowledge to arrive at either detailed explanations or policy recom- mendations regarding particular struggles. Clearly some form of collabo- ration between area experts and comparative-historical students of politi- cal conflict will benefit both sides. Any such collaboration will gain from locating particular varieties of contemporary conflict in comparative and historical perspective. That means relating and comparing ethnic conflict to other forms of struggle based on religion, race, class, region, or other social divisions. It also means examining historical precedents for contemporary conflicts on the premise that earlier conflicts not only supply cases for comparison but can become models, pretexts, or even causes for later ones. Despite starting from rather different questions and perspectives, the three working groups converged on a number of shared recommenda- tions. The plenary discussion did not reject any of those recommenda- tions, but underlined some, added specifications to others, and placed additional items on the agenda. Recommendations identified open ques- tions, problems to be solved, and types of evidence to collect. The recom- mendations set forth below and in the working group reports reflect the views of the individuals in each group and are not necessarily those of the National Academies or one of its appointed committees. After reconciling differences in terminology, the most widely shared recommendations for inquiries include the following: 1. investigations of social processes that promote mobilization, de- mobilization, and division of populations along lines of ethnicity rather than according to other divisions, such as industry, locality, and age; the subject definitely includes a) examining how groups and conflicts come to be defined b) comparing ostensibly ethnic conflicts with those in which par- ticipants align themselves along religious, political, racial, regional, or other divisions 2. investigations of social processes that move ethnic conflict (which often proceeds in relatively nonviolent ways) into or out of violent forms of struggle, including conditions, processes, and interventions that pro- mote nonviolent conflict resolution 3. research on how political entrepreneurs (such as ethnic leaders), violence specialists (such as heads of militias), and dealers in contraband (such as drug merchants) promote and inhibit transitions between violent and nonviolent forms of struggle 4. studies of which combinations of governmental form and popula- tion composition promote or inhibit acute conflicts in the names of ethnic groups; how and why this occurs 5. compilations of extensive, comparable catalogs of conflict events
4 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES across the space of the former Soviet Union before, during, and after the Soviet collapse, that include a) brief accounts and descriptions of events for selected periods across the entire territory b) closer studies of long-term changes in conflict for selected re- glons c) analyses of selected episodes with evidence on both violent and nonviolent forms of interaction before, during, and after collective vio- lence 6. studies of interventions in ethnic conflicts, covering the whole range from explanation of conditions and processes that promote (or in- hibit) interventions by third parties authorities, allies, emigres, interna- tional agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and mass media to con- ditions and processes of intervention that actually contribute to the incitement (prevention, alteration, enlargement, or termination) of vio- lent conflicts 7. conduct of complementary comparative studies of social changes in localities and regions with dual purposes of a) identifying early stages and precipitants of serious conflicts b) using area expertise to look closely at the processes generating, inhibiting, mitigating, or terminating serious conflicts 8. analyses of impacts of varying and changing state policies for pro- tection, recognition, representation, or repression of ethnic categories' rights and obligations on the extent and character of ethnic conflict, in- cluding violent conflict 9. studies of the impacts of legal systems (for example, the establish- ment [or refusal] of separate legal codes and enforcement mechanisms for specific ethnic or religious categories) on the extent and character of eth- nic conflict 10. assessments of the effects of changing forms of communication and mobility (for example, access to television and the Internet) on ethnic mobilization, conflict, violence, and conflict resolution The reports of the three working groups contain much more detail on approaches to addressing the 10 topics. Although these themes may seem to cover the entire range of possible topics, they actually outline a distinc- tive approach to the analysis of ethnic conflict. Instead of concentrating on the individual orientation of one actor or group at a time and taking up the explanation of one action at a time, they constitute a program of focusing on interaction among multiple parties to ethnic conflicts, stress- ing transitions among forms of conflict, and engaging in rigorous com- parisons among local episodes.
PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH ON CONFLICT IN MULTIETHNIC COUNTRIES 5 Altogether, these 10 topics outline a considerable range of difficult but manageable problems concerning ethnic conflict upon which collabo- ration among Russian and American scholars could considerably advance our store of knowledge. Inquiries into any one of these topics would augment the knowledge available for the design of effective policies to help resolve conflicts without widespread losses of life and property.