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Priorities for Research on the Comparative Study of Identity Conflicts Paul C. Stern, Vitaly Naumkin, Andrew Bennell, Edward W. Walker, 7~u~mila Gotagova, Emil Pain, Aleksandr Shubin authors of this report recommend a major focus of research on comparative studies of the factors involved in supporting, maintain- ing, and ending violence in the expression of identity conflicts. This working group was not appointed by the National Research Council or the National Academies. Therefore, its findings reflect the views of the individuals composing the group, not necessarily those of the National Academies or the appointed committee. Identity conflicts involve at least one party that defines itself by who its members see themselves as being. In this respect, they are different from most conflicts between states. Identity conflicts often occur within a country, and the country's government can be a party to the conflict. The research should be organized so as to provide insights relevant to conflicts with a potential for violence within the former Soviet space and similar conflicts occurring elsewhere. Our selection of topics for emphasis is motivated by the search for effective policy instruments that might be used, either by parties to the conflicts or by outside parties, to reduce violence or the potential for violence. It is presumed that there is no single best policy instrument for all such conflicts. Rather, the goal of analysis is to identify the conditions under which particular approaches to identity conflicts are likely to work best. Useful knowledge for understanding and addressing conflicts in any specific region may come from conflicts occurring in other places and times. Comparative research should not, therefore, be arbitrarily restricted in space or time; instead, it should encompass all conflicts, violent or nonviolent, that are relevant for understanding particular conflict pro- 21
22 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES cesses of interest. Similarly, comparative research should not be restricted to any single method. In particular, both qualitative case-study methods and quantitative/statistical methods may be useful. Because these meth- ods have complementary strengths and limitations, understanding will be best advanced by research that builds on the findings produced by different methods. To develop the research agenda, a broad typology of sources and manifestations of conflicts, factors affecting whether they are expressed with violence or not, and policy tools (see background paper by Bennett et al., p. 86) were considered. A broad range of violent and nonviolent identity conflicts in the post-Soviet space were considered, as well as existing databases that might be used or expanded to support the needed comparative analyses. It is recommended that comparative research efforts focus on the eight substantive topics described below. Some of these topics are defined primarily in analytical terms, and others are focused on types of interven- tion that may be used to reduce levels of violence in identity conflicts. All the topics are highly worthy of examination for the goal of providing the understanding needed for well-informed efforts to keep identity conflicts from becoming violent and for reducing levels of violence when it does occur. Some of these topics overlap with those recommended by other working groups. These overlaps indicate broad endorsement by conflict scholars, who recognize the importance of the same issues even though they approach the understanding of identity conflict from different per- spectives. The eight topics are as follows: 1. mechanisms of mobilization for identity conflict 2. processes of transformation in identity conflicts (processes that change the identity markers or the actual social cleavages around which conflict is organized) 3. uses and limitations of force for conflict management 4. effects of possibilities for nonviolent expression and adjudication of grievances on the likelihood that a conflict will become violent (This topic includes the effects of democratization and its pace and process on the potential for violent expression of identity conflicts.) 5. political economy of violent identity conflict, for example, roles of illicit sources of funds 6. studies of conditions favoring the rise of entrepreneurs of identity violence, the maintenance of their influence, and their marginalization 7. the problem of similar contexts generating violent expressions in some identity groups but not others 8. detailed comparisons of potentially instructive cases, for example, Chechnya versus Ingushetia and Dagestan
PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH ON THE STUDY OF IDENTITY CONFLICTS 23 Finally, it is recommended that comparative research on identity con- flict and violence employ a multimethod approach including both case study and multivariate statistical approaches. This point is elaborated at the end of this report. RESEARCH AREAS Mechanisms for Mobilization in an Identity Conflict The leaders and entrepreneurs of ethnic, religious, and political move- ments and organizations use a variety of methods to mobilize popular support for their positions and for popular expressions of these positions, including violent actions. These mechanisms are of interest at all stages of identity conflicts, but especially during phases of escalation and de-esca- lation. Comparative research is recommended to uncover the regional and historical specifics of these mechanisms by examining their use in differ- ent places and times, with specific focus on cases in which mobilizations for violent collective actions were and were not successful. Are there universal methods of mobilization or do they vary depending on the time, place, and context of their use? Why do particular methods of mobi- lization appear successful in building mass support and action in one case, while the same mechanisms remain unnoticed by broad masses of people in other cases? Processes of Transformation in Identity Conflicts In many cases the ideology of an identity conflict may change in the course of the conflict into something different from what was originally envisioned by the ideologists or organizers of the conflict. A conflict that started as political in nature may evolve into an ethnic or religious con- flict. An example is the conflict in Chechnya, which initially was essen- tially a political conflict but later acquired features of an ethnic and even- tually a religious conflict, substantially complicating the search for options for its resolution. Such transformations sometimes deviate from the intent of those who instigated the conflicts and seem to evolve based on a logic of their own. Processes that transform the ideology of a conflict may also transform the nature of the actual cleavages in a society that is, change the picture of who is in conflict with whom. Thus, people who are on the same side when a conflict is framed in ethnic terms may begin to fight one another if it becomes defined as a religious conflict. Research is recommended, focusing on the following questions:
24 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES · What are the mechanisms of conflict transformation? · How can the course of development of the definition of a conflict be projected? · How can decision makers act to keep conflicts from transforming into types that are especially dangerous? · What can be done to transform conflicts into forms that are more amenable to nonviolent resolution? Uses and Limitations of Force for Resolving Identity Conflicts Third parties to identity conflicts are often tempted to intervene force- fully in one way or another to reduce or prevent violence in conflicts that have a real or potential identity dimension. Some have argued that the use of armed forces, for example, peacekeeping or peacemaking opera- tions, in zones of ethnic and religious conflicts, uprisings, and so forth, often gives rise to unmanageable processes. These may include drawing an outside country or group of countries into the conflict, a loss of control over the situation by the government, and increased alienation of peace- keeping forces from the local people, who may come to perceive them as taking sides in the conflict usually the side of the adversary. In such circumstances, peacekeeping missions may be counterproductive. Also, some have argued that interventions can at times create an identity di- mension to a conflict that did not previously have that dimension, possi- bly making resolution more difficult. Comparative research to identify the conditions under which particu- lar kinds of forceful third-party interventions affect identity conflicts (for better or worse) is recommended. The research would seek to identify principles that can guide the use, extent, timing, function, and form of forceful interventions. Research would examine both negative and posi- tive experience in the use of force in different regions by the Soviet Union and Russia, on the one hand, and the United States and its allies, on the other. It would seek to test hypotheses such as the above and to arrive at useful principles by using a comparative approach to experience world- wide. Effects of Opportunities for Nonviolent Expression of Grievances Evidence suggests that identity conflicts are less likely to turn violent if identity groups have institutionalized opportunities to articulate their grievances and believe that their preferences are taken into consideration by local and national leaders. These opportunities may be embodied in institutions of Western democracies, such as free and fair elections, free- dom of speech, a free press, freedom of assembly, and full access to the
PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH ON THE STUDY OF IDENTITY CONFLICTS 25 judicial system to seek redress for discriminatory treatment, violence, slander, or activities that incite intercommunal violence. Opportunities for expression may also be embodied in traditional institutions that may, in some places, be considered more legitimate and more effective than the formal institutions of liberal democracy for providing voice and represen- tation and for adjudicating intercommunal conflicts. Consider, as ex- amples of these institutions, the loya jirga in Afghanistan; customary law (adat) administered by village or clan (,;iammaty or teipy) in Dagestan and Chechnya; or the informal system of nationality quotas for public office, ethnic electoral gerrymandering, and preferential treatment in Dagestan. Some analysts have suggested that efforts to modernize national governments in order to standardize and rationalize political and legal systems may undermine the effectiveness of traditional institutions and upset an existing equilibrium, thereby increasing the likelihood of inter- communal violence. Additional comparative research is needed on the varieties of tradi- tional mechanisms of intercommunal dispute mediation, on the compat- ibility of these traditional mechanisms with the formal institutions of lib- eral democracy and a liberal economy, and on the ways in which greater legal rationality promoted by modernizing national governments affects traditional conflict management institutions. A practical goal of the re- search is to identify ways in which national governments can consolidate their institutions without upsetting existing intercommunal equilibria. In some settings, efforts to liberalize and democratize a rigidly au- thoritarian regime have resulted in intercommunal violence by giving bigots and extremists access to the media and new opportunities to ar- ticulate their views and organize politically. lust as economic liberaliza- tion entails short-term sacrifice for long-term rewards, political liberaliza- tion and democratization may entail short-term instability in the interest of more effective institutions of voice and representation in the distant future. For example, Gorbachev's efforts to introduce a measure of liber- alization and democratization to the Soviet Union provoked intercommu- nal violence in many parts of the USSR. Arguably, a decision to liberalize or democratize Uzbekistan today could provoke interfaith or interethnic violence not only in Uzbekistan but also in other parts of Central Asia. At the same time, there are successful examples of democratization without violent identity conflicts (for example, democratic transitions in Hungary and Poland and the peaceful breakup of Czechoslovakia). Comparative research is recommended to focus on the question of why, under some circumstances, democratization has been peaceful de- spite the presence of different identity groups, while under other circum- stances democratization has exacerbated identity conflicts. Possible com- parisons might involve Hungary, Poland, or Czechoslovakia as relatively
26 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES peaceful cases and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, or Georgia as rela- tively violent cases. Independent variables to consider should include the structure of previous conflict resolution mechanisms, the nature and se- quencing of the democratization process, the structure and ownership of the media, and the preexisting level of identity conflict. As above, a prac- tical goal is to identify strategies of liberalization and democratization that might make intercommunal violence less, rather than more, likely during periods of transition. Political Economy of Violent Identity Conflict Some economic networks provide resources for violent conflict, pro- duce additional incentives for conflict, or perpetuate conflict. Domestic and international actors want to find ways to dissolve or contain such networks. In providing resources such as arms, food, and hard currency, eco- nomic networks enable groups to continue fighting. Sometimes economic networks can also generate new incentives for conflict, as they do in coun- tries with natural resources that are valuable on the international market, such as drugs, diamonds, and oil. Groups profit from the sale of these resources, sales that are only possible given the conditions of conflict. These groups benefit from continuation of the conflict, so they do not actively seek to end it, and in some cases, may hinder settlements. In some paradoxical cases, though, dividing the spoils of illegal activity may make a settlement possible, and international efforts to stop the illegal activity may make settlement more difficult. Comparative research on these processes should also draw on past research on the international arms trade, humanitarian aid, and to some extent the role of diaspora elements in identity conflicts. Research projects may help identify how and from where violent identity groups gain ac- cess to economic resources. This research should focus on how violent identity groups develop the economic networks that support them; whether these networks provide resources for the conflict or produce a new incentive for conflict; and the comparison of how different types of economic networks, for example, networks supporting the sale of drugs or diamonds, develop in different regions. Other research questions are raised by the problem of how to disable economic networks that support violent identity conflict in order to in- crease the possibilities of peace. Research on this problem might include studies of the effects of economic sanctions, monetary measures (such as freezing accounts), international diplomacy, and the creation of alterna- tive economic opportunities on the viability of illicit markets and the support for peace and normal venues for economic production and profit.
PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH ON THE STUDY OF IDENTITY CONFLICTS 27 All these research questions have been addressed to some degree in the literature on conflict, and especially by studies conducted by the World Bank and the International Peace Academy. However, these stud- ies have focused primarily on Africa. Thus, a comparative study that Includes cases from one former Soviet space would provide a broader base of knowledge for comparing cases and building theories about effec- tive conflict management strategies. Conditions Favoring the Rise and Fall of the Entrepreneurs of Identity Violence Because of the expressed interest in this topic by the working group on collective violence, this working group did not prepare a separate description of the research agenda. The working group on comparative study of identity and conflicts endorses this research emphasis and refers readers to the report of the working group on collective violence. · 1 1 ~ e1 ~ The Problem of Similar Contexts Generating Violence in Some Identity Groups but Not Others Ethnic conflicts are the result of a complex interplay of factors. Com- parative research is recommended to attend to, in particular, the effects of three types of variables on the likelihood that identity conflicts become or remain violent: (1) major societal characteristics and transformations, (2) cultural/value-based factors, and (3) the behavior of elites and leaders. The societal factors may include the conflicting parties' differing so- cial interests and their being part of a particular type of society, such as traditional or industrial. The important transformations may involve mod- ernization, revolution, national revival effects associated with disintegra- tion of a traditional society, national liberation movements, and the tran- sition from the view of society as a melting pot to the image of a salad. Research would examine the roles of such social factors and transforma- tions in countries where there has been violence and where there has been long-term peaceful coexistence and interaction of different identity groups despite differences in development or despite major social crises. Violence may also depend on major differences in cultural values between identity groups. A desire among members of one group to pro- tect its values from imaginary or real threats posed by a different culture or system of values can intensify antagonisms between identity groups to the point of violent conflict, especially in a social crisis. Research should track the relationship over time between claims of threats to an identity group's values and the extent to which it engages in violent collective action.
28 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES Both the genesis and the resolution of violence between identity groups may also depend on the actions of cultural and political leaders, who interpret their groups' values and define their courses of social and political action. Leaders' actions may also depend on personal factors such as a leader's personal charisma, political and organizational skills, and so forth. It is worthwhile for comparative studies to consider the activities and personal characteristics of the leaders of identity groups in studies of whether the groups use violence to pursue collective goals. Detailed Analysis of Instructive Cases There is a place for detailed case comparison of places and identity groups that may be particularly instructive both in itself and for the de- velopment of theory and understanding. Of particular interest are com- parisons of similar ethnic groups in the same region who differ strongly in their use of violence to pursue collective goals. A good example is the comparison of the Chechens with the Ingush, who also form part of the Vainakh group, but who have never risen against the Russian authorities. These groups are also different in levels of involvement in criminal activi- ties, among other things. Such divergences deserve special attention to investigate whether they can be accounted for by cultural differences as is sometimes hypothesized, or by other factors. Other instructive compari- sons in the North Caucasus region would include Dagestan, which stands out from other parts of the North Caucasus because the balance among the ethnic groups has long been maintained without much violence through a variety of traditional mechanisms. IMPORTANCE OF A MULTIMETHOD APPROACH The authors accept the position increasingly being taken by research- ers on identity conflicts that statistical analysis and case study research traditions have complementary strengths and limitations and that under- standing of these conflicts will best be advanced through multimethod work or work that builds on the findings produced by different methods. The primary advantages of statistical methods include the ability to carry out partial correlation analysis and its equivalents, which allow for quantitative estimation of causal weights and other causal relationships; the ability to analyze the representativeness or frequency of subsets of the data collected; and the high degree of replicability of studies using the same database. Limitations of statistical methods include a lack of ac- cepted procedures for identifying new variables, difficulties dealing with path dependencies and complex causality, problems in devising concep- tually valid operationalizations of qualitative variables, and difficulties in
PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH ON THE STUDY OF IDENTITY CONFLICTS 29 providing or testing historical explanations of individual cases. Some of these limitations may be inherent in statistical methods, while others may involve trade-offs that could ease somewhat with the development or more effective use of more sophisticated statistical techniques. Notably, this listing of advantages and limitations is almost the converse of those of case study methods, which are poor at partial correlations and mea- sures of frequency but good at identifying new variables, dealing with complex causal relations, and providing and testing historical explana- tions. The increasingly evident complementarily of case studies, statistical methods, and formal models is likely to lead toward more collaborative work by scholars using these different approaches. The recent interest among rational choice theorists in using case studies to test their theories, for example, is an important step in this direction. More generally, there are a variety of ways in which the methods can be used together, either in a single study or sequentially. · Statistical analysis might identify outliers or deviant cases, and case studies can investigate why these cases are deviant. · Statistical studies might identify strong patterns that can then be used to structure the study of individual cases. · Case studies can explore the possible causal mechanisms behind the correlations or patterns observed in statistical studies and provide a check on spurious inferences. · Statistical studies can assess the general applicability of causal mechanisms uncovered by case studies. · A proposed formal model can be tested in a case study to see if its hypothesized causal mechanisms were in fact in operation. · A case study can inductively identify a theory that can then be formalized in a model. Because case studies, statistical methods, and formal modeling have all become increasingly sophisticated, it is becoming less likely that a single researcher can be adept at more than one set of methods while also attaining a cutting-edge theoretical and empirical knowledge of a sub- stantive field. Successful collaboration is therefore likely to take the form of several researchers working together using different methods, or of researchers more self-consciously building on the findings generated by those using different methods. In either form, effective collaboration re- quires that even as they become expert in one methodological approach, scholars also become conversant with alternative approaches, aware of their strengths and limitations, and capable of an informed reading of their substantive results.
30 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES The working group therefore encourages multimethod collaboration among Russian and American researchers on comparative studies of iden- tity conflicts. Russian and American scholars with knowledge of statisti- cal techniques and databases might collaborate with their colleagues who have knowledge of particular cases and formal models to do the follow- ing: · identify statistical correlations that have unclear causal mecha- nisms and that might be usefully explored through case studies · identify case study findings and new variables that might be tested statistically · work to agree on valid, operationalizable measures of key vari- ables that can be collected into data sets · build upon the lessons learned from the American "Correlates of War" project and similar large-scale quantitative analyses of violence to produce valid and cumulative findings.