The Territorial Management of Ethnic Conflict

By John Coakley | Go to book overview

1

Introduction

The Challenge

JOHN COAKLEY

While ethnic conflict has many dimensions, one of the first to strike the observer is the territorial one. Marching rituals in Northern Ireland, for instance, are designed frequently to express symbolic control over territory, and the very creation of Belfast's 'peace line' represents an effort to give concrete geographical shape to a profound interethnic division. The contours of the ethnic mosaic of Cyprus became increasingly clearly defined in the 1960s, and in 1974 the ethnic map of the country was radically reformed, as the long-established bicommunal patchwork yielded to a partitioned country, a 'green line' extending through Nicosia and the rest of the island separating the Turkish North from the Greek South. In a similar development, intercommunal conflict in Lebanon was eventually transformed into competition over territory, with another 'green line' stretching through Beirut and partitioning it into western (Muslim) and eastern (Christian) sectors. This pattern is commonly to be found elsewhere, with Kashmir and Israel/Palestine offering vivid contemporary examples.

The prominence of territorial demands in the rhetoric of ethnic activists is an extremely common phenomenon-demands for autonomy within a state, for separation from it, or for unification with another state. The link between ethnicity and territoriality is, then, well established, but it is also complex. Ethnic affiliation and territorial location have long been acknowledged as sources of national identification; the distinction between the two may be traced back to that between jus sanguinis and jus soli in public international law. 1 Just as these two criteria of identification may give conflicting answers regarding the position of an individual, so too may they give rise to conflict at the collective level, at the level of the community.

In this domain, two sources of potential conflict between the state and the community or communities that reside within its borders may in principle be identified. Both arise from the essentially territorial nature of the state. It is hardly necessary to go back to Weber's description of the

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The Territorial Management of Ethnic Conflict
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures vi
  • Maps viii
  • Preface to Second Edition xii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Canada 23
  • 3 - Northern Ireland 45
  • 4 - Belgium 73
  • 5 - South Africa 99
  • 6 - Israel 118
  • 7 - Pakistan 143
  • 8 - Sri Lanka 173
  • 9 - The Dissolution of the Soviet Union 199
  • 10 - The Dissolution of Czechoslovakia 229
  • 11 - The Dissolution of Yugoslavia 264
  • 12 - Conclusion 293
  • Index 317
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