Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet World: Case Studies and Analysis

Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet World: Case Studies and Analysis

Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet World: Case Studies and Analysis

Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet World: Case Studies and Analysis

Synopsis

Presents 16 case studies of ethnic conflict in the post-Soviet world. The book places ethnic conflict in the context of imperial collapse, democratization and state building.

Excerpt

Nationalism and ethnic conflict are widely credited with having initiated the collapse of the Soviet empire and the Soviet state and are blamed for threatening the stability of the "democratizing" states of Central Europe and the newly independent states (NIS) of the former Soviet Union. But what do we mean by ethnic conflict, and what role is nationalism playing in the post-Soviet transition? Is what we are seeing the result of "lifting the lid" off a cauldron of ancient and ineradicable hatreds, or are age-old disputes being resurrected to serve particular political interests and social needs during a period of socioeconomic transformation?

The case studies collected in this volume cover a broad spectrum, from the battlefields of Bosnia and Nagorno-Karabagh to the successfully managed conflicts, and negotiated settlements, of Estonia, Tatarstan, and the Sakha Republic. The authors outline the contours and character of these conflicts and explain the underlying factors producing and/or mitigating conflict. In so doing, they effectively demolish the notion that "ethnic conflict" represents a unique phenomenon or that these conflicts are best understood in terms of the unchanging ethnic identities of the participants. Instead, they offer case studies of societies in transition, and the social, political, and economic conflicts spawned by imperial collapse and far-reaching socioeconomic crises. The "ethnicization," to use Klara Hallik's term, of those conflicts owes as much to the political mobilization strategies of key actors as it does to the multiethnic composition of the population and the legacy of Soviet "ethnic federalism."

One reason why ethnic conflict appears to be so pervasive is that a broad gamut of social, political, and economic conflicts are subsumed under this heading, from control over the Soviet nuclear arsenal to language and educational policies. A variety of conceptual and terminological issues have also complicated efforts to bring the tools of comparative analysis to bear on the topic. What is an ethnic group, a nationality, or a nation? Is there a political agenda behind the decision to assign a particular group to one or the other category? What is . . .

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