After Civil War: Division, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation in Contemporary Europe

After Civil War: Division, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation in Contemporary Europe

After Civil War: Division, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation in Contemporary Europe

After Civil War: Division, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation in Contemporary Europe


Civil war inevitably causes shifts in state boundaries, demographics, systems of rule, and the bases of legitimate authority--many of the markers of national identity. Yet a shared sense of nationhood is as important to political reconciliation as the reconstruction of state institutions and economic security. After Civil War compares reconstruction projects in Bosnia, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Spain, and Turkey in order to explore how former combatants and their supporters learn to coexist as one nation in the aftermath of ethnopolitical or ideological violence.

After Civil War synthesizes research on civil wars, reconstruction, and nationalism to show how national identity is reconstructed over time in different cultural and socioeconomic contexts, in strong nation-states as well as those with a high level of international intervention. Chapters written by anthropologists, historians, political scientists, and sociologists examine the relationships between reconstruction and reconciliation, the development of new party systems after war, and how globalization affects the processes of peacebuilding. After Civil War thus provides a comprehensive, comparative perspective to a wide span of recent political history, showing postconflict articulations of national identity can emerge in the long run within conducive institutional contexts.

Contributors : Risto Alapuro, Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic, Chares Demetriou, James Hughes, Joost Jongerden, Bill Kissane, Denisa Kostovicova, Michael Richards, Ruth Seifert, Riki van Boeschoten.


Bill Kissane

This book is about the reconstruction of national identities in European societies after internal war. While country-specific studies, and those of reconstruction projects after international wars, exist, how European societies have reconstructed their national identities after civil conflict has not been studied in a comparative way. Such wars invariably result in changes to the territorial bases of states, population movements, the collapse of old systems of rule, and disputes concerning the nature of legitimate authority, all of which touch on questions of national identity. These issues become explosive because they reveal what type of society people feel they belong to. Unlike after international wars, the combatants have to learn to coexist within the state’s borders. This again raises the question of what unites them. Unlike international wars, civil wars invariably split identity, so the question of how a shared postconflict identity can be reconstructed is a complex one. Narratives of international war can be unifying; those of internal wars are not.

The main difference is that we have a divided nation in a civil war (see van Boeschoten, this volume). Modern civil wars, ethnic or nonethnic, are usually fought over the definition of political community. They thus inflict a deep wound on societies’ sense of themselves, creating divisions that easily lead to accusations of betrayal. National, regional, local, even family divisions, combine in an intense way. a divided national identity is one consequence. During civil war a simplification of the national past occurs, one that obliterates nuance in favor of a dichotomous reading of national values. At the same time, since nationhood is deeply subjective, these arguments over its essence have the character of a “hot family feud” and thus make civil wars more embittered than war against a foreign oppressor . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.