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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2020/2021

Ethnic Conflicts: Causes and Resolution

Type: Elective course (Political Science and World Politics)
Area of studies: Political Science
When: 4 year, 3 module
Mode of studies: offline
Instructors: Andrey N. Scherbak
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3

Course Syllabus


The course focuses on recent ethnic conflict across the world – from post-Soviet space and the Yugoslav succession wars – to the genocide in Rwanda and conflicts in the Middle East. The goal of the course is to explore the reasons of ethnic conflicts in the post-Cold war era as well as key approaches to their resolution. Theoretical explanations vary from the classic nationalism theories to “new wars” approaches. Finally, we will examine the role of national governments, civil society, international organizations and military in ethnic conflict resolution.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The course aims to explore the variety of ethnic conflicts (mostly on the post-Soviet space) and eaplain the reasons for their onset and resolution
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Active participation in discussions on seminars, analysis of various cases
  • Able to do research, including the problem analysis, setting goals and objectives, defining the research subject, selecting research methods including its quality control
  • Student is capable of retrieving, collecting, processing and analyzing information relevant for achieving goals in the professional field
  • Student is capable of executing applied analysis of the political phenomena and political processes - by using political science methods - and in support of practical decision making process
  • Able to identify ethnic conflicts
  • Knows prospects of ethnic conflicts
  • Understands ways to resolve ethnic conflicts
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Sources and reasons for ethnic conflicts.
    What is accommodation of ethnicity? Language, national identity and assimilation as key issues. “Ethnic groups in conflict”. State nationalism vs. ethnic minorities. State capacity and nationalism
  • What is an ethnic conflict?
    Nationalism and ethnicity. Why ethnicity and nationalism become the source of conflicts? Variation of ethnic conflicts/ tensions/ clashes/ wars.
  • Genocide in Rwanda
    The reasons and causes of genocide in Rwanda. How to define a genocide and why genocides happen?
  • Ethnic wars in Yugoslavia.
    The reasons of ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia
  • Ethnic conflicts on the post-Soviet space-1
    The Baltic states: why 'hot' conflict did not occur? Moldova&Transnistria: the reasons of ethnic violence. The status reversal: Russians beyond Russia.
  • Ethnic conflicts on the post-Soviet space-2.
    The Caucasus: Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The Karabakh conflict. The Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhazian conflicts
  • Ethnic conflicts on the post-Soviet space-3
    The conflict in Chechnya. Why Russia lost the First Chechen war and won the Second one? Post-war reconstruction: acheivements and problems
  • Resource curse and incidence of ethnic conflicts
    Resource dependence as the reason for ethnic conflicts in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
  • Multiculturalism, ethnic tolerance as policy goals: theory and practice
    Ethnic tolerance as a policy objective; zero-tolerance to ethnic discrimination. Ethnic discrimination. National and supra-national perspectives.
  • Ethnic conflicts in the 21th century: prospects and potential for resolution
    The role of nation state, international community and NGOs .The “New wars” concept by Mary Kaldor
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Quizzes
    Each student will have to respond to 2 short questions that aim to check if the student has done reading assignment. Usually, the response may be limited by 2-3 sentences. Each student will have up to 15 minutes for submitting his/her response. The responses have to be submitted by email to the instructor. The instructor reserves the right to announce a quiz without prior notice.
  • non-blocking participation
    As the course is grounded on discussion of problems with no sole optimal solution, each student must take part in the discussions during seminars. The assessment of students` work is based on individual participation and individual oral presentations on the issues raised in the compulsory readings. Grading is based on answers to the instructor’s questions addressed to the audience and particular students; students’ questions to the instructor; discussions among students in smaller groups. Students are assessed for the quality of their arguments and ability to analyze critically the problem, engage with the arguments of the book, peers and the instructor, ability to find links between different parts of the course and its readings. Attendance is obligatory. Students must not skip classes without valid reason. If a student misses more than one class without a valid cause, he/she will be punished by reduction of his/her assessment by 5%.
  • non-blocking Mid-term exam
    Each student will require writing a mid-term exam – a multiple-choice test, where he/she needs to identify essential names, dates, events related to ethnic conflicts (based on literature to the course). Each student will have up to 40 minutes for passing the test.
  • non-blocking Final exam (essay)
    to pass exam each student has to submit an essay on the topic related to the course. The topic of an essay should be approved by instructor and submitted by student no later than two weeks before deadline. The deadline for final essay submission is MARCH 15, 2021. The failure to submit the essay to the deadline may result in penalty as follows: -1 score if the delay is no more then 2 days, and -2 scores if more then 2 days but less then 5 days; and -3 scores if the delay is more then 5 days. Formal requirements: No less than 2500 words (+/- 10%), the topic should be submitted no later than two weeks before deadline
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.4 * Final exam (essay) + 0.24 * Mid-term exam + 0.24 * participation + 0.12 * Quizzes


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Laitin, D. D. . (DE-588)122143310, (DE-576)164254927. (2007). Nations, states, and violence / David D. Laitin. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.266901123
  • Laitin, D. D. (2007). Nations, States, and Violence. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=216029

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Brubaker, R., & Laitin, D. D. (1998). Ethnic and Nationalist Violence. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 423. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.423
  • Clogg, R. (2008). The Politics of Identity in Post-Soviet Abkhazia: Managing Diversity and Unresolved Conflict. Nationalities Papers, 36(2), 305–329. https://doi.org/10.1080/00905990801934371
  • Darden, K., & Mylonas, H. (2012). The Promethean Dilemma: Third-party State-building in Occupied Territories. Ethnopolitics, 11(1), 85–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449057.2011.596127
  • Fearon, J. D., & Laitin, D. D. (2011). Sons of the Soil, Migrants, and Civil War. World Development, (2), 199. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.wdevel.v39y2011i2p199.211
  • Identities in between: political conflict and ethnonational identities in multicultural states. (n.d.). https://doi.org/10.25384/SAGE.6814907.v1
  • Kamola, I. (2007). The global coffee economy and the production of genocide in Rwanda. Third World Quarterly, 28(3), 571–592. https://doi.org/10.1080/01436590701192975
  • Oberschall, A. (2000). The manipulation of ethnicity: from ethnic cooperation to violence and war in Yugoslavia. Ethnic & Racial Studies, 23(6), 982–1001. https://doi.org/10.1080/014198700750018388
  • Pål Kolstø, Andrei Edemsky, & Natalya Kalashnikova. (1993). The Dniester conflict: Between irredentism and separatism. Europe-Asia Studies, (6), 973. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668139308412137
  • Roland Hodler. (2006). The curse of natural resources in fractionalized countries. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.252805D
  • Sharafutdinova, G. (2000). Chechnya Versus Tatarstan. Problems of Post-Communism, 47(2), 13. https://doi.org/10.1080/10758216.2000.11655873
  • Vujacic, V. (1996). Historical legacies, nationalist mobilization, and political outcomes in Russia and Serbia: A Weberian view. Theory & Society, 25(6), 763–801. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=sih&AN=9710285467
  • Yanagizawa-Drott, D. H. (2014). Propaganda and Conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qju020