ASTK15397U COURSE: Ethnic Conflict

Volume 2015/2016


Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


This course examines the claims of the state and various ethnic groups in countries undergoing internal conflicts most frequently over the issues of group identity.  We will also analyze the complex role of the international community in facilitating the peaceful resolution of such conflicts. The course begins by analyzing the nature of ethnicity and ethnic conflict, and then looks at the political main means of regulating such conflicts (democracy, power sharing, coercive exchange, and authoritarianism).  In doing so, it looks at ethnic demands upon the state and the state's responses to these demands.  However, when the demands are presented in a non-negotiable manner and intense conflict surfaces, the conflict tends to become internationalized.  This leads, in the later part of the course, to a focus on the international community's role in containing conflict and facilitating its peaceful resolution.  Although the course is mainly concerned with process and looks at cases in the world over, special attention will be given to conflicts in Sub-Saharan

Competency description:

The course will provide invaluable skills and knowledge for anyone seeking to work on the issues of identity and gain the practical ability to analyze the ethnic divisions that divide countries around the globe. Understanding these dynamics is invaluable for a wide range of careers, whether working for international agencies, multilateral organizations, non-profit organizations, corporations, or governments.

Learning Outcome

The objective of this course is to enable the students to:

  • Describe the ethnicity and ethnic conflict
  • Present the key theoretical orientations concerning the primordial, instrumental, and constructivist understandings of ethnicity.
  • Apply the theories to actual cases
  • and analyze the main theoretical trends relating to: : 1) the concept of ethnicity, 2) causes of violent ethnic conflict Combine and synthesize contributions to the academic debate on the concepts of ethnicity and identity-base civil conflict
  • Evaluate the validity of the various theorists’ arguments.

Week 1 - (160 pages)

Topic - Concepts of Ethnicity and Inter-Group Conflict


  • Rothchild (1997), chapter 1, pp.1-24 (24 pages)


  • Chandra (2006), “What is Ethnic Identity and Does it Matter?” (29 pages)


  • Posner (2003), “The Colonial Origins of Ethnic Cleavages:” (21 pages)


  • Sambanis (2001), “Do ethnic and non-ethnic civil wars have the same causes?” (46 pages)


  • Vail (1989), Introduction to The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa (16 pages)


  • Kasfir (1979), “Explaining Ethnic Political Participation” (24 pages)



SHORT FILM & Discussion – Na Wewe



Week 2 - (182 pages)

Topic – Group Demands, Internal State Regimes and Conflict Structuring


  • Rothchild (1997), Chapters 2 and 3 (64 Pages)


  • Cederman et al (2010), “Why Do Ethnic Groups Rebel? New Data and Analysis” (34 pages)


  • Beissinger (2008),“A New Look at Ethnicity and Democratization,” (12 pages)


  • Reynal-Querol (2002), “Ethnicity, Political Systems and Civil Wars” (26 pages)


  • Reilly (2000/2001) “Democracy, Ethnic Fragmentation, and Internal Conflict” (25 pages)


  • Lustick (1979), "Stability in Deeply Divided Societies” (21 pages)



    Week 3 - (82 pages)

    Topic –The Spread of Ethnic Conflict


  • Koinova (2010), “Diasporas and Secessionist Conflicts” (25 pages)


  • Lake and Rothchild (1996), “Containing Fear: The Origins and Management of Ethnic Conflict” (36 pages)


  • Posen (1993), “The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict” (21 pages)



Week 4 – (56 pages)

Topic – Rwanda


  • International Crisis Group (1999), “Five years after the genocide in Rwanda: Justice in question” (39 pages)


  • Rwanda document #1 – Letter from General Dallair to UN headquarters (2 pages)


  • Rwanda document #2 – US cautions using genocide language (4 pages)


  • Rwanda document #3 – US Presidential Decision Directive 25 (4 pages)


  • Rwanda document #4 – US Defense Intelligence Agency assessment (7 pages)


FILM: Ghosts of Rwanda


Week 6 – (131 of pages)

Topic - Darfur


  • Kasfir (2005), “Sudan’s Darfur: Is It Genocide”


  • Power (2004), “Dying in Darfur: Can the Ethnic Cleansing in Sudan Be Stopped?” (24 pages)


  • Deng and Morrison (2001), “U.S. Policy to End Sudan’s War” (20 pages)


  • International Crisis Group (2006), “To Save Darfur” (38 pages)


  • International Crisis Group (2007), “Darfur’sNew Security Reality” (41 pages)


  • International Crisis Group / Zogby Polls (2005), “Do Americans Care about Darfur?” (8 pages)



Week 7 – (316 pages)

Topic - International Efforts to Manage Ethnic Conflict


Self-Determination, Partition and Secession


  • Winter and Baudewyns (2009), “Belgium: Towards the Breakdown of a Nation-State in the Heart of Europe?” (26 pages)


  • Downes (2006), “More Borders, Less Conflict? Partition as a Solution to Ethnic Civil Wars” (13 pages)


  • Sambanis (2000), “Partition as a Solution to Ethnic War” (47 pages)


    State Sovereignty and International Responsibility


  • Evans and Sahnoun (2002), “The Responsibility to Protect” (12 pages)


    Third-Party Interrvention – Coercive and Noncoercive Incentives


  • Rothchild (1997) chapters 4 and 9 (60 pages)


  • Rothchild and Emmanuel (2010), “Soft Intervention in Africa” (22 pages)


    Peace Processes: Implementing Peace Agreements


  • Rothchild (1997), chapters 5, 6 and 7 (102 pages)


  • Coakely (2009), “Ethnic Conflict Resolution: Routes Towards Settlement” (23 pages)


  • Licklider (1995), "The Consequences of Negotiated Settlements in Civil Wars, 1945-1993” (11 pages)


This course requires all participants to compose a significant research paper (“free assignment”) based on a topic from the course. More information will be provided in a handout in the first week of the course.
This course will combine several types of instruction and collaborative learning. This includes lectures, several videos, group discussions/work and student presentations.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Course Preparation
  • 140
  • Exam
  • 38
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner