Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs Series) / Edition 1

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Ethnic conflict has been the driving force of wars all over the world, yet it remains an enigma. What is it about ethnicity that breaks countries apart and drives people to acts of savage violence against their lifelong neighbors?Stuart Kaufman rejects the notion of permanent "ancient hatreds" as the answer. Dissatisfied as well with a purely rationalist explanation, he finds the roots of ethnic violence in myths and symbols, the stories ethnic groups tell about who they are. Ethnic wars, Kaufman argues, result from the politics of these myths and symbols—appeals to flags and faded glories that aim to stir emotions rather than to address interests. Popular hostility based on these myths impels groups to follow extremist leaders invoking such emotion-laden ethnic symbols. If ethnic domination becomes their goal, ethnic war is the likely result.Kaufman examines contemporary ethnic wars in the Caucasus and southeastern Europe. Drawing on information from a variety of sources, including visits to the regions and dozens of personal interviews, he demonstrates that diplomacy and economic incentives are not enough to prevent or end ethnic wars. The key to real conflict resolution is peacebuilding—the often-overlooked effort by nongovernmental organizations to change hostile attitudes at both the elite and the grassroots levels.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kaufman begins by surveying the stories various reporters and analysts have told about the conflict in Yugoslavia. . . He writes clearly of the complexities, teasing out relationships among the factors of history, symbols, attitudes, leadership, and the economy."—Book News, November 2001

"While providing excellent background of ethnic wars, Modern Hatreds is not simply a historical text. It offers a modern interpretation of the many recent individual conflicts, and helps knit together the broader themes that are relevant to them all."—Ryan Connors, National Journal, August 2001

"Kaufman is convincing when he argues that ethnic violence is not the result of 'ancient hatreds,' and that contemporary politics and the struggle for power among individuals and elite groups largely determine who will engage in violence and who, ultimately, will get killed."—Istvan Deak, The New York Review of Books, September 26, 2002

"Modern Hatreds is an excellent and timely contribution to scholarship on ethnic war. . . Kaufman manages to combine a thoroughly researched and detailed analysis of the case studies and the construction of a hypothesis that may explain, to some extent, the emergence of ethnic war."—Bronwyn Evans-Kent, University of Queensland. Journal of International Studies, Vol. 30, No. 3

"Kaufman teases out the roots of hatred and violence from myths and stories, finding symbolic connections to counter the purely rationalist explanation of ethnic violence. He finds that appeals to emotion by use of symbols are more persuasive than such rational incentives as money could ever be."—Perspectives #23-24, December-January 2002

"The events of September 11, when collective hatred left its indelible calling card on U.S. soil, heightened people's need to make sense of the catastrophe. Although this detailed work on the history of hatred did not directly involve the incidents that suddenly placed the comfortably cocooned country into the cauldron of ethnic conflicts, it provides a thoughtful perspective of events and motivations that should fascinate any serious reader."—Dipak K. Gupta, San Diego State University. Political Science Quarterly, Spring 2002

"In Modern Hatreds, Stuart Kaufman provides a solid, cohesive argument in favor of paying more attention to the myths and symbols underlying ethnic conflict. The systematic treatment of ethnic conflict across comparable case studies distinguishes this study from most other recently published works on this topic. This is not only a sound piece of scholarship, but also an accessibly written book that should be read in and beyond academe."—Robert J. Kaiser, University of Wisconsin

Kaufman begins by surveying the stories various reporters and analysts have told about the conflict in Yugoslavia. From these stories he unravels some underlying assumptions, then gleans insights from each type of analysis, and combines them into a more comprehensive explanation for the causes of ethnic war. He writes clearly of the complexities, teasing out relationships among the factors of history, symbols, attitudes, leadership, and the economy. Kaufman acknowledges support for this study from the United States Institute of Peace and the University of Kentucky, among other institutions, but his current affiliation is not stated in the book. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801487361
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2001
  • Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Stories about Ethnic War 1
2 The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War 15
3 Karabagh and the Fears of Minorities 49
4 Georgia and the Fears of Majorities 85
5 Elite Conspiracy in Moldova's Civil War 129
6 Government Jingoism and the Fall of Yugoslavia 165
7 The Power of Symbols 203
Notes 223
Index 253
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