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Nationalism, tribalism, and ethnic politics: why is there sometimes but not always conflict?

Tribal conflict
Why, in today's world, do some identity conflicts become serious and others do not?

Free, public event by Professor Daniel Chirot, University of Washington, Seattle


Date: Monday 22 February
Time: 3.00-4.30pm
Location: Room MB644, Aston University

Presented by the Aston Centre for Europe with Daniel Chirot, Job and Gertrud Tamaki Professor of International Studies and Sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

About the event

How can we explain why in today's world some identity conflicts become serious, even deadly, and others do not?

Daniel will look at a number of African, European, and North American cases which help us to understand why some conflicts remain calm while others become violent.

He will argue that, in our eagerness to define terms, we have separated different forms of communal identity while forgetting that many of them are quite interchangeable. As a result, we call nationalism ‘modern’ and ‘tribalism’ something quite different. Of course there are differences between societies and times in how identities are perceived, but by artificially exaggerating them we lose perspective on the similarities. Given that, how can we explain why in today's world some identity conflicts become serious, even deadly, and others do not?

About Daniel Chirot

Daniel Chirot is the author of:

  • Social Change in a Peripheral Society (Academic Press, 1976)
  • Modern Tyrants: The Power and Prevalence of Evil in Our Age (Free Press, 1994)
  • Why Not Kill Them All? The Logic and Prevention of Mass Political Murder (Princeton University Press 2006) with Clark McCauley

He is the editor of:

  • The Crisis of Leninism and the Decline of the Left (University of Washington Press, 1991)
  • Essential Outsiders: Chinese and Jews in the Modern Transformation of Southeast Asia and Central Europe (University of Washington Press, 1991)
  • Ethnopolitical Warfare (American Psychological Association Press, 2001)
  • The Causes of Backwardness in Eastern Europe (University of California Press, 1989).
He was founding editor of the Journal of East European Politics and Societies.  

He has a BA from Harvard University and a PhD from Columbia University and his research has been supported by the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Mellon Foundations, by the Social Science Research Council, and by the Institute for Human Studies in Vienna. He has consulted for the American Government, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Ford Foundation, and CARE. In 2004/05 he was a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace working on conflicts in Africa.  

Find out more about Prof Daniel Chirot >>

Further information and bookings

For more details and to book, contact Dr Lucian Leustean on l.leustean@aston.ac.uk or telephone 0121 204 3767.

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