In IS 309 this evening, we assessed the strengths and weaknesses of three competing theories of ethnic identity (and ethnic violence)–constructivism, primordialism, and instrumentalism. We read the following:
Fearon, James D. and David D. Laitin. 2000. Review: Violence and the Social Construction of
Ethnic Identity,” International Organization, 54:4, pp. 845-877
Harvey, Frank P. 2000. Primordialism, Evolutionary Theory and Ethnic Violence in the Balkans:
Opportunities and Constraints for Theory and Policy,” Canadian Journal of Political Science, 33:1,
Collett, Moya. 2006. Ivoirian identity constructions: ethnicity and nationalism in the prelude to
civil war,” Nations and Nationalism, 12(4), 613-629
Kaplan, Robert. D. 1993. Balkan Ghosts: A Journey through history Part I and One Chapter from each of Parts II, III, and IV.
Hechter, Michael. 1995. Explaining Nationalist Violence,” Nations and Nationalism, Vol 1(1), 53-68.
We then viewed a video on the breakdown of political life in the Ivory Coast and the descent of that once relatively prosperous west African state into civil war. The civil war was characterised as a battle between the “Muslim-populated north and the Christian-dominated south.” How accurate is this characterisation of the ethnic character of Cote D’Ivoire’s civil war?
For information about the current political situation, in the wake of the refusal of former(?) President Laurent Gbagbo to acknowledge having lost power in elections held several weeks ago, watch these.
As a video supplement to the Rwanda chapter from Samantha Power’s book on genocide, and the Gourevitch book, we viewed the first part of the PBS Frontline documentary “Ghosts of Rwanda” in class today. Please view the remaining hour or so sometime before next Friday’s class as we will use the first portion of that session to continue our discussion on the international community’s failure to halt the slaughter of more than 800,000 Tutsis by the Hutu-led Rwandan government.Here’s the first part of the documentary. Click on the video to take yourself to Youtube, where you will easily find the remaining parts.
Today in IS 302 we viewed the video “Can the UN Keep the Peace”, which looked at the challenges that face the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Like the pairing of the perfect wine with the right meal, this video was (at least in my opinion) a perfect complement to today’s readings.
Henry Farrell, who teaches political science at George Washington University, has posted an essay with tips for students writing political science papers. There are some important insights, such as “cut to the chase”, “organize, organize, organize”, and “avoid data dumps.” In my opinion, his most important tip (and this would also apply to examinations) is “read the requirements for the assignment.” If you’re unsure about the requirements, or there is something you don’t understand, seek clarification from your professor/instructor. The whole essay can be found here:
There was some uncertainty in seminar a few days ago regarding the Canadian government’s official stance on the Armenian genocide, which began in 1915. In short, Canada as of 2004 officially recognises the Armenian genocide. From a 2004 CBC story–“Canadian Parliament Recognizes Armenian Genocide”:
The House of Commons has reversed a long-standing policy
and passed a resolution denouncing the Turks for committing genocide against Armenians in 1915.The vote passed easily, 153-68.
The motion said: “That this House acknowledges the Armenian genocide of 1915 and condemns this act as a crime against humanity.”
For decades consecutive Canadian governments have dodged the sensitive issue by calling what happened in eastern Turkey a “tragedy,” stopping well short of referring to the events as “genocide.”
The U.S. dropped a similar resolution a year earlier after the White House warned it could hurt U.S. security interests.
Before Wednesday’s vote in Parliament, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham issued a statement saying “Canada has had friendly and co-operative relations with Turkey and Armenia for many years. The Canadian government is committed to make these relationships even stronger in the future.
For a transcript of the debate in the House of Commons, go here.
I wanted to make all of you aware of a lecture by one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of sexual violence during war, Elizabeth Wood from the Department of Political Science at Yale University. The lecture is open to the public. Here are the details:
Simons Lectures in the Social Dynamics
of Peace and Conflict
Guest Speaker: Professor Elisabeth Jean Wood
Elisabeth Wood is Professor of Political Science at Yale University and
Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.
Monday, 18 October 2010
Public Lecture: ‘Sexual Violence During War: Rape Is Not Inevitable’
1600 – 1730
Room 7000 (Earl & Jennie Lohn Policy Room)
Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre, (7th floor),
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
In IS 302 today, we viewed the first 2/3 of the PBS documentary, Worse than War, based on the work of genocide (note: not genocidal) scholar Daniel Goldhagen , who is probably known best for his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Many of the issues raised by Goldhagen in the documentary were relevant to the readings of this week by Kaldor, et al.
Here are some questions that we will try to answer in class, based on the Mueller, Kalyvas, Collier & Hoeffler, and Kaldor readings:
- How has the nature of warfare changed (or has it) over the course of the last 70 years or so? Provide evidence from at least four sources.
- Comparatively assess the arguments of Collier & Hoeffer, Kalyvas, Mueller, and Kaldor. What are some commonalities? Divergence of opinion?
- What are the policy implications–from a humanitarian perspective–of taking each of the authors’ arguments seriously? Discuss.
Collier & Hoeffler (2004) “Greed and Grievance in Civil War
- Define `greed’ and `grievance’ in the context of the analysis of rebellion/civil war.
- What are the types of causal mechanisms that each term implies?
- What do C & L mean by `opportunity’?
- Based on the statistical results, what conclusion do C & L draw regarding the causes of the onset of rebellion?
- What is the analytical importance of diaspora communities?
- How important are ethnic grievances in fomenting rebellion?
. Mueller (2000) The Banality of `Ethnic War’
- Why does Mueller put the words ethnic war in scare quotes in the title?
- What does Mueller mean when he says that ethnic war is `banal?’
- What evidence does Mueller use to support his main argument(s)?
- According to Mueller, what are the stages of ethnic war and ethnic cleansing?
- What is `ethnic cleansing’?
- Did ethnicity play any role in the inter-ethnic violence in Yugoslavia and Rwanda? Continue reading “New and Old Wars Reading Questions”
Here’s a fascinating debate from the 1960s between two American intellectual giants–William Buckely and Noam Chomsky–on the morality of military intervention. Chomsky makes a very strong claim: in the history of humankind never has a state intervened military on the basis of disinterested (i.e., altruistic) motives. Military intervention is always about the furthering of self-interest, but is often dressed up in garb of humanitarianism. Chomsky notes, of course, the few exceptions; exceptions, that is, in the sense that some states didn’t even bother trying to put a veneer of humanitarianism on their naked power grabs–think Belgian in the Congo.
The readings for this Friday’s seminar come exclusively from Gary Bass’s recent book Freedom’s Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention. Here are some of the questions that will orient class discussion
- Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Humanitarian interventions of the 19th century were less humanitarian than imperialistic. Great powers simply cloaked what amounted to self-interested military intervention in the garb of humanitarianism, when these interventions were nothing of the sort. Explain.
- Is the realist worldview tenable, given what you know about some of the humanitarian interventionS of the 19th century?
- What was the effect of media–the so-called CNN effect–on the humanitarian impulses during the 19th century?
- What does Bass mean by an “imagined humanity?” Continue reading “IS 302–Reading Questions for Freedom’s Battle (Bass)”