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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Genocide and Ethnic Conflict (PGSP11366)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryEthnic conflict and ethnic cleansing are features of the modern world; genocide, an extreme variant of these phenomena, is rare. This course takes a comparative approach to understanding the incidence and character of these kinds of ethnic violence, examining the conditions under which these conflicts arise, and thinking about the kinds of policy responses that have been and may be adopted. We begin by reflecting conceptually on the use of the terms ¿genocide¿, ethnic cleansing and ethnic conflict and how these theoretical conceptualizations in turn have implications for the measurement of conflict and its policy responses. The course then places ethnic conflict in a macro context relating it to broad processes of state building and democratization and in turn relating these processes to local conflicts; it examines its fusion with religious and sectarian identities; explores its emergence in fragile environments; and its role in the creation of mass ethnic displacement, refugees and IDPs. And finally, we consider attempts to alleviate conflict. We do this both analytically by assessing the political mechanisms on offer (consociation, federalism, etc.) and empirically by considering their implementation in historical and contemporary peace settlements; and we consider post-conflict issues such as reconciliations, transitional restorative justice, policies aimed at post-trauma healing.

Students who have taken the course will have an understanding of differing theoretical, empirical and methodological understandings of genocide, ethnic cleansing and ethnic conflict, and will be able to critically compare their manifestations across different contexts. They should also be able to analyze how genocide and ethnic cleansing/conflict interact with other sociological processes, and identify and describe some of the key issues and debates within this area of study.
Course description I Theories

Week 1: Conceptual departures (JK/LR)
We begin the course by exploring both real world and theoretical distinctions among genocide, ethnic cleansing and ethnic conflict. What are the conceptual stakes involved, and what are their implications for understanding genocide and ethnic conflict? How do we empirically - and especially for purposes of policy - know that genocide, ethnic cleansing and ethnic conflict are occurring? What are the key academic and policy issues raised by the study of ethnic violence in its various forms? As we look across the globe today, how can we contextualize what we are seeing?

Week 2: Understanding genocide and ethnic conflict (LR)
In this lecture we examine the entwined relationship between genocide/ethnic cleansing/ethnic conflict and human rights conceptions of rights violations, war crimes and mass atrocity (as outlined in the UN¿s Responsibility to Protect, or R2P). We examine this in light of key scholarly works that focus on models, approaches, or organizing analytical and empirical typologies that generally conceive of ethnic cleansing and conflict as ways of eliminating diversity or assimilating identity differences. What do these different approached imply for policy? Does it matter if genocide and ethnic cleansing are understood primarily as war crimes and mass atrocity or as involving nation building, nationalism and assimilation?

Week 3: Researching genocide and ethnic cleansing (LR)
This lecture explores the newest methodologies and technologies involved in identifying ethnic cleansing and genocide and measuring its social and environmental effects through more sophisticated statistical parameters: death, disappearance, or displacement figures; satellite imagery/GIS to measure levels of housing and building destruction; infrared imagery to identify mass graves; and spatial geo-modeling to determine incidents of ethnic violence-related events (arson-induced displacement, road destruction to control population movements, burning crop fields, detention centers or tent camps). We contextualize these as 'complex humanitarian emergencies' also requires a better grasp of environmental, disease and health effects.

II Contexts

Week 4: Macro contexts and local conflicts (JK)
In this lecture we think broadly about those macro social and political processes that underlay different forms of ethnic conflict and violent exclusions: war and state building, democratization and electoral politics, civil society, and nationalism and nation building. For example, ethnic cleansing is often associated with processes of democratization; democratic legitimacy is used as a 'we the people', exclusivist ideology; or ethnic elites play 'ethnic cards' for purposes of social mobilization, or more specifically because of the political stakes involved in the ethnic gerrymandering of electoral districts. The session aims to relate these processes to the particularities of local conflicts.

Week 5: Religious, sectarian and communal violence (JK)
Much contemporary 'ethnic' conflict has a religious guise, or has roots in religious contexts and identities, often taking the form of sectarian (e.g. Sunni/Shia/Alawite) or inter-religious (Buddhists and Muslims; Hindus and Muslims) strife. In many cases, religious identities often overlap with other pertinent cleavages, notably social class and ethnicity, and are themselves reflective of the varying statuses experience by societal groups. This lecture therefore seeks to unpack the complex factors that underpin those ethnic conflicts that have religious-inflections. How can we understand¿and respond to¿the intersectionality of religious and ethnic violence?

Week 6: Conflict and sustainable development (LR)
This week we explore ethnic conflict and ethnic cleansing through the lenses of 'moral geographies', sustainable livelihoods, fragile environment and resources richness/scarcity (land, water, minerals and supply chains). We explore the powerful global correlation between cultural diversity and biodiversity and reflect on the relationship between moral geographies, or beliefs in ethnically based rights to land, and conflict or migration patterns. Much of this is most notable in contexts of where stark poverty, fragile livelihoods and vulnerable environments combine with ethnically marked access to, or control of, social and political resources, and where in weak or infrastructurally fragile states, the politicization of underlying tensions can link local and national politics to the independent effects of resource scarcity.

Week 7: Conflict induced displacement: refugees and IDPs (LR)
This lecture focuses on the reality of lives in displacement, refugee or IDP camps settlements, examining both how conflicts are themselves displaced through these mechanisms as well as the nature of long-term displacement. We explore 'conflict neighbourhoods' of displaced and marginalized diaspora, and pay close attention to how conflict, migration and mass displacement can reconfigure urban landscapes. We also consider the sensitive issue of how resettlement or refugee camps can impact - and indeed politicize - the lives of those equally vulnerable and disaffected 'local' populations.

III Prescriptions

Week 8: Back to Theory: Eliminating or Managing Diversity (JK)
Cultural homogenization - an essential feature of genocide and ethnic conflict - is a key feature of the modern world, yet it is not an inevitable outcome. This lecture seeks to assess the range of political and institutional mechanisms on offer that allow for the maintenance of diversity in contexts characterized by ethnic violence or conflict: consociation and powersharing arrangements, federalism and federation, and third party interventions. The lecture contrasts these with those mechanisms that seek to eliminate diversity: assimilation, secession and partition. It explores some of the theoretical underpinnings and assumptions built into these kinds of arrangements for the management of difference.

Week 9: Practice: Postconflict Settlements (JK)
What are the considerations that have driven the establishment of post-ethnic cleansing or post- ethnic conflict peace settlements? What are the variety of political strategies and mechanisms the can characterized such settlements? This lecture will review the chequered history of peace settlements from those implemented at the end of interstate conflict such as Versailles to those, such as the Bosnian Dayton Accords, Arusha or the recent creation of South Sudan¿all of which sought both to end ethnic cleansing/conflict and to put in place arrangements for negotiating future diversity. The lecture examines the tensions that arise in the implementation of individual versus collective rights-oriented regimes.

Week 10: Post-conflict justice and reconciliations (LR)
This final week we explore a cluster of related post-ethnic cleansing issues: reconstruction, return, and transitional, restorative or post-conflict justice and reconciliation, and healing (ethnic) war rape traumas. We devote attention to practices of transitional and restorative justice, international and regional tribunals for reconciliation and accountability, and attention to the roles of memory, post-rape trauma and post-conflict history teaching in addressing post-ethnic cleansing/conflict needs. These include post-conflict environmental, resource and housing/property issues their roles in restorative justice, building sustainable peace, and in the possibilities for the reversal of ethnic cleansing.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, all students are expected to have an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of key sociological concepts and theoretical approaches to genocide and ethnic conflict, including ethnic cleansing. In particular, graduates will be able to demonstrate:

- Knowledge that covers and integrates key analytical or theoretical frameworks in studies of genocide and ethnic conflict/cleansing. For instance, the student will be able to critically contextualize genocide, ethnic cleansing/conflict within key theoretical and policy debates around human rights (war crimes and mass atrocity), within academic theorizations of nation building, nationalism and modalities of coerced or forced assimilation, and through the lenses of 'moral geographies', sustainable livelihoods, fragile environment and resources richness/scarcity.
- A critical understanding of the principle theories, concepts and principles used in studying genocide and ethnic conflict, including those that inform religious and sectarian conflict, sustainable development, refugees and IDPs and postconflict settlements and reconstruction issues.
- A critical understanding of a range of specialised theories, concepts and principles related to the more general topic genocide and ethnic conflict e.g. Religious, sectarian and communal violence and Conflict and sustainable development.
- An extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of how genocide and ethnic conflict are the result of broad sociological processes such as social inequalities and public policies, environmental and livelihood development issues, fragile or vulnerable states and capacities, global aid and development bureaucracies, postwar peace settlements, state-building and democratization.
- A critical awareness of current and developing issues in research on genocide and ethnic conflict, particularly those around institutional conflict knowledge production, international aid/development policies, and 'complex humanitarian emergencies'.
Reading List
Hagan, John, Heather Schoenfeld, and Alberto Palloni (2006) "The science of human rights, war crimes, and humanitarian emergencies" Annual Review of Sociology 32: 329-49

Kisara, Kimuli (2013, forthcoming) "Separate and suspicious: local social and political context and ethnic tolerance in Kenya" Journal of Politics (available at:

Lange, Mathew (2012) Educations in Ethnic Violence: Identity, Educational Bubbles and Resource Mobilization, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

McEvoy, Joanne and Brendan O'Leary (eds) (2013) Powersharing in Deeply-Divided Places, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press

Mann, Michael (2005) Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Riga, Liliana and Kennedy, James (2012) "'Putting Cruelty First': War Crimes as Human Rights in US Policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina" Sociology 46 (5): 861-75

Varshney, Ashutosh (2002) Ethnic Conflict and Civil Life, Yale University Press

Wimmer, Andreas (2012) Waves of War: Nationalism, State Formation and Ethnic Exclusion in the Modern World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr James Kennedy
Tel: (0131 6)50 4250
Course secretaryMr Dave Nicol
Tel: (0131 6)51 1485
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