The Geography of Ethnic Violence: Identity, Interests, and the Indivisibility of Territory

Princeton University Press
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The Geography of Ethnic Violence is the first among numerous distinguished books on ethnic violence to clarify the vital role of territory in explaining such conflict. Monica Toft introduces and tests a theory of ethnic violence, one that provides a compelling general explanation of not only most ethnic violence, civil wars, and terrorism but many interstate wars as well. This understanding can foster new policy initiatives with real potential to make ethnic violence either less likely or less destructive. It can also guide policymakers to solutions that endure.

The book offers a distinctively powerful synthesis of comparative politics and international relations theories, as well as a striking blend of statistical and historical case study methodologies. By skillfully combining a statistical analysis of a large number of ethnic conflicts with a focused comparison of historical cases of ethnic violence and nonviolence--including four major conflicts in the former Soviet Union--it achieves a rare balance of general applicability and deep insight.

Toft concludes that only by understanding how legitimacy and power interact can we hope to learn why some ethnic conflicts turn violent while others do not. Concentrated groups defending a self-defined homeland often fight to the death, while dispersed or urbanized groups almost never risk violence to redress their grievances. Clearly written and rigorously documented, this book represents a major contribution to an ongoing debate that spans a range of disciplines including international relations, comparative politics, sociology, and history.

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About the author

Monica Duffy Toft is Associate Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Assistant Director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Harvard University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 2010
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781400835744
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Much of the thinking in this area has centered on third parties presiding over the maintenance of negotiated settlements, but the problem with this focus is that fewer than a quarter of recent civil wars have ended this way. Furthermore, these settlements have been precarious, often resulting in a recurrence of war. Toft finds that military victory, especially victory by rebels, lends itself to a more durable peace. She argues for the importance of the security sector--the police and military--and explains that victories are more stable when governments can maintain order. Toft presents statistical evaluations and in-depth case studies that include El Salvador, Sudan, and Uganda to reveal that where the security sector remains robust, stability and democracy are likely to follow.

An original and thoughtful reassessment of civil war terminations, Securing the Peace will interest all those concerned about resolving our world's most pressing conflicts.

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