348 - Political Science 348: Culture and Ethnic Conflict...

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Political Science 348: Culture and Ethnic Conflict Management Fall 2005 Mr. Ross Monday and Wednesday 2:30-4 Many observers see intransigent ethnic conflicts as the greatest contemporary threat to peace. While some of these conflicts, such as in Sri Lanka or Northern Ireland, are long-term disputes, others develop an unexpected intensity in a very short time. Clearly there is widespread interest in understanding the origin, escalation, and peaceful settlement of ethnic conflicts. While a number of frameworks exist for the examination of ethnic conflict, the one developed here emphasizes the role of culture and identity in these conflicts. It focuses on the power of symbolic phenomena such as the language of street signs in Montreal and Bratislava, Orange Order marches in Northern Ireland, and religious sites and imagery in the Jerusalem. Underlying this emphasis is the central hypothesis that identity and threats to identity that are embedded in cultural practices are at the core of many ethnic conflicts. This hypothesis says that successful conflict resolution must consider cultural, as well as political, dynamics if it is to be successful. To examine the role of culture in ethnic conflict this course will ask general questions about the importance symbolic and ritual in the definition of the concrete interests and culturally rooted interpretations that drive ethnic conflicts. Through the case studies the course will develop an analysis of how culture offers constraints and opportunities to governments and leaders to move ethnic conflicts from contention to cooperation. The goal of this course is analyze approaches to culture (and symbolic and ritual action) for understanding both the escalation and deescalation of ethnic conflict. Some weeks the readings and class discussions will emphasize theoretical questions such as the nature of ethnic identity and culture while other weeks we will consider the role of culture in specific long- term ethnic conflicts. However, what is the semester long focus is to develop connections between theory and specific cases. The readings and discussions will introduce a number of relevant cases from many parts of the world; however, students many have an interest in other cases that are not covered and you are encouraged to bring them into the discussions and to do their term paper on any case in which culture plays a core role in an identify conflict. Expectation and assignments . There is a good deal of reading assigned and classes will be focused discussion based to explore ideas in the readings, student reactions to them, and the link between theory and the cases authors present. Students will write two or three short papers and a term paper. (Co-authored term papers are encouraged but not required.) In addition, students will prepare biweekly ungraded (but required) comments in response to the readings or any other issues which are relevant to the course’s questions. These comments are to be a paragraph to a page in length and are to be handed in at the beginning of each class
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This note was uploaded on 07/25/2009 for the course POLS 101 taught by Professor All during the Spring '09 term at Rutgers.

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348 - Political Science 348: Culture and Ethnic Conflict...

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