Identity and Intergroup Conflict

This course explores the dynamic and complex relationship between identity and post-modern intra-state and international conflict with the emphasis on the role of different forms of identities both in the emergence of conflicts and in processes of conflict resolution and transformation. For example, ethnic groups participate in civil wars more than any other types of dissident groups (i.e. as we see in conflicts in the Balkans, Syria, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland and many others). At the same time, religion plays an increasing role in global civil conflict, where sexual violence is a widely acknowledged threat. The common theme across these problems is identity in all its forms such as race, ethnicity, nationality, religion and gender and others. This course explores the questions of what identity is and where identities originate. Why do most contemporary conflicts center in, one way or another, on identity and what are some solutions to conflict where perpetrators and targeted individuals or groups often espouse divergent identities? During the course students will gain a deeper understanding of how identity is embedded in context, how identity is manipulated for political ends and how identity conflict may be resolved. By exploring the origin of diversity and thinking critically about their own instrumental and sincere identity preferences as well as that of others, students will learn the complexity of the interaction between identity and conflict as well as some fundamental principles of conflict resolution.

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