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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 1 .

Ethnic conflict and the Nation State
By Rodolfo Stavanhagen.

(London: Macmillan, 1996) 324pp.

This book is one of the outcomes of the research project on ethnic conflict and development undertaken by UNRISD (The UN Research Institute on Social Development). While written by its coordinator, it draws heavily on fourteen case studies, and mines the data from these studies to explore the dynamics of conflict: its origins and development; the role of identity; the relationship between ethnic conflict and economic development; ethnic politics. The conclusions are not encouraging. An assessment of the way ethnic conflicts are regulated, managed or resolved in different parts of the world does not give rise to much optimism (p. 273).

The book is compiled with Stavenhagen's customary magisterial competence. The case studies are a useful teaching tool. The most provoking analysis, however, lies in the last two chapters, on the management of ethnic conflict in multi-ethnic states and a general overview of the determinants of ethnic conflict. There he floats the concept of ethnic citizenship, perhaps too briefly. But the main contribution of this book is to underline both the need for serious comparative studies of ethnic conflict, and the difficulty of carrying them out, especially when qualitative approaches are adopted.

John Darby, University of Ulster

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