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Regular version of the site

Ethnic Conflicts: Causes and Resolution

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
4 year, 3 module


Course Syllabus


The course focuses on recent ethnic conflict across the world – from post-Soviet space and the Yugoslav succession wars – to the genocide in Rwanda and conflicts in the Middle East. The goal of the course is to explore the reasons of ethnic conflicts in the post-Cold war era as well as key approaches to their resolution. Theoretical explanations vary from the classic nationalism theories to “new wars” approaches. Finally, we will examine the role of national governments, civil society, international organizations and military in ethnic conflict resolution.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The course aims to explore the variety of ethnic conflicts (mostly on the post-Soviet space) and eaplain the reasons for their onset and resolution
  • The course aims to explore the variety of ethnic conflicts (mostly on the post-Soviet space) and explain the reasons for their onset and resolution
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Student is capable of retrieving, collecting, processing and analyzing information relevant for achieving goals in the professional field
  • Able to do research, including the problem analysis, setting goals and objectives, defining the research subject, selecting research methods including its quality control
  • Student is capable of executing applied analysis of the political phenomena and political processes - by using political science methods - and in support of practical decision making process
  • Active participation in discussions on seminars Work with literature on the class
  • Active participation in discussions on seminars, analysis of various cases
  • Group work on seminars and preparation of course-related texts
  • Work with literature on the class and preparation of course-related texts
  • Identifies main cases and reasons of ethnic conflicts worldwide, but especially with the focus on the post-communist space
  • Learns about the most significant ethnic conflicts in recent years, especially on the post-Soviet space
  • thinks critically about recent developments in ethnic conflicts prevention policy in Russia and post-communist region in general
  • understands the main approaches to the resolution of ethnic conflicts in the 20 and 21 centuries;
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Sources and reasons for ethnic conflicts.
  • What is an ethnic conflict?
  • Genocide in Rwanda
  • Ethnic wars in Yugoslavia.
  • Ethnic conflicts on the post-Soviet space-1
  • Ethnic conflicts on the post-Soviet space-2.
  • Ethnic conflicts on the post-Soviet space-3
  • Resource curse and incidence of ethnic conflicts
  • Multiculturalism, ethnic tolerance as policy goals: theory and practice
  • Ethnic conflicts in the 21th century: prospects and potential for resolution
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Quizzes
  • non-blocking participation
    As the course is grounded on discussion of problems with no sole optimal solution, each student must take part in the discussions during seminars. The assessment of students` work is based on individual participation and individual oral presentations on the issues raised in the compulsory readings. Grading is based on answers to the instructor’s questions addressed to the audience and particular students; students’ questions to the instructor; discussions among students in smaller groups. Students are assessed for the quality of their arguments and ability to analyze critically the problem, engage with the arguments of the book, peers and the instructor, ability to find links between different parts of the course and its readings. Attendance is obligatory. Students must not skip classes without valid reason. If a student misses more than one class without a valid cause, he/she will be punished by reduction of his/her assessment by 5%.
  • non-blocking Mid-term exam
    The Midterm Test is organized in a test form, including open questions. The duration of the test is 80 minutes. Each part of the test contains the tasks of extra difficulty. The test covers the materials from lectures and mandatory readings of the course content for topics 1-5, and contains: - part A with 10 multiple choice questions 1 point each, 10 points in total - part B with 2 open questions, requiring short answers, 5 points each, 10 points in total.
  • non-blocking Final exam (essay)
    to pass exam each student has to submit an essay on the topic related to the course. The topic of an essay should be approved by instructor and submitted by student no later than two weeks before deadline.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2021/2022 3rd module


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Laitin, D. D. . (DE-588)122143310, (DE-576)164254927. (2007). Nations, states, and violence / David D. Laitin. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.266901123
  • Laitin, D. D. (2007). Nations, States, and Violence. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=216029
  • Mary Kaldor. (2013). In Defence of New Wars. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.96C32171

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Brubaker, R., & Laitin, D. D. (1998). Ethnic and Nationalist Violence. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 423. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.423
  • Clogg, R. (2008). The Politics of Identity in Post-Soviet Abkhazia: Managing Diversity and Unresolved Conflict. Nationalities Papers, 36(2), 305–329. https://doi.org/10.1080/00905990801934371
  • Darden, K., & Mylonas, H. (2012). The Promethean Dilemma: Third-party State-building in Occupied Territories. Ethnopolitics, 11(1), 85–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449057.2011.596127
  • Fearon, J. D., & Laitin, D. D. (2011). Sons of the Soil, Migrants, and Civil War. World Development, (2), 199. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.wdevel.v39y2011i2p199.211
  • Identities in between: political conflict and ethnonational identities in multicultural states. (n.d.). https://doi.org/10.25384/SAGE.6814907.v1
  • Kalyvas, S. N. (2006). The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=165326
  • Kamola, I. (2007). The global coffee economy and the production of genocide in Rwanda. Third World Quarterly, 28(3), 571–592. https://doi.org/10.1080/01436590701192975
  • Oberschall, A. (2000). The manipulation of ethnicity: from ethnic cooperation to violence and war in Yugoslavia. Ethnic & Racial Studies, 23(6), 982–1001. https://doi.org/10.1080/014198700750018388
  • Pål Kolstø, Andrei Edemsky, & Natalya Kalashnikova. (1993). The Dniester conflict: Between irredentism and separatism. Europe-Asia Studies, (6), 973. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668139308412137
  • Roland Hodler. (2006). The curse of natural resources in fractionalized countries. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.252805D
  • Sharafutdinova, G. (2000). Chechnya Versus Tatarstan. Problems of Post-Communism, 47(2), 13. https://doi.org/10.1080/10758216.2000.11655873
  • Vujacic, V. (1996). Historical legacies, nationalist mobilization, and political outcomes in Russia and Serbia: A Weberian view. Theory & Society, 25(6), 763–801. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=sih&AN=9710285467
  • Yanagizawa-Drott, D. H. (2014). Propaganda and Conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qju020