When ethnic conflicts arise, political scientists typically look at them from two different perspectives—international relations or comparative politics. A new book by Dr. Neal Jesse, political science chair, and Dr. Kristen Williams, an associate professor of government and international relations at Clark University in Massachusetts, brings the two fields together to better explore and understand the complexity of these conflicts.
Ethnic Conflict: A Systematic Approach to Cases of Conflict presents five case studies involving key disputes around the world including Bosnia, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
“This book is unique for two reasons,” Jesse explained. “First, its approach. The use of the ‘levels of analysis’ framework to look at the international, domestic and individual level sources of ethnic conflict brings together a great deal of literature that was not previously speaking to each other. Second, the comprehensiveness of the case studies. Most previous studies have only looked at one country or alternately taken a multinational approach that didn’t really explain any particular case. We do both at the same time.”
This is the first time a book has merged the two disciplines, he said, speculating that the lapse was probably due to the wide scope of the topic, which requires an expert in each subfield.
“Kristen is steeped in international relations theories and knows a great deal about constructivism, gendered nationalism and political psychology,” he said. “On the other hand, I study institutions, domestic-level sources of conflict and political parties. Finding the perfect mix of two scholars who each bring complementary parts to the project was key for us.”
Jesse and Williams worked on their doctorates at the same time at UCLA, but were studying very different topics. At a conference a few years later they realized they were both working on ethnic conflict. One article and another book later, the pair produced their second book, Ethnic Conflict.
The book is designed for undergraduates taking courses in ethnic conflict and includes full-page maps that show geographic, political, demographic and cultural data affecting that particular conflict.
It is available at a number of online book retailers and directly from the publisher, CQ Press.