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Emotions and Ethnic Conflict

Emotions and Ethnic Conflict

(p.93) Four Emotions and Ethnic Conflict
Mixed Emotions
Andrew A. G. Ross
University of Chicago Press

This chapter studies the emotional dimensions of ethnic conflict, focusing on the early stages of nationalist mobilization in Serbia and Kosovo between 1987 and 1991, and the incitement of genocide in Rwanda between late 1990 and 1994. This analysis takes the constructivist critique of “ancient hatreds” a step further, positing the category of “hatred” as an abstraction that obscures the complex emotional processes involved in violent conflict. The chapter shows how political speeches, crowd activities, and reburial rituals created environments in which diverse sentiments and memories were creatively blended into the emotional politics of violence. The cases studied involved wide-reaching and multi-dimensional processes of mobilization that theories of identity construction, elite manipulation, and symbolic politics have yet to appreciate. Dispensing with simplistic images of discrete and fixed emotions, this chapter explores the emergent, socially generated affective circulations that influence violent conflict— often independently of ethnic identity.

Keywords:   Ethnic conflict, Fear, Ancient hatreds, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Genocide, Incitement, Political speech, Memory

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