Cultural Contestation in Ethnic Conflict

Cultural Contestation in Ethnic Conflict

Paperback Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics (Paperback)

By (author) Marc Howard Ross, Series edited by Peter Lange, Series edited by Robert H. Bates, Series edited by Ellen Comisso, Series edited by Peter Hall, Series edited by Joel S. Migdal, Series edited by Helen V. Milner

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 388 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 224mm x 26mm | 621g
  • Publication date: 28 May 2007
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521690323
  • ISBN 13: 9780521690324
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: 25 b/w illus. 4 maps
  • Sales rank: 722,808

Product description

Ethnic conflict often focuses on culturally charged symbols and rituals that evoke strong emotions from all sides. Marc Howard Ross examines battles over diverse cultural expressions, including Islamic headscarves in France, parades in Northern Ireland, holy sites in Jerusalem and Confederate flags in the American South to propose a psychocultural framework for understanding ethnic conflict, as well as barriers to, and opportunities for, its mitigation. His analysis explores how culture frames interests, structures demand-making and shapes how opponents can find common ground to produce constructive outcomes to long-term disputes. He focuses on participants' accounts of conflict to identify emotionally significant issues, and the power of cultural expressions to link individuals to larger identities and shape action. Ross shows that, contrary to popular belief, culture does not necessarily exacerbate conflict; rather, the constructed nature of psychocultural narratives can facilitate successful conflict mitigation through the development of more inclusive narratives and identities.

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Author information

Marc Howard Ross is William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor of Political Science at Bryn Mawr College where he has taught since 1968. He has had a long term interest in social science theories of conflict and their implications for conflict management and has done research in East Africa, France, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Spain, South Africa and the United States. Professor Ross has written or edited six books including The Culture of Conflict (1993) and The Management of Conflict (1993).

Review quote

'Among the many strengths of this book are its wide range of case-studies which succeed in demonstrating the multiplicity of forms that cultural expression in conflict situations may take on: parades in Northern Ireland, the politics of archaeology in contested Jerusalem, Muslim headscarves in schools in France, and the controversy over exhibiting the Confederate flag in public places in the American South. This is a first-rate work sure to make a valuable contribution to courses in political science, sociology, anthropology and ethnic and conflict studies.' Kevin Avruch, Associate Director, Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution, George Mason University 'This brilliant and much-needed book does more than convincingly illuminate how cultural narratives, ritual expressions, and enactments contribute to the escalation of ethnic conflicts. Marc Ross strikingly documents how and when new ones can be created that are more inclusive, and so contribute to the de-escalation of conflicts and to the solidity and endurance of conflict settlements.' Louis Kriesberg, Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Social Conflict Studies, Syracuse University and Founding Director of the Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts 'This well-written book has many strengths.' Political Studies Review Anthropologists, and not just political scientists, should read Ross's book even if the theoretical position he develops is a close relative of familiar anthropological perspectives. Partly the book is recommended for its wealth of empirical cases, some of them described in admirable detail; but more important is the convincing demonstration of a skill at which anthropologists used to be rather highly accomplished, namely that of systematic comparison.' The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Table of contents

1. Introduction: easy questions and hard answers. What are they fighting about?; 2. The political psychology of competing narratives; 3. Narratives and performance: ritual enactment and psychocultural dramas in ethnic conflict; 4. Loyalist parades in Northern Ireland as a psychocultural drama; 5. Where is Barcelona? Imagining the nation without a state; 6. Digging up the past to contest the present: the politics of archaeology in Jerusalem's old city; 7. Dressed to express: Muslim headscarves in French schools; 8. The politics of memory and memorialization in post-apartheid South Africa; 9. Enlarging South Africa's symbolic landscape; 10. Flags, heroes and statues: inclusive versus exclusive identity markers in the American South; 11. Culture's central role in ethnic conflict.