Thematic Introduction: Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict

Juan Díez Medrano

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Research on nationalism and ethnic conflict has shown a tendency to focus excessively on aspects that do not directly relate to the problems that triggered the research on these topics in the first place: violence and movements towards secession in plurinational and multi-ethnic states (Díez Medrano 1995). Rather than addressing these specific topics, scholars have given priority to general problems such as the historical emergence of nationalism, the presence/absence of nationalist/ethnic mobilisation, and the intensity of such mobilisation. Whether these lines of inquiry respond to a deliberate effort by social scientists to distance themselves from the mundane and the specific, or to a misled conflation of similar but distinct problems, is an open question. Policy-makers and the general public are concerned, however, by the mundane and specific questions that scholars appear to ignore. The purpose of this issue is to redirect attention to the problems of ethnic/nationalist violence and movements towards secession. More particularly, through the examination of several case studies, it seeks answers to the following questions: What is the effect of state policies on ethnic violence and/or support for secession? Can the state successively mitigate ethnonational violence and conduct policies that contribute to a decline in support for secession while simultaneously securing the individual and collective rights of ethnic and national minorities?

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Díez Medrano, Juan. Thematic Introduction: Nationalism and ethnic conflict. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2002, vol. 4, no.1, pp. 3-15. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574.

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