Many of the most disturbing images of the last decade of the twentieth century depicted horrific episodes of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and protracted ethnic or communal conflicts. In fact, post-Cold War world politics seems to have been ‘engulfed in convulsive fits of ethnic insecurity, violence and genocide’ (Lake and Rothchild, 1996, p. 41). These events have generated extensive intellectual debate among policy makers, academics and other commentators. In particular these debates have revealed two sets of assumptions about the underlying causes of ethnic antagonisms. Some argue that these conflicts represent a revival of premodern or ‘tribal’ identities, whilst others argue that they are part of a late-modern ‘fragmentary’ reaction against homogenizing tendencies of globalization.
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