The Geography of Ethnic Violence

  • Alex Rutherford
  • May Lim
  • Richard Metzler
  • Dion Harmon
  • Justin Werfel
  • Shlomiya Bar-Yam
  • Alexander Gard-Murray
  • Andreas Gros
  • Yaneer Bar-Yam
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)

Abstract

We consider the conditions of peace and violence among ethnic groups, testing a theory designed to predict the locations of violence and interventions that can promote peace. Violence arises at boundaries between regions that are not sufficiently well defined. We model cultural differentiation as a separation of groups whose members prefer similar neighbors with a characteristic group size at which violence occurs. Application of this model to the area of the former Yugoslavia and to India accurately predicts the locations of reported conflict. Characterizing the model’s success in predicting peace requires examples where peace prevails despite diversity. Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability, and prosperity. This is surprising because of its linguistic and religious diversity that in other parts of the world lead to conflict and violence. Here we analyze how peaceful stability is maintained. Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well-defined topographical and political boundaries separating linguistic and religious groups, respectively. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and violent conflict has led to the recent creation of the canton of Jura. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that violence between groups can be inhibited by both physical and political boundaries. A similar analysis of the area of the former Yugoslavia shows that during widespread ethnic violence existing political boundaries did not coincide with the boundaries of distinct groups, but peace prevailed in specific areas where they did coincide.

References

  1. 1.
    Lim, M., Metzler, R., & Bar-Yam, Y. (2007). Global pattern formation and ethnic/cultural violence. Science, 317, 1540. CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rutherford, A., Harmon, D., Werfel, J., Bar-Yam, S., Gard-Murray, A., Gros, A., et al. (2011). Good Fences: The importance of setting boundaries for peaceful coexistence. NECSI Report. arXiv:1110.1409.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Horowitz, D. L. (2000). Ethnic groups in conflict (2nd ed.). Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Harff, B., & Gurr, T. R. (2004). Ethnic conflict in world politics (2nd ed.). Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Huntington, S. (1996). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chirot, D., & Seligman, M. E. P. (Eds.). (2001). Ethnopolitical warfare: Causes, consequences, and possible solutions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Reynal-Querol, M. (2002). Ethnicity, political systems, and civil wars. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 46, 29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gulden, T. R. (2002). Spatial and temporal patterns in civil violence: Guatemala, 1977–1986. Politics Life Sciences, 21, 26.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Buhaug, H., & Gates, S. (2002). The geography of civil war. Journal of Peace Research, 39, 417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Varshney, A. (2003). Ethnic conflict and civic life: Hindus and Muslims in India. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Toft, M. D. (2003). The geography of ethnic violence: Identity, interests, and the indivisibility of territory. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fox, J. (2004). Religion, civilization, and civil war: 1945 through the new millennium. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Mann, M. (2004). The dark side of democracy: Explaining ethnic cleansing. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lustick, I. S., Miodownik, D., & Eidelson, R. J. (2004). Secessionism in multicultural states: Does sharing power prevent or encourage it? American Political Science Review, 98, 209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Chayes, A., & Minow, M. L. (Eds.). (2003). Imagine coexistence: Restoring humanity after violent ethnic conflict. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kaufmann, C. (1998). When all else fails: Ethnic population transfers and partitions in the twentieth century. International Security, 23, 120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Easterly, W., & Levine, R. (1997). Africa’s growth tragedy: Policies and ethnic divisions. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112, 1203. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Collier, P., & Hoeffler, A. (1998). On the economic causes of civil war. Oxford Economic Papers, 50, 563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bates, R. (2000). Ethnicity and development in Africa: A reappraisal. The American Economic Review, 90(2), 131–134.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fearon, J. D., & Laitin, D. D. (2003). Ethnicity, insurgency, and civil war. American Political Science Review, 97, 75–90 (2003).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Posner, D. N. (2004). Measuring ethnic fractionalization in Africa. American Journal of Political Science, 48(4), 849–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ivanov, P. Ch., et al. (1996). Nature, 383, 323.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Daubechies, I. (1992). Ten lectures on wavelets. Philadelphia: SIAM.CrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Map of Yugoslavia. (1991). Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/europe/yugoslav.jpg.
  25. 25.
    Petrovic, R. (1992). The national composition of Yugoslavia’s population, 1991. Yugoslav Survey, 33, 3.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Chaudhuri, K. (2001). Frontline. http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl1802/18020330.htm. Accessed 20 Jan 2001.
  27. 27.
    Lijphart, A. (1977). Democracy in plural societies: A comparative exploration. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Schmid, C. L. (1981). Conflict and consensus in Switzerland. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Martin, W. (1931). A history of Switzerland: An essay on the formation of a confederation of states. London: G. Richards.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hof, U. (1991). Im, Geschichte der Schweiz. Kohlhammer Urban-Taschenbücher (vol. 188). Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Bonaparte, N. (2002). In V. Monnier (Ed.), Proclamation de St. Cloud, 30 septembre 1802 in Bonaparte et la Suisse: Travaux Preparatoires de l’Acte de Mediation (1803). Geneva: Helbing & Lichtenhahn.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Steiner, J. (1974). Amicable agreement versus majority rule: Conflict resolution in Switzerland. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Glass, H. E. (1977). Ethnic diversity, elite accommodation and federalism in Switzerland. Publius, 7, 31.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Linder, W. (2010). Swiss democracy: Possible solutions to conflict in multicultural societies (3rd ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Head, R. C. (2002). Early modern democracy in the Grisons: Social order and political language in a Swiss Mountain Canton: 1470–1620. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    McRae, K. D. (1983). Conflict and compromise in multilingual societies: Switzerland. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Church, C. H. (2004). The politics and government of Switzerland. New York: Palgrave MacMillian.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Christin, T., & Hug, S. (2006). Federalism, the geographic location of groups, and conflict, CIS Working Paper No. 23, Center for Comparative and International Studies, ETH Zurich and University of Zurich.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Shearer, W. (2008). Determine indicators for conflict avoidance. Global Pattern Formation and Ethnic/Cultural Violence. https://www.sciencemag.org/content/317/5844/1540/reply
  40. 40.
    Jarvis, A., Reuter, A., Nelson, H. I., & Guevara, E. (2008). Hole-filled SRTM Version 4. http://srtm.csi.cgiar.org.
  41. 41.
    Bovik, A. (2009). Essential guide to image processing. Burlington: Academic.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Keech, W. R. (1972). Linguistic diversity and political conflict: Some observations based on four Swiss cantons. Comparative Politics, 4, 387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Citizens to settle territorial Jura conflict, Swissinfo, May 4, 2009. http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/Citizens_to_settle_territorial_Jura_conflict.html?cid=7377228. Accessed 21.02.11.
  44. 44.
    Cederman, L. E., & Gleditsch, K. S. (2009) Introduction to special issue on “disaggregating civil war”. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 53, 487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Bohorquez, J. C., Gourley, S., Dixon, A. R., Spagat, M., & Johnson, N. F. (2009). Common ecology quantifies human insurgency. Nature, 462, 911.CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Nugent, P., & Asiwaju, A. I. (Eds.). (1996). African boundaries: Barriers, conduits and opportunities. London: Pinter.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Mitchell, K. (1997). Transnational discourse: Bringing geography back in. Antipode, 29, 101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Silberfein, M., & Conteh, A. (2006). Boundaries and conflict in the Mano River region of West Africa. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 23, 343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Rutherford
    • 1
  • May Lim
    • 1
  • Richard Metzler
    • 1
  • Dion Harmon
    • 1
  • Justin Werfel
    • 1
  • Shlomiya Bar-Yam
    • 1
  • Alexander Gard-Murray
    • 1
  • Andreas Gros
    • 1
  • Yaneer Bar-Yam
    • 1
  1. 1.New England Complex Systems InstituteCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations