Understanding the dynamics of ethnonationalist contention: political mobilization, resistance and violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and Northern Ireland
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This thesis analyzes the dynamics of ethnic conflict evolution, mobilization and radicalization with a focus on Nagorno-Karabakh (1987–1992) and Northern Ireland (early 1960s–1969). It concentrates upon the periods when intersocietal communication was gradually being reinterpreted and reshaped on an ethnic basis, which also became increasingly crucial to public discourse. I argue that many of the weaknesses of the existing interpretations of these conflicts arise from an absolutization of single theoretical and methodological approaches. This study utilizes a synthesis of the literatures on ethnic conflict, social movements, collective action and nationalism. The perspective offered in this research sees nationalist activity as embedded in cultural contexts, social networks and intersubjective relations of reciprocity. I stress that the understanding of these dimensions is crucial to account for temporal evolution within and variation across nationalist movements. Securing the success of a specific nationalist agenda requires operating in an interdependent field of rival strategies of legitimation. The study also highlights unintended consequences in the trajectory of conflict development. Many academic accounts approach this subject from the point of view of one of the respective communities without recognizing the value of alternative conceptualizations. This study systematically examines the interactions, perceptions and attitudes of the main parties to the conflicts in question avoiding one-sided and often static interpretations. The thesis builds on extensive documentary and press material, archival research and over 50 semi-structured interviews. New empirical evidence presented here casts doubt on strong versions of the ‘ethnic entrepreneurship’ literature by emphasizing the fact that the connection 3 between developments on the ground and elite conduct was not purely automatic, and drawing attention to the symbolic repertoires, selfperceptions, categorizations and ideas that feed into the collective representation of the nation. I suggest that the constraints facing elites within each ethnic bloc, as well as ‘external’ (state) leaders, are built into the process of ethnic contestation. Overall, the thesis makes a strong case for greater attention to the limits of elite flexibility in sustaining uniform group preferences, freely opting for the path of compromise and/or (constitutional) reform.
- Theses