Does Ethnicity Kill?
Since the end of the Cold War internal conflicts and ethnic violence has swept around the world (Kaufmann, 1996:136). Internal conflicts are affecting many countries in the world today, and ethnicity is regarded as the center of politics in those countries where internal conflict is widespread (Reynal-Querol, 2002:29). The study of ethnic violence has focused on inter-groups differences, “ancient hatreds”, centuries-old feuds, and the stresses of modern life within a global economy and at the role of the interests and motives of individuals and groups (Lake and Rothchild, 1996:41). However, the question of why ethnic violence occurs and if ethnicity is the main cause of ethnic violence, is still unanswered questions. Many scholars have tried to answer these questions by relying on primordialist assumptions while others have analyzed ethnic violence through social constructivist lenses (Fearon and Laitin, 2000).
In this paper I will not attempt to give an exact answer to why ethnic violence occurs and whether the construction of identities is central to the cause of ethnic violence, but rather, I will answer what exactly ethnic identity is, how it can be constructed and what role the construction of ethnic identities plays in the occurrence of ethnic violence. In order to do this I will use social constructivism as my analytical tool and Rwanda and Sudan as my case studies to look closer at the role of identity-construction and the occurrence of ethnic violence. The aim of this paper will be to conclude with that actions both on structural, local and individual levels interact with each other in the occurrence of ethnic violence and that it will be misleading to solely rely on the primordialist assumptions of naturally and fixed identities and ancient hatreds as the main causes of ethnic violence. Due to the allowed length of this paper I will not attempt to provide a comprehensive analysis, but will emphasize the most...