Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict

  • Howard Handelman
Part of the Palgrave Advances book series (PAD)


In much of the developing world — most notably Africa, South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East — ethnic strife, more so than class conflict or other types of social cleavage, has been the major source of political friction and violence during the past half-century. Indeed, since the middle of the 20th century ethnic clashes have led to the death of perhaps 20 million people in such countries as Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Turkey, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaïre), Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and Sudan. Note, however, that firm data on deaths due to ethnic massacres or purposeful starvation are generally unattainable in any country with substantial numbers of dead, and worldwide estimates are obviously even more difficult. Some thirty years ago, Harold Isaacs (1975: 3) estimated that ethnic bloodshed had cost some ten million lives since the end of World War II. Massive ethnic violence since the early 1970s in Sudan, Mozambique, Angola, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Guatemala and elsewhere have likely at least doubled that figure.


Ethnic Identity Communal Violence Sovereign State African National Congress Ethnic Conflict 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Howard Handelman

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