In the name of God and nation: The overlapping influence of separatism and religion on ethnic conflict

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For the past decade and perhaps even longer, ethnic conflicts, especially those involving religion and separatism have been gaining increasing attention by the media, academics, and policy makers. Many ethnic conflicts involving both religious differences and separatism have become well known. These include the conflicts involving the Palestinian minority in Israel, the Tibetan region of China, the Kashmiri and Sikh minorities in India, the East Timorese in Indonesia, the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, and the Chechen minority in Russia as well as the various conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, to name just a few. As discussed below, both religion and separatism are believed to be among the major causes of violence in the modern era. However, few studies have compared the individual and combined impact of these two factors on ethnic conflict. Accordingly, this study addresses the dual issues of religion and separatism in two stages. First, it reviews the literature on the influence of religion and separatism on conflict in order to assess the current perceptions of the impact of these two factors on conflict. This review clearly demonstrates that while many studies deal with these two factors individually, few address them in combination. Second, this study uses data from the Minorities at Risk data set as well as data collected independently to assess the overlap between religious and separatist conflicts among ethnic conflicts, and to assess both the independent and combined impact of religion and separatism on the extent of ethnic rebellion between 1985 and 1998.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-455
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Identities
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002


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