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Title: A comparison of communal conflict dynamics and sub-national patterns of violence in Indonesia and Nigeria, Central Sulawesi Province and Kaduna State
Author: Diprose, Rachael
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This mixed-methods study compares the processes of violent conflict escalation and de-escalation in two pairs of neighbouring, sub-national regions in Indonesia (Poso and Donggala districts) and Nigeria (Zangon Kataf and Kachia Local Government Areas). Despite similar contextual features, this thesis demonstrates that inter-group tensions have only escalated into repeated episodes of widespread violence in one of the two research sites examined in each country. This thesis argues that the onset of, or escalation in, violent communal conflict involves complex processes that shift inter- group relations back and forth along a continuum, from more peaceful interaction between groups at one extreme, towards repeated episodes of collective violence at the other extreme. In the presence of inter-group tensions, interventions and constraints at different points in the conflict trajectory may prevent tensions culminating in violence, or prevent repeated episodes of collective violence from occurring. Analysis of the evidence suggests that violence at the sub-national level is more likely to occur during periods of political-institutional change that are accompanied by economic decline. At such times, the opportunity for groups to re-negotiate their access to the state is enlarged, as there are higher stakes that encourage groups to participate in both violent and non-violent forms of contestation. Furthermore, at such times, this thesis argues that the risk of violent communal conflict increases when the heterogeneous interests and grievances of group members converge under politically salient identity frames, in opposition to other such groups. This is particularly the case if the convergence of motivations is underpinned by a local history of political or socio- economic inequalities between groups, or the unequal recognition of cultural groups by the state. Furthermore, inequalities between the elites of politically salient groups (for example, in terms of access to power and resources) drive their own interests in mobilising the wider group in collective action. However, power- and resource- sharing, as well as efforts to redress inequalities, can help to de-escalate tensions. Underpinning the shifts of inter-group tensions along the peace-violence continuum towards collective violence are those processes that focus public attention on inter- group differences rather than similarities. Such shifts are also underscored by constellations of actions and events that link past and present, and facilitate the mounting and staging of violence along salient identity group lines (such as the use of emotive group symbols, derogatory slurs, strategically targeted violence and other acts that invite violent reprisals). However, shifts towards more peaceful interaction tend to be driven by events and actions that focus public attention on group similarities and seek to redress inter-group tensions. The overarching argument of this thesis is that in the presence of inter-group tensions, sub-national outbreaks of violence are not always inevitable in plural societies. Supra-local tensions can stimulate communal violence, but repeated episodes of violence tend to occur when there are local roots, particularly those pertaining to inequalities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available