Settlement patterns and the intensity of violence in ethnic conflicts
Blanken, Leo J.
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From the Second World War to the present, ethnic civil wars have continued to be a frequent and widespread phenomenon. Most of the existing literature on civil wars in general and ethnic conflict in particular is concerned with explaining onset of conflict, leaving the question of different intensity of violence under-researched. This thesis attempts to fill this gap by examining the link between structural conditions of ethnic conflicts and their violent outcomes. Specifically, it is argued that settlement patterns of conflicting ethnic groups may have explanatory power regarding different intensity of violence in conflict. Once distinct ethnic groups engage in conflict, their patterns of settlement present a strategic challenge for the warring parties. First, the more intermixed are the opponents' population bases, the harder it becomes to protect own population and the easier target opponent's population becomes. Second, interspersed ethnic groups are likely to produce abundance of small, disconnected and loosely organized militant units, which are virtually impossible to effectively manage and command, and subsequently control damage. The proposed hypotheses are tested using geospatial data on ethnic settlement patterns and through case studies. The evidence found during empirical analysis confirms that ethnic settlements have explanatory power regarding different intensity of inter-ethnic violence.
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