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Ethno-territoriality and Prospects for Peace after Ethnic Conflict: Towards Locally Focussed Research on the Western Balkans

Petr Cermak

Existing theories present ambiguous assumptions on the effect of ethno-territorial demographic patterns on prospects for deescalating an inter-communal conflict. The partitionist approach based on the infamous separation argument of Kaufmann (1996) claims that physical separation of the hostile groups is necessary for achieving stable peace, and generally assumes negative effect of ethnic intermingling on inter-ethnic peace. On the contrary, the rival integrationist approach developed from the contact hypothesis or social capital theory suggests that ethnic intermingling in fact facilitates peace after inter-communal conflict as it produces mutual trust and common interests. The theoretical debate that has developed along the continuum between these extreme poles has produced wide range of approaches to the ethnic conflict resolution, many of which have been more or less successfully implemented into the reality of post-conflict settings around the world. Based on this theoretical background, the presented research intends to test empirically the two competing arguments on the local level in the post-conflict region of the Balkans. While there have been performed some empirical tests of the two hypotheses, these were mostly focusing on the state or individual level of analysis and applied solely quantitative methods of analysis. This research will shift the focus on mezzo level of local ethnic communities and will use mixed method approach. The large-N quantitative test on the sample of 150 ethnically mixed municipalities will be combined with small-N comparative study of individual crucial cases. As the local environment in the Post-Yugoslav space presents wide variety of both level of ethnic intermingling and level of inter-ethnic peace, it offers and opportunity to test the causal link between the two phenomena and investigate the mechanisms acting behind it with relatively high levels of internal and external validity.

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