Civil War Thesis

Civil War Thesis-45
Kaplan’s thesis on the wars’ origins in ‘ancient hatreds’ is severely limited by the cultural determinism and racialist essentialism inherent within Primordialist theory, with the result that he fails to determine the primary causes of the Yugoslav Civil War.In examining the unique nature of the Yugoslav war it is appparent that none of the theories properly account for its origins (Harmon, 2007, 13).

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Founded on Balkanist assumptions regarding Serb and Croat culture; the reductionist nature of Kaplan’s methodology significantly undermines the utility and subsequent validity of his thesis.

This reductionism is also apparent in Kaplan’s limited usage of case-studies.

A central criticism of Primordialism by Constructivists is the premise that ethnic identity is a natural, archaic variable rather than the discursively-constructed, malleable concept that Constructivists perceive it to be (Fearon and Laitin, 2000, 849).

Primordialism’s consideration of culture as an objective category- rather than a subjective product of social, cultural and political interaction- generates accusations of racialist essentialism and cultural determinism by Constructivists.

The application of Neorealist and Constructivist approaches shows that although both theories provide an analysis of the ‘necessary conditions’ in which the Yugoslav conflict occurred, neither explain the primary causes.

Rather, a multidisciplinary approach is necessitated, summarised in Paul Roe’s thesis that the origins of the Yugoslavian conflict was the result of each group’s concern for their societal identity, a result of elite exploitation of structural anarchy for political gain.The causes of the Yugoslavian Civil War, a succession of ongoing conflicts within the former Socialist federal republic between 1991-1999, is a much-debated subject within contemporary academia (Cederman ., 2009, 99).In his text ‘Balkan Ghosts’, journalist Robert Kaplan attributes its origins to ‘ancient hatreds’, the central tenet of Primordialism which hypothesises that conflict is the inevitable result of perennial, irreconcilable hostile feelings existing between ethnic groups in a heterogeneous society (1993, 7).This content was written by a student and assessed as part of a university degree.E-IR publishes student essays & dissertations to allow our readers to broaden their understanding of what is possible when answering similar questions in their own studies.Kaplan’s thesis is also susceptible to this challenge.Between the Yugoslavian state’s inception in 1945 to its collapse in 1990 heterogenous ethnic-groups coexisted without conflict despite- as Kaplan observes- apparent differences in religion and culture.In its rejection of the Primordialist thesis Realist theory seeks to provide an alternative account of the primary causes of ethnic conflict- transposing macrocosmic, structural explanation of state-warfare onto the microcosmic inter-state level.Unlike Primordialism and Constructivism, Realist theory perceives ethnicity as neither inherent within human nature nor intrinsically valuable as an explanation for the origins of ethnic conflict.Primordialists assert that ethnicity is an objective identity- the result of cultural beliefs and traditions natural to one’s ethnicity- which are singular and fixed with distinct social boundaries (Bayar, 2009, 1642).The existence of such an ineffable bond between individuals defines them against other groups, with the result that they behave in a unitary manner during times of crisis (Ibid, 1659; Williams, 2015, 147).


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