Questions of nationalism, populism and ethnic conflict reemerged in the 1990s as the European Union prepared to open its doors to ten countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Many of these countries contained minorities that had endured decades of economic or social discrimination. In the context of political transition, numerous self-identified nations and groups have sought self-determination in response to ethnic fears or economic opportunities—in some cases leading to violence. To ensure the stability of the region and prevent a tidal wave of migrants in the wake of EU enlargement, the U.S. and West European governments worked closely with NATO, the EU, the UN, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to ameliorate sectarian tensions in the region. Today, the EU and NATO continue to search for solutions to ongoing conflicts in former Soviet Republics of Ukraine and Georgia as well as the newly independent Balkans states of Kosovo and Macedonia. This course examines the successes and failures of Europe’s long history of conflict management to see whether lessons can be drawn from earlier periods of conflict management that can help policy makers forge a stable peace in affected countries today. We also assess the newer threat posed by populist movements in order to identify what, if anything, can be done to ameliorate conflict associated with populism.
The course’s main aim is to provide students with a sound understanding of:
1) Theories of nationalism, ethnic conflict, populism and conflict management
2) The distinctions and interactions between nationalism and populism
3) What makes third party conflict mediation successful
4) The origins, successes, and failures of European security regimes
5) The theory and practice of conflict management strategies