Governing Ethnic Conflict: Consociation, Identity and the Price of Peace, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Governing Ethnic Conflict

Consociation, Identity and the Price of Peace, 1st Edition

By Andrew Finlay


168 pages

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This book offers an intellectual history of an emerging technology of peace and explains how the liberal state has come to endorse illiberal subjects and practices.

The idea that conflicts are problems that have causes and therefore solutions rather than winners and losers has gained momentum since the end of the Cold War, and it has become more common for third party mediators acting in the name of liberal internationalism to promote the resolution of intra-state conflicts. These third-party peace makers appear to share lessons and expertise so that it is possible to speak of an emergent common technology of peace based around a controversial form of power-sharing known as consociation.

In this common technology of peace, the cause of conflict is understood to be competing ethno-national identities and the solution is to recognize these identities, and make them useful to government through power-sharing. Drawing on an analysis of the peace process in Ireland and the Dayton Accords in Bosnia Herzegovina, the book argues that the problem with consociational arrangements is not simply that they institutionalise ethnic division and privilege particular identities or groups, but, more importantly, that they close down the space for other ways of being. By specifying identity categories, consociational regimes create a residual, sink category, designated 'other'. These 'others' not only offer a challenge to prevailing ideas about identity but also stand in reproach to conventional wisdom regarding the management of conflict.

This book will be of much interest to students of conflict resolution, ethnic conflict, identity, and war and conflict studies in general.

Andrew Finlay is Lecturer in Sociology at Trinity College Dublin.


"Nowhere is the nexus between knowledge and power more starkly revealed than in conditions where, as the author rightly highlights, a line is drawn between the assumed ‘cause’ of conflict and its ‘solution’. Finlay usefully reveals the workings of this technology in a context that is not usually subjected to a Foucault-inspired analysis."

- Vivienne Jabri, Radical Philosophy, 168, July/August 2011

"Drawing upon the now vast literature on consociationalism and on two case studies - Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina - Governing Ethnic Conflict is a valuable addition to the ever-growing literature on consociationalism and deserves a wide readership"

- Lawrence Cooley, Political Studies Review, 2011, Vol. 9

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Anthropology, Cultural Pluralism and Consociational Theory 3. Essentialism and the Reconciliation of the Liberal State to Ethnicity 4. Is Ethnopolitics a form of Biopolitics? 5. Consociationalism as a form of liberal governmentality: ‘single identity work’ versus community relations 6. Paradigm Shifts and the Production of ‘National Being’ 7. No Exit: Human Rights and the Priority of Ethnicity 8. ‘A Long Way To Get Very Little’: the Durability of Identity, Socialist Politics and Communal Discipline 9. Conclusion

About the Author

Andrew Finlay is Lecturer in Sociology at Trinity College, Dublin.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution

The field of peace and conflict research has grown enormously as an academic pursuit in recent years, gaining credibility and relevance amongst policy makers and in the international humanitarian and NGO sector. The Routledge Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution series aims to provide an outlet for some of the most significant new work emerging from this academic community, and to establish itself as a leading platform for innovative work at the point where peace and conflict research impacts on International Relations theory and processes.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security