Multiculturalism and Nationalism – Kosovo and Northern Ireland Bert Preiss A Tentative Sketch of the State and Nature of Societal Divisions Divided Societies XII: Building Up Polities in the Balkans and Beyond April 19-26, 2009, Inter-University Centre, Dubrovnik, Croatia
How do national divisions and class/socio-economic inequalities – at the level of the least advantaged interface communities – affect inter-group conflict in the divided societies of Northern Ireland and the Kosovo, in general,
and to what extent and how are these divisions manipulated and instrumentalised by the divided political elites?
50 semi-structured interviews and background talks in Mitrovica (South/North), Prishtina, Gračanica, Štrpce, Gjilan/Gnjilane, Prizren, Rahovec/Orahovac, Laplje Selo with Kosovo Albanians and Serbs (community leaders, ‘ordinary’ people, national politicians, NGO representatives, experts) and Internationals (policy experts)
5 interviews and background talks in Vienna with Kosovo Albanian and Serb migrants and Academic experts
Non-participant observation in Kosovo
Secondary analysis of community studies and literature review on Northern Ireland
At any time, a great number of intra-state conflicts occur in the world. In March 2009, 76 countries were threatened by or actually experienced more or less violent conflicts within their territories (ICG 2009).
Background & Rationale
Multinational/multiethnic societies are more vulnerable to inter-group conflict.
Inter-group conflict is most intense and violent between those who are particularly deprived – socially and economically and who are located at the interface between the conflicting national groups.
Often similar patterns of inter-group conflict: antagonistic camps pursue irreconcilable political objectives in the name of justice, freedom, and equality -> political self-determination vs. territorial integrity of the state.
A viable approach to explore the nature of conflict in divided societies has to be sensitive to the particular histories, traditions and identities as well as the political , socio-economic , cultural and psychological divisions . At the very minimum, the causes for these divisions have to be addressed in order to provide the basis for the creation of a comprehensive constitutional and institutional settlement.
A liberal multiculturalism of fear – which values cultural diversity only to the extent that it promotes choice and autonomy – has to be responsive to the realities where cruelty comes from and what forms of political wrongs it takes.
The stability of a political conflict settlement is crucially determined by its capacity to ensure legitimacy and popular support.
One of the foremost aims of the divided nationalist elites is to establish and maintain a hegemonic system based on ideological control over society through popular consent, or, in the absence of such, through sectarian and fear-based politics (– by contrast to mere domination through direct physical coercion by police and armed forces).
Hegemony – in Antonio Gramsci’s terms – denotes the permeation throughout society of an entire system of values, attitudes, beliefs and morality (= ideology) that has the effect of supporting the status quo in power relations. Hegemony in this sense can be defined as an 'organising principle' that is diffused by the process of socialisation through so-called ‘organic intellectuals’ into every-day life (cf. Gramsci 2000: 195-209).
Ideology – according to Anthony Giddens – is defined as the “shared ideas or beliefs which serve to justify the interests of dominant groups (Giddens 2006: 1020).”
Prejudice and inter-group hostility – according to John Duckitt – can be explained by the following approaches:
salient inter-group distinctions,
inter-group threat, and
The integrated threat theory of prejudice , which is a by-product of inter-group anxiety research, suggests that attitudes towards outgroups – both emotional and evaluative reactions – are determined by four types of threat (Stephan & Stephan).
The highest level of contentious, fundamentally disagreed views is among the Protestant/Loyalist and Catholic/Republican working class people in highly deprived and highly segregated urban areas, in particular in the interface communities in North and West Belfast (cf. NILT; Brewer et al 1998; Burton 1978; Harris 1972; Darby 1986 & 1997; Leyton 1975; McAuley 1994; McNamee 1987; Nelson 1984; Pollak 1993; Shirlow 1999 and 2003; Sluka 1989).
Belfast’s interface communities are not only affected by the highest levels of income deprivation but are also mostly disadvantaged in terms of access to a wide range of economic, social and cultural resources, such as health care, education, provision of public services, recreational facilities and private security. These wards have also experienced the highest levels of sectarian violence arising from the conflict (cf. NISRA 2005 & 2001; Fay et al 1999).
Inter-group relations are (still) characterized by the frequent occurrence of violence (physical violence, cruelty, humiliation, intimidation) caused – to a large extent – by threat- and fear-based prejudice, which is stirred by the nationalist elites (– at the local and ‘state’ level).
In the interface communities, the contested nature of the state - especially of its police force and justice system – manifests itself in informal justice and social control systems run by counter-hegemonic forces (paramilitary organizations, vigilant groups).
The Serbian minority is primarily concentrated in the Northern part of Mitrovica – a divided city which is characterized by a high level of socio-economic deprivation and dominated by nationalist politics, inter-group violence rooted in fear and prejudice and the maintenance of informal social order, control and parallel structures
The divisions between the Kosovo Albanian majority and the Kosovo Serbian minority are characterized by an almost complete separation in social, economic, political and cultural terms reflected in (residential, educational, personal and marital) segregation.
Serbian violence is directed toward the forces and institutions of the Kosovo state and also the International Community (UNMIK, KFOR, EULEX).
In particular, the interface communities remain strongly divided along national lines. This is reflected by high levels of
(residential, educational, personal and marital) segregation,
inter-group prejudice, hostility, fear, intimidation and violence,
socio-economic deprivation, and
political polarization and marginalization.
contestation over the state and the rule of law and the presence of parallel institutions and an informal social order
Thank you for your attention! LYNCHINGS A poem by Sterling A. Brown, written 1937 “ They got the judges They got the lawyers They got the jury-rolls They got the law They don't come by ones They got the sheriffs They got the deputies They don't come by twos They got the shotguns They got the rope We got the justice In the end And they come by tens.” “ A Victory for the People in Mitrovica North” An Interview with Serbian Resistance leader Oliver Ivanovic (7-21-00) Interviewers: Jared Israel and Kole Kilibardi