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For Kin or Country: Xenophobia, Nationalism, and War

Stephen M. Saideman and R. William Ayres

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July, 2008
Cloth, 320 pages, 6 illus., 10 tables
ISBN: 978-0-231-14478-0
$45.00 / £30.95

The collapse of an empire can result in the division of families and the redrawing of geographical boundaries. New leaders promise the return of people and territories that may have been lost in the past, often advocating aggressive foreign policies that can result in costly and devastating wars. The final years of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, the end of European colonization in Africa and Asia, and the demise of the Soviet Union were all accompanied by war and atrocity.

These efforts to reunite lost kin are known as irredentism — territorial claims based on shared ethnic ties made by one state to a minority population residing within another state. For Kin or Country explores this phenomenon, investigating why the collapse of communism prompted more violence in some instances and less violence in others. Despite the tremendous political and economic difficulties facing all former communist states during their transition to a market democracy, only Armenia, Croatia, and Serbia tried to upset existing boundaries. Hungary, Romania, and Russia practiced much more restraint.

The authors examine various explanations for the causes of irredentism and for the pursuit of less antagonistic policies, including the efforts by Western Europe to tame Eastern Europe. Ultimately, the authors find that internal forces drive irredentist policy even at the risk of a country's self-destruction and that xenophobia may have actually worked to stabilize many postcommunist states in Eastern Europe.

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About the Author

Stephen M. Saideman holds the Canada Chair in International Security and Ethnic Conflict at McGill University, where he is also associate professor of political science. He has published extensively on ethnic conflict, including the book The Ties That Divide: Ethnic Politics, Foreign Policy, and International Conflict, the co-edited Intra-State Conflict, Governments and Security: Dilemmas of Deterrence and Assurance, and articles in International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, and elsewhere. Saideman spent 2001 to 2002 on the US Joint Staff, working on the Bosnia desk of the Strategic Planning and Policy Directorate.R. William Ayres is Director of the Center for Global Citizenship and associate professor of international relations at Elizabethtown College. His work on ethnic conflict and foreign policy has been published in several books and journals, including Journal of Politics, Journal of Peace Research, and Nationalism and Ethnic Politics.

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