Civil wars and communal conflict in Africa are often attributed to the strength and prevalence of ethnic identity over national or civic identity and its attendant affect on political and social allegiances. Yet a review of recent survey data in several African countries is unable to validate this popular proposition.
Noted Africa-watcher Crawford Young reviews five books that examine the role of identity in recent conflicts in Liberia, Rwanda, Algeria, and elsewhere. While competing identities certainly can influence conflict, they are just one factor among many that cause and perpetuate them.
The authors counter the influential claim that civil wars have proliferated after the end of the Cold War by presenting data suggesting civil wars since the 1990s have their roots in conflicts from the 1950s and 1960s.
Security Topics: Identity Conflict