Psychology of Ethnic Conflict
Last offered in Spring, 2004

Course Description

Although group conflict is hardly new, the last decade has seen a proliferation of conflicts engaging intra-state ethnic groups, with approximately thirty such conflicts being fought each year in every part of the globe, including North America. Unlike traditional warfare, civilians comprise over eighty percent of the casualties and the economic and psychological impact on survivors is often so devastating that some experts believe that ethnic conflict is the most destabilizing force in the post cold-war world. Although these conflicts also have political, economic, and other causes, the purpose of this advanced seminar is to develop a psychological understanding of ethnic warfare. More specifically, the course will explore the function of ethnic, religious, and national identities in inter-group conflict. In addition, it will examine the roles of leaders, extremists (terrorists/ freedom fighters), victims, and bystanders using psychological theory and research about individual and group behavior. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be used as a case-study. However, most readings will not be conflict-specific, and students will be able to pick a different conflict for their written assignments.

Lecture 1:  Defining Race and Ethnicity
Lecture 2:  Scientific Racism
Lecture 3:  Racial/Ethnic Identity
Lecture 4:  Attitude Formation
Lecture 5:  Prejudice
Lecture 6:  Psychology of Perpetrators
Lecture 7:  Problems of Refugees and Survivors
Lecture 8:  Who are the Rescuers and Helpers?
Lecture 9:  Conflict Resolution