Conflict Resolution and Crisis Management

Conflict Resolution and Crisis Management

Dr. Behlül Özkan

PDF Version of Syllabus


This course will focus on the transformation of pre-modern imperial spaces and networks into nation-state territories. During the last two centuries the ongoing modernization and gradual transformation of imperial spaces into westernized territories led to conflicts and finally ethnic cleansing, according to the ethnic nationalism paradigm imported from the West. The process of transformation towards the new ideal, so different from the existing human and territorial realities, was extremely painful. The aim of the course is to the introduce students with the causes of the ethnic conflicts and analyze several intrastate and interstate cases. The course will focus on the internationalization of these conflicts and therefore different conflict resolution strategies will be examined.

Course Calendar, Outline, and Readings


There are two forms of assessment for this course. Each student will be required to make a  presentation (30 points) and a paper (70  points). The presentations are to  be critical discussions, not summaries, of the assigned readings and the case studies. Students are encouraged in advance to discuss the intended topic of their papers with the instructor.

Week 1: The Geopolitical Approach

To understand the relationship between nations and politics require some knowledge of geopolitical ideas and their history. This introduction to geography will also constitute an opportunity to discuss the meaning of the homeland as a geographical term.

– Peter Taylor, Political Geography: World Economy, Nation-State and Locality (Longman, 1993), pp. 50-64.

– Harm De Blij, Systematic Political Geography (John Wiley and Sons, 1989), pp. 235-295.

– Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans (Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 1-37.

Week 2: Circulation and Iconography:

A Theoretical Framework The theoretical framework based on the concepts of circulation and iconography developed by Jean Gottmann will be analyzed. The dialectics between circulation and iconography determine the form of the political map of the world: the partitioning of geographical space.

– Jean Gottmann, “Geography and International Relations,” World Politics 3, 1951, pp. 153-173.

– Jean Gottmann, “The Political Partitioning of Our World,” World Politics 4, 1952, pp. 512-519.

– Jean Gottmann, “The Basic Problem of Political Geography: The Organization of Space and the Search for Stability,” Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 6, 1982, pp. 340-9.

Week 3: The Imperial Paradigm and the Balkans

The Balkans have been dominated by three empires: Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. The imperial model is based on military centralization combined with political, cultural and economic decentralization. In the Ottoman Empire, the field of identities does not correspond to the nation-state identities. It was organized around a strong state iconography, numerous local iconographies and other forms of identification combining language and profession. The fluidity of the system offered various possibilities of adaptation to a changing environment. Such a vision of the Ottoman Empire as a geopolitical system challenges the traditional Balkan nationalist interpretations.

– Stavrianos, The Balkans Since 1453, 81-153. – Maria Todorova, “The Ottoman Legacy in the Balkans,” in Imperial Legacy (Columbia University Press, 1996), pp. 45-77

– Dennison Rusinow, “Yugoslavia‟s Disintegration and the Ottoman Past,” in Imperial Legacy, pp. 78-99.

Week 4: National Territory:

A Counter Paradigm In Western Europe, a new geopolitical paradigm was born through the influence of the Catholic Church and the consequent reactions, through the patient construction of states and territories by monarchs, through the rise of national consciousness, through the Industrial Revolution. The new model combined state, nation and territory into a monolithic bloc that founded the extraordinary power of the West. This success led to a process of spatial diffusion. The Balkans were the first regions in the world to receive this influence.

– Jean Gottmann, The Significance of the Territory (Virginia University Press, 1973), pp. 1-52.

Week 5: Theories of Nationalism

– Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (Verso, 1991), pp. 1-46.

– Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Cornell University Press, 1983), pp. 1-7; 53-62.

– Miroslav, “Hroch From National Movement to the Fully-Formed Nation,” New Left Review 198, pp. 3-20.

Week 6: Conclusion

– Chaim Kaufmann “Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil Wars,” in Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict (1997), pp. 265-304.

– Radha Kumar, “The Troubled History of Partition, Foreign Affairs 76:1 (1997), pp. 22-34.


Case Studies

Yugoslavia – Bosnia

The dissolution of Yugoslavia and the war in Bosnia had all the undesirable aspects of conflicts in multinational states. The focus will be on the problem of secession and partition and subsequent ethnic cleansing.

– Andrew Wachtel and Christopher Bennett, “The Dissolution of Yugoslavia,” in Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies (Purdue University Press, 2009), pp. 12-47.

– Marie Janine Calic, “Ethnic Cleansing and War Crimes,” in Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies (Purdue University Press, 2009), pp. 114-151.

– Vjekoslav Perica, Balkan Idols, Religion and Nationalism in Yugoslav States (Oxford University Press), chapters 10-12, pp.165-243

Yugoslavia – Kosova

– Dusan Janjic, Anna Lalaj and Besnik Pula, “Kosovo under Milosevic Regime,” in Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies (Purdue University Press, 2009), pp. 272-301.

– James Gow, “The War in Kosovo, 1998-1999,” in Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies (Purdue University Press, 2009), pp. 302-345.


Former Soviet Union

– Rogers Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe (Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 55-76.

– Lee Walker, “Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet Transition,” in Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet World. Case Studies & Analysis, (Sharpe, 1996), pp. 3-13.

– George Schöpflin, “Nationalism and Ethnic Minorities in Post-Communist Europe,” in Europe’s New Nationalism: States and Minorities in Conflict, (Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 151-168.


– Jan Koehler and Christoph Zürcher, “Introduction: Potentials of Disorder in the Caucasus and Yugoslavia,” in New Approaches to Conflict Analysis: Potentails of Disorder (Manchester University Press, 2003), pp. 1-22.

– Jan Koehler and Christoph Zürcher, “The Art of Losing the State: Weak Empire to Weak Nation-State Around Nagorno-Karabakh,” in New Approaches to Conflict Analysis: Potentails of Disorder (Manchester University Press, 2003), pp. 145-173.

– Behlül Özkan, “Who Gains from the „No War No Peace‟ Situation? A Critical Analysis of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict,” Geopolitics 13:3 (2008): 572-599.

Northern Ireland

– John Darby, Conflict in Northern Ireland (Barnes and Noble,1976), pp. 1-24

– Marc Mulholland, Northern Ireland : A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 55-92, 107-112, 147-148

– John Coakley, “Has the Northern Ireland Problem Been Solved?”, Journal of Democracy, July 2008.


– David Newman, “Citizenship, Identity and Location: The Changing Discourse of Israeli Geopolitics,” in Geopolitical Traditions: A Century of Geopolitical Thought (Routledge, 2000), pp. 302-331.

– David Newman, “Real Spaces, Symbolic Spaces: Interrelated Notions of Territory in Arab-Israeli Conflict,” in A Road Map to War: Territorial Dimensions of International Conflict (Vanderbilt University Press, 1999), pp. 3-34.

– Yazid Sayigh, “War as a Leveler, Was as Midwife: Palestinian Political Institutions, Nationalism, and Society Since 1948,” in War, Institutions, and Social Change in the Middle East (University of California Press, 2000), pp. 200-234.

Kurdish Nationalism

– Mesut Yegen, Turkish Nationalism and the Kurdish Question. “Ethnic and Racial Studies”, 30, (2007), p.119-151.

– David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds (Tauris, 1996), pp. 395-445.

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