When will we Part with Partition Theory? An Account of its Flawed Premises and Improbable Longevity

TitleWhen will we Part with Partition Theory? An Account of its Flawed Premises and Improbable Longevity
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsJenne, Erin K.
Journal titleEthnopolitics
Year2012
Pages255-267
Volume11
Issue3
Abstract

This paper argues that the theory of ethnic partition, first formally articulated in the early 1990s, is plagued by flawed premises and weak empirical support. Partition theory is based on the assumption that ethnic civil wars create such intense fears and insecurities at the sub-state level that the warring sides will no longer be able to coexist in a common society. Owing to the intractable nature of this so-called ethnic security dilemma, the combatant groups will only agree to disarm once they are safely separated into defensible state-like territories. This paper argues that the security dilemma is a poor heuristic for explaining the dynamics of protracted sectarian conflicts. As a result, partition theorists underestimate the potential for ethnic reintegration, offer political cover for ethnic cleansers, and prescribe more extreme solutions to ethnic war than are actually warranted. Having demonstrated the flawed assumptions upon which partition theory is based, the paper concludes by outlining possible reasons for the theory's persistence despite its faulty underpinnings.

LanguageEnglish
DOI10.1080/17449057.2011.587956
Unit: 
Department of International Relations