Stuart Kaufmann, Modern Hatreds (2001).

Summary: Kaufman sets out to answer the question of when do intercommunal rivalries escalate to large-scale ethnic wards. He draws from the fact that there is a sturdy resilience attached to the ‘ancient hatred’ theory of ethnic violence.  Importantly, “in intense conflict situations, historical mythologies acquire hegemony on the social imagination.” Ethnonationalism, for Kaufman, is essentially modern. He takes a symbolic approach (based on the concept of ‘myth-symbols’ as developed by Anthony Smith) which allows him to take insights from the ‘constructivist’ and ‘primordialist’ orientations to the analysis of cultural pluralism.


Important Insight: Myths (or ethnic symbols) are the root cause of ethnic violence.  People make political claims based on emotion and in response to symbols.


Critique: Kaufman’s framework is underspecified and unable to be falsified.