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The causes and consequences of inequality and civil violence in multiethnic states



  • 2019. Mobilization and Conflict in Multiethnic States. New York: Oxford University Press. (Link to Amazon page)

    • Reviewed by Idean Salehyan (2020) in Perspectives on Politics 18(3): 971-972. (Link to review)

  • 2018. "Ethnic Stratification and the Equilibrium of Inequality: Ethnic Conflict in Post-colonial States." International Organization. (Link to article)

  • 2017. "Dynamics and Logics of Civil War." Journal of Conflict Resolution 61(9): 1992-2016 (with Lars-Erik Cederman). (Link to article)

  • 2017. "Language, Religion, and Ethnic Civil War." Journal of Conflict Resolution 61(4): 744-771 (with Nils-Christian Bormann and Lars-Erik Cederman). (Link to article)

  • 2016. "Democracy, Ethnic Exclusion, and Civil Conflict: The Arab Spring Revolutions from a Global Comparative Perspective." in Peace and Conflict 2016, edited by D. A. Backer, R. Bhavnani, and P. K. Huth. London, UK: Routledge (with Nils-Christian Bormann and Lars-Erik Cederman).

  • 2016. "Escaping the Resource Curse: How Power-sharing Prevents Ethnic Conflict over Resource Wealth in Africa." In Toyin Falola and Jamaine Abidogun (eds.): Issues in African Political Economies. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

  • 2015. "Integrating Data on Ethnicity, Geography, and Conflict: The Ethnic Power Relations Data Set Family." Journal of Conflict Resolution 59(7): 1327-1342 (with Nils-Christian Bormann, Seraina Rüegger, Lars-Erik Cederman, Philipp Hunziker, and Luc Girardin). (Link to article)

  • 2013. “Staat und Volk – was sonst?“ [The State and the People – and What Else?] in: Hanspeter Kriesi and Lars Müller (eds.): Herausforderung Demokratie. Zürich: NCCR Democracy und Lars Müller Publishers, 152-181 (with Frank Schimmelfennig).


Why are some multiethnic countries more prone to civil violence than others? My work examines the occurrence and forms of conflict in multiethnic states. In particular, in my book on "Mobilization and Conflict in Multiethnic States," I introduce a theory that explains not only why ethnic groups rebel but also how they rebel. It shows that in extremely unequal societies, conflict typically occurs in non-violent forms because marginalized groups lack both the resources and the opportunities for violent revolt. In contrast, in more equal, but segmented multiethnic societies, violent conflict is more likely.

My book traces the origins of these different types of multiethnic states to distinct experiences of colonial rule. Settler colonialism produced persistent stratification and far-reaching cultural and economic integration of the conquered groups, as, for example, in Guatemala, the United States, or Bolivia. By contrast, in decolonized states, such as Iraq, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka, in which independence led to indigenous self-rule, the colonizers' divide and rule policies resulted in deeply segmented post-colonial societies. Combining statistical analyses with case studies based on original field research in four different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, I analyze why and how colonial legacies have led to peaceful or violent ethnic movements.

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