Separatism or federalism?: Ethnic conflict and resolution in Russia and Georgia
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Ethnic conflicts have accounted for most of the world’s wars in recent decades. My dissertation, based on research on ethno-federal regions in Russia and Georgia, analyzes the factors that cause some ethnic mobilization movements to become violent while others find negotiated settlements or never become politically conflictual. Contrary to recent ethnicity literature, which emphasizes the role of ethnic group wealth, intergroup political dynamics, and historical oppression, my findings indicate that although such factors are important, central-regional elite networks and state capacity are the crucial factors that affect violent or non-violent regional strategies. Elite networks open pathways for negotiation and patronage politics. Failed states enhance the likelihood for conflict: they not only provide incentives for ethnic mobilization by enterprising regional ethnic elites, but are often unable to offer credible negotiation deals to regional groups.