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Alternatives in Mobilization: Ethnicity, Religion, and Political Conflict

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This event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required. If you have any questions, please email the START events team at

What determines which identity cleavage, ethnicity or religion, is mobilized in political contestation, be it peaceful or violent? In contrast to common predictions that the greatest contention occurs where identities are fully segmented, most identity conflicts in the world are between ethnic groups that share religion. Alternatives in Mobilization builds on the literature about political demography to address this seeming contradiction. The book proposes that variation in relative group size and intersection of cleavages help explain conundrums in the mobilization of identity, across transgressive and contained political settings. This theory is tested cross-nationally on identity mobilization in civil war and across violent conflict in Pakistan, Uganda, Nepal and Turkey, and peaceful electoral politics in Indonesia. This book helps illustrate a more accurate and improved picture of the ethnic and religious tapestry of the world and addresses an increasing need for a better understanding of how religion contributes to conflict.

Dr. Jóhanna Birnir is a Professor in the department of Government and Politics and the director of GVPT Global Learning. Jóhanna studies the effect of identity (ethnicity, religion, gender) on contentious political outcomes (elections and violence), and has done extensive fieldwork in the Andes, South-East Europe and Indonesia. Birnir’s first book "Ethnic Electoral Politics" (Cambridge University Press) examines the relationship between political access and minority strategic choice of peaceful electoral participation, protest or violence against the state. Birnir’s articles on identity and politics are published in numerous academic journals including the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Party Politics, Latin American Research Review, Studies in Comparative International Development, and Journal of Global Security Studies. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, Folke Bernadotte Academy and the Global Religion Research Initiative among others.


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START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism)

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