La géométrie cognitive de la guerre

In Bernard Baertschi & Kevin Mulligan (eds.), Les Nationalismes. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. pp. 199--226 (2002)
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Abstract
Why does ‘ethnic cleansing’ occur? Why does the rise of nationalist feeling in Europe and of Black separatist movements in the United States often go hand in hand with an upsurge of anti-Semitism? Why do some mixings of distinct religious and ethnic groups succeed, where others (for example in Northern Ireland, or in Bosnia) fail so catastrophically? Why do phrases like ‘balkanisation’, ‘dismemberment’, ‘mutilation’, ‘violation of the motherland’ occur so often in warmongering rhetoric? All of these questions are, it will turn out, connected. To understand how they are connected we we will need to examine how human beings acquire a relationship to specific chunks of land, a relationship that is emotionally so strong that they are prepared to die – or kill – to protect that land for themselves or to win it back from others. Territoriality, the biologically rooted predisposition to defend core areas of home ranges against intruders, is a near-universal phenomenon amongst animals of all species. But the ways in which defended territories are conceived and demarcated differ widely from species to species and from group to group. By coming to an understanding of the geometry of these differences we can come to understand also some of the factors which give rise to interethnic conflict.
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