Rethinking the Main Theories of Ethnic Conflict in Africa


12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


  • Time: 12:00-13:00
  • Date: Thursday, 04 November, 2021
  • Venue: HS436


Independently, the two main theories of ethnic conflict, primordialism and instrumentalism, cannot satisfactorily explain ethnic conflicts in Africa. While primordialists emphasize ‘differences in ethnic identities’ as a direct source of conflict, instrumentalists point to ‘grievances/frustration’ arising from the politicization of ethnic identities to explain ethnic conflicts. My talk asserts an interactive model wherein primordialist and instrumentalist sentiments interrelate to increase group cohesion and propensity to ethnic violence. To illustrate its utility, the interactive model is applied to explain mass ethnic violence in two African countries, Rwanda and Burundi in the early 1990s.


Dr Afa'anwei Che joined the Department of International Studies in March 2021 as Assistant Professor of International Studies. He holds a Ph.D in International Relations from Swansea University, UK and is a 2019 research fellowship recipient from the China-Africa Research Initiative in Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. His current research interests focus on the security implications of China’s rise in Africa.

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