Many ongoing conflicts, especially those involving Western intervention, can be characterized in terms of a type of “game” with a fairly stable set of actors, preferences, and rules. At certain junctures, actors use emotions to change the set of actors, reshape preferences, and alter the rules. Actors possess a range of actions in trying to trigger emotions. These include: bombing to kill discriminately, bombing to kill indiscriminately, bombing property without killing, instigating riots, committing assassination, issuing written threats, desecrating religious sites, destroying property, spreading inflammatory posters and graffiti, and engaging in public demonstrations, and creating parallel political systems. Actors may also forego these actions and try to cooperate or simply acquiesce. My current research attempts to explain variation in these actions. My working assumption holds that this variation cannot be understood without insight into actors’ beliefs about the use of emotion in their strategies. I have been working toward a theory and set of hypotheses that incorporates emotion in explaining variation in strategy and action during conflict.
The empirical focus of my research examines the conflicts among Albanian and Slav populations in the western Balkans (Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, South Serbia) along with some comparisons to Bosnia. Examining the course of these conflicts (as well as periods of non-conflict) over the course of the past 15-20 years provides a substantial field of variation while also controlling for many economic, historical, and cultural factors.
Books by Roger Petersen:
Resistance and Rebellion: Lessons from Eastern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2001) and Understanding Ethnic Violence: Fear, Hatred, Resentment in Twentieth Century Eastern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
The Asch Seminar will be on Monday, November 17th, at 4pm, in Bettws-y-coed 127.