Cover image for The deadly ethnic riot
The deadly ethnic riot
Horowitz, Donald L.
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Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xvii, 588 pages ; 24 cm
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HV6474 .H67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Donald L. Horowitz's comprehensive consideration of the structure and dynamics of ethnic violence is the first full-scale, comparative study of what the author terms the deadly ethnic riot--an intense, sudden, lethal attack by civilian members of one ethnic group on civilian members of another ethnic group. Serious, frequent, and destabilizing, these events result in large numbers of casualties. Horowitz examines approximately 150 such riots in about fifty countries, mainly in Asia, Africa, and the former Soviet Union, as well as fifty control cases. With its deep and thorough scholarship, incisive analysis, and profound insights, The Deadly Ethnic Riot will become the definitive work on its subject.

Furious and sadistic, the riot is nevertheless directed against a precisely specified class of targets and conducted with considerable circumspection. Horowitz scrutinizes target choices, participants and organization, the timing and supporting conditions for the violence, the nature of the events that precede the riot, the prevalence of atrocities during the violence, the location and diffusion of riots, and the aims and effects of riot behavior. He finds that the deadly ethnic riot is a highly patterned but emotional event that tends to occur during times of political uncertainty. He also discusses the crucial role of rumor in triggering riots, the surprisingly limited role of deliberate organization, and the striking lack of remorse exhibited by participants.

Horowitz writes clearly and eloquently without compromising the complexity of his subject. With impressive analytical skill, he takes up the important challenge of explaining phenomena that are at once passionate and calculative.

Author Notes

Donald L. Horowitz is James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science at Duke University.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Horowitz (law and political science, Duke Univ.; Ethnic Groups in Conflict) defines his subject as "an intense, sudden.... lethal attack by civilian members of one ethnic group on civilian members of another." The riot is both deliberately planned and consistently patterned, an important finding based on exhaustive sources, cross-national comparisons, and segmented analyses. The progression moves from a state of underlying "antipathy" of one group toward another, through the perception of collective threat, to a culmination in murderous violence. The timing and scope of the riot depend on the attackers' sense of "uncertainty, impunity, and justification." Thus, riots are more likely when the relative power of the aggressors and their target is in flux, rumor is rife, authorities inadvertently or deliberately offer rioters a "green light," and killing restores "justice." The groups and circumstances studied vary from episodic U.S. lynching to endemic sectarian conflict in South Asia. This definitive work is recommended for all academic and larger public libraries.DZachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

One of our most distinguished scholars of ethnic conflict, Horowitz has gazed into the fury engendered by murderous ethic riots without blinking. Scholars and policy makers alike are the beneficiaries of his effort to offer a composite portrait of the structure and natural history of the ethnic riot. In developing a topology of ethnic riots, he compares them to other acts of violence--such as violent protest, pogrom, feud, lynching, genocide, terrorist attack, gang assault, and ethnic fight--in the process of articulating the central features of the ethnic riot in its varied forms. For evidence, Horowitz relies on case studies from around the world, offering subtle and judicious comparisons in order to identify what they share in common in terms of the causes and dynamics of violence. In providing a theoretical understanding of the deadly ethnic riot, he carefully assesses the respective utility of a variety of psychological and sociological theories from past and present. The result is a rich brew of thick description, sophisticated analysis, and policy implications that is destined to become a classic in the field. All collections. P. Kivisto Augustana College (IL)

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xiii
A Note on Place Namesp. xvii
1. Say It with Murderp. 1
The Morphology and Dynamics of Violencep. 2
The Riot as Cause, Effect, and Processp. 9
The Forms of Ascriptive Violencep. 17
Deploying the Datap. 28
The State of Violence Theoryp. 34
2. Ethnic Boundaries, Riot Boundariesp. 43
Cognitive and Strategic Bases of Ethnicityp. 43
The Ontology of the Riotp. 56
Composing the Decomposablep. 69
3. The Riot Episodep. 71
The Rhythm of the Riotp. 71
Before the Riot: The Critical Role of Rumorp. 74
Before the Riot: The Lullp. 89
Preparing for War, Conquering Fearp. 94
The Atrocity-Killingp. 109
4. Selective Targetingp. 124
Precision in Targetingp. 124
The Aversion to False Positivesp. 128
Target Selection: The Starting Pointsp. 131
Strong or Weak Targets? The Question of Displaced Aggressionp. 135
Beyond Displacement: Strong Targets, Weak Momentsp. 148
5. Target-Group Characteristicsp. 151
Reputation for Aggressionp. 151
Traditional Antagonismp. 155
Opposition in Warp. 162
Political Threatp. 165
External Affinities Augmenting Internal Strengthp. 172
Psychological Strengthp. 178
Antipathy, Similarity, and Differencep. 187
6. An Economy of Antipathy
Target Selection and the Imperatives of Violencep. 194
The Source of the Precipitant and the Choice of Targetp. 197
Riot Leadership and Target Choicep. 204
Riot Location and Target Choicep. 220
Targeting: Reflections and Distortionsp. 222
7. Organizers and Participantsp. 224
Indicators of Organizationp. 227
Organizersp. 229
The Dubious Advantage of Strong Organizationp. 253
The Power of Loose Organizationp. 254
The Legions of Violencep. 258
The Deadly Riot as a Pickup Gamep. 266
8. The Occasions for Violencep. 268
Flashpoints: The Events That Precipitate Riotsp. 269
A Parade of Processionsp. 272
Strikes with Ethnic Overtonesp. 290
Divisive Electionsp. 295
Official or Unofficial Alternations of Relative Ethnic Statusp. 308
The Character of Precipitating Eventsp. 317
Precipitant-free Riotsp. 323
9. The Social Environment for Killingp. 326
Interregnap. 331
The Decline of Multiethnic Parties and Coalitionsp. 334
Fluctuations in Policyp. 337
Authoritative Tolerance, Acquiescence, or Condonationp. 343
Biased or Ineffective Instruments of Public Orderp. 352
Inhibition and Disinhibitionp. 359
Absence of Remorse: The Moral Mass Murderp. 366
10. Location, Diffusion, and Recurrencep. 374
Location: Differentials in the Fundamentalsp. 376
Propinquity and Urban Biasp. 381
Site Selection and Risk Aversionp. 384
The Diffusion of Violencep. 395
Recidivist Locationsp. 407
Recurrent Riotsp. 411
11. Aims, Effects, and Functionsp. 423
Narrow Aims, Broad Effectsp. 425
Degradationp. 430
Homogenizationp. 433
Polarizationp. 443
Civil and Secessionist Warfarep. 446
Contingent Effectsp. 453
The Putative Functions of Violencep. 458
12. Violence and Quiescencep. 467
Proof Positive and Proof Negative: The Problem of Variancep. 468
Theories of Quiescence from the Larger Research Cyclep. 471
Near-Miss Strategiesp. 477
Alternatives to Riots: Lynching and Burningp. 479
Alternatives to Riots: Ethnic Terrorismp. 482
Mild Riots and Near-Riotsp. 485
Ethnic Fightsp. 495
Changes over Time: Nonrecurring Riotsp. 497
Non-Riotsp. 509
The Hunt for the Missing Variablesp. 512
Paths to Preventionp. 513
13. The Calculus of Passionp. 522
Convening the Killing Crowd: A Causal Accountp. 523
Strategic and Rationalist Approaches to Ethnic Violencep. 545
Reason and Passion: Hypervigilance, Circumspection, and Being of More Than One Mindp. 555
The Decline of the Deadly Ethnic Riot in the Westp. 560
Indexp. 567