Nearly all states around the globe accommodate culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse societies, and as such, they face increasing pressures to grant sufficient degree of recognition to ethnic, linguistic, religious, and other communities self-identifying themselves as being culturally different. Although there is no universally applicable policy blueprint for accommodating cultural diversity, the effectiveness with which states manage and respond to the claims of different minority groups is an important predictor of peace and stability within ethnically diverse societies.
The Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict brings together staff of the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy & Politics with research expertise on, and interest in, this practical puzzle: How do contemporary states and international organisations negotiate and communicate with residents of ethnically different origin, elaborate and implement policies of minority protection, maintain and improve relations between group who perceive of themselves as having different, and at times conflicting, perennial identities. The focus of Centre's work is on the social and political origins of ethnic conflict, policy instruments of conflict prevention, post conflict reconciliation and peace building, and on comparative analyses of intergroup conflicts across the globe.
Since its establishment in January 1998, the Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict promotes research on societies that are or have been deeply divided in terms of their linguistic, ethnic, national and cultural identities. Located in the capital of Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast provides an especially appropriate setting for the study of the problems that a deep division in society gives rise to, even in the conditions of relative peace. The Centre therefore offers a unique opportunity to gain a rare insight into and experience of post conflict reconciliation, peace and confidence building in the context of divided society in an otherwise consolidated Western democracy.
The Centre offers an ideal setting for the study of ethnic conflict. While at peace, Northern Ireland remains a deeply divided society and provides on a daily basis examples of how ethnic identity shapes social attitudes and political strategies. Thus, the Centre has at its doorstep the material for developing a deeper understanding of conflicts around ethnic identity markers.