The Dynamics of Civil War Outcomes in Bosnia and the North Caucasus

A Project of the Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) Initiative of the National Science Foundation (NSF)

    Grant number 0433927

Presentations 2008



The Geography of North Caucasian Conflicts (1999–2007): Analysis of 14,000 Violent Incidents

John V. O'Loughlin

Kennan Institute, Mar 10, 2008

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Play 20 MB animation of violent events by season, Sep 1999 - Aug 2007


Abstract: All violent events in and around Chechnya from the beginning of the second war in August 1999 to the present (over 14,000 incidents) have been precisely geo-located and cataloged by actor, scale of violence, date, and target. Cartographic and spatial-statistical analysis of these events shows that the usual descriptions of the conflict as diffusing beyond Chechnya has empirical support. The pattern of violence is related to political and economic targets and to insurgent bases and strategies.

Presentations 2007


Poster for NSF meeting, Oct 1-2, 2007

Presentor: John V. O'Loughlin

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Social distance in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the North Caucasus of Russia

M. D. Ward, J. O'Loughlin and K. Bakke
Association for the Study of Nationalities annual meeting
Columbia University, NY, April 12-14, 2007

Abstract: In this paper, we examine inter-ethnic divisions in conflict-ridden. Conventional wisdom tells us that societies that have experienced wars in which individuals of different ethnic groups have (been) mobilized against each other are likely to become divided along ethnic lines. Similarly, both policy-makers and scholars assume that such divides are one of the main challenges that must be overcome in order to restore peace after war. In particular, emerging from the literature on post-conflict power-sharing is the hypothesis that civil conflicts, in particular ethnic conflicts, are likely to result in ethnic cleavages. While several qualitative studies have shown this to be the case in the former Yugoslavia, we comparatively assess this hypothesis by using a social networking perspective, mapping the unobserved dimensions of social distance among 4,000 survey respondents in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the North Caucasus region of Russia. The surveys were carried out in the winter 2005, as part of a National Science Foundation study. Our basic results support some of the findings in the literature, but are iconoclastic in other respects.

Presentations 2006


Inter-ethnic Social Distance: The Influence of Socio-Demographic and Place Factors in Bosnia-Herzegovina

John O'Loughlin
National Convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS)
Washington, DC, Nov 16-19, 2006

Abstract: The results of this study can provoke both hope and concern. The optimistic note is sounded by the fact that almost half (47%) of Bosnians want more friends from different nationalities. The differences between the ethnic groups are not dramatic, though more than half of Croats strongly agreed or agreed with the statement about having more friends from different nationalities. The pessimistic note is related to the fact that 41% of all respondents stated that all or most of their friends were from their own nationality. Analysis of the responses by geographic location and by explanations related to modernization, ethnic competition and war experiences theses indicated that all proved useful in understanding the distributions. Croats, richer people, trusting persons, people optimistic about the economic future of their region, people who meet other ethnicities daily, males, older respondents, those with more education and those whose civic identity was of greater importance than their ethnic one all tended to have more friends from mixed nationalities and wanted to have more. By contrast, religious people, those more attached to their ethnic group over the past 15 years, those forced to move during or after the war, and those who trust only their own nationality had fewer friends from mixed nationalities and did not agree that they wanted more. The geographic distribution indicated the primacy of the urban-rural factor for both questions, and while respondents in the sample points in the Republika Srpska had fewer friends from the other nations (Bosniacs and Croats) than those in the Federation of Croats and Bosniacs, this regional difference is not apparent in the preferences for more friends for different nationalities.


International concerns about the continued ethnicization of Bosnian social and political life is both validated and challenged by the results. While electoral politics is still ethnic-based, as the recent election indicated, it appears that ordinary people are willing to consider cross-ethnic friendships and cooperation. The gap between ethnic elites and operators and their constituents, remarked by my scholars of nationalisms in the former Communist countries, is evident still in BiH.


Poster for NSF meeting, Sep 14-15, 2006

Presentor: John V. O'Loughlin

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Cooperation without Trust? Bosnia and the North Caucasus.

Michael D. Ward, John O’Loughlin, Kristin Bakke & Xun Cao (APSA 2006)

Convention slides