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Ethnic Conflict and Public Health

By: , Posted on: April 17, 2017


In the last two decades, a new political geography has emerged changing the world map and the relations between nations and ethnic groups. The intersection of global processes with local or regional differences brings into focus the ways in which collective identity is shaped, constructed, imagined, and reconstructed for various political ends. As a result, in the second half of the twentieth century, the number of ethnic conflicts increased significantly, showing extreme forms of violence, wars, and intractable forms of conflict with short- and long-term impact in the collective health and well-being of local populations. In the following, we review main political science theories, anthropological and gendered perspectives of ethnic conflict, as well as peacekeeping and peace-building interventions.

According to the United Nations (UN), in today’s changing political world map, there are 193 member states, the majority of which have been created since the World War II. Yet the number of major cultural groupings has been estimated to be somewhere between 900 and 1500, composed of a myriad of diverse ‘nationalities,’ also called nations, while the number of spoken languages in the world – attesting for its ethnic diversity – is even greater: around 6000. All such nations when combined are estimated at around 600 million people (or 10–15% of the world’s population) who claim rights over 25–30% of the earth’s land surface and natural resources.

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