Family ties not nation vital in war, forum told


REVOLUTIONARIES, insurgents and suicide bombers are often more motivated by kinship ties than by broader nationalistic or religious aims, a leading sociologist has told a conference at NUI Galway.

The “popular mass media” and many scholars tended to see nationalism and armed conflict as deeply linked, but the relationship was often “complex, messy and contradictory”, Prof Sinisa Malesevic, head of sociology at University College Dublin, said yesterday.

He was addressing a conference on armed conflict in comparative perspective, hosted by NUIG’s Centre for the Study of Nationalism and Organised Violence.

Prof Malesevic challenged the view held by “conventional historiography” that most modern-day warfare – from the Napoleonic wars and the upheavals in the 19th- and early-20th-century Balkans to the two World Wars – was a direct consequence of “unrelenting nationalist aspirations”.

Similarly, the actions of clandestine militant movements, such as the IRA or Eta, were attributed to “strong, uncompromising nationalist ideologies”, as were most of the 20th-century genocides and ethnic cleansings, he noted.

In fact, most nationalism was “benign”, he said, and the link between armed conflicts and nationalism “much more indirect” and complex, and reflected in the “micro-realities” of people’s lives.

Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh of NUIG said there were “different types of nationalism”, with a distinction between “state and counter-state” forms. Ireland had two very different types on both sides of the Border.

The conference was one of two events on “talking peace” and armed conflict held at NUIG.