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Beyond Fractionalization: Mapping Ethnicity onto Nationalist Insurgencies



This paper theorizes the link between ethnicity and conflict. Conventional research relies on the ethnolinguistic fractionalization index (ELF) to explore a possible causal connection between these two phenomena. However, such approaches implicitly postulate unrealistic, individualist interaction topologies. Moreover, ELF-based studies fail to articulate explicit causal mechanisms of collective action. To overcome these difficulties, we introduce the new index N* of ethnonationalist exclusiveness that maps ethnic configurations onto political violence. This formalization is confirmed statistically in regression analysis based on data from Eurasia and North Africa.


Corresponding author

Lars-Erik Cederman is Professor at Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH), Seilergraben 49, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland (
Luc Girardin is Senior Researcher at Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH), Seilergraben 49, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland (


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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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