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Shaking the tyrant’s bloody robe: An evolutionary perspective on ethnoreligious violence

  • Jordan Kiper (a1) and Richard Sosis (a1)

Group violence, despite much study, remains enigmatic. Its forms are numerous, its proximate causes myriad, and the interrelation of its forms and proximate causes poorly understood. We review its evolution, including preadaptations and selected propensities, and its putative environmental and psychological triggers. We then reconsider one of its forms, ethnoreligious violence, in light of recent discoveries in the behavioral and brain sciences. We find ethnoreligious violence to be characterized by identity fusion and by manipulation of religious traditions, symbols, and systems. We conclude by examining the confluence of causes and characteristics before and during Yugoslavia’s wars of disintegration.

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Jordan Kiper, M.A., Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, 354 Mansfield Road, U-2176, Storrs, CT 06269-2176. Email:
Richard Sosis, Ph.D., James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology and Director of the Evolution, Cognition, and Culture Program, Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, 354 Mansfield Road, U-2176, Storrs, CT 06269-2176. Email:
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Total number of PDF views: 27 *
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Abstract views

Total abstract views: 342 *
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* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd September 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.