Skip to content

Western Intervention in the Balkans
The Strategic Use of Emotion in Conflict

$36.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Date Published: October 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521281263

$ 36.99 (P)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Conflicts involve powerful experiences. The residue of these experiences is captured by the concept and language of emotion. Indiscriminate killing creates fear; targeted violence produces anger and a desire for vengeance; political status reversals spawn resentment; cultural prejudices sustain ethnic contempt. These emotions can become resources for political entrepreneurs. A broad range of Western interventions are based on a view of human nature as narrowly rational. Correspondingly, intervention policy generally aims to alter material incentives (“sticks and carrots”) to influence behavior. In response, poorer and weaker actors who wish to block or change this Western implemented “game” use emotions as resources. This book examines the strategic use of emotion in the conflicts and interventions occurring in the Western Balkans over a twenty-year period. The book concentrates on the conflicts among Albanian and Slavic populations (Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, South Serbia), along with some comparisons to Bosnia.

    • Systematically integrates a study of emotions into the study of conflict
    • This book will be the latest and one of the most comprehensive books on the wars and interventions in the former Yugoslavia
    • It may anger some policy makers, or at least interest them, and because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are also many new courses on intervention policy in political science; this book should be of clear relevance to those courses
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    “In this important and provocative book, Roger Petersen demonstrates the enormous power that can be achieved through the strategic use of emotions, by carefully analyzing a series of high-stakes interventions in the Balkans. Instead of ignoring emotions, or writing them off as irrational aberrations, Petersen offers a powerful analytical road map that invites us to view specific emotions as crucial resources utilized by political entrepreneurs to achieve their objectives. Serving as a coherent alternative to bloodless and rationalistic reconstructions of conflict processes, Western Intervention in the Balkans constitutes a major theoretical breakthrough that is of immediate scholarly and practical relevance well beyond the region that it covers.”
    – Lars-Erik Cederman, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

    “This superb account of the Serbian-Kosovo and other Yugoslav wars accomplishes three important goals. Its nuanced use of a game theoretical model of ethnic conflict shows that what has generally been lacking in such models is the fact that strong emotions by the participating ethnic groups trump material factors. Once contempt, fear, and hatred of groups in conflict have been firmly established, convincing them to respond to purely material incentives to resolve the conflict is fruitless. Secondly, it shows that because West European and American policy makers failed to grasp this they long pursued wrong strategies to end the conflicts. Finally, Petersen’s book makes clear why the Bosnian and Kosovo situations remain unresolved despite an externally imposed, fragile peace. It is a wonderful book.”
    – Daniel Chirot, University of Washington

    “Roger Petersen's book is an admirable and important effort to link the role of emotions with the study of strategic behavior in ethnic conflict. Such a careful linkage is long overdue, and this book is precise and cogent.”
    – Donald L. Horowitz, Duke University

    “Roger Petersen unpacks the recent history of Western interventions in the Balkans to show how easily peace can be subverted by ethnic leaders who know how to appeal to anger, fear, guilt, shame, and resentment. Those who oppose peace use jujitsu-politics: they apply carefully calibrated violence to elicit a spiral of emotions and counter-violence that will bring them new fighters and new supporters. Petersen here extends rational choice theory to include emotions as resources no less important than money and guns; peacekeeping operations will never look the same after you’ve read this book.”
    – Clark McCauley, Bryn Mawr College

    “Roger Petersen's new book offers a fascinating account of the politics of conflict intervention in the Western Balkans and beyond. Following up on his previous book on ethnic conflict and emotions, Petersen shows how different contemporary configurations of power and status and past histories of violence leave various emotional residues that can be strategically used to sabotage or enhance a peace or prevention plan. Rationally calculating international policy makers thus meet strategically operating local politicians who in turn play with the moods and memories of the population at large. A brilliant demonstration that taking emotions and their historical origins seriously does neither come at the prize of theoretical sophistication nor methodological rigor but can enhance both.”
    – Andreas Wimmer, University of California, Los Angeles

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521281263
    • length: 352 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus. 4 maps 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Background and Theory:
    1. Western intervention in the Balkans: the strategic use of emotion in conflict
    2. Emotions as resources
    3. The strategic use of emotions I: theory
    4. Western intervention games
    5. The strategic use of emotions II: developing strategies, examples from non-Balkan cases
    6. The strategic use of emotions III: hypotheses
    Part II. Cases and Tests:
    7. Background to Western intervention in the Balkans
    8. The case of the Roma
    9. Background on Kosovo
    10. Kosovo: waiting for the West
    11. Kosovo: intervention games I
    12. Kosovo: intervention games II
    13. Kosovo conclusions
    14. South Serbia
    15. Macedonia
    16. Bosnia
    17. Montenegro
    18. Conclusion.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Comparative Ethnic Politics
    • How Civil Wars End
    • The Paradoxes and Politics of Humanitarian Intervention
  • Author

    Roger D. Petersen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Roger D. Petersen holds B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from the University of Chicago. Since 2001, he has taught in the Political Science Department at MIT, where he was recently named Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science. Petersen studies comparative politics with a special focus on conflict and violence, mainly in Eastern Europe, but also in Colombia and other regions. He is the author of Resistance and Rebellion: Lessons from Eastern Europe (Cambridge, 2001) and Understanding Ethnic Violence: Fear, Hatred, and Resentment in Twentieth-Century Eastern Europe (Cambridge, 2002). He also has an interest in comparative methods and has co-edited, with John Bowen, Critical Comparisons in Politics and Culture (Cambridge, 1999). He teaches classes on civil war, ethnic politics and civil-military relations.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.