Conclusion: Retrieved Gauntlets

T. K. Wilson

in Frontiers of Violence

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583713
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723056 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Conclusion: Retrieved Gauntlets

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This concluding chapter returns to the theoretical concern with communal boundaries in deeply divided societies that was first raised in the introduction. The argument of Donald Horowitz that it ‘makes no sense’ to ask whether ‘groups based on language’ behave differently from ‘groups based on religion’ is robustly challenged. It is argued that language in Upper Silesia acted as a highly porous and inadequate boundary between rival national movements while as religion in Ulster offered a sharp and unambiguous communal boundary. By this reading, what made the difference between the types of violence prevalent in Ulster and Upper Silesia was the scale of the task in enforcing clear identity boundaries. Relative restraint in violence derived from clearly-maintained divisions between communities; and more spectacular atrocity from their convergence.

Keywords: Upper Silesia; Ulster; Northern Ireland; ethnic conflict; ethnic frontier; ethno-religious; ethno-linguistic; Donald Horowitz; communal boundary; borderland

Chapter.  4380 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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