Within the substantial group of scholars focused on ethnic conflict, Koinova has carved out a niche between those who concentrate on civil wars and intrastate conflict and those more concerned with countries in which multiethnic relations have remained peaceful. She is interested in why ethnonationalist conflicts vary in the level of violence they generate, why violence at whatever level persists, and when and why things change for the better or the worse. To get at the answers, she explores three cases, similar in their characteristics but different in their outcomes: Bulgaria (where majority-minority conflict has been free of violence), Kosovo (where it has not), and Macedonia (somewhere in between). Elaborate but lucid theorizing informs her explanations, at the heart of which are what she calls “critical junctures” -- the historical moments (such as the aftermath of Soviet communism) when majority-minority relationships form in a way that encourages either accommodation or resistance. The conditions that develop in those brief periods tend to harden, improving or deteriorating only as the result of external shocks or incremental change.
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