Working Paper 43
Taking Sides and Constructing Identities: Reflections on Conflict Theory
Department ‘Integration and Conflict’
Year of publication
Number of pages
Conflicts are often explained by the interests of the groups involved, especially their competition for resources or profits. There is much merit in this approach. Theories of this type have a more realist ring than those that take the lofty legitimising discourses of the participants in the conflict at face value. What people are fighting about is a very basic question in conflict analysis, but there is another question that is just as basic but is still poorly understood, namely: who fights against whom and why? How and why do people draw the distinction between friend and foe , and where do they draw it? Note A revised version of this paper has been published by the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. (2004 Taking sides and constructing identities: reflections on conflict theory. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 10:1, 135-156 (2004)) The working paper version has been taken out of circulation.