Distinguished University of Maryland Professor Ted Robert Gurr, an International-Renowned Expert in Civil and Ethnic Conflict, Visits Bulgaria`

From 4 through 15 October, 2002 Prof. Ted Robert Gurr, an international renowned expert in civil and ethnic conflict, presented in Bulgaria his recent book, Peoples versus States: Minorities at Risk in the New Century (2000). The book was published by the Bulgarian State Military Publishing House with funds provided by the American Center at Sofia. Peoples versus States is now available for interested Balkan readers.

Prof.Gurr’s visit to Bulgaria was organized by the Sofia Institute for Regional and International Studies with the financial assistance of the State Department of the United States and the Open Society Fund in Sofia. For the time of his visit Prof.Gurr gave lectures on the major trends in global ethnic conflict analysis as they have been discussed at length in his book, Peoples versus States. Prof.Gurr talked at academic, government and non-government activists at Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Turnovo, Shoumen and Blagoevgrad, and gave interviews for Bulgarian national and local media.

Distinguished University of Maryland Prof.Gurr is one of the most prominent contemporary American political scientists in the field of Conflict Analysis. His research aims to understand the causes of mass and state violence, as well as to suggest policies of prevention and accommodation of civil and ethnic conflicts. In pursuit of these goals Prof.Gurr has initiated and completed long-term research projects, such as: Why Men Rebel; Violence in America; The Polity Study; The State and the City Project; and The Minorities at Risk Project. Gurr’s work for these projects have given birth to more than 20 books and monographs, as well as to numerous other publications. Among them is Gurr’s seminal work, Why Men Rebel, which received the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Price of the American Political Science Association for the best book in Political Science in 1970.

Prof.Gurr’s research makes him one of the most wanted American consultants at different professional undertakings. Gurr has provided expert consultancies to domestic and international government and non-government organizations. In 1994 he was invited to join a team of scholars to work on the State Failure Project initiated at the request of Vice President Al Gore and aiming to assess the risk of state collapse in countries with ethnic wars, genocides, civil wars or regime change.

Prof.Gurr is one of the privileged American scholars who have traveled much around the world. He has been hosted by research and academic institutions at the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden. He received many honors, awards and recognitions. In 1993-1994 he served as the President of the International Studies Association. In 1996-1997 he accepted the Oalf Palme visiting professorship of the Swedish government at the University of Uppsala. And in 2002 the University of Sofia conferred upon Prof.Gurr the title, doctor honoris causa.

Ted Gurr’s book, Peoples versus States is third out of four basic publications of Gurr’s research for his most recent Minorities at Risk project. The project was established in 1985. Since that time the project tracks ethnic groups in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Initially their number was 275. Currently they are nearly 300. All basic Minority publications are these: Minorities at Risk: A Global View of Ethnopolitical Conflict (1993); Ethnic Conflict in World Politics, with Barbara Harff (1994); Peoples versus States: Minorities at Risk in the New Century (2000); and Peace and Conflict 2001: A Global Survey of Armed Conflicts, Self-Determination Movements, and Democracy, with Monthy Marshall and Deepa Khosla (2001).

Gurr’s work for the Minorities at Risk project helps him test his Global Theory of Ethnopolitical Conflict. The theory draws on Gurr’s earlier Relative Deprivation theory (1970) which identifies as cause of social unrest the cognitive frustration of people who have experienced social mobilization and become cognizant of the discrepancies between their initial expectations and the actual outcomes of the social change. However the Global Theory of Ethnopolitical Conflict admits that while significant psychological causes alone cannot explain civil unrest. The Theory also recognizes as key the normative and instrumental causes of civil violence accentuated in the works of the adherents of the Collective Action school of thought. Thereby the Global Theory of Ethnopolitical Conflict attributes equal significance to psychological and social insentives of collective action. The Theory suggests that students of conflict are themselves responsible for identifying the driving motivation behind any concrete social or ethnic conflict.

The book, Peoples versus States, presents the Minority at Risk Theory of Ethnopolitical Conflict in detail (Chap. 3,4). Moreover, the book summarizes the major trends in global ethnic conflict as they developed in the 1990s (Chap.1,2). The book brings hope to the exhausted from ethnic wars Balkan region and conveys good messages. The messages document evidence of global increase of ethnic tolerance in the past decade. Specifically, the book tells us that: global ethnopolitical conflict leveled off since 1994. The global upward trends, documented since 1950s, and accelerated in 1970s, reached their height in early 1990s, and since mid 1990s came to turn downwards. The number of belligerent groups in mid 1990s steadied, and the intensity of both, protest and rebellion, began to decline (Chap.2). A global trend was established in the 1990s toward policies of nondiscrimination (Chap.4). Ethnic discrimination declined in global perspective (Chap.5). More ethnonational wars in the 1990s, than in any decade of the Cold war, have been settled or contained through international engagements and negotiations (Chap.6). Evidence shows that ethnopolitical conflict transforms in the 1990s and that there emerges a “regime of managed ethnic heterogeneity” (Chap.7).

How to explain these trends? How to preserve them in the future? What to expect ahead? Peoples versus States answers these questions in detail. Interested Balkan readers can order the book at karadzhinova@yahoo.com .