Two Civilizations and Ethnic Conflict: Islam and the West

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Fox, Jonathan (2001) Two Civilizations and Ethnic Conflict: Islam and the West , Journal of Peace Research 38(4): 459–472.

Samuel Huntington's controversial 'Clash of Civilizations' argument posits, among other things, that the extent of both international and domestic conflict between 'civilizations' will increase with the end of the Cold War. This is expected to be especially true of clashes involving the Western and Islamic civilizations and even more so for clashes between these two civilizations. This article uses the Minorities at Risk dataset, along with independently collected variables, to test these propositions with regard to ethnic conflict, which Huntington includes in his theory under the title of 'fault line' conflicts within states. The results are examined from three perspectives: globally, from the perspective of the Islamic civilization, and from the perspective of the Western civilization. Globally, there has been little change in the ratio of civilizational versus non-civilizational ethnic conflict since the end of the Cold War. There has also been little change in Islamic involvement in civilizational ethnic conflict since the end of the Cold War. However, from a Western perspective, the proportion of civilizational conflicts involving Western groups that are with Islamic groups increased dramatically after the end of the Cold War. Thus, the results show that if one focuses narrowly on the perspective of the Western civilization, there is some support for Huntington's claims regarding Islam, but not for a general increase in civilizational conflict. However, from the perspective of the Islamic civilization and from a broader global perspective, there is little support for Huntington's arguments.

Replication datasets available

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