This article introduces a theory of ethnic war. It argues that the likelihood of ethnic violence is largely a function of how the principal antagonists—a state and its dissatisfied ethnic minority—think about territory. Attempts to negotiate a resolution short of war will fail when: (1) the ethnic minority demands sovereignty over the territory it occupies, and (2) the state views that territory as indivisible. Ethnic war is less likely to break out if only one of these conditions is met, and very unlikely if neither condition is met. The article first introduces a theory to explain ethnic war. It then presents a statistical analysis of the theory's key variables and tests the theory's causal logic by comparing Moscow's interactions with Tatarstan and with Chechnya. The article concludes with three implications: ethnic groups are rational; that certain settlement patterns will not be amenable to outside intervention; and partition may not be a good policy option to end violence.
Toft, Monica Duffy. "Indivisible Territory and Ethnic War." Working Paper 01–08, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, December 2001.