The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies

Inter-religious Violence in Eastern Borderlands


Field: Historia
Project leader: David Gaunt
Starting year: 2008

Two cases will be deeply analyzed to see the degree to which and the circumstances in which neighbours participated in genocidal violence against their neighbours of a different religious background. Political Scientist Michael Mann posits that genocide and ethnic cleansing are a dark side of democracy and are a risk that comes with democratically elected nationalistic governments. In this light ordinary people do not participate in genocide, but it is done on orders coming from a central government. However, there are some recently much discussed historical examples of violence between local neighbours. Some cases exist in the Polish-Lithuanian-Belarusian borderlands of mass murder committed by Christians against their Jewish neighbours during World War II.

The other cases are in the borderlands of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria with mass murder here being done by Muslims against their Armenian and Assyrian neighbours. This project will analyze evidence from the two cases and compare the circumstances in a way of testing the Mann thesis.