The search for durable peace in lands torn by ethno-national conflict is among the most urgent issues of international politics. Looking closely at five flashpoints of regional crisis, Sumantra Bose asks the question upon which our global future may depend: how can peace be made, and kept, between warring groups with seemingly incompatible claims? Global in scope and implications but local in focus and method, Contested Lands critically examines the recent or current peace processes in Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus, and Sri Lanka for an answer.
Israelis and Palestinians, Turkish and Greek Cypriots, Bosnia's Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, Sinhalese and Tamil Sri Lankans, and pro-independence, pro-Pakistan, and pro-India Kashmiris share homelands scarred by clashing aspirations and war. Bose explains why these lands became zones of zero-sum conflict and boldly tackles the question of how durable peace can be achieved. The cases yield important general insights about the benefits of territorial self-rule, cross-border linkages, regional cooperation, and third-party involvement, and the risks of a deliberately gradual ("incremental") strategy of peace-building.
Rich in narrative and incisive in analysis, this book takes us deep into the heartlands of conflict--Jerusalem, Kashmir's Line of Control, the divided cities of Mostar in Bosnia and Nicosia in Cyprus, Sri Lanka's Jaffna peninsula. Contested Lands illuminates how chronic confrontation can yield to compromise and coexistence in the world's most troubled regions--and what the United States can do to help.
In a bold and valuable book, Sumantra Bose defines the new frontiers of peacemaking in contested lands.
[Bose's] disciplined comparative approach yields sensible conclusions and recommendations regarding durable peace processes.
Sumantra Bose's book Contested Lands is about battles for political sovereignty in some territories around the world that have proved especially intractable. A scholar who has already written books on the Kashmir dispute and the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, Bose has now put together a highly readable account of what is at stake in these lands--Israel and Palestine, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Bosnia, and Cyprus. The most stimulating aspect of Bose's approach is that he takes the long historical view of these struggles, devoting a healthy 50-page section to each. By doing so, he reverses the built-in iniquities of both newspaper journalism, which because of its attention to the present moment can be superficial, and of op-eds and other polemical writing, which--for reasons of space or ideological perspective--often simplify matters. Yet, it is through these distorting and perishable forms that most of us put together an understanding of the situation in Israel or Palestine or Kashmir. To read Bose's book is to understand (with some dismay) that our responses to these issues are usually more rhetoric than reason. Bose also supplies a wealth of closely argued insights that open up the complexities of these contested lands in productive ways...The exceptional breadth of his book, the insights he generates through his comparative approach, and the lucidity and cogency of his style mark out Contested Lands as a work of unusual distinction.
Devotion to positive change stands as the hallmark of Contested Lands. Bose is neither an idealist nor a partisan nor a cynical realist. He does not purport to possess the panacea for disputed territories. But, throughout this precarious moral terrain, his intellectual honesty and sense of evenhanded purpose admirably hold steadfast.
- 336 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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