Barbara Christophe
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Bringing culture back into a concept of rationality
State–society relations and conflict in post-socialist Transcaucasia
in Potentials of disorder

The hidden transcript of ethnic conflict in post-Soviet Transcaucasia is obliged to an intellectual tradition that tries to reconcile culturalist and constructivist approaches with rational actor models. This chapter suggests a quite unorthodox way of bringing culture back into a concept of rationality. Instead of referring to cultural constraints on goal setting or manipulation of discourses as a technique of mobilisation, it introduces historically evolved and culturally embedded patterns of state-society relations as a key variable. A specific mode of state building, adapted to and shaped by a culturally mediated social structure, is analysed as a crucial precondition for the proliferation of ethnic violence. To replace nationalism with state collapse as the main factor behind the proliferation of violence in Transcaucasia not only provides answers but also raises many questions.

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