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by Alex Rutherford and Yaneer Bar-Yam
Science of Ethnic Violence
Model of ethnic violence in Yugoslovia. (Lim, Metzler, Bar-Yam, Science)

Violence between different groups of people, differentiated by ethnicity, culture, religion or language is hardly a new problem and has tragically claimed, and continues to claim the lives of many thousands of people every year. However in recent years the problem of sectarian violence has been brought especially into focus by events in Sudan, Kenya, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sri Lanka to name but a few. Given the great number of human lives at stake, the question of whether there are common processes at play which may be analyzed and understood by science, is certainly worth asking.

How can the behavior of many people acting and interacting be understood and rationalized, let alone predicted? NECSI has formulated a model to predict the locations of outbreaks of violence by recognizing the key role of the spatial distribution of different groups.[1] We applied this approach to India and the former Yugoslavia, resulting in predictions with a correlation of over 90% with reported outbreaks of violence.

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