Seàn Byrne and Neal Carter

Studies of ethnoterritorial politics typically either examine political and economic structures to emphasize the competing interests of groups, or use a psychoanalytic approach to emphasize psychological and cultural forces. Researchers who address both material and psychological factors often attempt to weigh their relative importance as causes of conflict (e.g., Reilly 1994; Ross 1993). We, in contrast, propose that studies of ethnoterritorial conflict be modeled from the perspective of social cubism, involving the interaction of material and psychological mechanisms.

The term 'social cubism' evokes images useful to describe our perspective.2 Much like Rubic's Cube, ethnoterritorial politics poses a multi-faced puzzle. People concentrating on only one aspect, or side of the puzzle, are unlikely to produce a complete solution or picture of the problem. Only when one considers the interrelations among the faces of the puzzle can one progress toward a more holistic solution. A multidimensional perspective was also advocated by the cubist artists, such as Bracque and Picasso, who sought to render on two-dimensional canvass the multitude of perspectives involved in viewing three dimensional objects. Similarly, we isolate key factors to show how they combine to form complex patterns of ethnic politics.

We use the cube as an analytical framework to examine the Northern Ireland and Québec conflicts. In this comparison, we do not intend to cover the whole terrain of each side of the cube but to highlight some of the most salient issues of these complex conflicts. We rely heavily on other researchers' conclusions concerning each facet. Our main contribution is in the combination of the facets and the analysis of how their interaction affects the dynamics of ethnoterritorial conflict and its regulation. While several researchers have indicated that the nature of conflicts changes over time, relatively little work has been done to examine the interaction of various factors in gradually shaping conflicts.

We see the social cube of conflict as having six interrelated facets or forces: history, religion, demographics, political institutions and non-institutional behavior, economics, and psychocultural factors (see figure 1). These six facets or social forces combine to produce patterns of intergroup behavior. For example, histories recounted by competing groups often evoke previous patterns of economic, political, or religious interaction to support contemporary claims, while symbolism produces affective responses toward groups and of intergroup interaction (Agnew and Corbridge 1994; Gottlieb 1993; Gurr 1993; Gurr and Harff 1994; McGarry and O'Leary 1993). As Connor (1994) notes, these factors are typically studied as independent causes of conflict, failing to produce adequate explanations. Instead, ethnonationalism should be seen as a psychological phenomenon emphasizing various intergroup differences to produce a sense of group cohesion. The interaction among the sides of the cube produces patterns of intergroup behavior.

Figure 1. The Social Cube

Northern Ireland and Québec, rarely compared directly (Reilly 1994; See 1986), indicate the complexity of the relationship between psychological and material factors. Several factors indicate, at least at first glance, that conflict should proceed in similar patterns in both cases. Both regions have been members of the British empire in which Catholics were a significant part of the population whose education and economic mobility was limited. In both Ireland and Québec, the theme of survival echoes in history. Nevertheless, Québec has experienced relatively minor violence, while terrorist activity has constrained the daily lives of Northern Irish. We propose that the interrelation of the six facets can help explain differing levels of successful peaceful conflict regulation.

When describing the conflicts, we are forced to use labels that simplify the complex interrelations of the facets. For example, the use of the categories "Catholic" and "Protestant" in Northern Ireland and "Francophone" and "Anglophone" are useful as general guidelines for membership. Unfortunately, they also obscure a number of internal diversity. We would like to stress that in using these categories we are not stating that language or religion is the cause or the essence of the conflict. Instead, we are using categories that are used prominently by the involved parties themselves. Let us now proceed to the comparison of the six facets of ethnoterritorial conflict. The salient aspects of each factor are summarized in Figure 2.

Although we are forced to compare the six factors of the conflicts, we attempt to show that these divisions are to some extent artificial. The crucial point of our analysis it that social cubism focuses attention on the interplay among factors. This notion allows us to advance beyond the primordialist and instrumentalist notions of ethnic conflict by combining the notions of the psychological importance of social groupings and the political utility of emphasizing group divisions (see, e.g., Conversi 1995, Smith 1995).

Northern Ireland Québec
Economic Factors Both groups support nepotism. Working class divided along ethnic lines. Class differences exist within groups, but are perceived as less important than inter-group differences. Anglophones traditionally dominated the economy. Modernization since 1960s increased Francophone stake in business.
Religious Factors Both groups tend to form enclaves. Protestant loyalists follow the doctrine of conditional loyalty. Religion was basis for separate educational systems. Catholic church was the dominant social institution, but religiosity has declined since the 1960s.
Political Factors Terrorism used to address partition and instill fear within and between communities to maintain bipolar society. Partition is central to national identity. Direct rule from UK instituted in 1972 due to lack of Catholic representation. Federal structure allows groups means of effective, legitimate representation. Nationalism concentrates on role of Québec as defender of the francophone culture.
Psychocultural Factors Traditions, values, holidays and symbols reinforce ethnic and religious identity; the conflict is emphasized in symbolic marches. Gaelic schools have been active in Catholic nationalist working class areas, thereby reinforcing ethnic identity and fear. Cultural events maintain communal divides, thereby hindering shared identity. Francophones traditionally used language, land, race, and religion to promote their identity. In the 1960s, Francophones increasingly used nationalist symbolism. English-Candians responded with the development of Canadian symbolism. Some blending of Canadian and Québec symbols by the federalists.
Historical Factors Martyrdom and battles are used to reinforce intergroup conflict and promote enclaving. Reenactments of historical events emphasize the salience of territory and ethnic cohesion. French-English conflict is seen as constitutive of Canada. Québécois often refer to the "Conquest" and refer to Anglophones as "English." English Canadians tend to use regional categories.
Demographic Factors Fear of genocide helps emphasize ethnoterritorial identity. "Double Minorities" affect perceptions each group holds of the other. Positions are defended and a small middle-ground is not in a position to articulate and accommodate interests. Anglophones are part of the wider Canadian context. Francophones have developed a siege mentality to sustain a regional and linguistic identity. Changes in birthrates and immigration affect Québec's cultural policies.
Figure 2. Six Social Forces of the Complex Cube
Historical Factors

History, recounted by those involved in conflicts, sets the context for current ethnoterritorial politics. Stories of past events, seen from diverse viewpoints, influence the legitimacy of current institutions, perceptions of political possibilities and the attributed motivations of various groups. This brief summary of Québec and Northern Irish history highlights only some of the historical events frequently evoked by the main parties involved.

Northern Ireland's troubles are often traced through a long history of ethnic hostility. Norman forays from England into Ireland during the twelfth century established a military presence to dominate the Gaelic chieftains. Feudalism eliminated the communal practices and Brehon laws of the indigenous people. Successive insurrections by the Irish nobility were quashed by English arms. William of Orange's 1690 victory of at the battle of the Boyne eliminated the power of the Irish nobility and established an era of Protestant dominance. The 1692 Penal Laws secured a dominant relationship that allowed the Protestant community to force most Catholics outside the socio-economic and political system (Lee 1989). Catholics could not be elected to political office, practice their religion, speak the Gaelic language in public, or bequeath property unless the heir converted to the Protestant faith. Cultural discrimination against Catholics continued until Daniel O'Connell successfully mobilized the Irish peasantry to agitate for political representation in parliament, and helped to win emancipation in 1833 for the Catholic majority on the island of Ireland (Byrne, in press).

Charles Stuart Parnell's Home Rule movement of the late nineteenth century divided the island between unionists in the northeast industrial heartland of Ulster and nationalists in the agrarian South of Ireland (Patterson 1980). Parnell's call of "Home Rule for Ireland," was interpreted by Ulster Protestants as "Rome Rule" because the religious cleavage became superimposed on the national question. In 1912 Protestants of Ulster, fearing the prospect of a Catholic-dominated Ireland, formed the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) to resist Home Rule. A deepening political polarization between both parts of the island was further exacerbated by the Irish Volunteers' Easter Revolt of 1916, a failed insurrection to break the British connection. The 1919-21 War of Independence between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British government produced the 1921 partition of Ireland, which altered but did not end the series of hostile relations in Northern Ireland that intensified during the seventeenth century and still lock the ethnic communities in sectarian strife.

Between the 1920 Government of Ireland Act and direct rule from London in 1972 a self-governing Northern Ireland was dominated by the old Protestant Unionist party (Bew, Gibbon and Patterson 1995). Attempts by the non-violent Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) in the late 1960s to reform the region failed and spiraled into chaos when NICRA was replaced by a militant IRA who confronted the British army on the streets. Since 1972 several attempts to formulate a devolved constitutional framework for governing Northern Ireland have met with little success (Bew and Patterson 1985; O'Leary and McGarry 1993; Bew and Patterson 1990). Terrorism propagated by Republicans and Loyalists intensified polarization between communities, frustrating attempts of elite accommodation (Guelke 1995). Current negotiations between the British and Irish governments and the constitutional parties in Northern Ireland, aimed at creating a power-sharing devolved government and cross-border institutions, de-escalated terrorist activity (Byrne 1995) up to the cessation of the PIRA cease-fire in February 1996.

Canadians recall a less violent past than the Northern Irish, but the Francophones and Anglophones recount history differently (Bell 1992). Francophones devote more study than Anglophones to the period before the 1867 confederation of Canada. Both linguistic groups celebrate heroes of their linguistic group and emphasize the importance of cultural survival. The francophone Québécois consider themselves a distinct nation continually threatened with cultural extermination, while Anglophones struggle to maintain a Canadian identity in the shadow of the United States.

After the British conquest of New France in 1763, British policy toward the Francophones alternated between attempt to assimilate them into anglophone society and attempts to accommodate differences without destabilizing their control. The 1837 Papineau Rebellion was premised on demands for responsible government and the removal of the Chateau Clique, a group of mostly anglophone elites governing the colony (LaPierre 1992: 86-99; Lower 1991: 86-87). Lord Durham was subsequently appointed Governor-General and asked to report on the situation. He advocated a new system to assimilate the Francophones. This recommendation produced the United Province of Canada, a legislative union with two equally represented regions, one predominantly francophone, one mostly anglophone (Lower 1991: 90-91).

By the 1860s, Anglophones outnumbered Francophones within the United Province of Canada. Anglophone reformers began to call for representation by population. A combination of ethnic and ideological divisions produced political deadlock. The 1867 Confederation of Canada joined New Brunswick and Nova Scotia with Québec and Ontario (the latter two having been carved from the United Province of Canada), establishing the primarily francophone province of Québec within a predominantly anglophone country (Waite 1963).

French-Canadians established two approaches toward cultural survival. Federalists argued that the best way to protect francophone society was to participate actively in Canadian federal affairs, ensuring that Francophones were involved in political decision-making. This activist approach was attacked by the Catholic Church and nationalists, who advocated cultural isolation (LaPierre 1966). The struggle between federalists and nationalists has continued to dominate francophone Québec's political landscape. Anglophone Quebecers, on the other hand, have generally promoted a strong federal government. Several events increased the tension between federalists and nationalists. The Radical Liberal Party during the period of the United Colony of Canada advocated a republican form of government removed from the anglophone section, while the Conservative Liberals favored cooperation with other Canadians. The Riel Rebellion in the 1880s exacerbated tensions between Francophones and others, reinforcing nationalist commitment to maintain a strong commitment to Québec. The loss of protection for francophone rights in Manitoba weakened the position of federalists. When conscription was instituted to help with the effort of both World Wars, Francophone nationalists argued that it was wrong to send their people to fight "Britain's War" although many Francophones had already volunteered. Recently, failed constitutional negotiations and referenda on Québec sovereignty have divided Quebecers.

During the 1960s, educational reforms and a decline in the Catholic Church's political influence reduced schools' parochial nature. During the so-called 'Quiet Revolution,' a new group of nationalists advocated the creation of an economically competitive cadre of francophones, birth rates plummeted, and Québec's legislature passed laws promoting the use of French. The goal was no longer passive resistance for survivance. Instead, Québécois demanded the tools and opportunities necessary for épanouissement (flourishing). Since then, much debate has focused on the proper relationship between Québec and the 'Rest of Canada.' In the recent referendum debate, for example, nationalists used the Lord Durham Report as evidence of the threat of assimilation, while federalists cited the benefits of interethnic cooperation.

As is clear from this cursory overview of the historical evolution of ethnoterritorial politics in these two cases, ethnic groups emphasize different factors as they interpret the past. These differences can increase hostility if their histories provide sharply different interpretations and characterizations of other groups.

Religious Factors

Social and political institutions linked to religion foster bipolar societies in both Northern Ireland and Québec. In Northern Ireland, Protestants and Catholics attend separate schools and churches, rarely intermarry, and live in separate neighborhoods for physical and psychological protection; religion preserves each group's way of life (Whyte 1990; Keogh and Haltzel 1994). In Canada, religious affiliation promoted distinct life-styles, as economic differences and parochial schools reinforced religious and linguistic polarization. We emphasize the salience of conditional loyalty, discussed below, in promoting intergroup tensions and polarization, bearing in mind the political salience of religion in Québec has declined drastically since 1960s while it remains a central concern in Northern Ireland.

Social and political institutions linked to religion foster bipolar societies in both Northern Ireland and Québec. In Northern Ireland, Protestants and Catholics attend separate schools and churches, rarely intermarry, and live in separate neighborhoods for physical and psychological protection; religion preserves each group's way of life (Whyte 1990; Keogh and Haltzel 1994). In Canada, religious affiliation promoted distinct life-styles, as economic differences and parochial schools reinforced religious and linguistic polarization. We emphasize the salience of conditional loyalty, discussed below, in promoting intergroup tensions and polarization, bearing in mind the political salience of religion in Québec has declined drastically since 1960s while it remains a central concern in Northern Ireland.

Catholics in Northern Ireland are relatively homogeneous in their religious beliefs and their identification with the Irish nation (Moxon-Browne 1983). This cohesion withstands enormous differences between the political agendas of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) about issues such as the legitimacy of violence and the role of consent in disposing of Northern Ireland.

Heterogeneity in the religious beliefs of Ulster Protestants does not directly influence their national identity (Rose 1971). Religious diversity does, however, create some conflict between members of the different denominations and between liberal and fundamentalist Protestants. Intra-Protestant conflict subsides when Protestants evoke a seventeenth century religious covenant with the monarch to band together in a homogeneous bloc to resist any perceived threat to their interests, especially Northern Ireland's membership of the United Kingdom (UK) (Bruce 1992; 1986).

A key factor in intra-Protestant cooperation is conditional loyalty, an idea similar to Scottish contractarian notion of covenanting: "If the ruler fails to live up to his or her obligations, the subjects should not abandon the contract but rather should refuse compliance with the laws and try to coerce the ruler into keeping the bargain" (Miller 1978: 5). Conditional loyalty helps explain "how unionists avoided the crisis of national identity which nationalists so often predict for them" (Hunter 1983: 25; see also Rose 1971: 40-88; Bruce 1986; and Whyte 1990). Unionists are loyal to the monarch in her role as head of the established church as well as head of the British state. Parliament, however, lacks the religious legitimacy of the Queen. There is no contradiction in Northern Irish Protestant opposition to the British Parliament since most Protestants are ultimately loyal not to political institutions but to their ethnoreligious identity. Protestants will remain loyal to Britain only as long as Britain guarantees them a majority in Northern Ireland (Moxon-Browne 1983; Wallis, Bruce and Taylor 1986: 1-35).

Several historical examples illustrate the contractarian nature of Unionist ideology--the Monarch's protection of the Protestant community's Ulster identity and political attachments to the United Kingdom. For example, the Home Rule crises of 1886, 1893, and 1912 saw an upsurge in riots in Belfast, the creation of an Ulster Protestant army, and the development of the UVF in which Protestants sought to resist Home Rule by force. In fact, World War I narrowly averted a civil war in Ireland (O'Leary and McGarry 1993). Protestant opposition to direct rule from London in 1972, the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, and the 1995 Framework for Peace further illustrates the depth of Protestant fear and betrayal as well as the strategy of intra-Protestant cooperation to protect their ethnoreligious identity and resist what they perceive as a forced incorporation into a united Ireland.

Religion has played a different role in Canada. Religious loyalty prior to the 1960s helped Canada maintain relatively peaceful interethnic group relations. Colonial patterns in New France failed to produce strong governmental institutions, leaving the Catholic Church as the most important communal organization. In 1659, Monseigneur de Laval, bishop of Québec, established the tradition of ultramontism, the doctrine that the Church is predominant in all social affairs and is politically superior to the state (See 1986: 50). After the British Conquest of Québec, the 1774 Québec Act recognized and supported the dominance of the Catholic Church, which in return advocated acceptance of British rule. Protestants (primarily Anglophones) were allowed to establish separate social facilities. Parochial schools reinforced the power of the Church and allowed each religious group to control the socialization of its own members. The 1867 British North America Act (now called Constitution Act, 1867) reserved education policy for the provinces. Québec maintains its parochial school system, although reform is underway to change schoolboards from being based on religion to being defined according to language.

Relations between religious groups in Québec have not been as strained historically as in Northern Ireland. Little economic or territorial competition emerged between religious factions. After the Conquest, English Protestants tended to cluster in specific regions, especially Montreal and the Eastern Townships, and were relatively free to join the Canadian ethnic majority and business elite (Robinson 1989: 101-117; Arnopoulos and Clift 1980). While the Catholic majority remained mostly in the primary sector, anglophone Protestants tended toward entrepreneurial ventures, providing the capital for industrialization.

The history of ultramontism influenced the ethnonational identity of French Canadians. As with Ulster Protestants, canadien loyalty to religion was stronger than that to parliament or the crown. Religious identity promoted strong ties among members of a parish. The Church's decline as a powerful social actor since the Quiet Revolution seems to have changed the focus of group loyalty. Most social functions historically performed by the Church, such as education, health, and welfare, now fall under provincial jurisdiction (LaPierre 1992: 178-195). As the provider of these functions changes, so too does citizen identification with social institutions. This change in loyalty is illustrated by a change in self-identification: during the Quiet Revolution, French Canadians inhabiting Québec began to refer to themselves as Québécois rather than Canadiens français (Dupont and Louder 1995). The history of ultramontism, transferred to provincial loyalty, increases the potential for rejecting the limited monarchy and the federation. Furthermore, the legacy of the Catholic Church's emphasis on language increased the salience of cultural differences, which currently dominate constitutional debate in Canada.

Today, religion has more salience as a social category in Northern Ireland than in Québec. In Northern Ireland, religious difference tends to create a moral rejection of compromise. In Québec, religious differences historically helped maintain relatively peaceful coexistence, since the Catholic Church advocated acceptance of Canada in exchange for a level of cultural autonomy at the provincial level. Ironically, the decline of religion's importance in Québec may increase the potential for intergroup conflict, as Québécois identification switched from the church to the province without reducing the importance of linguistic differences.

Demographic Factors

Demographic factors are crucial aspects of the two conflicts. In Québec, Francophones comprise about 85% of the population and dominate the province's political system despite their minority status (about 20% of the population) in Canada as a whole. The low birthrate of Québec francophones increases demands for provincial involvement in social, language, and immigration policy. In Northern Ireland, Catholics (primarily of Gaelic descent) remain a minority, although their relative size is growing due to birth rates that exceed those of Protestants. The decline of Protestants' relative position increases fears of Catholic domination.

Demographic differences in Northern Ireland and Québec lead to socio-psychological patterns that can be seen as a conflict over national identity between "double minorities" (Jackson and McHardy 1984; Whyte 1990: 100-102; Whyte 1986). In Northern Ireland, Catholics and Protestants see themselves as minorities, but are simultaneously viewed by the other community as a threatening majority. Double minorities reinforce the need for security and recognition of each group's territorial claims. Northern Irish Catholics see themselves as an Irish minority in Northern Ireland and a majority in an all-Ireland context. Protestants are a majority of the population in Northern Ireland, but a minority of the over-all population in the UK and in any future united Ireland. Hence, Northern Ireland Protestants see themselves as a besieged minority locked into an eternal struggle to defend themselves against both internal and external forces.

In Northern Ireland, historical references to campaigns of genocide affect the perceptions and fears each group holds of the "other."3 Protestants in Northern Ireland have developed a pronounced "siege mentality." They considered the Republic of Ireland as hostile to their interests and identity and thus deemed any move toward rapprochement with Catholics in Northern Ireland as acceptance of eventual Irish unification. Catholics have been alienated by their treatment within Northern Ireland and look to the government in the Republic of Ireland to protect their interests. Each group, recalling a history of community conflict, seeks a majority within political institutions in order to prevent discrimination or suppression. The double minority in Northern Ireland thus decreases the potential for the formation of a political "middle ground" between the communities.

The double minority in Québec, however, may actually mitigate conflict due to Canadian federalism. The anglophone minority in Québec belongs to the majority anglophone community in Canada and North America. The francophone majority in Québec also developed a "siege mentality," viewing itself as a minority population engulfed in an anglophone environment although it sustains a provincial majority. Québec nationalists traditionally advocated high birth rates to attain the "revenge of the cradle" and maintain the francophone culture.

Québec francophones claim that legal limitation of the use of English in education, businesses and advertisements is necessary to counteract the overwhelming majority of Anglophones in Canada. Furthermore, Québécois politicians have used education policies to increase the assimilation of immigrants into the francophone, rather than the anglophone, community. Anglophone Quebecers are a special minority within the province due partly to the dominance of English throughout Canada and their well-established presence in Québec.

Many Anglophone Quebecers think of themselves as a political minority in Québec, strongly oppose Québécois nationalist policies, and fear that the creation of an independent Québec would cut their ties with the rest of Canada. Others stress the importance of maintaining the special status of English in Québec, while also celebrating Québec's cultural distinctiveness.

Clearly, this "double minority" has implications for the way these groups in Northern Ireland and Québec view the world (Whyte 1990: 25-43). In general, Northern Ireland experiences more problems with terrorism and the salience of symbolism, and conflicting national identities than Québec because of the insecurity of each ethnic group. The communities' lack of control over policies, mutual suspicion of treachery, and use of terrorism and symbolism that promotes a siege mentality all reduce the potential for Northern Ireland to create a sense of shared identity. In contrast, Québec benefits from the existence of Canadian federalism, which reduces both groups to minority status in some areas but establishes them as a majority in others. This may promote some mutual recognition. However, continued failure in the negotiation of constitutional matters is reducing the good will on both sides of the debate. Despite the potential for accommodation presented by the positive aspects of double minorities (groups may extend special consideration to minorities within their territory, if reciprocity can be expected), problems still threaten the equilibrium. The relative size and rate of demographic change of the groups are significant. The relative loss of population for Northern Irish Protestants can increase their insecurities. In Québec, declining birth rates and increased immigration are forcing Québécois nationalists to redefine the basis for identification with their group, and also shape their policies concerning the education of non-Christians whose native language is neither French nor English.

Political Factors

Peaceful regulation of ethnoterritorial conflict relies heavily on the political legitimacy of the state, the inclusiveness of political institutions, and the prevalence of non-institutionalized conflict such as terrorism. These functions are interrelated, but various combinations are possible. In this section we address the importance of boundaries and terrorism as political factors. These factors greatly influence both the legitimacy of the state and the potential for peaceful regulation of conflicts.

Many ethnoregional movements emphasize the territorial delineation of political institutions in which they can participate. Québec's provincial boundaries allow the Québécois some degree of control over a specific territory within the larger Canadian context. Northern Ireland, however, has a boundary that does not meet the demands of either Protestant or Catholic community. Debate over the boundary in Northern Ireland increases group hostility as the salience of national identity becomes a tangible threat to the existence of Northern Ireland's position within the UK. When disputes over boundaries and institutions devolve into terrorist action, the potential for peaceful regulation is reduced, as the ability of the state to remain inclusive is challenged.

Boundaries The political partition of Northern Ireland from the Irish Free State by the 1920 Government of Ireland Act did not resolve ethnic conflict. The foundation of the border served only to foster sectarian politics. Moderate Nationalist members of the SDLP and militant Republican members of Sinn Fein in the Catholic community continue to agitate for a united Ireland. Moderate Unionist members of the Official Unionist Party (OUP) and militant Loyalist members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) within the Protestant community seek to maintain "peace through security," arguing that threats and terrorist attacks make special security arrangements necessary (Farrell 1983; McCann 1974).

Protestants and Catholics maintain their entrenched positions concerning the political status of Northern Ireland as part of the UK or a potential United Ireland. According to international norms, Northern Ireland is not a full member of the UK to the same degree as Scotland and Wales (Guelke 1988). Northern Ireland's constitutional limbo encouraged the political violence of the PIRA while solidifying the siege mentality of Protestants. Moderate Unionists and militant Loyalists are determined to protect the British link, thereby safeguarding Protestant heritage and identity. Moderate Nationalists believe that the root of the conflict is the British presence in Northern Ireland, and wish to end partition by peaceful democratic means, contrary to the political violence of the PIRA. Political competition over the geopolitical space of Northern Ireland enhances feelings of fear, suspicions and uncertainty, thereby shaping the political agenda for both communities. Nevertheless, all constitutional parties in Northern Ireland, Nationalist and Unionist, accept the legality of partition and agree that change will require the consent of the majority within Northern Ireland.

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland ensures that Protestants and Catholics identify with a different political entity--Northern Protestants with Britain and Northern Catholics with the Republic of Ireland. Both communities live under the psychological stress of a besieged minority depending on the conceptual lens is used to consider the geopolitical context. This in turn allows each community to display fear and suspicion of the political intentions of the "other side" as the political violence of the paramilitaries prevents a solid middle ground from emerging. As Whyte (1990: 100) notes, the difficulty of regulating conflict in Northern Ireland stems from the facts that "minorities are groups which feel threatened; that threatened groups are liable to be hypersensitive; and that in Northern Ireland both groups display these characteristics."

Boundaries have a different significance in Canada. Québec's provincial boundaries enable the Québécois to assert a great deal of control over their cultural affairs. Conflict exists over the extent of power to be held at the provincial and federal levels of government. These federal boundaries are less prone to conflict than the more institutionally divisive border in Northern Ireland. The ambiguous nature of federal boundaries increases the opportunity for peaceful regulation of conflict.

As leaders debate Québec sovereignty, however, boundaries gain significance. The boundary between Québec and Newfoundland has never been formally delineated. Outstanding aboriginal land claims and anglophone enclaves would obstruct the simple secession of Québec. Furthermore, some analysts argue that Québec could only leave with its original boundaries and would thus be forced to cede all land granted to it by the federal government (e.g., Varty 1991). The recent debate surrounding Canadian Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Stephane Dion's suggesting that parts of Québec's population (especially Anglophones and Aboriginals) could remain in Canada in the event of a Québécois declaration of sovereignty (Lubin 1996; Wilson-Smith 1996) can be traced to a long-standing fear that Anglophones might be separated from the rest of Canada (Koch 1990; Peritz 1991). Once the boundary is perceived as requiring a strict division of groups, the level of salience and hostility of territorial disputes increases dramatically.

Terrorism Terrorism has been used in both regions to draw attention to conflicts. Significantly, nationalist terrorism in Québec was aimed primarily at symbols of colonial or federal domination, whereas Republican violence in Northern Ireland has targeted civilians in addition to property and symbols of the British state. Sectarian attacks conducted by both Loyalists and Republicans produced a state of fear and powerlessness marked by a self-perpetuating pattern of deterrence and revenge (Wright 1988: 11-12; Feldman 1991).

In Northern Ireland, persistent paramilitary violence in the form of local punishment beatings and shootings since the Fall 1994 cease-fires indicates that the future course of a fragile peace process could be marked by a return to violence. Paramilitary violence from the Republican PIRA to force the British government out of Northern Ireland, and by the Loyalist UVF to keep Northern Ireland British has claimed many lives in the past, ensuring an enduring bicommunal conflict. For example, the Enniskillen Poppy Day massacre of eleven Protestants in 1987 by the PIRA, the 1992 murders of Catholic and Protestant patrons in a bar in Greysteel by the UVF, and the 1993 PIRA murders of ten Protestants in Frizzell's fish shop in West Belfast reinforced historical fears of genocide in both communities (O'Leary and McGarry 1993). Loyalist paramilitary violence has escalated during periods of crisis when British policy initiatives were perceived as a threat to abandon Protestants to the Irish nation. Republican violence, on the other hand, was aimed at forcing a British withdrawal thereby creating a United Ireland.

Violence has polarized both communities in Northern Ireland, thereby discrediting moderate alternatives. The PIRA has refused to surrender its arms in exchange for Sinn Fein participation in negotiations. Constitutional Nationalists represented by the SDLP now fear, in the wake of the current impasse in the current peace negotiations, that if concessions are not forthcoming by the British and Irish governments, then advocates of physical force such as the PIRA can claim to offer the only solution.

The peak of terrorist activity in Québec was in the 1960s, involving groups like the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ) who drew inspiration from anti-colonial and civil rights movements, Marxism and the PIRA (Vallières 1971). In the early 1960s, the FLQ conducted a bombing campaign against symbols of colonial or federal domination. The FLQ seems to have had about 30 active members, most of whom were arrested in 1963. However, several apparently unconnected groups identified themselves as FLQ cells. Bombing activities intensified in 1968-9, and in 1970 British Trade Commissioner James Cross and Québec Labor Minister Pierre Laporte were abducted. These abductions appear to have been the acts of about ten people, but Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau reacted forcefully, revoking protection of civil liberties, arresting 450 suspects, destroying presses, and mobilizing 10,000 military and special police forces (Milner and Milner 1973: 195-223; Robert 1975: 283-286). Popular opinion, mildly in support of the FLQ, dropped dramatically when Laporte was executed by his abductors. In Québec, the governmental backlash provoked by the attacks failed to produce the reaction desired by the terrorists. Instead of criticizing the federal government for invoking the War Measures Act, citizens blamed the agitators for disrupting a peaceful, if unequal, system.

The failed attempts to amend the 1982 Constitution Act, enacted despite the Québec government's opposition, combined with the defeated referendum on Québec sovereignty may reduce the attractiveness of institutional politics for Québec nationalists. Some businesses who opposed sovereignty during the referendum have allegedly received letters on FLQ letterhead threatening retaliation for any further anti-sovereignty actions (Francis 1996).

A difference between the two regions thus seems to be that the Québécois have access to institutions which most view to be legitimate, while many Northern Irish Catholics view political institutions as Protestant tools of repression. Quebecers are thus able to protest specific issues without seeking to destroy the entire political system. Institutional politics may further foster less antagonistic views of the outgroup, while violence will increase the mutual antagonism of groups. Canada's federalist structure permits more peaceful conflict regulation. Northern Ireland's lack of a strategic middle ground prevents cross-cutting cleavages, leading to institutional and constitutional impasse. Political differences in Northern Ireland create tensions and misperceptions between communities, resulting in a bipolar society.

Economic Factors

Economic differences can be found in comparisons of virtually any groups. They become important in ethnoterritorial conflict to the extent that disparities can be linked to competition between groups, institutional favoritism, stereotypes, or other factors that divide the groups. Leaders of ethnoterritorial movements may exploit disparities in the distribution of economic resources to mobilize a particular constituency to support for their demands. Awareness of intergroup discrimination adds economic concerns to the overall categorization of the Other.

Northern Ireland's Protestants have historically had greater access to political and economic resources than Catholics (Agnew 1989: 44-46; Farrell 1980: 2-98; O'Dowd, Rolston and Tomlinson 1980; MacLaughlin and Agnew 1986: 247-261; Wallis, Bruce and Taylor 1986: 1-35). Catholic areas have higher unemployment rates than Protestant areas. Recruitment practices, lack of industrial development, emigration and discrimination increase the economic gap between Protestants and Catholics, divide the working classes, and reinforce intergroup discrimination (Arthur and Jeffrey 1988: 23-28; Moxon-Browne 1983: 34-45; Cormack and Osborne 1983). Economic privileges in housing and employment enjoyed by Protestants reduced the salience of class conflict and may in part explain continued Protestant support for institutional links with Britain (Farrell 1980: 45-125; McCann 1974: 15-89). Although both groups have similar distributions of members identifying with various economic classes, they are likely to see intergroup differences as more important than intragroup disparity (Connor 1994: 159).

Québec long exhibited economic patterns similar to Northern Ireland. Protestantism correlated strongly with capitalism; Québec was dominated economically by the anglophone minority, as Francophone Catholics tended to shun capitalist ventures. By the 1960s, studies of economic disparity showed vast differences in the economic welfare of Québec's two linguistic communities (e.g., Porter 1965; Mathieu and Lacoursiére 1991). This inequality helped change nationalist sentiment in Québec from ultramontane isolationism to secular cosmopolitanism as the Québécois began to seek political control of provincial resources. The federal and Québec governments initiated language laws to address new perceptions of economic discrimination against Francophones. Nevertheless, the two languages remain asymmetrical, and it is generally more advantageous for Francophones to learn English than for Anglophones to learn French. Québec politicians defend their relatively strict language laws on the need to counteract this asymmetry. Since the Quiet Revolution, francophone Quebecers have greatly improved their economic status and education levels.

Both Northern Ireland and Québec have exhibited patterns of nepotism that increase within-group solidarity. If this pattern is accepted by the groups, as in traditional Québec, it will not be harmful to intergroup accommodation. However, if economic competition dominates or a shift occurs in economic trends, polarization and hostility may very well increase.

Psychocultural Factors

Tensions and emotions have often escalated during social change or perceived political crises between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland and between Anglophones and Francophones in Québec. During crises, each group portrays the opposing culture as an outgroup or enemy to rally the ingroup against potential genocide or subjugation. Cultural symbols and stereotypes reinforce group identity and solidarity and clearly distinguish the ingroup from the outgroup.

The importance of symbolism helps explain the nature of the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Québec. Symbols create a sense of commonality among group members and help them categorize their political beliefs. Ethnoterritorial groups often promote prejudice and stereotyping by invoking group traditions to symbolize issues (e.g. nationality, religion, and ethnic identity) that have yet to be resolved (Coles 1986; O'Donnell 1978). The Northern Irish conflict appears intractable because economic issues are complicated by religious and national identity crises embedded in people's minds from an early age (Rose 1971: 60-127). These psychocultural and political images are used to categorize people from the other community as an outgroup (Greer 1985: 275-292; Harris 1972: 178). Québec's role in Canada's constitutional debate centers around Québec's status as a distinct society or as one of ten equal provinces (Watts and Brown 1991; Taylor 1993; Monahan 1991). The nature of debate and form of conflict management in these two regions create unique political cultures.

In Northern Ireland, myths of siege, victory, massacre and martyrdom permit two distinct cultural traditions to co-exist uneasily in a sectarian milieu (Stewart 1977). Protestants and Catholics use these historical events to promote group solidarity, thereby reducing the potential for intergroup co-operation. Northern Irish Protestants believe that their cultural symbols, flags, and holidays are of importance to their core values, cultural mores and belief structures. Orange marches are perceived as a "traditional expression of a legal right" to display Protestant values and symbols (Wallis, Bruce and Taylor 1986: 1-20). Likewise, Northern Irish Catholics wear Easter lilies to commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916. The existence of these cultural and religious symbols reinforces ingroup solidarity and outgroup hostility.

A strong link exists between Republican violence, Catholicism, and a pan-Celtic culture centered around the redemptive nature of a blood sacrifice. Northern Irish Catholics often invoke the symbolic significance of "martyrs for the cause," or Christ-like figures, best exemplified by the deaths of Bobby Sands during the 1981 Hunger Strikes and Patrick Pearse during the 1916 Rising (O'Brien 1986: 23-33; Feehan 1986).

Symbolic rituals tend to further escalate the conflict by fostering the growth of sectarian belief structures. Extremists depict the conflict as a struggle between good and evil (Todd 1987: 1-26; Whyte 1990). Moderates, however, perceive the conflict in political and economic, rather than religious, terms. As debate turns from economic and political matters to questions of ethnoreligious identity, polarization removes the middle ground (Agnew 1989: 41-53).

Lipset (1990) claims that Canada is a country of defeated nations, and therefore its symbolism often reinforces notions of the challenge of survival for distinct societies in an inhospitable climate, faced with the ever-present threat of assimilation. Québec also has some heroes that exemplify the hardships of francophone survival. Louis Riel, a Métis leader in the West, exemplified the difficulties faced by Francophones outside Québec. Riel was hanged as a traitor for leading a revolt against the revocation of protection for Francophone Métis in Manitoba. Nationalists use his story to exemplify how hostile the rest of Canada is to francophone equality. Québec politicians use symbolism effectively, emphasizing land, language, faith and families. The feast of St. John the Baptist is held as Québec's national holiday. To intensify the sense of Québécois nationalism, activists have used slogans such as "Maîtres chez-nous" (Masters in our own house) to represent a desire for self-determination and economic responsibility. With the increased francophone attention to national symbolism, Anglophones responded with Canadian symbols. The Maple Leaf has been the insignia of Canada only since 1965. "O Canada" replaced "God Save the Queen" in 1967.

During the 1995 referendum on sovereignty, both the yes and the no sides attempted to use symbols to depict their allegiances. While the nationalists tended to give priority to Québécois symbols, they chose to use the Canadian dollar coin in their symbolism, to represent continued economic cooperation between an independent Québec and the rest of Canada. Federalists frequently merged Canadian and Québécois symbols in an attempt to illustrate the coexistence and complimentarity of loyalties to both entities.

Symbolism intensifies violence in Northern Ireland, where people can be terrorized for belonging to one group or another; but it has not led to violent conflict in Québec. The Northern Irish conflict is marked by intense hostility and imagery that rejects cooperation with the other community. In Canada, however, the myth of "two founding races" forging a social compact indicates the desirability of intercommunity accommodation despite fundamental differences.


In general, Northern Ireland experiences more problems with terrorism and conflicting national identities than Québec due to each ethnic group's insecurity over the national question. Lack of control over policies, mutual suspicion of treachery, histories of intercommunity violence, and symbolism that promotes a siege mentality all reduce the potential for Northern Ireland to create a sense of shared identity. In contrast, Québec benefits from the existence of federalism, which reduces both groups to minority status and also promotes some mutual recognition based on the myth of Canada's creation through a pact between the two "founding races." However, repeated failure in the negotiation of constitutional matters is reducing the good will on both sides of the debate. Despite the potential for accommodation presented by the positive aspects of double minorities, problems still threaten the equilibrium.

We have identified a number of significant interrelated factors that are part of a multi-causal analysis of conflict in Northern Ireland and Québec. These six facets or social forces of the cube must be examined together if we are to understand how ethnoterritorial conflicts can be ameliorated or exacerbated. As indicated in Figure 3, the factors produce different patterns, with some factors reinforcing potential conflict and others mitigating the differences. Unfortunately, this figure cannot capture the dynamic nature of politics, and therefore may seem to give too little weight to recent events in both regions. However, our analysis indicates the difficulties that must be overcome if a lasting settlement is to be reached in Northern Ireland as well as those that face Quebecers attempting to define the political nature of their province. The interlocking nature of the cube also indicates that addressing only one dimension is unlikely to provide a settlement, but also that improvements in a single area may ameliorate others as well.

What stands out in our analysis is the way that material and psychological dimensions interact to maintain or mitigate intergroup conflict. Entrenched sectarian attitudes result from political and economic institutions and cultural stereotypes that reinforce bigotry, suspicion and polarization. A holistic, social cubism approach to intergroup conflict must account for how structural and psychocultural mechanisms interact to exacerbate or, indeed, ameliorate ethnoterritorial conflicts. Future research should address the interrelation of material and psychological mechanisms that shape ethnoterritorial politics.

Attempting to reveal similarities between conflicts in different regions is, clearly, a difficult but rewarding task. In making comparisons of this sort, many historical details of conflicts must be ignored. This brief exploration does not claim to do justice to the intricate webs and complexities
Northern Ireland Québec
Economic Factors Used to support claims of discrimination based on religion. Could potentially mitigate ethnic cleavage with internal class divisions Primarily used to compare Québec and other provinces. Has occasionally been used to compare linguistic groups, especially during the Quiet Revolution.
Religious Factors Used as a primary category label, replacing ethnicity and language. Decreases potential for compromise, as moral symbols are lent to conflicting parties. Has lost some salience with modernization, but helped shape a tradition of acceptance of hierarchy and compromise between two main linguistic groups, and divergent economic patterns. Its salience is now less than that of ethnicity and language.
Political Factors Terrorism reinforces religious cleavage, reduces salience of economic factors, and contributes to historical backing for continued conflict. Reduction of violence may mitigate conflict. Constitutional status unacceptable to most citizens. Terrorism was a minor issue, but deliberate killing for political ends deemed unacceptable. Current political institutions, through their complexity, reduce the salience of cleavages. Political institutions have a mixed effect on histories, as nationalists and federalist can selectively choose examples.
Psychocultural Factors Generally these factors reinforce a bipolar conflict by emphasizing the threat of mutual destruction. May change with the cease-fire and confidence building measures. These factors have a mixed effect in Québec. Some promote overlapping loyalties with Québec and Canada, while others indicate loyalty is mutually exclusive. English Canadian symbols are largely a reaction to Francophone nationalism, and were slow to distance themselves from British symbols.
Historical Factors Histories used to promote a bicommunal view of the region through the recounting of past conflict Histories mixed between conflict and compromise. Figures of cooperation may also be seen as figures of co-optation.
Demographic Factors Narrowing population gap increases Protestant fears of assimilation. Proximity increases need to maintain boundaries. Decline in Québécois birthrates increases francophone fears of assimilation and demand for increased control of cultural policies. Francophone dominance in the province mitigates the level of hostility.

Figure 3: Interaction of the Six Forces

of political reality in either situation. Nevertheless, various dimensions and mechanisms are evident in both situations which suggest that they are of a broadly similar nature. By exploring key similarities, much can be learned about the problems common to conflict regulation.


1. This essay was recognized with the Honorable Mention in the 1996 Otto Klineburg Intercultural and International Relations Award. An early version of this paper was presented at "Ethnicity: Global Perspectives" 22nd Annual Joint Conference of the Central States Anthropological Society and the National Association for Ethnic Studies, Kansas State University, March 16-20, 1994. Research for this paper was supported by the Department of Political Science and the Program for the Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts (PARC), Maxwell School, Syracuse University, the National Science Foundation (DIR-9113599) to the Mershon Center Research Training Group on the Role of Cognition in Collective Political Decision Making, the Center for International Studies and the Department of Political Science, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and the Lentz Peace Research Association. The authors thank John Agnew, Kristi Andersen, Brian Blancke, Hannah Britton, John Burdick, Gavan Duffy, Krisan Evenson, Volker Franke, Ho-Won Jeong, Loraleigh Keashley, Louis Kriesberg, Anthony Mughan, John Nagle, Jessica Senehi, and Catherine Smith for their constructive criticism.

2. This image was suggested by Jessica Senehi during a conversation with the authors. For her views of conflict, see Senehi (1995).

3. The Gaelic chieftains' 1641 massacre of Ulster Protestants and the seventeenth century Cromwellian massacre of the Catholic inhabitants of Dundalk and Drogheda illustrate this point. See Stewart (1977: 23-34); Farrell (1980: 20-101); Rose (1971: 180-204); and MacDonald (1986).


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