Sample Cultural and Ethnics Studies Paper on a Comparison Between Huntington and Bowel’s beliefs on what really causes conflicts among civilizations

Past paradigms have been ineffective in explaining and predicting realities of the global
political order. As world politics enters a new phase, intellectuals continue to give prophesies of
what will be the end of what individuals know as the return of traditional rivalries between
countries and people. According to Samuel P. Huntington (1993), their prophecies catch a few
aspects of unfolding realities but miss a central aspect of what is likely to unfold in the coming
years. In his hypothesis, the source of conflicts between nations and people results not from
ideological or economic but rather cultural reasons, coining it as the battle of civilizations.
Nations and groups of different cultures and civilizations will dominate global politics with their
battle lines and conflicts drawn between them due to their cultural differences. Global conflicts
have been in existence and will continue to exist. This paper examines Huntington’s and Bowel’s
beliefs on what really causes conflicts among civilizations. To understand why wars and conflict
exist, it is important to understand their causes first.

History of Global Conflict

As world politics continues to grow and evolve, conflicts between ethnic groups and
nations are predicted to be the latest phase of global conflicts today. Following the history of
conflicts in the Western World, they were vibrant and large among princes, emperors, and
monarchs who were driven by the desire to expand their territories, armies, and economic
strengths. As a result of conquests and victories between armies, countries and nations were
born, and this laid the foundation for the next type of conflict: the conflict between nations
(Huntington 1993). As Robert Palmer, a distinguished American historian who was highly
skilled in the history of the eighteenth-century France, said in 1793, “The wars of kings were
over; the wars of peoples had begun” (as qtd. in Huntington 1993). Wars between nations

progressed until the end of World War I; the result was a conflict of ideologies. First among the
ideology conflicts were clashes between communism, Nazism, and democracy. Later, conflicts
between democracy and communism followed. During the Cold War, the conflict between
America and Russia was based upon ideological differences. William Lind labeled these
conflicts as Western Civil Wars for they were between western states due to their ideological
differences (Huntington 1993).

Huntington’s Hypothesis on Global Conflicts

According to Huntington (1993), the conflict of the future will occur along the cultural
fault lines separating nations and civilizations. As such, the ways civilizations identify
themselves will be of great importance in shaping the world’s future interactions between seven
or eight civilizations, namely Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox,
Latin American, and maybe African civilizations (Huntington 1993). Basic and historic factors,
such as language, culture, tradition, and, most importantly, religious differences, differentiate
civilizations from each other. Notably, diverse civilizations have dissimilar approaches in how
they regard the relationship between God and humans. Notwithstanding, individuals and groups,
citizens and nations, parents and children, and husbands and wives all have differing views on
the relative importance of equality, liberty and authority, rights and responsibilities, and
hierarchy. These differing viewpoints stem from centuries of their civilization composition. They
are not going to disappear soon, and they are more serious than political differences. Regardless
of the fact that differences do not necessarily mean conflicts and conflicts, in turn, do not mean
violence, history has shown that differences among civilizations have the potential to generate
one of the bloodiest and prolonged conflicts ever seen.

Besides, due to modernity and advancement of time, the world is becoming smaller as
people of different civilizations interact and communicate with each other more than ever. These
increased interactions are acting as eye openers on civilizations’ consciousness of the differences
and commonalities amongst themselves. For instance, Syrian immigrants in the Czech Republic
generate hostility among citizens. Similarly, as Donald Horowitz states, “In Nigeria, an Owerri
Ibo or an Onitsha Ibo is simply an Ibo. In London, he is a Nigerian. In New York, he is an
African” (as qtd. in Huntington 1993). For this reason, through interaction with each other,
people of different civilizations become more aware of themselves and the differences among
them; this, in turn, creates tension and animosity amongst conflicting civilizations.
Global Ethnic Conflict According to Bowen

John Richard Bowen completely disagrees with Huntington’s notion of the rise of ethnic
and cultural conflict among civilizations. He criticizes this notion, saying that it is misguided as
it ignores the ability of diverse people to coexist (Bowen 1996). Today, it has become an excuse
for any violent confrontation between civilizations. As some of the conflicts involve religious or
cultural identity, most conflicts are about acquiring more land, power, and other resources; that
is, such conflicts have nothing to do with ethnic diversity. The beliefs that ethnic identities are
ancient and unchanged, that ancient identities provoke violence between people, and that ethnic
diversity handles the violence are greatly mistaken (Bowen 1996). Ethnicity is a product of
modern politics as people have begun to see themselves as members of a particular ethnic group
opposed to another group only during the recent periods of colonization and state building.
Besides, ethnicity and religious fanaticism become essential elements of nationalism only when
aspirations to gain power, resources, and land are added to their framework. Just like ethnicity,
nationalism is an ideology that is learned and open to manipulation (Bowen 1996). For example,

nationalism was often manipulated during the nineteenth century. Serbian and Croatian
intellectuals joined other European countries in raising awareness calling for the independence of
colonized countries. For their part, Serbians later claimed their right of gaining territories as
other countries in Europe had done earlier (Bowen 1996). As such, nations continue to conflict
with other nations as religions continue to conflict with each other. Humanity, in general, from
its smallest unit, the family, to the entire civilization need to learn to live with each other for a
more peaceful and prosperous future.
In conclusion, nations, civilizations, ethnic groups, and individuals all have a task to
avoid wars and conflicts. Peace should be embraced, and more efforts should go to economic
betterment through cohesion instead of wars and conflicts. This way, a war will not be an option
of conflict resolution.



Bowen, John Richard. “The Myth of Global Ethnic Conflict.” Journal of Democracy 7, no. 4
(1996): 3-14.
Huntington, Samuel P. “The Clash of Civilizations.”Foreign Affairs,