The article discusses the rise of societal and ethnic conflicts. It focuses on some of the analytical tools designed to illuminate these processes. More specifically it builds on the framework of the so-called "Copenhagen School of Security Studies" but seeks to develop a more flexible approach on the concept of identity. To understand how an identity gains strength, Roland Barthes’ theory of myths is examined and combined with Michel Foucault's concept of power. Finally a concept of agency is added, namely what has been labeled a “conflict entrepreneur”. It is argued that by combining these theoretical insights the process of constructing Self and Other, and the subsequent alienation of those who not fit these categories, will be better understood.

Author Bio(s)

Karsten Friis has previously been associated with the UN section at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and was until recently working in the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (KFOR).


Copenhagen School of Security Studies, Michel Foucault, national identities, Roland Barthes, securitization

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