The ending of Great War in November 1918 sparked fresh local conflicts along the ethnic frontiers of Europe, including Ulster and Upper Silesia (in the south eastern corner of the German Reich). In Ulster, communities were divided in religion but overwhelmingly united in language (as English speakers). Upper Silesians, though, were (ostensibly) divided by language but largely united in religion (92% being Catholic). In practice, Upper Silesian society was less deeply divided along national lines between ‘Germans’ and ‘Poles’. But its violence was more grotesque. By contrast, Ulster society was deeply polarised yet its violence was more restrained. Against the orthodoxies of the theoretical literature upon ethnic conflict as expressed by writers such as Fredrik Barth, Frank Wright, Donald Horowitz, and Brendan O'Leary, this chapter introduces the claim that these correlations were not coincidental but inter-related.
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