In the wake of recent conflicts in Russia and the former Yugoslavia, ethnic terrorism and ethnic cleansing have become household words. Yet we are at a loss to find solutions to such struggles. In Bloodlines, Vamik Volkan, a world-renowned psychiatrist specializing in international relations, explores ethnic violence by examining history and diplomacy through a psycho-analytic lens.Dr. Volkan leads the reader on investigative tours of battlegrounds in the Middle East, Russia, Turkey, Cyprus, the Baltics, and the Balkans. In Serbia, he discovers that the Battle of Kosovo, fought in 1389, is the rallying cry for modern nationalists, who view the past as prophecy. In Turkey, PKK terrorist leader Apo reveals that he still considers himself an unloved child and orders his army of Kurdish women to remain virgins because of his own disgust with “unclean” adult behavior. In Latvia, after the dissolution of the USSR, Dr. Volkan learns that ethnic Latvians plan to disinter corpses and segregate cemeteries in an attempt to establish a national identity separate from that of Russia. Drawing on a variety of disciplines, Dr. Volkan analyzes these issues of identity formation, perceived versus real threats, the persistence of past traumas, and the desire for revenge.The result is a work that lays the foundation for understanding the differences between ethnic groups as well as the common ground they share. Timely, brilliant, and gripping, Bloodlines gives fascinating insights into how personal identity intertwines with nationality, and why hatred of others becomes a part of our sense of self.
Born to a Turkish family on Cyprus, Vamik Volkan is a professor of psychiatry and is the founder of the Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction at the University of Virginia. He is the author of many books, including Life After Loss and The Immortal Ataturk. He lives in McLean, Virginia.