Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Professor Jennifer Taw

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2024 Eliza S. Friend


The terms that we use to categorize the world around us carry deep historical and political meaning; those that pertain to life and death, survival and annihilation, even more so. This thesis explores the effects of political terminology (and the underlying narratives that inform the creation of such terminology) on the development of international conflict. Through the case studies of the Bosnian War and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, it examines the American tendency to embrace reductive labels in relation to non-Western conflict. Specifically, it addresses the use of the “ethnic conflict” label in relation to the Bosnian War and the use of the “religious violence” label in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Ultimately, the thesis concludes that such terminology is neither as simple, nor as convenient as it may seem. Rather, such labels obscure the complexities of conflict, underpin destructive American policy responses, and threaten the legitimacy of the United States as a leader within the international system.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.