Although the term 'ethnicity' is recent, the sense of kinship, group solidarity, and common culture to which it refers is as old as the historical record: ethnic communities have been present in every period and continent. Ethnic identity is often associated with conflict, particularly with political struggles in various parts of the world, but there is no essential connection between ethnicity and conflict. So why is the nature of ethnicity so contentious? Can ethnic conflict ever be resolved? This Oxford Reader includes extracts by all the major contributors to debates on this important concept.