Revision with unchanged content. Ethnic conflicts are nowadays a frequent phenomenon in what some call a “postwestphalian” world reshaped by the forces of globalization. When they turn violent these conflicts constitute a regional, if not global threat to security and stability as the recent developments in Iraq or Sri Lanka amply demonstrate. But why and how do ethnic conflicts escalate into outbreaks of collective violence? This is the question this small book seeks to address. Drawing on the current debates in the field of conflict studies, the author differentiates between two concepts of ethnic conflict and analyzes the notion of ethnicity as collective identity. Offering explanations for the occurrence of ethnic violence that are situated on three different levels of analysis, he proceeds from the discussion of violence-prone strategic interactions among ethnic groups to the analysis of within-group social dynamics. There elites use appropriately labeled violent incidents in order to rally co-ethnics for political purposes. It is argued that the three levels of analysis are not exclusive, but instead appear complementary once we differentiate between different levels of violence. This book, therefore, proposes a new perspective on collective identity and the escalation of violence in ethnic conflict.