From the University of Illinois:
The power of ethnic hatred was on full display in the Rwandan genocide that began 20 years ago this month, but it’s only the most extreme example of ethnic and religious strife that continues around the world.
Today’s examples can be found in Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq, among many others.
Those trying to understand these “sociocultural” animosities and conflicts – whether academics, journalists or nongovernmental organizations – now have a new tool at their disposal: a public database that pulls together multiple sources on trends in the composition of ethnic and religious groups in 165 countries, going back seven decades, to the end of World War II.
The database is called CREG, for Composition of Religious and Ethnic Groups.
It’s a project of the Cline Center for Democracy at the University of Illinois.
The project pulled information from three widely used sources – the “Britannica Book of the Year,” the “CIA World Factbook” and the “World Almanac Book of Facts” – but also sought out extensive additional data from dozens of other sources. Researchers then “triangulated,” comparing different sources of data from different points in time, Nardulli said.
The goal was not only to nail down the data, but to specify trend lines and projections for the future, Nardulli said. “Our database is so much more valuable than the raw data because you can not only see where the numbers are now, but where they’ve been and where they’re going.”
To understand the causes of civil strife and violence in the post-war world, the center created a project called SPEED, or the Social, Political and Economic Event Database project.
The raw material for SPEED comes from a global news archive that contains tens of millions of stories from a variety of sources; the archive begins in 1946 and is updated daily. Identifying and analyzing the news stories about civil strife is accomplished through a combination of computer algorithms and computer-aided human coding of stories, Nardulli said.
Direct to CREG (Composition of Religious and Ethnic Groups Database)
Read the Complete Announcement