On September 1, 2004, Russia experienced its most appalling act of terrorism in recent history: the taking of approximately 1,200 hostages at School No. 1 in Beslan, North Ossetia, where they remained for 53 hours, thirsty, hungry, frightened, and in sweltering heat before meeting a gruesome ending that included explosions, a burning and collapsed gym roof, gunfire, and widespread chaos and trauma. After these horrific events, many observers expected retaliatory violence. The conventional wisdom was that the 330-plus deaths and countless injuries sustained after the unprecedented hostage taking of schoolchildren, parents, and teachers would now revive longstanding bloody rivalries that had existed between Ossetians and neighboring Ingush and Chechens. The assumption was that the horror of the hostage taking would trigger anger, and anger would lead to retaliatory violence.
As it turns out, however, anger was actually a productive force in fueling peaceful political participation in response to the hostage taking and interestingly had little to do with support for retaliatory violence. The single most important factor explaining support for retaliatory violence was not anger but ethnic prejudice, regardless of whether or not that prejudice induced an emotional response. These findings are based on interviews held in 2007 with 1,098 victims of the hostage taking, or 82 percent of victims identified, along with focus groups of politically active and inactive victims (See Appendix). The findings of this research have implications for anticipating the aftermath of violence in other interethnic contexts […]