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Rethinking Violence

Rethinking Violence: States and Non-State Actors in Conflict

Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Rethinking Violence
    Book Description:

    States, nationalist movements, and ethnic groups in conflict with one another often face a choice between violent and nonviolent strategies. Although major wars between sovereign states have become rare, contemporary world politics has been rife with internal conflict, ethnic cleansing, and violence against civilians. This book asks how, why, and when states and non-state actors use violence against one another, and examines the effectiveness of various forms of political violence. In the process of addressing these issues, the essays make two conceptual moves that illustrate the need to reconsider the way violence by states and non-state actors has typically been studied and understood. The first is to think of violence not as dichotomous, as either present or absent, but to consider the wide range of nonviolent and violent options available and ask why actors come to embrace particular strategies. The second is to explore the dynamic nature of violent conflicts, developing explanations that can account for the eruption of violence at particular moments in time. The arguments focus on how changes in the balance of power between and among states and non-state actors generate uncertainty and threat, thereby creating an environment conducive to violence. This innovative way of understanding violence deemphasizes the role of ethnic cleavages and nationalism in modern conflict.Contributors: Kristin M. Bakke, Emily Beaulieu, H. Zeynep Bulutgil, Erica Chenoweth, Kathryn McNabb Cochran, Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, Alexander B. Downes, Erin K. Jenne, Adria Lawrence, Harris Mylonas, Wendy Pearlman, Maria J. StephanThe hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-26608-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword Internal Conflict and Political Violence: New Developments in Research
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Stathis N. Kalyvas

    It is no exaggeration to say that the study of internal conflict and political violence has undergone a remarkable boom during the past twenty years. This area of study—how order, conflict, and violence interact—has grown from a peripheral topic to a central concern for scholars of both comparative politics and international relations. What is more, economists, anthropologists, psychologists, historians, and sociologists have joined in the quest to better understand this set of political and social phenomena. While each of these disciplines and subfields continues to be characterized by its own methodological preferences, some of the best emerging work...

  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)
    Adria Lawrence and Erica Chenoweth

    Recent years have seen the emergence of a growing subfield within political science that brings together scholars of international security, warfare, civil war, area studies, and comparative politics: the study of political violence. The increasing attention and resources devoted to studies of conflict and violence reflect, at least in part, profound changes in the international system. For much of the twentieth century, scholars of international security have focused on the behavior of states in the international system, and particularly on the eruption of wars between advanced states. Yet a decline in major wars, especially among industrialized democracies, has meant that...


    • Chapter 2 Targeting Civilians to Win? Assessing the Military Effectiveness of Civilian Victimization in Interstate War
      (pp. 23-56)
      Alexander B. Downes and Kathryn McNabb Cochran

      War, as Clausewitz argued long ago, is an act of violence in which actors attempt to impose their will on each other. Although Clausewitz depicted war as a duel on a larger scale that is most frequently won when one side or the other captures the enemy’s capital or destroys its army in battle, the impact of war is rarely confined to the military sphere. Civilians sometimes suffer in wartime even when combatants do not intend to harm them. Epidemics of typhus and cholera have often followed in the wake of marching armies, and civilians fleeing from the battle area...

    • Chapter 3 War, Collaboration, and Endogenous Ethnic Polarization: The Path to Ethnic Cleansing
      (pp. 57-82)
      H. Zeynep Bulutgil

      To what extent does the depth of ethnic cleavages play a role in the process that leads to ethnic cleansing? The question is important, as the conventional explanation for ethnic cleansing takes deep ethnic cleavages as the main exogenous variable that explains this phenomenon.¹ The idea is that in societies where ethnic cleavages are deep, relations between different ethnic groups are more strained, and issues that have to do with ethnicity dominate over other politically relevant questions. This leads to the emergence of “organic” nationalism, which views ethnic minorities as inherently different and deserving of exclusion, rather than “civic” nationalism,...

    • Chapter 4 Assimilation and its Alternatives: Caveats in the Study of Nation-building Policies
      (pp. 83-116)
      Harris Mylonas

      This chapter explains how states choose nation-building policies. Specifically, I focus on the strategic choice to use exclusionary state-planned nation-building policies toward non-core groups¹ instead of assimilating them or granting them minority rights. I define nation-building as the process whereby ruling political elites attempt to make thepoliticaland thenationalunits overlap.² To achieve this overlap, these elites construct and impose a common national identity on the population of the state. Legitimacy in the modern state is connected to popular rule and thus majorities. Nation-building is the process through which these majorities are constructed.

      Some countries are, or are...

    • Chapter 5 Ethnic Partition Under the League of Nations: The Cases of Population Exchanges in the Interwar Balkans
      (pp. 117-140)
      Erin K. Jenne

      The rationale given for the postwar Greco-Turkish population exchange more than eighty years ago foreshadows the contemporary theory of ethnic partition. Partition theory is premised on the notion that societies destroyed by ethnic violence are so riven by hatreds and fears that they cannot be mended. Although the humanitarian costs of ethnic partition are immense and the ethical and moral implications deeply troubling, these disadvantages are far outweighed by the immense benefits of preventing future atrocities that are bound to take place in the absence of supervised partition. In this view, international arbiters are obliged to facilitate the inevitable ethnic...


    • Chapter 6 Driven to Arms? The Escalation to Violence in Nationalist Conflicts
      (pp. 143-172)
      Adria Lawrence

      On the morning of August 20, 1955, residents of Oued Zem, a small town in Morocco southeast of Casablanca, took to the streets armed with rifles, knives, and pistols, demanding the return of the exiled sultan Mohammed V and an end to French colonialism in Morocco.¹ Armed tribesmen from the countryside rode down from the hills and joined the rioting townspeople, who had severed telegraph and telephone lines connecting Oued Zem to the rest of Morocco. Accompanied by a single gendarme, the assistant civil controller, Paul Carayol, went out to calm the crowd; both were lynched. Mobs proceeded to sack...

    • Chapter 7 Dissent, Repression, and Inconsistency
      (pp. 173-196)
      Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham and Emily Beaulieu

      States of all kinds repress dissent—both violent and non-violent protest. What are the effects of such repression? Much attention has been devoted to understanding whether repression increases or decreases dissent in general and whether repression of specific protest strategies, violent or non-violent, can induce dissidents to change tactics. Findings have been mixed, with support found for both the ideas that repression quells dissent and encourages it, and that when targeted at a specific kind of dissent, repression can make dissidents change tactics.¹ Although these existing works all focus on the importance of repression by the state, none look systematically...

    • Chapter 8 A Composite-Actor Approach to Conflict Behavior
      (pp. 197-220)
      Wendy Pearlman

      What brings an insurgent, protest, or self-determination movement to use violence as opposed to other strategies? This question is an important starting point for research on civil and asymmetric conflicts, increasingly dominant forms of conflict since the latter half of the twentieth century. With the aim of crafting generalizable theories of the circumstances under which political violence is likely or intense, scholars and analysts often treat movements as if they were unitary. There is thus a propensity to refer to the Tamils, Chechens, Tibetans, and other groups as coherent entities, and to explain their behavior as the outcome of that...

    • Chapter 9 The Turn to Violence in Self-Determination Struggles in Chechnya and Punjab
      (pp. 221-248)
      Kristin M. Bakke

      Why do some intrastate conflicts turn violent, while others do not? This is the question motivating this chapter. Focusing on Chechnya’s path toward a violent conflict with Moscow in the early 1990s and Punjab’s path to a violent struggle with Delhi a decade earlier, the study examines the turn to violence in self-determination struggles in decentralized states.

      Each of these conflicts is notorious for a high death toll, a drawn-out counterinsurgency campaign, and a large number of “disappearances.” Yet neither of these conflicts was bound to result in aviolentcenter-region confrontation. Moscow’s relationship to Chechnya grew tense when the...

    • Chapter 10 Mobilization and Resistance: A Framework for Analysis
      (pp. 249-276)
      Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan

      Recent studies of unconventional warfare have attempted to evaluate the conditions under which “weak” actors defeat ostensibly “stronger” adversaries.¹ Some scholars have argued, for instance, that non-state armed groups are capable of defeating conventionally superior state adversaries when they employ indirect and opposite strategies.² Others have argued that we can make systematic predictions about outcomes of insurgencies based on the different gradations of violence used by belligerents.³

      Such analyses often neglect systematic comparison of violent strategies with alternatives to violence, because many studies of civil war and conflict assume that the most forceful means of waging conflict entails violence. Civilian...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 277-279)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 280-285)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 286-289)