Welcome to the blog of the European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on Political Violence. In this blog you will find timely articles and commentary, research news, job opportunities and other information relevant to scholars with an interest in understanding political violence.


Center on Social Movements Studies
Villa Pagliaiuola 17-19, San Domenico, Firenze
Phone (+39) 0554685700

Seminar Room (First Floor)

Organized by Lorenzo Bosi, Donatella Della Porta and Alice Mattoni

The COSMOS Talks are public discussions on cutting edge contentious politics research from across various theoretical, methodological and disciplinary traditions. They aim to provide feedback on preliminary results of current research projects, future research projects proposals and drafts of forthcoming papers, articles and book chapters. The COSMOS Talks also aim at improving synergies and networking among researchers from the COSMOS community as well as from other universities.
Scholars and researchers interested in discussing their work at one of the slots of COSMOS Talks should send an abstract to Lorenzo Bosi (talks organizer), preferably by the end of September. A program will be then circulated. We ask presenters to send a paper (of no more than 30 pages) to Lorenzo Bosi, no later than a week before the scheduled talk. Each session lasts for two hours. Paper givers are given maximum 20 minutes to introduce their works. Preselected discussants are given about 10 minutes each to give constructive feedback. The floor will then be open to the public. All participants are asked to read the paper in advance.

The COSMOS Talks will take place (preferably) on Wednesdays, 13:30 -15:30.

To be added to the COSMOS Talks listserv e-mail Lorenzo Bosi (Lorenzo.bosi@eui.eu).

Niall Ó Dochartaigh, School of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland Galway. http://niallodoc.wordpress.com
Wikimedia CommonsRebellion or terrorism? Civil war or international conflict? Contentious politics or political violence? The study of political violence has been organised around a number of binary distinctions that help to define disciplinary boundaries and provide the conceptual infrastructure for databases of war and conflict. Intra-state conflict is distinguished from the international, as in Stathis Kalyvas’s definition of civil war as essentially internal (Kalyvas 2006). Terrorism is contrasted with rebellion, revolution, insurgency or guerrilla warfare, most recently in the case of Syria where many commentators insist on distinguishing between terrorists and insurgents: ‘terrorist’ being applied to Islamists but not to rebels who enjoy western support or sympathy. Finally, the violent repertoires of contentious politics (including public protest, riots and street-fighting) are distinguished from organised political violence. The latter is characterised by scholars such as Brubaker and Laitin (1998: 427) and Kalyvas (2006) as a distinctive phenomenon that needs to be analysed in its own right rather than being submerged in the broader study of contentious politics.

One of the reasons why the current escalating violence in the Ukraine is so unpredictable however is precisely because of the softness of the boundaries between those categories of internal and external, terrorism and insurgency, protest and organised violence. It is not only that the boundaries shift but that the struggle by the key parties to impose their favoured definitions and terminology is of direct strategic importance. The typologies are part of the conflict.

Russia, for example, has characterised the takeover of public buildings and the actions of armed combatants in eastern Ukraine as an essentially domestic, indigenous phenomenon within Ukraine in order to legitimise this use of force. Ukraine on the other hand has emphasized that these actions are illegitimate precisely on the basis that they are externally driven and manipulated. Both parties have a direct political interest in whether this is characterised as internal or international. While we might formally classify the confrontation as an internal one until and unless Russian combat units intervene openly and directly in eastern Ukraine, it seems like a very narrow technical distinction given the decisive shaping force exerted by the very presence of those troops on the border.

The question of whether this conflict is a rebellion, insurgency, popular protest or terrorism is similarly bound up with the struggle for political advantage. The fact that both parties seek energetically to label their opponents as terrorists is ample evidence, if more was needed, of just how politically charged the term is. If you can successfully label an armed challenger as ‘terrorist’ it brings significant and immediate advantages. It is hard to see how such an inherently condemnatory term can be analytically deployed without becoming hopelessly entangled in the disputes over the mutually exclusive claims to political legitimacy made by the key parties.

Events in Ukraine call into question too the distinction between protest and violence. Both in the Maidan and in eastern Ukraine there has been a complex and shifting relationship between organised protest, riot and the use of armed force that highlights the intertwined and inter-dependent character of public protest and armed action.

The remarkably swift takeover of Crimea by Russian troops serves as a valuable reminder too that an extraordinarily powerful deployment of force for political ends may involve very few acts of direct violence. As Thomas Schelling pointed out nearly half a century ago, capacity for violence can be used to powerful effect without violence being enacted: “…the power to hurt is most successful when it is kept in reserve… It is latent violence that can influence someone’s choice – violence that can still be withheld or inflicted, or that a victim believes can be withheld or inflicted” (Schelling 1966: 3). What does it mean then to distinguish between peaceful and violent methods when the exertion of power through the demonstration of capacity for devastating violence is ostensibly ‘peaceful’? How can the exertion of power through the threat of massive violence be captured if we measure violence in terms of numbers killed or injured?

I am not arguing here that Ukraine is exceptional. On the contrary, I am arguing that it highlights particularly starkly the weaknesses of the binary distinctions that are deployed to analyse violent conflict everywhere. What to do then? One approach that might help us to problematize these contested categories is to think more systematically about political violence in terms of the intersection between physical force, political legitimacy and territorial control and to investigate the way in which binary distinctions between inside and out, terror and war, protest and violence are intertwined with the struggle to assert political legitimacy and a monopoly of violence within a territory.



Brubaker, Rogers and Laitin, David. 1998. Ethnic and Nationalist Violence. Annual Review of Sociology 24 (1): 423-452.

Kalyvas, Stathis N. 2006. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Schelling, Thomas C. 1966. Arms and Influence. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Call for Papers

WHEN: August 28 – August 29, 2014
WHERE: King’s College London

The VOX-Pol Network of Excellence (NoE) is an EU-funded academic research network focused on researching the prevalence, contours, functions, and impacts of Violent Online Political Extremism and responses to it.

The inaugural VOX-Pol conference will be held at King’s College London on 28-29 August 2014, and will feature panels and papers describing and discussing cutting-edge research on violent extremism and the Internet, and addressing frontiers in social science methodologies for this research.

Perspectives from any academic discipline are welcome, particularly: communications, computer science, cultural studies, information science, international relations, internet studies, law, media studies, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology.

The following topics are of particular interest:
–            Online radicalisation;

-            The Internet and recruitment into violent political extremist groups;

-            Methodologies for terrorism-related Internet research;

-            Network analysis and violent online political extremism;

-            The content and functioning of violent political extremist Internet forums;

-            The role of video in violent online political extremism;

-            Children/youth, violent extremism, and new media;

-            Women/gender, violent extremism, and new media;

-           Sexual orientation, violent extremism and new media;

-           Case studies of particular groups’ use of new media (e.g. al-Qaeda and related, FARC, Hamas, Hizbollah, dissident Irish Republicans, Neo-Nazis, etc.);

-           Case studies of the manifestation(s) and workings of violent political extremism on specific online platforms (e.g. Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, etc.);

-            Policy/legislative responses to violent online political extremism;

-            Critical responses to research on, reporting of, and governmental responses to the conjunction of violent extremism and the Internet;

-           Ethical issues surrounding online extremism-related research.

We welcome papers or panel proposals in all these areas, particularly where they report significant new results. Innovative methodological papers are especially welcome.

Authors of individual papers should submit a 300-word abstract at our proposal submission page, https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=vope2014 by 16 May 2014. Panel proposals should include a 200-word abstract and confirmed list of min. 3 panelists.

A selection of papers will be considered for publication in the journals Policy and Internet, and Perspectives on Terrorism.

–          Abstract deadline: 300 words to be submitted by 16 May 2014

-          Registration: from 16 June 2014

-          Decision on abstracts: 16 June 2014

-          Registration Deadline: 14 August 2014 – no on-site registration

-          Early bird registration deadline: 13 July 2014

Travel Funding
The conference organisers are able to provide a number of travel grants for PhD students, early career researchers, end-users, and colleagues from the developing world. Support may be requested for registration fees, transportation, and accommodation. Further details will be provided when decisions are made on selected papers.

For more information, visit http://www.voxpol.eu; for conference-related queries, email conference@voxpol.eu.

political violence in times of crisis

Section 7: Citizens’ Resilience in Times of Crisis

Section Chair: Marco Giugni (University of Geneva) Section Co-Chair: Maria Grasso (University of Sheffield)

Panel 3: Political Violence in Times of Economic Crisis

Panel Chair: Lorenzo Zamponi (European University Institute) Panel Co-Chair: Lorenzo Bosi (European University Institute)

The goal of this panel is to advance the understanding of political violence in times of economic crisis. In order to do this we are concerned with addressing the following interrelated research questions: How do violent repertoires of contention relate to the context of economic crisis? Does economic hardship provide incentives to the use of violent tactics? Which forms of political violence are most widely used in this context? Why, and with which outcomes? How does the context of economic crisis impact on the level of socially tolerated violence and on the individuals’ availability to certain tactics? Which kind of justification of political violence is pursued in times of economic crisis? Which political groups are more likely to turn to violence in this context? How do security forces react to political violence in time of crisis? We welcome submissions coming from different disciplinary fields, in the attempt to bridge the scholarship on political violence with the empirical analysis of the social outcomes of the economic crisis. Each abstract will be evaluated for: quality and clarity of the research question; methodological precision in the comparative approach; theoretically original contribution and discussion of available knowledge; relevance and pertinence to the workshop’s themes.

Paper: Dynamics of neo-Fascist protest in Italy in times of crisis

Paper Presenter: Matteo Albanese (Universidade de Lisboa Instituto de Ciencias Sociais) Paper Author(s): Pietro Castelli Gattinara (European University Institute) and Caterina Froio (European University Institute)

Despite widespread public attention to the risks of right-wing extremism on the eve of the European Parliament elections, very little is known about the dynamics of extreme right protest at the times of the economic crisis. By mapping the repertoires of action of Italian neo-Fascist movements and parties over the last 10 years, this paper investigates how the economic crisis has changed their mobilization strategies. To what extent have protest actions radicalized since the beginning of the crisis in 2008? What is the role of the economic crisis in the public discourse of the extreme right in Italy? With the aim of filling the gap in academic research on the social movement activism of the extreme right, this paper disentangles the conceptualization of the crisis in extreme right discourse and investigates the use of violent repertoires by CasaPound, Forza Nuova, Fiamma Tricolore and La Destra.

Paper: Radical anti-fascism in Europe – a comparative analysis

Paper Author(s): Jan Jämte (Södertörn University)

The economic crisis has brought with it an upsurge in extreme right activities, heightening the level of political tension in Europe. In response, anti-fascist movements are mobilizing. Among these we find a radical flank, often consisting of anarchists or autonomists, which combine a materialist analysis of fascism – viewing it as the outermost expression of structural problems deeply rooted at the heart of society – with the use of militant, direct action. By comparing radical anti-fascist groups in Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Germany and Russia this paper aims to provide a deeper understanding of this radical milieu and it’s role in the protests related to the economic crisis. Combining the framing perspective and the political opportunity-approach, the paper analyze whether differences in the activists’ collective action frames and repertories of action can be explained by cross-country differences in opportunity structures, including the development of the extreme right in each country.

Paper: Revolutionary Violence and Economic Crisis in Greece (2010-2014)

Paper Author(s): Sotirios Karampampas (University of Sheffield)
This paper aims to explore the relationship of revolutionary violence and the economic crisis in Greece, since the beginning of the latter in 2010 and up to the present day. Indeed, the recent years have seen the rise of political violence and extremism as a whole, from both sides of the political spectrum. Notwithstanding, this paper will focus on the political violence of revolutionary groups in Greece, and will examine its association, if any, with the economic crisis and the harsh austerity measures that it caused. The primary method for tracing the links between the two phenomena will be the discourse analysis of the revolutionary groups’ communiques. Particularly, through reflecting on the political and economic developments in the country, this analysis will try to identify how, if at all, the economic crisis affected the repertoire of contention, the incentives, and the justifications of revolutionary groups in Greece.

Paper: Riots and other forms of Ethnic Protest during periods of crisis

Paper Author(s): Cathy Schneider (American University)

In the 1960s, during a period of strong economic growth, hundreds of American cities burned. Similarly, across the Atlantic in 2005 riots tore through France in 2005. Yet in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the great depression, poor minority neighborhoods in the United States and most of Europe have been quiet. Only in California, Great Britain and Sweden have minority residents engaged in violent confrontation with police. What explains these very different repertoires of collective action, among those most hard hit by the economic crisis? Misery just disheartens. Three factors explain the location, timing and collective action repertoires of poor minorities: 1)

the activation of racial boundaries; 2) the violent policing of those boundaries; and 3) the availability of standard, successful, nonviolent repertoires.

Paper: Riots as ballet: Socially legitimate mass political violence and multi-partite informal negotiations in the Greek political scene

Paper Author(s): Markos Vogiatzoglou (European University Institute)

Greece has traditionally been characterized by a relatively high level of mass political violence. Commonly, two actors are identified as playing a key role in a riotous incident: the rioters themselves and the police. With regard to Greece, the behavior of both actors, although dynamic in the long-term, is characterized, in the short-term, by high levels of repetitiveness and predictability: the vast majority of violent occurrences are carefully choreographed. What I argue hereby, is that a, socially defined, fixed level of legitimate mass political violence, can be identified at any given point of time. This level is dynamic in the long-term and configured through a constant and intensive informal negotiation between the State, the organized violent demonstrators, the non-organized ones, the peaceful protesters and the public opinion.



Title of Section

Forms of political violence

Section Chairs

Dr. Lorenzo Bosi (European University Institute)

Dr. Stefan Malthaner (European University Institute)


Have forms of political violence changed in contemporary socio-political conflicts? How are different forms of political violence legitimized? Do forms of political violence change and/or coexist during the same episode? Do we need different analytical approaches to study different forms of political violence? Are periods of economic crises conducive to particular forms of political violence? Why are some groups more likely to adopt particular forms of political violence? Do forms of political violence change across geographical areas, types of conflict or historical periods?

These questions, which form the core puzzle of this section, are in our view fundamental for furthering the debate on political violence, which so far has largely been segmented into specific fields which focus on particular forms of political violence.


Political violence broadly defined, including guerrilla warfare, insurgency, terrorism, rebellion, revolution, rioting and civil war, can be distinguished in several ways: by the nature of the objectives; by the targets of attacks; by the organizational structure of groups and by the repertoire of actions. We will pay particular attention to tactical repertoires, how these are selected, how they depend on the repertoires’ historical evolution and on the socio-poilitical context, their consequences, across different times and settings. This section, then, will develop comparisons across different forms of political violence, underlining similarities and identifying differences. For these reasons we welcome papers that address three main issues: (1) conceptual and theoretical thinking about forms of political violence, including refining existing definitions and typologies; (2) methodological reflections about how to deal with the subject matter and how to avoid the obstacles that have hindered previous research, from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective; (3) empirical analyses of different forms of political violence, in particular comparative studies encompassing different types of conflicts and/or countries. We welcome submissions that deal with actor groups such as social and protest movements, terrorist groups, insurgencies and other non-state armed formations.



Political Violence and Legitimacy: Concepts and Methodologies

Chares Demetriou


Odysseas Christou

University of Nicosia

Legitimizing Insurgency: Social Norms and Social Networks as Instruments in Recruitment by Organizations of Political Violence


This paper conceptualizes the evolution of the legitimacy of political violence. Utilizing a theoretical framework that operationalizes the use of social norms and social networks in optimizing recruitment by organizations of political violence, the paper deconstructs the legitimation process into two phases: the nascent stage where an initial cadre creates a foundation of legitimizing aims and a subsequent stage where this foundation is instrumental to the recruitment strategies and tactics of the organization. This theoretical framework is tested through an application to the case study of EOKA, the Greek Cypriot insurgent organization that engaged in an armed struggle against British colonial forces with the aim to unite Cyprus with Greece in the 1950s. The evidence from the case study is drawn from a new database based on interviews conducted with ranked officers and recruiters of the organization and a survey questionnaire of the members of the organization.

Sinisa Malesevic

University College Dublin

Niall O Dochartaigh

National University of Ireland, Galway


Organisational Foundations of Military power: Irish Republican Army and the Army of the Serbian Republic in Bosnia Compared     


This paper investigates the role and significance of nationalist ideology and bureaucratic organisation in two quite different armed organisations that nonetheless shared certain key features. Both asserted their right to use force through nationalist ideology, claiming to be the legitimately-constituted army of a nation and state. Both were also organised like formal military bureaucracies with hierarchical command structures and institutions. Drawing on interviews with more than twenty ex-combatants from the VRS and the Provisional IRA this paper compares the role of nationalist ideology and of bureaucratic structures in these two organisations. We find that although both organisations are seen as being highly motivated by nationalist ideas, the picture is much more complex and nationalism is much less present than expected. Instead individualist motivations, small group solidarity and local networks dominate. We find too that, contrary to expectations, bureaucratic systems were more rigidly formalised in the more clandestine group, the IRA.

Sophia Benz

Universität Tübingen


Same or Different? Comparing the Incidence, Significance and Nature of Non-State and State-Based Internal Armed Conflict


This paper compares non-state with state-based armed conflicts. I rely on theoretical arguments by Kaldor, Weinstein and Kalyvas in order to link differences in violent actors (their nature, number and motives) with differences in the character, intensity and duration of applied violence. The subsequent empirical analysis explores differences and changes over time in the incidence and significance of these sub-types of internal fighting. In addition, it tries to uncover whether non-state armed conflict is characterized by a significantly larger number of involved actors, whether it significantly more often happens in a context where conflict resources are known to occur and/or produced and where state structures are particularly weak, whether it causes significantly more battle-related deaths and whether it is of a significantly longer duration as compared with state-based internal fighting. This study not only covers both types of violent events but three levels of analysis: the war-, dyadic-conflict- and conflict-episode-level

Chris Millington

Swansea University


Political violence and democracy: The case of interwar France      


This paper is based on research into the behaviour of political activists during violence. It illuminates a French culture of violence that existed in tandem with a democratic political culture. Whether violence was perpetrated in the street, in meeting halls, or during mass demonstrations and riots, political groups on the left and right justified and legitimized physical aggression according to shared understandings of acceptable behaviour. Understandings were founded on common notions of manly conduct that can be traced back at least to the late nineteenth century. This culture of violence both restrained and enabled violent action: groups ordered their members to act with self-control when confronted with the enemy but to respond with disproportionate violence if the opponent failed to do likewise. The paper speaks to the agenda of the panel in exploring how contemporaries conceived of, justified and legitimized violence in the context of a democratic society

Sarah Marsden

University of St. Andrews


Understanding the evolution of violent political repertoires: A genealogy of far-right religious nationalist violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories


Whilst widely discussed in the literature on contentious politics, ‘repertoires of contention’ are less frequently applied to interpreting the evolution of particular forms of political violence. By analysing the violence of far-right religious nationalists in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, this paper charts the evolution of a very particular tactical repertoire. Characterised by low-level intimidation and violence, vandalism, arson and graffiti, understanding the genealogy of this repertoire offers insights into how and why specific forms of political violence emerge in particular settings. Analysis suggests this repertoire’s origins lie in the 1960s civil rights movement, aspects of which were adapted by the Jewish Defense League in New York, and exported to Israel with Meir Kahane and his adherents. The transnational nature of the case allows comparative insights into how similar forms of violence were interpreted and addressed in very different settings: from civil rights era Brooklyn, to post-Oslo Israel.


Trajectories of political violence

Stefan Malthaner


Jerome Drevon

University of Durham

Organisationally Mediated Dynamics of Armed Violence in Egypt


This paper is a case study analysis of the evolving use of political violence in Egypt by the Islamic Group (IG) and Jihad Group (JG) in the 90s. It adopts an actor-centred perspective to compare the organisational negotiation and transformation of political violence between these two groups. Following the premise that the study of political violence needs to disaggregate organisational, spatial and temporal dimensions, the main objective of this paper is to investigate the similarities and differences between these two groups. It proves that political violence is an organisationally negotiated process which is continuously debated inside militant groups, irrespectively of their ideological leanings.


Niall O Dochartaigh

National University of Ireland, Galway

Strategies of Disengagement: a strategic-relational analysis of the termination of the IRA campaign


This paper examines one important case of disengagement fom violence, analysing the strategic choices and the key relationships involved in the termination of the IRA campaign in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. It provides an explanation of the ending of this campaign of political violence in terms of strategic choices, dynamic relationships and interactions both within and between key collective actors. It analyses intra-party struggle and the development of inter-party communication as key elements in disengagement, drawing on unique archival sources that provide an insight into the strategic thinking of the IRA. It identifies a number of crucial mechanisms in the disengagement process and outlines a number of lines of inquiry for further research on strategies of disengagement.

Donagh Davis


Trajectories of violence in the Irish independence struggle, 1916-1923


The trajectory of violence seen in the Irish independence struggle of 1916-1923 followed a logic that was deeply path dependent. The evolution of the IRA’s military tactics towards guerrilla warfare had as much to do with exigency and improvisation as it had to do with any alternative strategic vision pre-existing the Easter Rising. A complex set of factors shaped the new military approach – from the need to respond to British counter-insurgency tactics, to the unpredictable acts of individual IRA units on the ground – often acting on their own initiative, engaging in provocative action to escalate the conflict. This paper will outline those dynamics, asking how various factors related to one another in shaping the IRA’s armed campaign. The paper will draw upon historical sociological qualitative analysis of both primary and secondary sources relating to the period in question.

Anastasia Voronkova

University College London


Evolving trajectories: actor transformation and phases of political violence in the South Caucasus         


This paper addresses the issue of how violent escalation reshapes armed groups and participants in political violence. Drawing on fieldwork, interviews and participant observation in the South Caucasus I examine the effects that changes in the scale of political violence (from sporadic, low-scale to sustained, high-scale) have had on the ideological evolution, identity shifts and experiences of those participating in violent activities. Concentrating primarily on the case of Nagorno-Karabakh, I explore how and when political violence became a cause for self-identification, dramatically transforming participants’ identities. I further highlight the various (identity) narratives participants draw upon to justify their direct involvement, including loyalty to the homeland and communal pressure. Overall, this paper contributes to a better understanding of identity (re)construction during and after specific episodes of political violence, as well as the ways in which differences in the phases and scale of violence can be linked to actor transformation processes.

Daniela Pisoiu

Hamburg Universität


Genesis of clandestine violence – how and why contemporary terrorist structures emerge


Applying classical scholarship on the emergence of left-wing terrorism in the 70s to contemporary forms of political violence in Germany, and the particular aspects of the emergence of clandestine cells, several puzzles become apparent: a lack of left-wing terrorism in spite of recurring escalation of violence between left-wing militants and the state; jihadi and right-wing terrorism on the background of a lack of increasing repression by the state; emergence of jihadi homegrown terrorism in the absence of a broader homegrown jihadi protest movement. This paper aims to tackle these issues through an in-depth analysis of three representative cases in Germany. As a second objective, the paper will offer some considerations relating to the concept of “terrorism”, arguing that there is a need for more conceptual differentiation regarding different forms of clandestine violence in order to capture contemporary right-wing, left-wing and jihadi violence.


Transforming forms of political violence during disengagement processes

Niall O Dochartaigh

Katy Hayward


Stefan Malthaner


Losing ground: The transformation of violence during the decline of violent insurgencies in Egypt, Algeria, and Peru


Violent insurgencies, guerrilla-wars, and “terrorist” campaigns are often portrayed as conflicts between a more or less coherent insurgent group on the one side and government security forces, which escalate, run their course, and end at a certain point. Yet the decline of insurgencies is a complex process that may entail the fragmentation of militant movements , the increasing internationalization of local conflicts, and shifts toward new targets. This paper examines patterns of transformation in the Islamist insurgencies in Egypt and Algeria during the 1990s and the campaign of the Shining Path in Peru, seeking to identify the mechanisms that re-shape armed groups. Adopting a relational approach that focuses on interactions between armed groups, their opponents, and local populations, it argues that the transformation of militant movements is driven by a self-reinforcing dynamic of shifting relational configurations on the local level that determine patterns of support, control, and military power.

Benjamin Brast

Universität Bremen

The Regional Dimension of Statebuilding Interventions   

Abstract: Statebuilding interventions have shaped international politics since the end of the Cold War. One of their central goals is the establishment of a monopoly on violence. However, the literature lacks systematical explanations for interventions’ success or failure in monopolizing the means of coercion. This paper argues that regional politics are crucial for the outcomes of statebuilding interventions. In order to test the proposed theory, the author compares two cases. Afghanistan and Sierra Leone are selected as cases because they have typical values on the input side (liberal statebuilding) and similar context (poverty, civil war, ethnic heterogeneity), while displaying greatly varying outcomes. Each case study is conducted through the method of process-tracing. The case studies show that regional cooperation enables statebuilding interventions to monopolize the means of coercion, while regional competition is sufficient to let interventions fail.


Janusz Biene

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

Transnational Escalation Mechanisms of Violent Resistance


Resistance against domestic and international rule by dissident movements has become a key issue in IR. As in other strands of research on resistance, there is a need for studies on its transnational dimensions. Focusing on violent resistance, we develop a framework to analyze transnational processes of (de-)escalation in non-state resistance, comparing historical and contemporary cases. We consider both rule and resistance: the dyadic relation of power and dissidence. In a reversal of the Foucaultian insight – „where there is rule, there is resistance” – we learn more about rule by studying resistance and analyzing perceptions of unjust rule enables us to analyze the functionality of political violence. By applying historical process tracing, we focus on strategic decisions leading to (de-)escalation of violence. We presume that transnational interactions – in ideological, organizational and material terms – crucially affected these decisions and we integrate both agency and structure into the analysis.

Jana Krause

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies


‘Militia Leaders into ‘Peace Activists’: Networks of Violence after Communal War


How do communal conflicts de-escalate after the killings of thousands of people? States tend to suppress protracted communal violence with a heavy deployment of security forces. But in order to dismantle the networks that make armed violence possible militia leaders need to be engaged. Experiences from Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala suggest that armed violence and staggering homicide rates are only brought to a halt through formal or informal truce agreements and considerable benefits for militia members. Drawing on field research material collected in Indonesia (Ambon) and Nigeria (Jos), this paper shows how networks of violence transform during and after episodes of communal warfare. Once formal or informal peace agreements are advanced, militia leaders re-invent themselves as ‘peace activists’ to ensure impunity, maintain social status and access economic benefits. I find that due to the nature of peace arrangements, post-conflict networks of violence resemble pre-conflict settings, contributing to enduring fragility.


Corinna Jentzsch

Yale University

Paper Author(s):

Corinna Jentzsch

Yale University

Livia Schubiger

University of Zurich


Pro-government Militias and Post-War Political Violence and Order

We examine the impact of wartime pro-government militia activity on the risk of political violence after civil wars end. We argue that whether pro-government militias—armed organizations that fight against insurgent groups in collaboration with state forces—contribute to post-war violence depends on their relation to the state during and after war. We consider two types of militias, those formed by the government for counterinsurgency and those formed by communities for their protection, but co-opted by the state at later stages. We also consider state strategies to incorporate militias into post-war politics, such as their incorporation into the regular security forces and demobilization. We expect that militias that were formed by the government, but not demobilized after the end of the war are the most likely to contribute to post-war political violence. Empirically, we test our argument with data from all African countries of the post-Cold War period.



Transnational perspectives on the New Left (wave) violence

Leena Malkki

Alberto Martin


Alberto Martin Foundations of a generational approach of the violence of the New Left


Revolutionary violence of the New Left shows clear features of a generational phenomenon. The global diffusion of repertoires of action, the existence of an ethos shared by the revolutionary organizations of the time (Rapoport), the sociodemographic characteristics of the founders of the armed groups, all suggest that an approach inspired in the sociology of generations of Karl Mannheim may be fruitful to explain the origin, decline and transnational nature of this wave of revolutionary violence. Starting from an analysis of recent developments in the sociology of generations, this exploratory work tests the possibilities and limitations of this theory in relation to the study of the origin of the armed organizations of the Central American revolutionary left.

Luca Falciola

Catholic University, Milan, Italy

The Italian Autonomy and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP): Anatomy of a Transnational Connection


The international ties of Italian revolutionary groups are conventionally underplayed and portrayed in terms of smuggling of weapons or generic solidarity by sympathizers. In contrast, this paper proposes an in-depth investigation into the complex relationship between the Autonomy–a violence-prone New Left cluster–and the PFLP–a Palestinian terrorist organisation inspired by Marxism-Leninism. This research, based on historical sources, judicial documents, and oral testimonies, demonstrates the extent to which this connection was stable and far-reaching. Therefore, the investigation sheds light on the mutual benefits of such bond: a) on the Italian side, the legitimation of autonomous violence as a people’s struggle and its belonging to a transnational cause, b) on the Palestinian side, the logistic support offered by autonomous militants, coupled with the judiciary quasi-immunity granted to Arab terrorists by the Italian government. The research also offers theoretical insights, by focusing on the radicalizing effect of this kind of relationship.

Leena Malkki

University of Helsinki

The New Left wave in the contemporary research on terrorism


In the 1960s and 1970s, in the age of the “rise of modern terrorism” and the birth of terrorism studies, the New Left wave terrorist groups were seen prime examples of a typical terrorist organization. Since 1980s, the research on the New Left wave terrorism declined considerably. This is hardly surprising, given that the the research on terrorism has always focused strongly on active terrorist campaigns. This paper analyses how the New Left wave terrorist campaigns in Europe have been discussed in the recent terrorism literature. How often these campaigns are mentioned? In what kind of contexts are they discussed? Which studies the researchers refer to? Does the discussion reflect a familiarity with the recent historical research on the political protest and violence in the 1960s-1980s? A special attention is paid to how the studies have acknowledged and interpreted the transnational dimensions of the New Left wave terrorism.

Florian Edelmann

Aberystwyth University


We have to be as radical as reality’: Conditions and Limitations of the Continuity of Revolutionary Clandestine Political Violence


This paper proposes to re-frame the dynamics of political violence by focusing on actual strategies legitimising the armed struggle rather than on mere ideological affinities. It combines Apter’s proposition to understand episodes of clandestine political violence in terms of symbolically (re)producing discourse communities with Luhmann’s understanding of communication as a medium of social differentiation. The paper conceptualises a set of interrelated factors defining critical moments and decisions in the reproduction of self-referential legitimisation strategies. This conceptualisation is illustrated by a comparison of legitimisation discourses of the Italian Red Brigades and the German Revolutionary Cells.

Lorenzo Bosi

European University Institute


Red Brigades and Sendero Luminoso shifting forms of political violence: a sociospatial relational approach.


In this paper Lorenzo Bosi and Stefan Malthaner look at qualitative shifts between different forms of political violence across time and space in two episodes of political violence within the New Left wave of revolutionary violence: the Red Brigades in Italy (1970-1982) and Sendero Luminoso in Peru (1980-1999). We propose an analytical framework to conceptualize and analyze forms of political violence based on patterns of relationships with their social and spatial environment (constituencies and local social environments; safe spaces / territory), which leads us to distinguish four types: (1) clandestine political violence, (2) semi-clandestine political violence, (3) semi-clandestine insurgency, and (4) territorially-based insurgency. We argue that this approach allows us to expand our understanding of different forms as well as variations and heterogeneity within processes of political violence.


Call for papers for the Third Annual Conference of the International Association For Peace And Conflict Studies And the ECPR Standing Group On Critical Peace And Conflict Studies. The theme for the conference is ‘Shaping Local Infrastructures and State Formation’.

11-12 Sept at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI), University of Manchester.

iapcs-lgoWhat shapes peace? We are familiar with the top-down interventions organised around military, statebuilding and governance interventions, but what about the local infrastructures of peace that involve local agency? How does this agency create new institutions or interacts with existing ones? What are the sources of inspiration for these local infrastructures, and how do they relate to local, national, regional and international norms and structures of peacebuilding? These issues of hybridity, friction, socialisation and norm-formation raise important questions about the location of power, the temporal nature of international interventions, and the interaction of the top-down and bottom up. In particular, it raises questions about the nature of the state and the role of the international community in a globalised, and globally governed, world.

The ‘local turn’ has raised issues of power, structure, and agency. In particular it has placed the tension between international and local forms of peace mobilisation, and the nature and role of the state into the spotlight, as forms of agency and the state are often entwined in any peace process and settlement. The international community tends to follow liberal peace norms; global governance introduces neoliberal rationalities, and the state is perceived, top- down, as the repository for these contradictory processes. State formation arguments, however, tend to see the state as being formed by local and regional power and violence. All of these perspectives on the political and structural processes that institutionalised peace appear to be oppositional, and offer little space for local agents of peace to engage in peace-making and peace or state formation.

And yet, evidence is growing that peace forms, if only in isolated pockets, on the ground through various forms of contestation, just as the state forms through violence or other clashes of power. Local infrastructures for peace have been seen as a way of building a new social contract, connecting the state to its people, as well as being guided by international liberal and neoliberal preferences. For scholars of peace and conflict studies, such processes are a fundamental challenge. Thus, the conference welcomes single paper and panel proposals on issues relating to Local Infrastructures of Peace and Peace/State Formation, including but not limited to:

- Local initiatives of peacebuilding – Theoretical and conceptual investigations of the factors underlying peacebuilding – The institutional characteristics of local peace initiatives – The relationship between local initiatives and the nature of the state – The relationship between the state and the international – Local to global peace networks

Deadline for paper and panel proposals: 31 May 2014. Proposals should be 250 words maximum and sent to: iapcs@manchester.ac.uk Registration costs are £20 for paid academics and £10 for students and the unwaged. The registration fee is waived for current members of the IAPCS.

The trouble with violence – lessons from psychology, sociology and anthropology, Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences, 14-15 May 2014

This course aims to further our understanding of violence. Violence is a notoriously slippery concept that defies simple definition and problematizes taken for granted social-scientific perspectives. The course seeks to grasp some of this complexity through an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of violence.

Spanning psychological, sociological and anthropological views on the subject, we will illuminate the various aspects of social life where violence figures as potentiality or actuality, and focus on the phenomenon as it expresses itself on different levels. Moving from the situational to the structural and from the physical to the social, the course investigates the various ways in which violence operates in the world, as a social modality and a political technology, thereby clarifying and nuancing our empirical and theoretical knowledge of the phenomenon.

The course format is a mixture of lectures and discussions of individual research projects. The course will include two lectures by the leading sociological authority on violence, Professor Randall Collins of the University of Pennsylvania. Furthermore, each participant is supposed to present a research paper (5-10 pages) focussed on the way violence features as an issue within their work. The research papers will be discussed by senior researchers and participating Ph.D. students, who will be assigned the task of commentating on a paper.

Date: May 14-15

Location: TBA CSS

Participation in class: Research paper and commenting on papers.

Abstract: Abstracts (max 250 words) – deadline March 27.

Research papers:  Research papers (5-10 pages) – deadline April 30.

Maximum participants: 12 persons.


Registration by mail to phdcourses@ifs.ku.dk

Course leaders Henrik Vigh and Poul Poder decide on the basis of the quality and the relevance of the abstract who can participate if more than 12 person apply. Submitting in a research paper is a requirement for participation.

Course dinner: Optional

Additional literature and resources concerning violence:

Jane Kilby, Introduction to Special Issue: Theorizing Violence

European Journal of Social Theory August 2013 16: 261-272, doi:10.1177/1368431013476579

Sylvia Walby Violence and society: Introduction to an emerging field of sociology

Current Sociology March 2013 61: 95-111, first published on September 25, 2012 doi:10.1177/0011392112456478

Randall Collins, “Micro and Macro Causes of Violence.” International Journal of Conflict and Violence 3: 9-22, 2009.

2006. “Micro-interactional dynamics of violent atrocities.” Irish Journal of Sociology 15: 40-52.

2007. “Techniques of Violent Confrontation: Micro Sociological Cues to Mass Killing.” Contexts 6 (No. 2, Spring) 31-3.

2011. “The Invention and Diffusion of Social Techniques of Violence: How Micro-Sociology Can Explain Historical Trends.” Sociologia: Italian Journal of Sociology. http://www.sociologica.mulino.it/

2011. “Forward Panic and Violent Atrocities.” In Strang, Heather, Suzanne Karstedt, and Ian Loader (eds). Emotions, Crime and Justice. Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp. 23-36

2010. “In Conversation with the American Sociological Association President: Randall Collins on Emotions, Violence, and Interactionist Sociology.” Canadian Review of Sociology 46: 93-101.

Lang, Johannes (2010). “Questioning Dehumanization: Intersubjective Dimensions of Violence in the Nazi Concentration and Death Camps.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 24: 225-246.

Owens, Peter B., Su, Yang, & Snow, David A. (2013). “Social Scientific Inquiry Into Genocide and Mass Killing: From Unitary Outcome to Complex Processes.” Annual Review of Sociology, 39: 69-84.

Semelin, Jacques (2007). “The Vertigo of Impunity.” In Semelin, Purify and Destroy: The Political Uses of Massacre and Genocide. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, pp. 238-278.

W. Schinkel Aspects of Violence – A Critical Theory, Palgrave Macmillan

Wieviorka, Michel

2005 La violence. Paris: Hachette.

2009 Violence: A New Approach. London: Sage.

2012 Evil. Cambridge: Polity Press.





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