Category Archives: Civil Wars and Contentious Politics

Civil War, Terrorism, Revolution – The Puzzle of ISIS and the Challenge of Complex Events

By Jack A. Goldstone

As scientists, we look for well-bounded problems and well-defined questions; for only such can be resolved by scientific inquiry. It therefore seems obvious that in our studies of conflict, it is crucial to make distinctions between such disparate phenomena as civil wars, terrorism, and revolutions. Yet the world we live in respects no neat boundaries. Civil wars, terrorism, and revolutions flow together, whether in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, or Mali and northern Nigeria, or in Colombia and Sri Lanka. Continue reading

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Revolutionary Civil Wars Between the Cracks

By Colin J. Beck

That revolution can lead to civil war could be better known. We seem to have forgotten that the French Revolution of 1789 gave us the Vendée or that the Russian Civil War was a consequence of the October Revolution of 1917. More recently, the failure of the Arab Spring revolution in Syria created a civil war and the opportunity for the expansion of the Islamic State, and the successful overthrow of Yanukovych in Ukraine led to Russian intervention and insurgency in the Donbass. Revolutions are messy business. It should be no surprise that civil war can be a consequence.

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Historical Legacies of Contention and Clandestine Resistance to Violence

By Robert Braun

Outcomes of political violence are often contingent on local collective action in ways that we rarely theorize or study empirically. Collective resistance against mass killing is a good example of this. Although rescue operations have saved lives of thousands of African Americans, Jews, Tutsis, and Armenians who were facing mass-persecution, social movement scholars have largely overlooked this highly localized form of humanitarian mobilization. This can be explained by both theoretical and practical factors. Continue reading

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