PO3720: Political Violence

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PO3720: Political Violence
Department of Political Science

Convenor: Dr Shane Mac Giollabhuí

Michaelmas term: Tuesday 9–10am, Lloyd Building LB08; Tuesday 1–2pm, Arts 2037

Office-hours: Tuesday, 10–12pm

email: smacgiol@tcd.ie

Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions, like Eichmann.

Primo Levi
If Levi’s description of the killer’s banality is accurate, it follows that ordinary people can – under certain circumstances – act in an inexplicably violent way. This evident contradiction in the nature of political violence exerted a tenacious grip on the observers of Eichmann’s trial, who raised a set of question about the general nature of political violence. How, and to what end, is violence practiced? When do political actors resort to violence over a peaceful solution to conflict? Why are some societies prone to political violence, while others are not? How, if at all, do the perpetrators of political violence justify their actions? And how, and under what conditions, does violence end? In the first semester, we examine the theoretical response to these question in the scholarship on civil wars. In the second semester, we apply this theoretical framework to an empirical examination of political violence in a range of periods and settings, including Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Syria, Ireland, Sierra Leone, and others.
Course Content

The course is structured around a set of lectures, delivered on Tuesday mornings and afternoons (see above), and a set of tutorials that take place every fortnight (the start-date and schedule of the tutorials has yet to be confirmed). The purpose of the lectures is not to provide a review of the literature of each week, but rather to invite students to think about the subject material from a variety of perspectives. It is imperative that students complete the assigned readings for each week (marked with an asterisk); the lectures are ‘participatory’, in the sense that the opinion of students is sought directly and consistently from the opening to end of the lecture.

Course Assessment

The course is examined by a combination of continuous assessment (two essays that each count for 15%) and an end-of-year exam (70%). One-term visiting students must complete two essays (see below for guidelines). Two-term students visiting students must fulfill the same requirements as regular students.


Students must write two essays each worth 20%. The first essay is due at 12pm on Friday, November 25, 2016. The second essay is due at 12pm on Friday, March 24, 2017. The cohort of ‘one term’ students – who, most commonly, are part of the Erasmus programme – must write two essays, which are due at 12pm on Friday, November 25, 2016 (Essay 1) and at 12pm on Friday, December 2 2016 (Essay 2), respectively. In Hilary term, one-term students must submit on at 12pm on Friday, March 24, 2017 (Essay 1) and at 12pm on Friday, March 31 2017 (Essay 2). An essay should not exceed 2,000 words in length (Times New Roman; Font 12; Double Spacing).1 Please use the standard citation procedures. If you are unsure of these, consult the Style Manual for Political Science, revised edition (1993), or The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition (1993). Alternatively, examine any major Political Science journal. On other matters of style, please consult

  • Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. 4 ed. Boston; London: Allyn and Bacon, 2000.

If a student writes an essay that is more than 10% above the word limit, the grade will be reduced by 10%. Please provide the word count at the beginning of each essay. All late work, unless excused in advance by the course lecturer, or justified by medical certificate or tutors note, will be penalized at a rate of five marks per day. Under no circumstances will work be accepted after the set work has been marked and handed back to other students, or after the end of Trinity lecture term. Essays must be submitted through Turnitin.com.

Turnitin Submission:

Michaelmas Term, Essay 1 and 2: Class ID, 13395812; password, fosterplace.

Hilary Term, Essay 1 and 2: Class ID, 13395823; password, fosterplace.
Please also consult with Undergraduate Handbook to familiarize yourself with the marking scheme used and Trinity and what is expected to attain each grade. You might also want to look at the undergraduate handbook for advice on how to write your essay and what is expected: http://www.tcd.ie/Political_Science/undergraduate/module-outlines/
Plagiarism: when you write your essay, please take care to cite appropriately the source material of your work.

  • All students are required to complete an online tutorial on online plagiarism called ‘ready, steady, write’ (http://tcd-ie.libguides.com/plagiarism/ready-steady-write)

  • All students must sign a declaration that they have completed this course when submitting their essay.

  • For a comprehensive guide about the different type of plagiarism, please read the University’s plagiarism policy here (http://tcd-ie.libguides.com/plagiarism/levels-and-consequences)

W1: Course Introduction

*Valentino. Why we kill: The political science of political violence against civilians. Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 17, 2004.


*Bethany Lacina , and Nils Petter Gleditsch. 2005. “Monitoring Trends in Global Combat: A New Dataset of Battle Deaths.” European Journal of Population 21 (2–3): 145–66.

*Blattman, Christopher and Edward Miguel. Civil War. Journal of Economic Literature, 49, 1 (2010). Section 1.

Beah, Ishmael, A Long Way Gone. New York: FSG. 2008.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. 1997. Blood Rites. Origins and history of the Passions of War. New York: Henry Holt.

Gurr, Ted R. Why Men Rebel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970.

Hardin, Russell. One for All: The Logic of Group Conflict. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1995.

Ignatieff, Michael. Blood and Belonging. New York: Viking, 1993.

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

Laitin, David. Nations, States and Violence. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2007.

Sen, Amartya. Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.

Strauss, Scott. Making and Unmaking Nations: The Origins and Dynamics of Genocide in Contemporary Africa. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 2015.

Tilly, Charles. The Politics of Collective Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Week 2: Greed and Grievance in Civil War

* Collier, Paul and Anke Hoeffler. “Greed and Grievance in Civil War”, in Oxford Economic Papers, Vol. 56, No. 4, 2004.


*Lars-Erik Cederman, Andreas Wimmer and Brian Min. “Why do ethnic groups rebel? New Data and analysis” in World Politics, Vol. 62, No. 1, 2010.


Ross, Michael. What Do We Know About Natural Resources and Civil War? Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2004.

Blattman, Christopher and Edward Miguel. Civil War. Journal of Economic Literature, 49, 1 (2010). Section 2 and 3

Jenne, Erin K. Ethnic Bargaining: The Paradox of Minority Empowerment. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007.

Gurr, Ted. On Relative Deprivation

Toft, Monica Duffy. The Geography of Ethnic Violence: Identity, Interests and the Indivisibility of Territory. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Scott, James. 1976. The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press

Walter, Barbara. “Building reputation: why government fight some separatists but not others.” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2006.

Wimmer, Andreas. Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict: Shadows of Modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Week 3: Why would Ethnic Groups Rebel?
Morning: Primordial

*Hutchinson, John and Anthony D. Smith (eds.) Ethnicity. Oxford University Press, 1996. Please read: Chapter 5 (Weber), Chapter 6 (Geertz), Chapter 12 (Barth), Chapter 7 (Eller and Coughlin) and Chapter 9 (Van den Berghe). Copies available on BlackBoard.


*Posner, Daniel. “The Political Salience of Cultural Difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas Are Allies in Zambia and Adversaries in Malawi.” American Political Science Review. 98.4 (2004).

*Posner, Daniel. “Measuring ethnic fractionalization in Africa”, American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 48, No. 4, 2004.

APSA, “Cumulative Findings in the Study of Ethnic Politics.” Symposium in APSA-CP, Winter 2001. Essays by Chandra, Wilkinson and Van Evera.

James D. Fearon. 1999. “What is Identity (As We Now Use the Word)?” Unpublished, available online at the author’s personal website.

Ignatieff, Michael. Blood and Belonging. New York: Viking, 1993. pp. 19–56.

Huntington, Clash of Civilization

Kaplan, Balkan Ghosts

Horowitz 1985

Hale, Henry. “Explaining Ethnicity.” Comparative Political Studies. 37.4 (2004): 458- 485.

Trevor-Roper, Hugh. “The Invention of Tradition: The Highland Tradition of Scotland.” In The Invention of Tradition. Eds. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983. (Available on BlackBoard)

Bates, Robert H. “Modernization, Ethnic Competition and the Rationality of Politics in Contemporary Africa.” In State versus Ethnic Claims: African Policy Dilemmas. Eds. Donald Rothchild and Victor Olorunsola. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1983. 152-171.

Posner, Daniel. Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Chapter?
Week 4: Why do Ethnic Groups Rebel?

*Fearon, James D. and David D. Laitin. “Ethnicity, Insurgency and Civil War”, in American Political Science Review, 2003.

* Fearon, James D. and David D. Laitin. “Violence and the social construction of ethnic identity” in International Organization, Vol. 54, No. 4, 2000.

*Posen B. 1993. The security dilemma and ethnic conflict. Survival 35:27–47

*Caselli, Francesco and Wilbur John Coleman II. 2006. “On the Theory of Ethnic Conflict.”

Fearon, James D. and David D. Laitin. 1996. Explaining Interethnic Cooperation. American Political Science Review, 90, 4, 715-735.

Gurr, Ted. Minorities at Risk: A Global View of Ethnopolitical Conflicts. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1993.

Petersen, Roger D. 2002. Understanding Ethnic Violence: Fear, Hatred, and Resentment in Twentieth Century Eastern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapters 1 and 2.

Snyder JL. 2000. From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict. New York: Norton

Lake DA, Rothchild D. 1998. Spreading fear: the genesis of transnational ethnic conflict. In The International Spread of Ethnic Conflict, ed. DA Lake, D Rothchild, pp. 3–32. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

Fearon, James D. “Ethnic Mobilization and Ethnic Violence” in Donald A. Wittman and Barry R. Weingast (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004

Fox, Jonathan. “The Rise of Religious Nationalism and Conflict: Ethnic Conflict and Revolutionary Wars, 1945-2011.” Journal of Peace Research 41 (6): 715-31. 2004W8: The

Week 5: How do Perpetrators Organize an Insurgency?

*Valentino. Why we kill: The political science of political violence against civilians. Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 17, 2004.


*Jeremy Weinstein. 2006. Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Introduction and Chapter 1.


Bates, Robert H., Avner Greif and Smita Singh. "Organizing Violence." Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(5), October 2002, 599-628.

Azam, Jean-Paul. 2006. On Thugs and Heroes: Why Warlords Victimize Their Own Civilians, Economics and Governance, 7, 53-73.

Stathis Kalyvas . 2006. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wood, Elisabeth. 2003. Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador and South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 7.

Scott Gates. “Recruitment and Allegiance: The Microfoundations of Rebellion.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 46 (2002): 111–130.

Humphreys, Macartan and Jeremy Weinstein. 2006.

Shils, Edward A. and Morris Janowitz. 1948. Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II. Public Opinion Quarterly, 12: 280-315.

Bates, Robert H., Avner Greif and Smita Singh. "Organizing Violence." Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(5), October 2002, 599-628.

Tarrow, Sidney. “Inside insurgencies: politics and violence in an age of civil war”, Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 5, No. 3, 2007.

W6: The Etiology of Homicide in Civil War

*Benjamin Valentino , Paul Huth, and Dylan Balch-Lindsay. 2004. “Draining the Sea: Mass Killing, Guerrilla Warfare.” International Organization 58 (2): 375–407.


*Reed Wood 2010. “Rebel Capability and Strategic Violence against Civilians.” Journal of Peace Research 47 (5): 601–14.


Azam, JP and A. Hoeffler. Violence against civilians in civil wars: looting or terror. Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2002.

Downes, AB. Targeting Civilians in War. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 2008

Fjelde, H. and L. Hultman. Weakening the enemy: a disaggregated study of violence against civilians in Africa. Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 57, No. 4, 2013

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

Pape RA. 2005. Dying to Win: the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. New York: Random House

Weinstein, Jeremy. “Resources and the Information Problem in Rebel Recruitment.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 49 (4): 598–624. 2005
W8: The Etiology of Rape in Civil War

*Elisabeth Jean Wood . 2006. “Variation in Sexual Violence during War.” Politics and Society 34 (3): 307–42.


*Cohen, Dara Kay. Explaining Rape During Civil War: Cross National Evidence (1980–2009), American Political Science Review, 107, 3 (2013)


Elisabeth Jean Wood . 2009. “Armed Groups and Sexual Violence: When Is Wartime Rape Rare?” Politics and Society 37 (1): 131–61.

Amir, Menachem. Patterns in Forcible Rape. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1971.

Karen Franklin . 2004. “Enacting Masculinity: Antigay Violence and Group Rape as Participatory Theater.” Sexuality Research & Social Policy 1 (2): 25–40.

Thomas Plümper, and Eric Neumayer. 2006. “The Unequal Burden of War: The Effect of Armed Conflict on the Gender Gap in Life Expectancy.” International Organization 60 (3): 723–54.

MacKinnon, Catherine. “Rape, Gencoide and Women’s Human Rights”, Harvard Women’s Law Journal. 17, 5. 1994.

Week 9: How do insurgents justify violence?

*Fearon, James. 1995. “Rationalist Explanations for War”, International Organization, 49, 3.


*Michael Walzer. 1997. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. New York: Basic Books, 4th ed. (1977). Chapters 1 and 2; also, ideally, Chapter 6.


Robert Powell. 2004. The Inefficient Use of Power: Costly Conflict with Complete Information. American Political Science Review. 98 (2).

Maria J. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict.” International Security. 2008.

Fanon, Frantz. 1965. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press. 83-95.

Melian Dialogue http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/melian.htm (Enactment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNzHOqjMHwY )

Locke, John. [1714]. The Second Treatise of Government. “Of Tyranny”, Chapter

XVIII, pp. 446-53. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1960).

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. [1762]. The Social Contract. “The Right of Life and Death”,

Book II, Chapter 5; “The Abuse of Government and its Tendency to Degenerate”, Book II, Chapter 10. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1997), pp. 64-5, 106-8.

Arendt, Hannah. 1969. A Special Supplement: Reflections on Violence. The New York

Review of Books, 12 (4), February 27. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/11395

Gandhi, Mahatma. 1942-[1949]. Non-Violence in Peace and War, “Principles of Non-Violence”, Section I, pp. 23-34; “Non-Violence True and False”, Section II, pp. 35-41; “The Political Scope of Non-Violence”, Section IV, pp. 51-62. In: Merton, Thomas (ed.). 1965. Gandhi on non-violence. A Selection from the Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. New York: New Directions Pub. Corp.

Week 10: How, and under what (structural) conditions, does violence end?

*Barbara Walter, “The Critical Barrier to Civil War Settlement,” International Organization 51 (1997): 335-364.


*Kaufmann, Chaim. 1996. “Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil Wars.” International Security 20(4):136-175.


Bercovitch, Jacob, Victor Kremenyuk, and I. William Zartman, eds. The SAGE Handbook of Conflict Resolution. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2009

Crenshaw, Martha. Democracy, Commitment Problems, and Managing Ethnic Violence: The Case of India and Sri Lanka. Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 12, No. 3, 4, 2000.

Crenshaw, Martha.

Fearon, James. 1998. Commitment Problems and the Spread of Ethnic Conflict. In David Lake and Donald Rothchild, Eds. 1998. The International Spread of Ethnic Conflict: Fear, Diffusion, and Escalation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Mayer, Bernard. The dynamics of conflict resolution: a practitioner's guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2000.

World Bank. Breaking the Conflict Trap, 2003.

Fearon, James. “Why Do Some Civil Wars Last So Much Longer than Others?” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2004.

W11: Do actors matter in the ending of violence?

* Stedman, Stephen John. “Spoiler problems in peace processes”, International Security, Vol. 22, No. 2, 1997.


*Bueno de Mesquita, Ethan. “Conciliation, Counterterrorism, and Patterns of Terrorist Violence”, in International Organization, Vol 59, 2004, pps. 145-176. (Persevere – it’s highly technical in the first section, but it provides an excellent framework.)


Cunningham, KG. Inside the politics of self-determination. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Cronin, AK. How terrorism ends. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.

De Nardo, James. Power in numbers: the political strategy of protest and rebellion. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985.

Greenhill, KM and S. Major. “The perils of profiling: civil war spoliers and the collapse of intrastate peace accords” International Security, Vol 31, No. 3, 2007.

Walter, BF. Committing to peace: the successful settlement of civil war. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.

Week 12: Course Overview
Various authors/special issue “Is a General Theory of Violence Possible?” International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 2009.

Stathis Kalyvas, 2003. “The Ontology of ‘Political Violence’: Action and Identity in Civil Wars,” Perspectives on Politics 1(3): 475-494.

Harry Eckstein, 1965 “On the Etiology of Internal Wars”. History and Theory 4:133–163.

1 These 2,000 words are inclusive of notes and appendices and exclusive of bibliography.

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