Highlights from Carnegie PhD Scholars’ Gathering 2020
Project Title: Varieties of Insurgent Fragmentation: Toward a Typological Theory of Organizational Splits
When rebel groups split into rival factions, civil wars tend to last longer and cost more lives. This makes understanding why and how rebel groups fragment important for international mediators and humanitarian organizations alike. While scholars largely agree on the negative consequences of rebel (or “insurgent”) fragmentation, they continue to debate its causes. Unfortunately, this debate has focused too much on finding the one true cause, and not enough on appreciating the vastly different characteristics of splits. Should we really think of a split in which one local commander breaks away with five percent of the fighters as exactly the same phenomenon as a central leadership dispute that results in two organizations roughly equal in size? My previous field research in the Democratic Republic of Congo suggests that we shouldn’t. But to answer this question more conclusively, we need systematic data from around the world. My new research project will collect such information, drawing on the regional expertise and language skills of graduate students at the University of St Andrews’ School of International Relations. In short, the project will develop a new typology of how rebel groups split in order to enable a more sophisticated discussion about why they split.
Awarded: Research Incentive Grant
Field: Politics and International Relations
University: University of St Andrews