The Ontology of “Political Violence”: Action and Identity in Civil Wars

  title={The Ontology of “Political Violence”: Action and Identity in Civil Wars},
  author={Stathis N. Kalyvas},
  journal={Perspectives on Politics},
  pages={475 - 494}
  • S. Kalyvas
  • Published 28 August 2003
  • Political Science
  • Perspectives on Politics
I discuss several conceptual problems raised by current understandings of political violence, especially as they pertain to actions, motivations, and identities in civil wars. Actions “on the ground” often turn out to be related to local and private conflicts rather than the war's driving (or “master”) cleavage. The disjunction between dynamics at the top and at the bottom undermines prevailing assumptions about civil wars, which are informed by two competing interpretive frames, most recently… 
Micro-cleavages and violence in civil wars: A computational assessment
Many accounts of civil war violence assume that a conflict’s master cleavage also explains the local occurrence of violence. Some scholars, however, have argued that violence is often the result of
Applying the Ethics of War and Peace: A Military Perspective
D uring deliberations about the ways in which the United States should respond to Syria’s ongoing civil war, General Martin Dempsey acknowledged an ineliminable gap between intentions and outcomes:
The Moral Parameters of Violence: The Case of the Provisional IRA
Abstract Over three decades, the Provisional Irish Republican Army waged a campaign of violence that claimed the lives of some two thousand people. This article explores the moral framework by which
The Social Construction of Organised Political Violence: An Analytical Framework
This article proposes a general analytical framework for how we might better understand intrastate war and related forms of organised political violence. It begins by setting out our understanding of
Deconstructing civil wars
The identification of intra-national armed conflict as a leading problem for the international community in the 1990s produced a wave of novel research into civil wars. Though these new civil war
Can There Be a Political Science of the Holocaust?
  • C. King
  • Political Science, Sociology
    Perspectives on Politics
  • 2012
The substantial literature on mass violence, from ethnic cleansing to civil wars, has paid surprisingly little attention to the largest instance of mass violence in human history: the Holocaust. When
“Root Causes”. The Inversion of Causes and Consequences in Civil War
Introduction It appears as something of a paradox in the social sciences of culture, such as anthropology which is the discipline I represent in these pages, when scholars refuse vehemently to
Order, Conflict, and Violence: Articulating the geo-cultural logic of nationalist insurgency
Logistical factors have assumed an increasingly important role in studies of civil wars. In particular, political economists have recently proposed models of insurgency that depend on states’
Ideology and armed conflict
A growing wave of scholarship suggests that ideology has demonstrable effects on various forms of armed conflict. But ideology remains a relative theoretical newcomer in conflict research, and


New and Old Wars : Organized Violence in a Global Era
Mary Kaldor's New and Old Wars has fundamentally changed the way both scholars and policy-makers understand contemporary war and conflict. In the context of globalization, this path-breaking book has
One for All: The Logic of Group Conflict
In a book that challenges the most widely held ideas of why individuals engage in collective conflict, Russell Hardin offers an explanation of group action in its most destructive forms. Contrary to
Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War
An influential conventional wisdom holds that civil wars proliferated rapidly with the end of the Cold War and that the root cause of many or most of these has been ethnic and religious antagonisms.
War at Every Door: Partisan Politics and Guerrilla Violence in East Tennessee, 1860-1869
In this study Noel Fisher examines the military and political struggle for control of East Tennessee from the secession crisis through the early years of Reconstruction, focusing particularly on the
Theft of an Idol: Text and Context in the Representation of Collective Violence
  • P. Brass
  • Political Science
    The Journal of Asian Studies
  • 1998
As collective violence erupts in many parts of the world, the media often links this to age-old ethnic or religious hostilities, thereby freeing the state, its agents and its political elites from
Changing Identities and Contested Settings: Regional Elites and the Paramilitaries in Colombia
The armed confrontation in Colombia is an important case of violence in the Americas. Escalating progressively since the mid-1970s, it has reached such an intensity that it now threatens to divide
Ethnic and Nationalist Violence
Work on ethnic and nationalist violence has emerged from two largely nonintersecting literatures: studies of ethnic conflict and studies of political violence. Only recently have the former begun to
Warlords, priests and the politics of ethnic cleansing: a case-study from rural Bosnia Hercegovina
  • M. Bax
  • Sociology, Political Science
  • 2000
There is a tendency among social scientists and others to interpret the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia Hercegovina as the result of a political policy carefully orchestrated from above and systematically
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Rationality
Why do we have so many ethnic partisans in the world ready to die as suicide bombers? Does a rational calculus lie beneath the nationalist pride and passions? Can it be discovered if only we apply
An Occasion for War: Civil Conflict in Lebanon and Damascus in 1860
Leila Fawaz's pioneering study tells the story of the 1860 civil wars that began in Mount Lebanon and spilled over into Damascus. This period witnessed the most severe outbreak of sectarian violence