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Rivalry and Revenge

The Politics of Violence during Civil War

Laia Balcells (Duke University, North Carolina)



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Cambridge University Press
20 April 2017
What explains violence against civilians in civil wars? Why do groups kill civilians in areas where they have full military control and their rivals have no military presence? This innovative book connects pre-war politics to patterns of violence during civil war. It argues that both local political rivalry and local revenge account for violence against civilians. Armed groups perpetrate direct violence jointly with local civilians, who collaborate when violence can help them gain or consolidate local political control. As civil war continues, revenge motives also come into play, leading to spirals of violence at a local level. In an important contribution to the study of the Spanish Civil War, Balcells combines statistical analyses with ethnographic and qualitative research to provide new insights to scholars and academic researchers with an interest in civil war, politics and conflict processes. Rivalry and Revenge is theoretically and empirically rich, and it offers a theory and method generalizable to a wide set of cases.
By:   Laia Balcells (Duke University North Carolina)
Imprint:   Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 158mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   580g
ISBN:   9781107118690
ISBN 10:   1107118697
Series:   Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics
Pages:   284
Publication Date:   20 April 2017
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Laia Balcells is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University, North Carolina. Her research explores the determinants of political violence and civil wars, warfare dynamics during conflict, and nationalism and ethnic conflict. She has recently published in journals such as the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, International Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of Peace Research, and is recipient of the Harry Frank Guggenheim research grant and the Luebbert Award for Best Article in Comparative Politics from the American Political Science Association.

Reviews for Rivalry and Revenge: The Politics of Violence during Civil War

'Using original data collected from Spanish archives, Balcells studies why and where Republicans and Falangists killed civilians during the three years of the Spanish Civil War that cost half a million lives. Her highly original and convincing argument re-introduces politics proper into the burgeoning research on violence against civilians. She shows that both groups killed civilians, where it was strategically most useful, where it could possibly tilt the local balance of power to one side or the other, thus laying the ground for post-war political dominance. Masterfully executed and concisely argued, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the micro-dynamics of civil wars and violence.' Andreas Wimmer, Columbia University, New York 'A riveting account of the role of rivalry and revenge in civil war, this book goes beyond contestation and military or organizational factors to present civil war as an extension of politics and emotions. Balcells highlights the salience of prewar political mobilization and that of wartime victimization in her compelling explanation of the dynamics of conflict and violence. This is undoubtedly an all-time classic work on the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that shaped contemporary Europe and still holds important lessons for other wars raging in the world today, such as Syria and Libya.' Fotini Christia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 'Despite so much excellent research on civil war, we have failed to explain one of its most alarming features - the extent of violence directed at civilians. Understanding this phenomenon is extraordinarily important today, where the headlines abound with civilian victimization. Laia Balcells' in-depth research offers and tests a political theory that takes seriously the interactions among local populations and the occupying military forces as they use their powers strategically for vengeance, yes, but also to prepare for a post-war world that can realize the dreams of the warriors. Rivalry and Revenge offers real guidance for making sense of so much of what we now see before us.' Margaret Levi, Stanford University , California

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