When Do Ties Bind? Foreign Fighters, Social Embeddedness, and Combatant Repertoires of Behavior During Civil War
Date of Award
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Deborah Avant, Ph.D.
Bosnia, Civilian victimization, Civil war, Foreign fighters, Political violence, Rebel governance
How does the extent to which rebel organizations are embedded into local conflict contexts - i.e. the extent to which they "fit in" or "stand out" from local populations - affect their behavior on and off the battlefield during civil war? This dissertation examines why rebel group propensities to engage in governance and violence during war vary at the macro and microlevels of analysis and uses as its point of departure the presence of foreign fighters in the ranks of rebel groups engaged in civil war. I employ a cross-national analysis of insurgencies from 1989-2011, and also conduct a theory-testing comparison of the experiences of local and foreign armed actors within one conflict: soldiers in the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Bosnian War from 1992-1995. Responding to limitations in explanations of rebel behavior ranging from governance to civilian victimization, I argue that combatants' interactions that occur on and off the battlefield are contingent on actors' embeddedness into local conflict conflicts. Using existing data on foreign fighters in civil wars, data from interviews with 50 subjects in Bosnia, combatant memoirs, as well as archival and secondary sources, I find that when soldiers are structurally and culturally embedded into a local context, they are most likely to experience war through fluid civilian-soldier identities that open doors to a range of nonviolent interaction. By contrast, soldiers who lack social ties into civilian communities and who do not share a common understanding of a war with local populations are more likely to resort to coercion and violence to meet their battlefield needs. The theory and findings suggest that understanding the broad scope of armed group behavior requires examining the social origins of rank and file fighters, and how combatants' integration and assimilation into local contexts incentivizes violent versus nonviolent interaction with the local populace.
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Moore, Pauline Luz, "When Do Ties Bind? Foreign Fighters, Social Embeddedness, and Combatant Repertoires of Behavior During Civil War" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1542.
Received from ProQuest
Pauline Luz Moore
International relations, Political science
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