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Priorities for Research on Collective Violence Charles Tilly, Valery A. Tishkov, Sta this N. Kalyvas, Mark R. Beissinger, Viktor V. Bocharov, Rev D. Geckos, 7~arissa 7~. Khoperskaya This group reviewed a series of pressing questions concerning de- scription, explanation, and comparison of violent interactions in gen- eral, regardless of whether participants make ethnic claims or iden- tify themselves as ethnic groups. This working group's recommendations for high-priority research relevant to the explanation of conflict in multi- ethnic policies are included. This statement summarizes the group's con- clusions, adapting some of its language and most of its ideas from the more detailed statements that follow. This working group was not ap- pointed by the National Research Council or the National Academies. Therefore, its findings reflect the views of the individuals composing the group, not necessarily those of the National Academies or the appointed committee. These illustrations and concrete recommendations concentrate on the former Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the phenomena discussed here occur across the world. They therefore lend themselves to comparative research including sites, past and present, both within and outside the Soviet space as it existed in 1989. This group's assignment is collective violence. It is working in paral- lel with other working groups dealing with 1) culture, identity, and con- flict and 2) systematic comparative studies of conflict events. Obviously the three topics overlap. On the topic of collective violence, however, it is especially important to determine · Which among the many competing efforts to explain collective violence or its major varieties look most promising? 9
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0 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES · What sorts of empirical investigations would advance those ef- forts, or at least subject them to critical scrutiny? · Among those types of empirical investigation, which would best lend themselves to collaboration among Russia- and U.S.-based scholars? Empirical investigations might make comparisons within Russia, within the former Soviet Union, or across a wider range of cases selected for comparability with respect to crucial questions or arguments. This document identifies possible areas of agreement in these three regards suggested by the following papers, included in these proceedings: · "The Anthropology of Collective Violence," by Viktor V. Bocharov · "Violence in Ethnonational Conflicts in the Post-Soviet Space," by Lev D. Gudkov · "The State of the Art in Understanding Violence," by Valery A. Tishkov · "The Dynamics of the Ethnopolitical Situation and Conflicts in the North Caucasus," by Larissa L. Khoperskaya · "Priority Themes for Research on Collective Violence," by Mark R. Beissinger and Stathis N. Kalyvas Students of collective violence employ four rather different general approaches to explaining violence: cognitive-behavioral accounts concen- trating on the individual cognitions, emotions, beliefs, and constraints that affect participation in collective violence; ethnographic approaches that locate violent practices and relations within their social and cultural settings; organizational process accounts conceiving of violence as a compo- nent or outcome of organized social interaction; and epidemiological ac- counts relating the incidence of violent acts or events to characteristics of their settings. Instead of arguing for one of these approaches or attempt- ing to adjudicate among them, fruitful combinations of their insights are sought. For the purpose of this report, a brute force definition of collective violence is held: interactions between at least two parties that produce direct and immediate damage to persons or property. (Damage includes forcible seizure.) While it is true that all acts of collective violence share several features (they all involve the intentional exercise of physical force by two or more persons with the aim of inflicting injury on other persons or causing damage to property), the range of acts that fall under the rubric of collective violence is capacious. Collective violence assumes such dis- parate forms as terrorist activity, brawls, pogroms, riots, communal at- tacks, vigilante violence, forced expulsions, insurrections, civil wars, revolutions, and genocides. At times, people have defined it to include
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PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH ON COLLECTIVE VIOLENCE 11 state-sponsored terror and interstate warfare as well. Significant and largely separate literatures exist on all these subjects. Several generations of research on collective violence have produced agreement that no uni- versal explanation for all of its many forms is possible. The collectives involved in the perpetration of collective violence, furthermore, vary significantly: small networks or organizations of indi- viduals, less formally organized crowds and gatherings, loosely connected paramilitaries, armies with varying degrees of discipline, and govern- ment bureaucracies. Sometimes members of dominant groups or state agents inflict damage on members of subordinate groups. Sometimes members of subordinate groups initiate violence against dominant groups or the state. Still other times two groups of actors seek to inflict damage on each other. In addition to the variety of forms and actors involved, problems of explanation emerge from the varied scope and severity of collective vio- lence. Collective violence can constitute a relatively brief event embedded within a larger chain of social interaction (such as typically occurs in a pogrom or terrorist activity) or a sustained series of violent acts that con- catenate over a protracted period of time (as in civil war or genocide). And the severity of the violence involved in these acts differs significantly from one case to the next, extending from minor property damage to thousands and even millions of lives. All of these issues beg serious atten- tion and qualification from the researcher. In studies aimed specifically at interethnic collective violence, collec- tive violence has tended to remain under-specified as an object of expla- nation; it has often been folded into the larger and more vague category interethnic conflict and thereby left undefined in its specific forms as well as in distinguishing it from other potential outcomes, that is, nonviolent modes of conflict, diffuse social violence, and others. Situations have of- ten been coded dichotomously (conflict/no conflict), and many scholars have viewed collective violence "as a degree of conflict, rather than as a form of conflict,''] This has unfortunately served to cut the study of inter- ethnic violence off from the study of other social processes that remain closely connected to it. Before the l990s, studies of collective violence and analyses of ethnic conflict remained largely unconnected; generic theories of collective vio- lence tended to ignore ethnicity or to subsume it within larger analytical categories of collective violence, assuming that there is nothing about the relationship between ethnicity and collective violence that would distin- guish it from collective violence over other types of issues. At the same 1Brubaker, R., and D. D. Laitin. 1998. Ethnic and Nationalist Violence. Annual Review of Sociology 24:425.
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2 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES time, scholars focusing on ethnic conflict have tended to assume that interethnic violence flowed logically out of the intensity of cultural alle- giance, and that these emotional attachments constituted the single, cohe- sive set of motivations for those perpetrating acts of violence. Evidence of other motivations (personal rivalries, revenge, power, and in some cases, respectability) has been too easily glossed over and overlooked. What, then, can be identified as promising in terms of future research directions for collaboration, given the theoretical Babel, empirical com- plexity, and analytical muddle faced in the study of collective violence in multiethnic societies? There is a series of questions and themes that merit abiding or greater attention in the future and would therefore make prom- ising topics for potential collaboration. Following is a list of six pressing research questions with brief com- ments drawn from the group's discussions. 1. Causal connections between Soviet and post-Soviet forms of gover- nance on one side and post-Soviet interethnic violence or its absence on the other side One must distinguish with care among three interrelated problems: (a) what caused the collapse of the Soviet Union, (b) interplay between different forms of violence and the process by which the Soviet Union collapsed, and (c) significant relations between local or regional forms of governance, on one side, and variable intensities, forms, and causes of collective violence, on the other. It would be extremely valuable to pro- mote systematic research on variations in ethnic violence before the So- viet collapse, for comparison with what happened during and after that process. Conceivably that research could identify a few national cross- sections of the Soviet Union for periods of especially rich evidence, and complement them with long-term studies of regions for which Privileged records and lone traditions of professional study exist. 1 In all cases, it would be crucial to record and analyze interventions in such conflicts from elsewhere in the Soviet Union as well as from outside. Among other things, systematic studies along these lines would help clarify much-discussed problems, such as whether ethnofederalism pro- motes or inhibits conflict, whether migration (forced or otherwise) plays a significant part in generating conflict, how (on the contrary) restrictions on population mobility generate grievances and conflict, how the location of a region in the Soviet Union's political economy affected its post-Soviet conflicts, how the pattern of Soviet withdrawal affected subsequent struggles for power, and to what extent and how Soviet-era elites and officials struggled for and acquired post-Soviet power in different re- gions. 2. Facilitating and inhibiting effects of transnational connections on interethnic violence
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PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH ON COLLECTIVE VIOLENCE 13 On the grounds that they operate in somewhat different ways, it is important to distinguish among four different forms of transnational con- nection: (a) direct aid or intervention in violent conflicts by outside par- ties; (b) involvement of third parties, including international organiza- tions and agencies, as mediators, monitors, or pacifiers; (c) appeals by participants to outside parties, including adjacent governments and lead- ers of related political movements; (d) transecting networks of trade, population movement, and communication, including flows of contra- band, military supplies, and military personnel. · Under heading (a), closer study of both the conditions under which outsiders join existing conflicts and the processes by which outsiders that do not join directly nevertheless promote or sustain local conflicts is needed. · Under heading (b), a clearer look at how international aid, moni- toring, and labeling (for example, of actors as indigenous peoples or of conflicts as genocide) affect the course of violent conflict is needed. The inquiry should include effects of selective attention from mass media, transnational organizations, and international bureaucracies. · Under heading (c), better information about how religious or eth- nic diasporas become available as supporters and inhibitors of local con- flicts is needed. · Under heading (d), much more systematic investigation of rela- tions between the course of violent conflicts and their connection to crimi- nal networks, arms flows, mercenaries, mass media, and refugees is needed. All of these point to the value of generating evidence on three topics: violent conflicts and their contexts as such; international events that are likely to affect violent conflict; and flows of crucial goods, personnel, and information. 3. Onset, duration, and termination of sustained violent conflict, us- ing multiple cases for comparison and quantitative analysis, including specification of micromechanisms and process tracing by close analysis of particular cases Specialists in Soviet and post-Soviet studies should consider provi- sional results that are coming in from large quantitative international studies, which provide relatively robust findings concerning conditions for onset of sustained, large-scale collective violence, plus some indica- tions concerning duration, termination, and recurrence. The former So- viet Union offers a series of research challenges and opportunities for looking more closely not just at generally favorable or unfavorable condi-
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4 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES lions but at the actual processes producing or containing long, large, le- thal conflicts. Obvious elements to consider include · how changes in relations among ethnic segments, for example, cross-ethnic coalitions and associations, affect the likelihood, intensity, and character of conflicts · involvement of refugees and externally based members of local populations · external intervention as incitement and constraint, with special at- tention to third-party involvement as a reinforcement for termination of violent conflicts · the character of effective and ineffective peacekeeping interven- tions, including close analysis of the processes by which they produce their effects · replacement of warriors by new generations and outside reinforce- ments · other sources of material support for sustained military activity: arms, money, food, shelter, clothing, supplies Although these questions certainly arise in the study of violent con- flicts across the former Soviet Union, they also concern intense collective violence currently occurring in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Relevant comparisons could therefore occur both within the Soviet space and between former Soviet regions and conflicts elsewhere in the world. In all such studies, it is important to carefully compare what actually happened with coherent counterfactuals, drawn either from closely com- parable cases with different outcomes or from disaggregation of causal processes into comparable components. 4. Participation in intermittent forms of mobilized interethnic vio- lence, with special attention to (a) transitions and relations between nonviolent and violent forms of interaction, (b) direct evidence con- cerning actions of perpetrators, (c) networks through which participants mobilize, (d) in-group constraints on violent actions, (e) diffusion and containment of related events For all these issues, it would be extremely valuable to assemble sys- tematic, comparable narratives of violent episodes, including nonviolent interactions among the parties preceding, during, and after the direct infliction of damage. A well-documented collection of this kind would facilitate both analysis of transitions to or from violent interactions and comparisons with otherwise similar interactions in which little or no vio- lence occurred. Likely switching mechanisms affecting rapid transitions between violent and nonviolent interactions between two parties include
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PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH ON COLLECTIVE VIOLENCE 15 · coordinated deployment of such violent specialists as militias · activation or deactivation of binding ties between participants and third parties · opening or closing of alternative nonviolent arenas of contention · initiation or cessation of external payoffs to one or both parties In the case of diffusion and nondiffusion of violent episodes from one connected site to another, analyses should proceed at two levels: first, identifying forms of connectedness among sites that promote or inhibit diffusion and, second, distinguishing among three objects of diffusion: (1) information (whether true or false, verifiable or unverifiable) about threats and opportunities affecting political actors; (2) means of performing vio- lent acts, including weapons, technical expertise, and leadership; and (3) knowledge of likely outcomes of various possible actions. Within the former Soviet Union, important regions for comparison in these various regards include: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan (Fergana, Osh), Azerbaijan and Armenia (Sumgait, Nagorno-Karabakh, Baku), Moldova (Transdniester), Tajikistan, Russia (Chechnya, North Ossetia-Alania, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Tuva, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Adygeya, Kabardino-Balkaria), Georgia (Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Tbilisi), Ukraine (Crimea), and Lithuania (Vilnius). External comparisons are available in such countries as Colombia, Liberia, Macedonia, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan. 5. Variable cultures, discourses, traditions, and rituals as causes, ef- fects, and channels of interethnic violence: To what extent, how, and why do the circumstances, character, meaning, and consequences of interethnic violence differ as a function of the ambient culture? Instead of assuming direct translation of culture into violent action, investigators should treat established understandings, practices, and rep- resentations as occasions on which and means by which people engaged in struggle. For example, rituals such as religious processions occur with- out violence much of the time. Yet established processions also provide opportunities for participants, spectators, or opponents to initiate violent interactions, and political actors sometimes organize or manipulate pub- lic rituals as parts of larger political conflicts. For instance, for more than two centuries, Northern Ireland has experienced episodic violence center- ing on processions. Again, the construction and activation of we-they boundaries (which is crucial in a wide variety of violent conflicts) in- volves political processes that certainly draw on previously existing cul- tural materials, but by no means simply reproduce commonly accepted distinctions. India's Hindu activists, for example, draw on age-old sym-
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6 CONFLICT AND RECONSTRUCTION IN MULTIETHNIC SOCIETIES hots and practices to create new definitions of boundaries between Hin- dus and other Indians. Investigators should also distinguish between explanations of two related phenomena: formation and transformation of significant we-they boundaries (ethnic and otherwise), on the one hand, and activation or deactivation of such boundaries when they are already available, on the other. Studies of rituals and boundaries require collection of evidence not only about violent episodes themselves but also about the contexts of violent struggles emphatically including nonviolent forms of conten- tion in those contexts. 6. The place of intellectual elites, political leaders, entrepreneurs, and specialists in violence how they acquire the means of performing or controlling violence and what parts they play in initiating, organizing, delivering, and containing collective interethnic violence. This topic includes the emergence, deployment, and containment of criminals as agents of collective violence. Our first recommendation is simply to recognize that these special categories of actors play important but different roles in collective vio- lence, variously providing public justifications, connections with outsid- ers, practical guidance, coordination, and the means of destruction that often make the difference between small- and large-scale conflict. In the post-Soviet space, the previously high production of educated people, the contraction of bureaucratic and professional opportunities for educated people, and the contraction of governmental security forces have prob- ably all augmented the pool of potential participants in organized vio- lence. Although in principle one might expect education to make people more moderate and more integrated into existing political systems, under some conditions it also forms dissident elites. There is a need for more extensive examination of involvement (and noninvolvement) of intellec- tual elites, political leaders, political entrepreneurs, and violent specialists in the initiation, maintenance, termination, and prevention of violent con- flicts. Writing as specialists in the study of violence, it is necessary to reflect, in closing, on the proper place of our own tribe in the initiation, mainte- nance, termination, and prevention of violent conflicts. As this report indicates, specialists are accumulating knowledge that weighs heavily against a variety of common explanations for collective violence. People working in the field, however, have by no means arrived at airtight expla- nations that lead directly to prescriptions for controlling collective vio- lence. The proper combination of prudence, modesty, commitment, and responsibility requires incessant self-criticism, dialogue, and reexamina- tion of received opinion. Continued exchanges between Russian and American scholars can forward their shared agenda.
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