Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador / Edition 1

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Elisabeth Wood's account of insurgent collective action in El Salvador is based on oral histories gathered from peasants who supported the insurgency and those who did not, as well as on interviews with military commanders from both sides. She explains how widespread support among rural people for the leftist insurgency during the civil war in El Salvador challenges conventional interpretations of collective action. Those who supplied tortillas, information, and other aid to guerillas took mortal risks and yet stood to gain no more than those who did not.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...worthwhile, because [Wood] manages to bring the war before the reader's eyes, primarily through the words of the many men and women she interviewed over a period of almost 10 years...The very fact that so many people were willing to speak with her testifies to the level of trust she achieved with them." America

"Elisabeth Wood's rigorous study of individual motivations and mobilization in El Salvador will be required reading for students of collective action and civil war. Her unique combination of rich ethnography and rigorous theory represents social science at its best." Stathis N. Kalyvas, Yale University

"This book addresses an absolutely fundamental question in both social history and the study of revolutions: Under what circumstances and with what motivations do rural people mobilize collectively to achieve change? Building on ethnographic fieldwork and oral histories, Wood argues that the actions of rural people in El Salvador constituted an 'assertion of citizenship' not reducible to any calculation of the probability of altering outcomes or achieving exclusive benefits. With a delicate sense of social process, she demonstrates the 'pleasures of agency' that were possible even in the shadow of civil war. This is an elegant, important, and inspiring study." Rebecca J. Scott, University of Michigan

"Wood shares with us the voices and experiences of Salvadorans who, most extraordinarily, were interviewed in large numbers over many years and with amazing diligence and intensity by the author, despite their contemporary involvements in a hideously violent civil war. Particularly notable is her careful, even meticulous, discussion of the problems of establishing 'real' memories in such a setting. She is also good, very good, at dissecting debates about collective action theories and theories of revolution. And the discussions about the social import of mapmaking are just flat out lovely and feel so very human, which is (alas) not something you can say very often about a work of sophisticated social science. While her own discipline is political science, she draws on and herself surely enriches the fields of sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, and Latin American studies writ large." Timothy Wickham-Crowley, Georgetown University

"This is a well-written and enlightening book, exemplary in its clear and convincing discussion of methodological choices, empirical data, and theoretical explanation." Contemporary Sociology, Jon Shefner, University of Tennessee

"Wood goes beyond the traditional revolutionary intellectuals’ accounts that tend to dominate the discussion of revolutionary action to describe the formation of revolutionary identity among campesinos in El Salvador’s rural areas” –Ryan Wilson, Latin American Perspectives

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521010504
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2010
  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 332
  • Sales rank: 743,789
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables
Preface and Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
1 The Puzzle of Insurgent Collective Action 1
2 Ethnographic Research in the Shadow of Civil War 31
3 Redrawing the Boundaries of Class and Citizenship 51
4 From Political Mobilization to Armed Insurgency 87
5 The Political Foundations of Dual Sovereignty 121
6 The Reemergence of Civil Society 160
7 Campesino Accounts of Insurgent Participation 193
8 Explaining Insurgent Collective Action 226
Epilogue: Legacies of an Agrarian Insurgency 257
App A Model of High-Risk Collective Action by Subordinate Social Actors 267
Chronology of El Salvador's Civil War 275
References 279
Index 297
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