Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life During War

Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life During War

by Zachariah Cherian Mampilly
     
 

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Rebel groups are often portrayed as predators, their leaders little more than warlords. In conflicts large and small, however, insurgents frequently take and hold territory, establishing sophisticated systems of governance that deliver extensive public services to civilians under their control. From police and courts, schools, hospitals, and taxation systems to

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Overview

Rebel groups are often portrayed as predators, their leaders little more than warlords. In conflicts large and small, however, insurgents frequently take and hold territory, establishing sophisticated systems of governance that deliver extensive public services to civilians under their control. From police and courts, schools, hospitals, and taxation systems to more symbolic expressions such as official flags and anthems, some rebels are able to appropriate functions of the modern state, often to great effect in generating civilian compliance. Other insurgent organizations struggle to provide even the most basic services and suffer from the local unrest and international condemnation that result.

Rebel Rulers is informed by Zachariah Cherian Mampilly's extensive fieldwork in rebel-controlled areas. Focusing on three insurgent organizations—the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) in Congo, and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Sudan—Mampilly's comparative analysis shows that rebel leaders design governance systems in response to pressures from three main sources. They must take into consideration the needs of local civilians, who can challenge rebel rule in various ways. They must deal with internal factions that threaten their control. And they must respond to the transnational actors that operate in most contemporary conflict zones. The development of insurgent governments can benefit civilians even as they enable rebels to assert control over their newly attained and sometimes chaotic territories.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The empirical basis for this innovative study consists of three case studies. The author looks at the governance systems set up by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) in Congo, and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).... this book is an important achievement. Mampilly has cleared a path towards further research into modes of governance beyond the state."—Christoph Zürcher,African Affairs

"Rebel Rulers skillfully blends theoretical insights into the factors that explain effective governance with rich ethnographic research to produce a thought-provoking analysis of how rebels (attempt) to govern the populations under their control."—Journal of Politics

"Rebel Rulers is an important achievement. Mampilly has cleared a path toward further research into modes of governance beyond the state."—African Affairs

"Mampilly challenges the ways in which the international community deals with insurgent organizations. The ability of insurgent organizations to govern should matter, Mampilly argues, and he calls for granting limited juridical recognition to organizations that do develop effective civilian governance. Such a call for rethinking questions of recognition and sovereignty is controversial, but Rebel Rulers makes a case for doing just that."—Perspectives on Politics

"Few studies of rebellion reveal how rebels actually rule the territories they control. With original material acquired during difficult fieldwork behind rebel lines, Zachariah Cherian Mampilly offers an insightful and elegant theory of rebel governance that blends the insurgents' strategic goals with the expectations of local civilians and international actors. Rebel Rulers is a rare and nuanced look into the politics of 'nonstates.'"—Pierre Englebert, Pomona College

"Rebel Rulers is a critical and innovative addition to studies of governance: in moving beyond the state to explore contemporary insurgent practices in key conflicts around the world, Zachariah Cherian Mampilly challenges us to refine our theories of power and practice as well as our understanding of deep life in rebellion. Delving into the vibrant interplay of intentions and actions at the front lines of extra-state politics, this book is powerfully international, theoretically astute, ethnographically rich, and evocative."—Carolyn Nordstrom, University of Notre Dame, author of Global Outlaws

"This book is a must-read for anybody wishing to understand why some rebels assemble comprehensive administrations to rule civilians while others fail to do so or reject this task. In his analysis, Mampilly challenges claims of other scholars that economic incentives drive rebel organization and goals, arguing instead for a process-based approach . . . This is a great book that provides rich detail. The analysis rests on the key observation that violence shapes the environment, which in turn shapes choices." —William Reno, Northwestern University, African Studies Review (December 2013)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801449130
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
08/11/2011
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Zachariah Cherian Mampilly is the Director of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Vassar College. He is coauthor of Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change.

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