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Dr. Meg Guliford delivers "Shaping Violence: How Ideology and Capability Influence Rebel Patterns of Violence"

Dr. Meg Guliford, Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at Drexel University, recently presented "Shaping Violence: How Ideology and Capability Influence Rebel Patterns of Violence." What explains rebels’ patterns of violence? Why do groups engage in certain types of violence and not others? Why do groups select certain targets and not others? Existing findings focus on the provision of external support, but variation in rebels’ repertoires and targets of violence remains understudied. In this research project, Dr. Guliford proposes that these capability-driven findings explain neither the variation in the types of violence in which rebels engage nor the populations they target. She argues that it is the interaction of what a rebel chooses to do (a function of ideology) and what it can do (a function of capability) that explains these patterns of violence. Importantly, Dr. Guliford views ideology as the critical first order consideration because a group’s ideology constrains or liberates their choices in ways that affect their decision-making calculus. She finds strong support for this argument in a qualitative test of the patterns of violence employed by the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) by process tracing across three phases (1970-1979, 1980-1984, and 1985-1989) of the Salvadoran civil war. This project contributes to our understanding of violence against civilians, rebel governance, and rebel to party transitions.


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