Roman Krtsch (2021): The Tactical Use of Civil Resistance by Rebel Groups. Evidence from India's Maoist Insurgency, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 65:7-8, pp. 1251-1277.

Abstract: Research on rebel behavior during conflicts has traditionally focused on the use of violent tactics. However, evidence from several intrastate wars suggests that armed groups also occasionally employ general strikes—a method of civil resistance that has typically been associated with nonviolent groups. But when do rebels resort to general strikes? I argue that these tactics have a particular function which can offset potential risks for rebels after they have suffered losses in previous battles: Through general strikes, rebels signal sustained authority to the local population. The argument is tested for districts in Eastern India using newly compiled, disaggregated data on contentious action during the Maoist conflict. The paper contributes to a burgeoning literature on wartime civilian activism in two ways: First, it shows that armed groups themselves rely situationally on civilian mobilization. Second, it investigates the effect of conditions endogenous to the conflict on these tactical choices.

Johannes Vüllers, Roman Krtsh (2020): Raise Your Voices! Civilian Protest in Civil Wars, Political Geography, 80, 102183.

Abstract: Under what conditions do protests occur in civil wars? Evidence from case studies suggests that protests can indeed play an important role in contexts of civil wars, with civilians using respective tactics both against the state and rebels. We argue that localities experiencing armed clashes are likely to see protest events in the same month. Civilians conduct protests due to battle-related changes in the local opportunity structures and grievances related to losses experienced through collateral damage. Using spatially disaggregated data on protest and battle events in African civil wars, we find support for our hypothesis that battles trigger civilian protests. This effect is robust to the inclusion of a comprehensive list of confounding variables and alternative model specifications, including the use of different temporal and spatial units. Our findings highlight the role of the civilianpopulation and the spatial relationship between war events and protests in civil wars.

Roman Krtsch, Johannes Vüllers (2019): Unintended consequences of post-conflict power-sharing. Explaining civilian activism, Zeitschrift für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung, 8, pp. 239-260. 

Abstract: Under what conditions do civilians mobilize after power-sharing agreements? Research on post-conflict power-sharing has neglected the possible consequences of power-sharing agreements on micro level dynamics, i. e. civilian activism. We argue that (i) power-sharing practices increase the probability of civilian activism, (ii) political and territorial power-sharing practices are especially relevant in this regard, and (iii) ethnic identity groups affiliated to the former rebels are more likely to respond to power-sharing practices compared to other ethnic groups. Using data on power-sharing agreements and civilian activism in African post-conflict countries (1989–2006), we find support for our expectations. The results suggest that the effect of power-sharing practices on protests and riots is particularly high for ethnic groups with linkages to the former rebel organizations.

 Working Papers

Personalizing Mobilization. The Impact of Public Figures in Protest Events

(with Anna-Lena Hönig)

Abstract: Celebrities, dignitaries, and other public figures have the power to draw large crowds. Do such public appearances have the same effect in contentious settings and in particular, if prospective participants fear sanctions by a repressive regime? Anecdotal evidence from Myanmar’s democracy movement or the US civil rights movement suggests that the presence of leading figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. can in fact have a strong mobilizing impact on protest movements. We study to which degree the public appearances of prominent individuals in protests affect the intensity of subsequent protests. By examining protests in autocracies, we contribute to understanding mobilization processes despite repression. Our theoretical argument focuses on mobilization theory. In particular, both resource mobilization and framing theory suggest a pull-effect of public figures at protest events. We hypothesize that public appearances increase the intensity of protests. Despite being well documented for individual cases, this link has not yet been assessed empirically on a large-scale base. We combine novel, hand-coded information on the participation of individuals in protest events with the Mass Mobilization in Autocracies Database to study this effect for autocracies between 2003 and 2015. Our preliminary findings identify a significant positive effect of public appearances on protest intensity.

Wartime Violence, Collective Grievances and Post-Conflict Protests. Evidence from Uganda's LRA Insurgency

Abstract: The immediate aftermath of civil wars is a period prone to heightened contention: Political decisions about the distribution of aid or power, for example, can deepen social fault lines and in some instances even result in violent unrest. Yet despite its relevance, our knowledge on thedrivers for individual participation in post-conflict contentious activism remains limited. Previous research has found particularly wartime experiences to affect political and social behaviour of individuals in the post-conflict period. Based on these findings, I argue that exposure to civil war violence increases the likelihood for individuals to participate in post-war protests. Moreover, I conjecture that this effect can be explained with the reinforcement of group-based grievances. Using survey data from the Afrobarometer collected shortly after the end of the Ugandan civil war in 2008, I find support for the argument: Results from linear probability models show a consistent and robust relationship between county-level war violence and the likelihood to participate in protests. An additional analysis with a novel measure of group-level exposure and a causal mediation analysis furthermore corroborate the assumed mechanism.