Special Report Title
Variation in Civil Resistance: Repression, Learning, and Brokerage
Special Report Abstract:
The research goal is to intervene in a developing conversation in the civil resistance field on why groups may begin and maintain nonviolent tactics (or why groups using violence for a time switch to nonviolent action). Recent political science research tends to focus on structural variables influencing the onset of nonviolent compared to violent campaigns, without investigating tactical change over time. In addition, conventional explanations for variation over time emphasize that severe government repression should lead to increasingly violent tactics. In contrast to existing cross-national structural explanations, which are not amenable to policy interventions, I pursue a contextual, agent-centered explanation that also considers the strategic environment. Specifically, I explore how group learning—from past conflict history, watching other groups, and training in violent or nonviolent methods—interacts with brokerage across social sites to produce violent and nonviolent variation in the context of weak or strong violent government repression.
About the Author:
Brandon Sims is a PhD candidate in International Relations at American University, School of International Service focusing on International Peace and Conflict Resolution studies. His research focuses on various aspects of civil resistance and peacebuilding, especially in the context of South/Southeast Asia. Brandon’s most recent publication is “Constituting Self-Violent Resistance: Materiality, Embodiment, and Speech Acts” in the Journal of Resistance Studies. His research has been supported by: the United States Institute of Peace as a 2018-2019 Jennings Randolph-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar; a Critical Language Scholarship through the U.S. Department of State; a 2016-2017 Peace and Violence Research Lab Fellowship, American University; and various dissertation support through American University. Before starting the PhD program, Brandon worked for five years in Indonesia with Mennonite Central Committee, an international peace and development organization.