Blood revenge and violent mobilization: evidence from the Chechen Wars

Souleimanov, E. A. and Aliyev, H. (2015) Blood revenge and violent mobilization: evidence from the Chechen Wars. International Security, 40(2), pp. 158-180. (doi:10.1162/ISEC_a_00219)

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Abstract

Despite a considerable amount of ethnographic research into the phenomena of blood revenge and blood feud, little is known about the role of blood revenge in political violence, armed conflict, and irregular war. Yet blood revenge—widespread among many conflict-affected societies of the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond—is not confined to the realm of communal infighting, as previous research has presumed. An empirical analysis of Russia's two counterinsurgency campaigns in Chechnya suggests that the practice of blood revenge has functioned as an important mechanism in encouraging violent mobilization in the local population against the Russian troops and their Chechen proxies. The need to exact blood revenge has taken precedence over an individual's political views, or lack thereof. Triggered by the loss of a relative or humiliation, many apolitical Chechens who initially sought to avoid involvement in the hostilities or who had been skeptical of the insurgency mobilized to exact blood revenge to restore their individual and clan honor. Blood revenge functions as an effective, yet heavily underexplored, grievance-based mechanism encouraging violent mobilization in irregular wars.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Aliyev, Dr Huseyn
Authors: Souleimanov, E. A., and Aliyev, H.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Central and East European Studies
Journal Name:International Security
Publisher:MIT Press
ISSN:0162-2889
ISSN (Online):1531-4804
Published Online:20 November 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
First Published:First published in International Security 40(2): 158-180
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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