Introduction: exploring the jungle of terminology

Heuser, B. (2014) Introduction: exploring the jungle of terminology. Small Wars and Insurgencies, 25(4), pp. 741-753. (doi: 10.1080/09592318.2013.832928)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


When twentieth-century authors wrote about ‘partisan warfare’, they usually meant an insurgency or asymmetric military operations conducted against a superior force by small bands of ideologically driven irregular fighters. By contrast, originally (i.e. before the French Revolution) ‘partisan’ in French, English, and German referred only to the leader of a detachment of special forces (party, partie, Parthey, détachement) which the major European powers used to conduct special operations alongside their regular forces. Such special operations were the classic definition of ‘small war’ (petite guerre) in the late seventeenth and in the eighteenth centuries. The Spanish word ‘la guerrilla’, meaning nothing other than ‘small war’, only acquired an association with rebellion with the Spanish War of Independence against Napoleon. Even after this, however, armies throughout the world have continued to employ special forces. In the late nineteenth century, their operations have still been referred to as prosecuting ‘la guerrilla’ or ‘small war’, which existed side by side with, and was often mixed with, ‘people's war’ or popular uprisings against hated regimes.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Heuser, Professor Beatrice
Authors: Heuser, B.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Small Wars and Insurgencies
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1743-9558
Published Online:25 July 2014

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record