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Sons of the Soil, Immigrants and Civil War James D. Fearon David D. Laitin Stanford University For presentation at the Institute of Global Irish Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Sons of the Soil, Immigrants and Civil War James D. Fearon David D. Laitin Stanford University For presentation at the Institute of Global Irish Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sons of the Soil, Immigrants and Civil War James D. Fearon David D. Laitin Stanford University For presentation at the Institute of Global Irish Studies at University College Dublin 3 February 2009

2 Research Questions What differentiates countries that have suffered from civil wars from those that have not? What differentiates groups that have instigated civil wars from those that have used other means to achieve goals? What can we learn from correlations about the causes of civil wars?

3 The Dependent Variable Criteria –Militias fighting against state army for purposes of capturing state power, seceding from the state, or changing state policies –>1,000 killed, with at least 10% on either side –For ambiguous cases, see F/L2003 & Sambanis Specifications –Onset; Existence; Duration; Magnitude (by country area or number of deaths).

4 Patterns 127 civil wars in the world from , affecting 73 countries 17 million deaths from these wars Interstate wars in the same period: 25 wars and 3.3 million deaths Although 127 onsets are like needles in haystack with 6327 observations, there are enough onsets to address our questions relying on statistical methods.

5 What Causes Civil Wars? Three Theoretical Traditions Clash of Civilizations?

6 Grievances?

7 Conditions that favor Insurgency? Maoist guerrillas in the mountains

8 Data Sets Country/year –6,327 observations from , with all countries >500,000 population –Onset as dependent variable –127 onsets Group country (Minorities at Risk) –357 groups (Kurds/Iraq; Kurds/Iran; Kurds/Turkey are three distinct observations) –Rebellion as dependent variable (8-point ordinal scale from none reported to protracted civil war) –Since 1945, 198 groups never had >0; 127 groups had >3 (our criteria for a civil war rebellion).

9 Conclusions from Country/Year Dataset What differentiates countries that have suffered from civil wars from those that have not? –States that signal weakness [low GDP; new state; changed institutions; oil] What can we learn from correlations about the causes of civil wars? –No support for Clash of Civilizations or Level of Grievances – support for Conditions that Favor Insurgency

10 Geographical Concentration Once state level variables are included in MAR specifications, the only group-level variables that consistently come out as significant predictors of civil war onsets are those associated with the geographical concentration of the group population and its dispersion over a regional base. YESNO Has the Group Been in the Country Since 1800? 2.9 (n=248) 1.0 (n=50) Does the Group have a Regional Base? 2.9 (n=276) 1.1 (n=123) For Groups with a Regional Base, Has the Group Faced Competition for Vacant Land in the 1980s? 3.3 (n=34) 2.3 (n=203) Average rebel score (number of observations)

11 Sons-of-the-Soil and Civil War Onsets When facing government supported internal migration that threatens their regional predominance, we call groups that have a regional base “sons of the soil”. Sixteen of 127 civil wars have been motivated, at least in part, by sons of soil insurgents, and these tend to be the longest by a factor of 5. This paper seeks to explain the causes of these wars, in a way that is consistent with our general findings about civil war onsets.

12 Sons-of-Soil Wars Chakma peoples in the Chitttagong Hills of Bangladesh, Nagas and other “tribals” in Northeast India, Moros in the Philippines, Tamils in the North and East in Sri Lanka, Uighurs in Xinjiang province, and Tibetans in China, Mons and Karens in Burma, Sindhis against the Mohajirs around Karachi in Pakistan, Bougainvilleans in Papua New Guinea, West Papuans and Achenese in Indonesia, Tuaregs in Mali. Joolas in Casamanse, Senegal

13 What Explains Sons-of-Soil Wars? (1) Territorial Imperative – a branch of a clash of civilization argument –Can’t explain failure of most tribals to mount a civil war in the face of settlement by dominant group (Bushmen; Native Americans; Chota Nagpur) (2) Most sons-of-soil wars are in Asia, where population density is greatest of all regions, suggesting that the origins of the conflict concern scarce land – favoring a grievance story. (3) Regional concentration as a form of “rough terrain” – a branch of the conditions that favor insurgency argument

14 The Sri Lankan Model Sinhala Only Act (1956) as “predictor” of civil war? –War doesn’t begin till 1983 –Indian Tamils in Kandy highlands remain quiescent –Language oppression in general is not associated with violent conflict Land Settlement Schemes in NE as an alternative explanation

15 Sri Lanka

16 From Gal Oya to Civil War Gal Oya Development Board helps poor Sinhalese to settle in newly irrigated homesteads in the NE 1956 – Violence escalates faster in NE than in Colombo, and mostly rural locals vs. settlers, with settlers unable to get good police protection 1960s – SLG builds army and naval bases in the NE, in part as a show of state power in support of settlers Late 1970s – Massive new migration plans, attempts to conjoin Jaffna with the Northeast administratively 1980s – Army convoys “sitting ducks” for emerging Tamil guerrilla bands; attacks were followed by generalized reprisals, further aiding LTTE recruitment. This is where civil war threshold was met.

17 The Sons-of-the-Soil Dynamic

18 Strategic queries about this model (1) Why would the state support immigrants if they can get peace by siding with the autochthonous? –Immigrants are the government’s support base Or why would the state allow for this kind of migration in the first place? –Nation-building –Development

19 Strategic queries about this model (2) If the state does support the right of migrants to settle in the autochthonous region, why can’t the state and the autochthonous population agree to a bargain (e.g. how much migration will be permitted) that will have lower costs than an ethnic war? –State has a commitment problem

20 Strategic queries about this model (3) If the state and the autochthonous group cannot reach an agreement concerning limits to migration, why can’t the state compensate the autochthonous group for the costs it will pay for the migration? –Difficult for poor states to pay –Endogenous emergence of “losers” (demanding compensation) or “rebels” (who are informed of state guilt by virtue of the policy)

21 Strategic queries about this model (4) Why is this mechanism unleashed by migrants and not in any case of mixed population rural areas? –Historically mixed populations in rural areas develop institutions to regulate violence (“in-group policing” e.g.) –When this breaks down (several groups in central and western Kenya, the Xhosas and Zulus in South Africa, and the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland), we call this communal conflict, with the state standing by as a third party.

22 Theoretical Implication of Model Sons-of-the-soil movements are a reflection of a grievance in which the cultural dominance of regionally based groups is threatened; cultural difference is insufficient to explain the violence Civil wars are more likely to emerge from this grievance due to the “rough terrain” encountered by state armies in seeking to protect settlers of the dominant societal group against harassment by the autochthonous – giving credence to the “insurgency” model of civil war onsets


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