Please be invited to a brownbag on Wednesday 4th of May from 12:00-13:30, in the War Room. Helge Holtermann will present the paper  “Structural Opportunities and Rebel Mobilization Strategies.”
This article examines how local structures affect rebel mobilization strategies and outcomes by comparing insurgency processes in four different areas during Nepal’s Maoist conflict. Corresponding with existing theory, Maoist mobilization strategies were highly contingent on structural context. However, the most important determinants of rebel strategies were not economic or social conditions – much emphasized in existing theory – but local political and military opportunities. In remote, inaccessible areas with weak state presence, the rebels established local control, which allowed them to persuade, organize, and threaten every villager into cooperation. In more accessible and developed areas, mass mobilization was unattainable and the Maoists took other approaches: where economic opportunities were also low, little effort was invested; where economic opportunities were greater, they turned to looting and extortion combined with selective material incentives for participation. The case suggests some general insights: Politico-military space offers exceptional opportunities for mobilizing resources that require mass cooperation, like control of information, since control can be used to elicit cooperation without offering substantial benefits in return. Mobilizing resources hinging on high-risk contributions from relatively few people, like full-time insurgents, on the other hand, requires more than rebel control. In Nepal, state repression provided much of that extra spur to rebel.