Chapter 8, “Civil Wars”

Chapter 8, “Civil Wars,” by Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham

The deadliest and most widespread form of political violence today is civil war.  Any class on political violence must address conflicts within as well as between states.  This chapter comprehensively presents theories on the causes, duration, and termination of civil wars, written by a leading scholar of civil war.  It first provides an extensive introduction to civil wars, describing different types of issues civil wars are usually fought over.  It then provides a readable, contemporary discussion of key factors affecting civil war, including greed and grievance, relative deprivation, identity politics, state capacity, indivisibility, actor fragmentation, foreign fighters, and others.  The chapter includes a case study of the most important  and deadly civil war of the 2010s, the Syrian Civil War, as well as a summary of a quantitative study on whether peacekeepers succeed.

Most appropriate for classes on war and politics, political violence, and introduction to international relations.

Why this chapter is different:

●Most comprehensive treatment of civil war-related issues in a compact essay
●Coverage that accounts for the most contemporary theoretical and empirical scholarship
●Case study of the Syrian Civil War

Dr. Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham is associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland.  She is the author of several leading articles on civil wars, and of the award-winning book Inside the Politics of Self-Determination (Oxford, 2015).

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