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Insurgency and Political Order



This seminar examines recent literature on insurgency and its relationship to political order. A diverse field of study has emerged around the study of insurgency and political violence in the past decade. This research addresses classic questions from new theoretical and methodological angles. What is insurgency and why do actors resort to insurgency as a particular form of political violence? How should we categorize, measure and compare violent outcomes in insurgency? Why do insurgencies breakout in particular places and times? How do existing political orders shape the course of insurgency, and how is political order transformed during and after violent conflict? Why do actors organize in particular ways and pursue particular strategies in the context of insurgency? What explains variance in violence against civilians? How do states respond to insurgency?

Though the material has obvious policy implications, the course is not designed as a strategic analysis of the practice of counter-insurgency. Instead, the general focus is on questions that go to the heart of how insurgents relate to existing political orders and pursue alternatives to them. More specifically, seminar discussions will examine research design and difficulties of linking theory to evidence in the study of violence. Though the majority of readings are drawn from the comparative politics sub-field, the class should also appeal to graduate students interested in international relations, as well as students approaching political violence from historical, economic, sociological and anthropological perspectives.

Methods of Instruction

Seminar and presentations.


Approximately 1500 pages.


Presentations and a final essay of ~ 6000 words.


Pieter de la Courtbuilding, Leiden:
Monday 1 November till 20 December, 15.00-17.00 hrs. in 3B50 and
Wednesday 3 November till 22 December, 15.00-17.00 hrs., in 3B08