Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
Location: Eldersveld Room (5670 Haven Hall)
The scholarly and political discourse on India attributes the Maoist insurgency to poverty, inequality, misgovernance, and/or displacement. The political science literature attributes insurgencies in general to four main variables: rough terrain, state capacity, the “resource curse,” and ethnic exclusion. This paper argues, by contrast, that the party system – more specifically, the pattern of incorporation of unemployed, upwardly mobile young men from subaltern groups into the party system– is an important, and neglected, factor. Where political parties reach subaltern groups first, armed organizations are preempted. Where political parties do not move in early, they cede the space to armed organizations. The argument does not contradict most of the other explanations offered within the scholarship on India and the political science literature more generally. But it suggests that they are incomplete. These explanations identify broad structural variables such as grievances and opportunity structures at the macro-level, without specifying the micro-level mechanism that link these structural variables to violence. In order to specify the micro-mechanisms, we must look also at the role played by political parties, or comparable institutions, as rivals to armed organizations.