Militias, States and Violence against Civilians : Civic Vice, Civic Virtue book cover
1st Edition

Militias, States and Violence against Civilians
Civic Vice, Civic Virtue

  • Available for pre-order on March 31, 2023. Item will ship after April 21, 2023
ISBN 9781032122816
April 21, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
232 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book examines the conditions under which the presence and use of militias result in an increase or decrease in violence against civilians in intra-state conflicts.

Showcasing the breadth and diversity of modern militias in the context of violence against civilians, the volume addresses the predation and repression that many such groups are infamous for, as well as increasingly important efforts by other militias at civilian protection in war-torn settings. The chapters examine militias from around the world, drawing on both qualitative and quantitative methods as they cover groups as varied as gangs, death squads. grassroots community-defense groups, official state militias, and party-sponsored armies -- groups on the "civic vice" side, the "civic virtue" side, and the wide and mixed in-between space where most cases fall.

Taken as a cohesive unit, the work lays the foundation for an encompassing theory and interrogation of the causal chain between militia type and operating context and the levels of violence against civilians. It provides path-breaking theory-building and empirical scholarship. Policymakers and national-security practitioners dealing with issues relating to armed groups will also benefit from the practical issues covered here, such as how different forms of sponsorship and training affect militia behavior.

This book will be of interest to students of civil wars, political violence, counterinsurgency, civil-military relations, and security studies in general.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. Pro-Regime Militias  3. Civilian Defense Forces and Violence against Civilians  4. State-Militia Relations and Repression  5. Science and Epistemology as Territory in Conflict: The U.S. Occupation and Violence against Academics in Iraq  6. Violence against Civilians and the Legitimacy of Community-based Armed Groups in Kenya and Haiti  7. The YPJ of Northeast Syria and the Socialization of Restraint towards Civilians: ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadi’  8. Conclusion - The Study of Militias and Violence: Where to Go from Here?


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Paul Lorenzo Johnson, independent researcher, USA, holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Davis. His research interests include civil-military relations, grayzone warfare, and genocide prevention.

William Wittels is the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at Brown University's Graduate School. His research interests include political theory, conflict studies, and higher education. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Duke University.


'Militias invoke an earlier, pre-modern era before the ‘Weberian’ state regularized the delivery of security. But as this important and very welcome volume by leading scholars makes clear, these armed organizations outside the regular security structure are resilient, multitasking and evolving, and their sometimes genocidal violence and mistreatment of civilians is of our times too. The authors suggest conceptual refinements and new subtypes beyond the focus on progovernment militias. The chapters provide statistical analysis and detailed case evidence of the price paid by the civilians who have to live with these organizations. The study of militias and their dynamic and sometimes clandestine relationship with governments and other actors is challenging and valuable in itself. Yet it also opens a window on the wider issues of political violence, repression, conflict or, indeed, the viability of states.'

Neil J. Mitchell, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, University College London, UK