Speaker: Angela Chesler, Research Fellow, International Security Program

Territorial autonomy is on the rise. More states than ever before are yielding political authority to subnational polities, transforming the fundamental architecture of governance in the modern state. A significant driver of this “devolution revolution” is the perception that territorial autonomy provides a vehicle for peace and democracy in divided societies. Yet, autonomy has proven remarkably deadly in an unexpected way: transitions to territorial self-rule have coincided with new outbreaks of state violence against civilian populations. 

While extant research has long debated the relationship between regional self-governance and conflict, there is a dearth of systematic theories and evidence addressing the causes of state-led civilian massacres in the context of territorial autonomy. This work presents a theoretical and empirical investigation, identifying three distinct logics driving state violence towards civilians in self-governing territories: regional consolidation, repression, and reputation-building.

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar: https://harvard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEkfu-srTIrE9TCE1m2-CCtoHyOQk4zYxjk

For more information, email the International Security Program Assistant at susan_lynch@harvard.edu.