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Predicting violence within genocide: a model of elite competition and ethnic segregation from Rwanda

McDoom, Omar Shahabudin (2014) Predicting violence within genocide: a model of elite competition and ethnic segregation from Rwanda. Political Geography, 42. pp. 34-45. ISSN 0962-6298

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2014.05.006


Can we predict when and where violence will likely break out within cases of genocide? I present a theoretical model to help identify areas susceptible and resistant to violence during genocide. The model conceptualizes violence onset as a function of elite competition for control of the state from above and the ethnic segregation of society from below. First, in areas where extremist elite control is weak, violence is delayed or averted because a contest for control between pro-violence elites and anti-violence moderates arises and the competition takes time to resolve. Where control is strong, violence is immediate or early because extremists face little competition and can rapidly deploy the state's coercive resources against targeted groups. Second, in areas where the integration of ethnic groups is high, violence is delayed because it takes time to break existing interethnic bonds and destroy bridging social capital. Cohesive communities resist elite attempts to divide them through interethnic trust and cooperation. I test the model by examining sub-national variation in genocide onset across Rwanda's 145 communes using new data and duration analysis. I additionally explore causal mechanisms by within-case analyses comparing early and late onset in two communes. The findings have implications for international policy makers as they respond to genocides and strategically prioritize limited intervention resources.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The Author
Divisions: Government
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 28 May 2014 14:26
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:30
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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