Political Violence

Contentious Politics
Ethnic Conflict
Political Violence
Social Movements
Section Number
Section Chair
Niall O Dochartaigh
National University of Ireland, Galway
Section Co-Chair
Stefan Malthaner
European University Institute

This Section addresses current debates and newly emerging topics in political violence, including spatial and temporal dynamics of violence; political dimensions of sexual violence; the connections between non-violent action and political violence; and the strategic use of violence. It focuses on certain forms of violence that seem to be of increasing relevance once again, such as right wing extremism. And it sheds light on the relationship between militant groups, violent forms of action, and broader movements and milieus. The Section will be structured to map emerging areas of research and draw attention to key, contemporary theoretical debates, with the intention of highlighting relevant areas for further investigation.

Proposed Panels

1. Violence and the city: spatio-temporal practices of violence
Chair: Jutta Bakonyi (Durham University)
Co-Chair: Kirsti Stuvoy (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
This Panel invites Papers that use the perspective of the city to examine processes and practices of political violence. Violence is shaped by the particular characteristics of the urban, its spatial qualities and its temporal rhythms. It is often concentrated in particular places or occurs at particular times. Among the questions addressed are: How do violent actors locate themselves in the city, move through and make use of urban space? What are the effects of violence on urban space and time, and vice versa, how does urban space and urban time shape violence?

2. How political is sexual violence?
Chair: Alex Veit (University of Bremen)
Co-Chair: Carlo Koos (University of Konstanz)
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), both in times of conflict and in civilian settings, have long been considered collateral damage or a private affair. In recent years, however, international media as well as other actors have increasingly focused on and thereby "politicized" SGBV. The Panel discusses, from an interdisciplinary perspective, different approaches towards the issue, inviting Papers that speak to causes, consequences, public discourses and policy approaches towards SGBV/CRSV, or address methodological questions.

3. Right-wing violence and modus operandi
Chair: Tore Bjorgo (University of Oslo)
Co-Chair: Jacob Ravndal (University of Oslo)
The nature of the violent threat from the extreme right in Western democracies remains poorly documented and understood. For example, we often do not know whether to categorize attacks from the extreme right as “terrorism”, or as less premeditated forms of violence, often categorized as racist violence, violent extremism, or hate crime. We therefore need more knowledge about the operational and tactical behavior of contemporary right-wing perpetrators. Paper proposals should address actors, their modus operandi, and the conditions shaping it. Comparisons with previous actors and trends, other countries or regions, or other forms of political violence are appreciated.

4. Political violence and non-violence
Chair: Leena Malkki (University of Helsinki)
Political violence is usually studied separately from other forms of political participation. Similarly, research on radicalization into political violence has overwhelmingly concentrated on cases in which significant radicalization has happened. This has left the explanatory power of theories of political violence and radicalization insufficiently tested and the continuities, overlaps and interconnections between violent and non-violent forms of contention insufficiently explored. The Panel welcomes all contributions that deal with the relations between violent and non-violent methods of political action, including both theoretical and empirical studies.

5. Functional logics of political violence
Chair: Michael Fürstenberg (MPI, Halle)
Co-Chair: Sebastian Lange (Humboldt University, Berlin)
Co-Chair: Miriam Müller (HIS, Hamburg)
Political violence is often seen as instrumental in nature but it remains unclear how certain strategies of political violence are connected to the perpetrators’ goals. “Terrorism”, for example, has been explained as violent “propaganda of the deed”, a way of provoking the state into a delegitimizing overreaction, costly signaling, or a mere tactic to attain process objectives. This Panel explores the functional logic of diverse manifestations of political violence, their tactical or strategic role, as well as how they can be connected conceptually. It is open to approaches from different theoretical perspectives and focusing on various forms of violent strategies.

6. Prison as a Space of Mobilisation, Recruitment, and Resistance
Chair: Francis O’Connor (HSFK/PRIF)
Experiences of mass incarceration can both undermine and strengthen armed movements. It can serve as a site of ideological clarification and education for militants, and be used to recruit other political or non-political prisoners. Acts of prison resistance through self-sacrificial practices (hunger-strikes) can also have a galvanizing impact on insurgent constituencies. This Ppanel will analyse how armed movements organize within prisons, focusing on the adoption of practices of active resistance or the lack thereof, and how this contributes to sustaining insurgent campaigns and consolidating ties with the broader constituency.

7. The escalation of violence in the context of street demonstrations
Chair: Lorenzo Bosi (SNS, Florence)
Co-Chair: Stefan Malthaner (HIS, Hamburg)
Drawing on recent approaches in sociology of violence and research on social movements, this Panel examines how contextual factors and meso-level processual mechanisms interact with micro-level situational dynamics, as well as the role of emotional and interpretative processes during moments of collective action. It invites contributions on a broad range of phenomena of violence during – and beyond – demonstrations and other protest events. The focus of this Panel will be on militant protest as well as repressive protest policing.

8. Political Violence and Humanitarian spaces
Chair: Niall Ó Dochartaigh, (National University of Ireland Galway)
Interaction between humanitarian organisations and non-state actors is an increasingly important but relatively neglected aspect of violent conflicts. This Panel draws together research on humanitarian spaces and the literature on rebel governance to better understand the role of humanitarian action in shaping spaces of conflict and relationships between opposing forces. Topics include: humanitarian negotiations with non-state armed groups; humanitarian mediation; making humanitarian spaces; and humanitarianism and the rights of non-state combatants.

Section Chairs:

Niall Ó Dochartaigh is senior lecturer in Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland Galway and a founding Convenor of the ECPR Standing Group on Political Violence.

Stefan Malthaner is research fellow at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and Co-Convenor of the ECPR Standing Group on Political Violence.

They have organised several successful ECPR Sections.

Panel List

P091Contentious locations and spaces of violence View Panel Details
P176Functional logics of political violence View Panel Details
P198How Political is Sexual Violence? Consequences and Responses View Panel Details
P199How Political is Sexual Violence? Debates on Causes View Panel Details
P270Mobilization, repression, and violent escalation View Panel Details
P289New Perspectives on Civil War and Political Violence View Panel Details
P361Prison as a Space of Mobilisation, Recruitment, and Resistance View Panel Details
P401Right-wing violence and modus operandi View Panel Details
P402Right-wing violence II View Panel Details
P442The escalation of violence in the context of street demonstrations View Panel Details
P511Violence and non-violence View Panel Details
P512Violence and the City I: Global Encounters, Capitalism, and Spatio-Temporal Practices of Violence View Panel Details
P513Violence and the city II View Panel Details
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