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2016 Doctoral Students Awards

Category: The Balkans 
Vujo Ilic (Central European U, Hungary/Yale, USA)

Civil War Mobilization in Tribal Society: Evidence from 1941-1942 Montenegro.

Abstract: In this paper, I suggest an interaction between a population’s pre-war social structure and the armed group’s ideology as a way of explaining the mobilization of tribal groups during a civil war. To this end, I utilize qualitative and quantitative evidence to conduct a micro-comparative historical analysis of the 1941-1942 civil war in Montenegro. Based on data collected from primary sources, ethnographic works, historical directories, and censuses, I find that in the competitive environment of a tribal society in a civil war, a revolutionary armed group was more effective in mobilizing a more fractionalized population, whereas a conservative group had more success in concentrated tribal areas. I conclude that strategic mobilization choices are contingent on the ideology of armed groups, however, they have different effects depending on the social structure of the population they interact with. These findings suggest an equal relevance of both pre-war and wartime factors, as well as the pertinence of social structure in studying contemporary conflicts.

Category: Caucasus 
Alexandra (Sasha) Klyachkina (Northwestern U, USA)

Localized Order and State-Building in Chechnya.

Abstract: This paper uses a historical institutionalist approach to examine the order-building process in Chechnya after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Adopting the lens of critical junctures in which structural constraints are relaxed, this work aims to examine how political breakdown and prolonged violence offered new organizational possibilities to key actors. The paper situates the process of state-building in broader attempts to institutionalize order and authority that do not inherently rely on state institutions. It maps how elites attempted to reconstruct institutions and develop a symbolic power-base for their authority as well as highlighting points of resistance to this process. Understanding the ways in which elites were empowered during this period provides insight into the type of order state actors pursued, what they perceived to be the main priorities and threats, and whether they attempted to address them through formal institutional channels or informal mechanisms. 

Category: Central Europe 
Egle Kesylyte-Alliks (U of Oslo, Norway)

National Flag and Nationhood in the Post-Soviet Lithuania: Institutional and Societal Discourses.

Abstract: This paper analyses and compares institutional and societal representations of the “nation” and “state” in their discourses regarding the national flag in the post-Soviet Lithuania. This is done in order to explore the ways in which the legitimacy of the nation-state is created via symbolic means. The data for the analysis of the societal discourse was gathered in the form of three focus group discussions conducted in Lithuania in March 2015. The target group were the citizens who started their schooling from 1990 onwards. Additional criterion was their self-ascribed ethnic belonging to the three largest ethnic groups in Lithuania: Lithuanians, Poles and Russians. The empirical material regarding the institutional discourse consists of two types of data: the texts of the laws and the utterances of the members of Lithuanian parliament. The Discourse-Historical Approach within Critical Discourse Analysis is used as a methodological framework for the analysis of the data.

Category: Eurasia 
Alina Jasina (U of Giessen, Germany)

Exploring the Individual Narratives and Experiences of Homeland among the Russian-speaking Youth in Kazakhstan.

Abstract: The paper critically engages with the personal narratives of place-belonging among the Russian-speaking youth in post-Soviet Kazakhstan. The research takes place within the context of evolving political discourses on belonging both in Russia and Kazakhstan, and explores the ways individual Russian speakers come to be attached to a place they regard as their rodina (home, homeland). Furthermore, this paper addresses, albeit briefly, how the narratives of rodina can possibly intervene in the reproduction of the self and community – belonging. With the help of empirical material gathered through interviews and focus groups, the study disrupts the idea that rodina, as perceived by young Russian speakers, is a one- or two-dimensional concept, related to either Kazakhstan or Russia on a national level. Instead, it takes shape on multiple scales and can be associated with a local community, the region, the country of residence and simultaneously transgress borders in both imaginary and real ways.

Category: Nationalism 
David Emre Amasyali (McGill U, Canada)

Fighting Over or Against the State: Colonialism, Non-Colonialism, and Strategies of Ethnic Conflict.

Abstract: The present study seeks to address two deficiencies in the burgeoning literature on ethnic violence. First, there is an expectation in this literature that there will be increased likelihood of conflict between state and local social actors as a direct result of state’s centralization efforts. However, states differ in the scope and intrusiveness of their state- and nation-building strategies, and I explore whether different strategies nation- and state-building influence the type of violence a state experiences. Second, the literature commonly claims colonialism promoted ethnic violence, but very few works actually compare former colonies and non-colonies to substantiate this claim. For this project, I explore the impact of colonialism on different types of ethnic violence through an analysis of former overseas colonies and non-colonies. I hypothesize that overseas colonialism—while promoting ethnic civil wars over state power—actually decreases the risk of secessionist violence. This is primarily because a country’s colonial status is an important variable in influencing the distinct type of nation- and state- building it will embark on.  I examine this assumption through a mixed-method approach that uses a cross-national statistical analysis alongside a comparative-historical analysis of Turkey and Lebanon