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Insurgent Violence and the Rural–Urban Divide: The Case of Maoist India

Ethnic Conflict, Civil War and Cost of Conflict

ISBN: 978-1-78052-130-5, eISBN: 978-1-78052-131-2

Publication date: 20 July 2011


Purpose – Rural–urban divides characterize many violent internecine conflicts. The lack of rural development is often cited as an underlying structural cause of this phenomenon, and thus strengthening rural–urban linkages is often touted as a way of dismantling the structural conditions for internecine violence. This chapter attempts to identify how both the strength and the form of rural–urban linkages influence the intensity of insurgent violence.

Methodology – Using geographic information systems, this chapter analyzes the intensity of specific violent attacks by rural insurgent groups in Maoist India as a function of rural–urban linkages and transportation network redundancy.

Findings – It finds that the degree of interconnectivity in transportation networks is a more robust determinant of restraint among violent actors than the sheer strength of rural–urban linkages. Production networks characterized by highly networked road systems are more likely to incent restrained behavior among rebel groups, which may be dependent on taxation or extortion through obstruction.

Limitations/implications – The chapter quantitatively analyzes a phenomenon, but does not identify causal mechanisms driving it. The policy implication is that providing transportation infrastructure within rural areas may be a more effective guard against insurgent violence than connecting urban and rural areas.

Originality – The chapter makes a methodologically unique link between the large existing literature on rural–urban linkages, and the growing literature on trade networks in violent conflict.



McDougal, T.L. (2011), "Insurgent Violence and the Rural–Urban Divide: The Case of Maoist India", Caruso, R. (Ed.) Ethnic Conflict, Civil War and Cost of Conflict (Contributions to Conflict Management, Peace Economics and Development, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 69-98.



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