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Palgrave Macmillan

Civilian Strategy in Civil War

Insights from Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines

ISBN 9781137402981
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Politics, Economics, and Inclusive Development

While typically the victims of war, civilians are not necessarily passive recipients of violence. What options are available to civilians in times of war? Offering a modification of Hirschman's class schema, this book suggests three broad strategies - flight, support, and voice - and various combinations that arise from them. This schema provides a useful tool for understanding how civilians react to a wide range of armed conflicts. By disaggregating "civilians" into regions and social group, the study moves toward a theory of civilian action that emphasizes socio-cultural norms as much as conflict dynamics and security concerns.

Shane Joshua Barter is Associate Director of the Pacific Basin Research Center and Assistant Professor at Soka University of America. He has worked with Forum-Asia, the Carter Center, and the European Union and has published widely on armed conflict in Southeast Asia.

1. Introduction: Civilian Strategy in Civil War
2. Towards a Theory of Civilian Strategy
3. Empirical Foundations, Aceh
4. Aceh's Civilians in War
5. Explaining Civilian Decisions in Aceh
6. Comparisons, Patani
7. Comparisons, Mindanao
8. Civilian Strategy: Theory and Practice


"A powerful and much-needed study on the role of civilians caught up in civil wars and conflicts. While most studies build on the false dichotomy of civilian and combatant, Barter's ethnographic work unearths the space in-between. This accessible book shatters facile notions of victimhood and is a necessary resource for anyone who wishes to understand wars, conflicts and paths to their resolutions." - Michael Jerryson, Youngstown State University, USA
"This is an important book. Shane Barter upends conventional approaches to civil war by placing civilians and their strategies at the center of analysis. Instead of viewing ordinary people as mere passive victims of war, Barter shows how they are active agents in creating their own fates, weighing and deciding between often agonizing choices. Written with deep sensitivity, this book challenges how we think about civil war." - Edward Aspinall, Australian National University
"This book offers a fascinating account of choices civilians make in civil war. Through an impressive array of interviews in difficult conditions, Barter unveils a much more complex fresco of the strategies that they adopt not only to survive but to defend their status or courageously defy their oppressors. Through the lens of intensive fieldwork primarily in Aceh, this study is a useful corrective to accounts of civil war that place too much emphasis on armed combatants, which sheds new light on how local people negotiate the surrounding violence and destruction.' - Jacques Bertrand, University of Toronto, Canada
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