Posted by: Christian | January 19, 2010

Network Activation and Violence Specialists

This is a great article:

Idil Tuncer Kilavuz, ‘The Role of Networks in Tajikistan’s Civil War: Network Activation and Violence Specialists’, Nationalities Papers, Vol. 37, No. 5, September 2009.

It has relevance far beyond the case study of war in Tajikistan. This is [part of] the intro:

This article identifies the dynamics which shaped the eruption of civil war in Tajikistan. It argues that the mechanisms of network activation by the elites, together with the establishment of local militias and their involvement in the war through the activation of violence specialists, were important factors in bringing about the eruption of violence. This article is not about the causes of the civil war. Its aim is not to answer the question of why, but the question of how: what mechanisms led Tajikistan into civil war, how networks were activated from the top down, how mobilization was achieved at the micro level in the villages. This article stresses both macro- and microlevel mechanisms, and argues that there is a connection between the two—a look at both is necessary to understand the dynamics of the war.

The part that interests me the most:

Through such a micro-level analysis this study attempts to answer the question of how ordinary people get involved in war, and why they follow the elites.

While she may not be re-inventing network analysis, Dr. Kilavuz is using it to shine a light on a dark corner of scholarship, in particular a certain under-studied conflict that is misunderstood by many (that probably includes me).

Caveat: this is not just another one of my Indiana University Central Asian academic mafia announcements. Dr. Kilavuz was done with her coursework by the time I started mine. I haven’t actually met her. I just happen to honestly think that her work is impressive, especially her fieldwork.

Note: I couldn’t get wordpress to accept Turkish letters. But google will match up the name above with the correct spelling.


  1. Major kudos to posting this article. I have only skimmed it, but look forward to reading it. I did an undergrad thesis on the IMU and the Tajik civil war was a major part of their development, and a rabbit hole I never had enough time to go down ( but wanted to).

  2. Very interesting stuff that is reminiscent in some ways of Paul Brass’ work on communal riots in India, particularly the idea of ‘violence specialists’. Thanks for posting it.


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