“Terror in the Highlands: Maiming Violence and Sendero Luminoso”
The economic resources (i.e., a gun and a bullet) to kneecap a person and fatally shoot them in the head are identical. And if it takes the same physical effort to carve up a living person’s body rather than slit a throat, why then do some organizations commit non-lethal violence over fatalities? Why leave living witnesses and enemies in the form of victims and bystanders, and potential enemies via future generations, when any such current and future threats can be disposed of with a fatality? In other words, what explains the use of non-lethal violence – particularly the mutilating and lasting scars of what I term “maiming violence”? I define maiming violence as non-lethal violence that leaves physical and visible marks with lasting legacy effects (i.e., scars or physical ailments that can serve as signals until the victim’s death). Thus, the purpose of my dissertation is to identify the conditions under which armed actors use maiming violence.
Maiming violence has taken place in numerous locations throughout the world (e.g., Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, the United States, etc.) and across various time periods (e.g., 1882-1930, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s). My research focuses on Sendero Luminoso during the Internal Armed Conflict in Perú from 1980-2000. In addition to in-depth archival work, I have conducted extensive interviews throughout Ayacucho, Huancavelica, and Lima over the course of 15 months from 2013-7. Fieldwork funding for this project was generously supported by the Department of Political Science and Global Studies Program at Temple University.
Soifer, Hillel David, and Everett A. Vieira III. 2019. “The Internal Armed Conflict and State Capacity: Institutional Reforms and Effective Exercise of Authority.” In Politics After Violence: Legacies of the Shining Path Conflict in Peru, eds. Hillel David Soifer and Alberto Vergara. Austin: University of Texas Press, 109-31.
“Responding to Terrorism: Does Regime Type Matter?”
“Los Técnicos and the Role of Ideas: Unraveling Mexico’s Transition to Trade Liberalization”
“Measuring Efficacy: Truth and Reconciliation Commissions as Agents of Democratization”
“Explaining Variations in Violence: A Study of Hezbollah and Hamas”
“Assessing Complicity and Responsibility: State Violence in Perú 1980-2000”
“How Has the Irish Republican Army Lasted So Long? Examining Theories Behind Its Longevity and Exploring Its Role in the 21st Century”
My master’s thesis focused on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. I examined the causes and history of the extended bitter conflict, and found that the policy trap of terrorism and the several incarnations of the group were the main causal factors behind its extended longevity. Although commonsensical, the data showed that diplomatic relations, even with one’s enemy, allowed for relative peace and prosperity for all parties involved. I concluded that the ceasefire between the United Kingdom and the IRA has the potential to serve as a blueprint for the United States and its allies in their fight against terrorism.
Committee: Lyndelle D. Fairlie, G. Allen Greb, and Dipak K. Gupta (Chair)