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Abstract

When do peripheral populations rebel against revolutionary governments? In this dissertation, I argue that peripheral rebellions are violent responses to the disruption of social and economic relationships wrought by revolutionary policies. Specifically, I contend that revolutionary state policies motivate and facilitate peripheral rebellions through three interconnected processes. First, the penetration of central state authority down to the community level removes insulation from revolutionary directives. Second, revolutionary policies designed to transform social and economic relationships polarize some communities between a minority of beneficiaries and an alienated majority motivated to rebel. Third, policies which pose an acute threat that transcends class and community boundaries enable higher levels of coordination among dissidents. Consequently, peripheral groups subjected to high levels of intrusive, polarizing, and threatening state policies are the most likely to rebel against revolutionary regimes. To empirically evaluate this theory, I first use multivariate regression analysis to assess the correlation between revolutionary state policies and the onset of peripheral rebellions. Combining existing data on revolutionary policies and internal armed conflicts for all available country-years from 1946 to 2004, I find a strong, positive correlation between the presence and breadth of revolutionary policy changes and the initiation of new peripheral rebellions. I then employ process tracing in comparative, diachronically disaggregated case studies to explore the causal mechanisms connecting revolutionary government to the emergence and expansion of peripheral rebellions. Leveraging the rich diversity of reactions to revolutionary rule within and among peripheral groups in Ethiopia under the Derg regime (1974-1991), I find that peripheral rebellions tended to occur when and where revolutionary policies disempowered local intermediaries, alienated the bulk of the population, and presented a unifying threat to distinct classes and communities. Specifically, I demonstrate how these factors explain such outcomes as early revolts among the Afar and Tigrayans, delayed rebellion among the Oromo and Anywaa, and peaceful acceptance of Derg rule by the Hor and Nuer.

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