Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham's "Inside the Politics of Self-Determination"

Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham is an Associate Professor at the Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland. She is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego and has been a Fulbright Scholar and a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo. Her book Inside the Politics of Self-determination received the Book of the Year award from the British Conflict Research Society.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to Inside the Politics of Self-determination and reported the following:
Page 99 concludes the chapter on accommodation of groups seeking greater self-determination (SD). This is the most interesting part of the book for me because these pages answer the motivating question for the entire research project: Why do some groups get accommodated while others do not? This puzzle, in turn, led me to examine why some self-determination groups fight civil wars against their states and why some groups are plagued in infighting. I write on page 99,
Politics within SD groups is characterized by unstructured competition where SD group factions can act independently of one another, and this competition creates a significant degree of uncertainty for the state about what the group might settle for. Yet, multiple internal factions in a SD group also provide states with an incentive and opportunity to use concessions to reveal information (thus reducing uncertainty) and to bolster moderates.
This quote highlights two of the central claims of the book. First, internal competition among factions in nationalist (or other opposition) groups provide both opportunities and challenges for conflict management. States and international actors can pick specific factions to work with, giving them potential partners in the management of disputes. Yet, individual factions often have trouble generating credibility and warding off challenges from within their own group, complicating efforts to fully resolve disputes.

Second, accommodation is not just the conclusion of a dispute; it can also be used strategically to shape the challenges that states must overcome. When faced with multi-faceted social movements, states can use concessions to bolster moderate factions. Page 99 ends with a summary of the global statistical analyses and qualitative case evidence from India. This data further supports the argument that internally divided SD groups are more likely to get accommodation than those presenting a more coherent challenge to the state.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham's website.

--Marshal Zeringue