Coping with Risk and Uncertainty in Civil War. Community-Based Noncooperation Strategies in Colombia's Civil War

Monday, July 14, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: Booth 52
Oral Presentation
Juan MASULLO , Department of Social and Political Science, European University Institute, Florence, Italy
Although commonly portrayed as either mere victims or resources to be plundered, civilians in warzones face a wide number of possible responses to armed groups’ demands and war strategies. Studies dealing with the micro-dynamics of civil war have informed us extensively on some of these responses, such as displacement, obedience and active collaboration. However, other responses such as resistance and defiance have attracted scant scholarly attention. Despite of the high risks involved and the high levels of uncertainty outcomes are subject to, unarmed civilians have chosen to defy armed groups through different strategies of noncooperation. This paper presents findings from a theory-driven empirical analysis of two communities that, in the midst of Colombia’s civil war, chose noncooperation as a strategy to seek protection from armed groups’ violence and rule: the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartadó (PCSJA) and the Peasant Worker Association of the Cararé River (ATCC). The aim is to explain what drove these communities to choose noncooperation over other possible responses by examining in detail rational, emotional and moral considerations behind the choice. Mechanisms such as pay-offs reassessment, belief (trans)formation, anger and resentment, norms of reciprocity, and moral outrage are spelled-out. Attention is paid to both the capacity and the desire to defy armed groups, and both pre-war conditions and processes that are endogenous to war are analyzed. A unique dataset on violent events at the village level and two rounds of fieldwork, including individual and group interviews and memory workshops with members of both communities, inform the analysis of the emergence of non-cooperation in warzones.