PROJECT

MILITANT RECRUITMENT IN AND OUT OF CEASEFIRE

Researcher: Kolby Hanson, PhD Student in Economics

Why do some citizens join non-state armed groups?  How can governments influence who joins?  My project looks at how government violence – whether governments crack down on militants or allow them to operate freely – affects who is willing to join militant organizations.

Northeast India is home to over 100 armed groups, and the government has periodically offered indefinite ceasefires to these armed groups.  These agreements allow militants to operate freely without disarming them or granting any real concessions – taking away violence but not changing anything else.  My project examines how these agreements change the motivations of recruits.

In order to do so, I am conducting a set of survey experiments in three ethnic separatist regions of Northeast India (Assamese, Naga, and Bodo).  By mimicking the recruiting behavior of militant groups, my survey gathers young men who are currently deciding whether to join militant outfits.  The survey measures personality traits and asks a series of hypotheticals (a conjoint survey experiment) about what sorts of groups these recruits would be comfortable joining.  The goal is to learn why recruits are willing to join various groups, how different types of recruits (altruistic vs. selfish, obedient vs. independent, etc.) act differently, and how government violence changes these processes.