About the project:
Across the world there is extensive evidence of criminal, insurgent, and other non-state governance structures successfully controlling populations and territories in both competition and collaboration with formal states. We can see similar patterns in Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, and elsewhere. Why do these systems of governance by armed non-state actors emerge and why do they persist? How do their systems of rule differ from those maintained by formal state entities in the region where they operate and how does this affect their emergence, growth, and eventual end? In particular, what are the factors and conditions that promote and sustain armed non-state actor governance?
By answering these questions, this project seeks to develop a more robust understanding of the political, economic, and social dynamics that foster the breakdown of a formal rule of law and shape these systems of alternative governance. Non-state authority structures often emerge as a result of complex and often clandestine, collaboration between some state actors and non-state groups and the perverse ways that particular populations and locales are incorporated into broader national social and economic systems. Rather, responding to these non-state challengers often requires a subtle restructuring of state power to more effectively reach out to, provide support to, and compete for legitimacy among populations that these organizations purport to govern.