Politicising Rebel Governance
In many conflict and post-conflict settings, it is not one actor such as ‘the state’ that rules. A variety of concepts describes the management of public affairs in these spaces. Within this broad literature on orders and governance in (post-)conflict contexts, one research strand in particular has been growing rapidly in recent years, the literature on rebel governance. This literature examines internal dynamics in civil wars in which rebel groups take control of parts of a territory, regulate civilian life, and provide social, political, and economic goods.
Existing research in this field has made significant contributions in understanding armed non-state actors beyond their violent activities, by focusing on how interactions between rulers and ruled are organised in territories held by rebel groups. However, most contributions analyse rebel governance within a rationalist and functionalist framework and apply a narrow understanding of power relations between rulers and their institutions, and ruled as subjects under their control. This project aims at widening the scope of analysis both in a temporal and a spatial respect. By analysing, for instance, the legacies of rebel governance on post-conflict societies and politics, as well as the influence of transnational politics and international actors on rebel governance, we aim to contextualise rebel governance in broader power relations. The project also aims to bring politics back in through connecting the debate on rebel governance to politics of recognition and legitimacy involved in armed non-state actors’ relations with other actors, as well as global and transnational (normative) structures.