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Managing Insurgency: Counterinsurgency and Order Negotiation in Northeast India

Waterman, Alexander Paul (2018) Managing Insurgency: Counterinsurgency and Order Negotiation in Northeast India. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Counterinsurgency (COIN) has long been recognised as a fundamentally political phenomenon, but the analytical benchmarks and principles that dominate conventional COIN theory tend to compress these complexities. This thesis contends that the concept of ‘order’ can help us to move beyond this conceptual inertia. Order consists of patterns of behaviour governed by formal or informal rules reflective of power and other relationships, and is a flexible structure that shapes and is shaped by human interactions. Its utility in the study of conflict lies in the potential to reveal the formal, informal, violent and non-violent ways in which actors attempt to shape these rules. Existing works have explored how non-state actors such as rebels have attempted to shape order, while others have mapped variations in the types of order that can emerge between states and insurgents. However, there have been no attempts to unpack the diverse forms of power counterinsurgents knowingly and unknowingly deploy as they attempt to negotiate these orders. This thesis addresses these gaps in the study of COIN and the study of order in conflict by outlining an original typology of ‘order negotiation’ in COIN. It posits that counterinsurgents can engage in processes of order preservation, modification or destabilisation. These can take place across multiple levels of analysis, ranging from national-level policymakers to the day-to-day actions of counterinsurgents. Actors at each of these levels shape order through interactions within the state itself, between state and insurgent actors and between state and the mass of social forces that make up ‘the population.’ These dynamic and multidimensional processes are illustrated by drawing on original empirical data from two understudied cases in Northeast India; the Assam and Naga COIN campaigns. The thesis is structured thematically, directly reflecting on and contributing to existing debates in the COIN literature before outlining original emergent themes raised in the thesis’ innovative theoretical framework. The thesis finds that counterinsurgents are faced with a bewildering task of managing multiple interacting order negotiation processes across different levels in the context of high uncertainty, imperfect knowledge and fluctuating horizons. This paints a highly political and almost chaotic picture of Indian COIN, challenging the principles underpinning classical COIN theory and demonstrates the utility of the theoretical lens developed here in helping us to navigate the political complexities of COIN in an intensely complex region.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Counterinsurgency (COIN), Order, Order Negotiation, Insurgency, India, Northeast India, Assam, Nagaland, NSCN, ULFA,
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Alexander Paul Waterman
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2019 12:45
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2019 12:45
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22554

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