Why Fight? The Causes and Consequences of Joining a Tyrant’s Army – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Why Fight? The Causes and Consequences of Joining a Tyrant’s Army

Brendan Chen


Pronouns: He/Him/His

Research Mentor(s): Roya Talibova, PhD Student
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Political Science, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 4 (2pm-2:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 19
Presenter: 4

Event Link


What role does military service have in the behavior of oppressed minority groups after wars? Current knowledge states combat experience empowers veterans’ organizational skills and ability to engage in collective action. However, there is little information that further elaborates how wartime skills and abilities are utilized by individuals and groups once the conflict ends. Furthermore, it is unknown if there is a significant difference in post-war behavior in members of elite groups and members of minority groups and how such a difference contributes to the stability of an authoritarian regime. This study uses 19th and 20th century data from official Russian records to explain how military service impacted the behavior of minority groups towards the state after World War I. We use records of the Russian Imperial Army during World War I, the Red Guard during the Russian Civil War, and the 1897 Russian Census in analyses at the individual and community levels. We use the Imperial Army and the Red Guard datasets in a Bayesian Nonparametric Spatial Regression Discontinuity design at district borders to empircally identify the post-war behavior of World War I veterans. The 1897 Census dataset is used to establish district borders and other aspects of the Russian nation and state at the time. Early results suggest soldiers belonging to disenfranchised minority groups were more likely to oppose the Tsar and align with the Red Guard. Additionally, inhabitants of districts with high percentages of oppressed minority groups were more likely to align with the Red Guard. The overall results suggest military service among disenfranchised groups is crucial for engaging in significant resistance to oppressive regimes

Authors: Roya Talibova, Brendan Chen, Brendan Chen, Emma Allen
Research Method: Library/Archival/Internet Research

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