About the Speaker:
Rumela Sen is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the Department of Political Science, Columbia University. She is currently working on a manuscript on the process of retirement of rebels through informal exit networks. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University.
About the Lecture:
How do rebels quit armed groups and return to the same state they had once sought to overthrow? Much has been written on why men rebel, but we know very little about how rebels quit. Dr. Sen will show that rebels retire through informal exit networks that co-evolve with insurgent and state politics. The argument is based on 18 months of fieldwork in conflict zones in North and South India where the ongoing Maoist insurgency is dubbed "the biggest internal security threat the country ever faced." While retirement of Maoist rebels is exceptionally high in the South, it is very low in the North. Sen argues that neither ruthless policing, nor lucrative surrender and rehabilitation programs offer an adequate explanation of this subnational variation. Retirement is high in the South due to the emergence of the "harmonic exit network" that weaves together multiple stakeholders in an amalgam of roles and alliances that build momentum for exit and manage myriad uncertainties for reintegration. By contrast, retirement is low in the North due to the emergence of a discordant exit network that exacerbates fear and mistrust among key players, deterring retirement significantly.