Janet Lewis will discuss her new book, How Insurgency Begins: Rebel Group Formation in Uganda and Beyond.
How and why do rebel groups initially form? Why do only some nascent rebel groups become viable? Recent scholarship has attributed the emergence of armed rebellion to the explosion of pre-mobilized political or ethnic hostilities. However, How Insurgency Begins finds both uncertainty and secrecy shrouding the start of insurgency in rural, weak state contexts. It shows that rumors circulating where rebel groups form can influence civilians' perceptions of both rebels and the state, with important implications for which rebel groups succeed in becoming viable challengers to the state. By revealing the connections between villagers' trusted network structures and local ethnic demography, Lewis shows how ethnic networks can facilitate the spread of pro-rebel rumors. This in-depth analysis of conflicts in Uganda and neighboring states speaks to scholars and policymakers seeking to understand the actions of people who initiate armed rebellion, who witness the process in their community, and who try to stop it.
Janet I. Lewis is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at George Washington University. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis). Her book – How Insurgency Begins: Rebel Group Formation in Uganda and Beyond – was published with the Cambridge University Press Series on Comparative Politics in September 2020. Her articles have been honored with several major awards and have been published in American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, International Organization, and others. She is currently working on projects on rumor networks and intergroup prejudice, and on conflict in Africa. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Department of Government.