Rebels and the form of rule: lessons from empire

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What factors lead rebel governors to choose between forms of civilian control that are fleeting and disorderly, and other more ordered relationships that may or may not permit a level of local civilian autonomy? Put differently, how do rebels choose the form of rule? I contend that a richer understanding of this topic may benefit from a comparative analysis with the literature on empire. This may seem like an odd comparison. After all, in relation to rebel groups, empires are usually much bigger, more elaborate, and more enduring socio-political structures. Yet, there is a striking similarity that, to my knowledge, has not been explored systematically. Like empires, rebel groups have to determine their socio-political relationship with surrounding populations—to choose the form of rule. My wager is that the research on rebel governance will benefit from a comparative analysis and potential cross-fertilization. After analyzing both literatures, I outline a set of key explanatory categories involving push factors, pull factors, intergroup competition, and time. Using those categories, I develop a set of hypotheses for rebels and the form of rule that may be useful for further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Politics
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Contro
  • Empires
  • Rebel governance
  • Rule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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