Revolutions and regimes of violence

Published: Jul 17, 2016
revolution theory violence state-building
Thomas Gallant

To study the phenomenon of revolution meaningfully in a cross-cultural context, scholars need frameworks of analysis that allow them to compare and contrast specific revolutions and to identify the factors that explain why certain sociopolitical systems are prone to rebellions and others are not. This article puts forth one such framework focusing on pre- and postrevolutionary violence. Revolution is a violent act and requires men and women who are ready, willing and able to perpetrate violence on behalf of a cause. The model proposes two ideal-type regimes of violence and suggests that some regimes are more violent-prone than others and that those regimes are also more susceptible to revolution. It suggests further that state-building after revolutions entails a process of reforming the regime of violence. The article ends by examining the case of Greece and the Ottoman empire over the long nineteenth century, showing how the models help us to better understand revolutionary and postrevolutionary regimes of violence. 

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Author Biography
Thomas Gallant, University of California, San Diego

Thomas Gallant holds the Nicholas Family Endowed Chair in Modern Greek History at the University of California, San Diego. He received his PhD in classical archaeology from the University of Cambridge in 1982. He has published five books and over 40 articles; among his most recent books are Modern Greece, Experiencing Dominion: Culture, Identity and Power in the British Mediterranean and The 1918 Anti-Greek Riot in Toronto. His last book was made into a prize-winning documentary film called Violent August. At press is Πολιτισμός, ταυτότητα και εξουσία στα Επτάνησα, 1817-1864: Βιώματα αποικιακής κυριαρχίας (Athens: Alexandria, 2012) and forthcoming are Murder on Black Mountain: Love and Death on a 19th-Cenury Greek Island and Greece’s Long Nineteenth Century. He is the editor-in-chief of the ten volume Edinburgh History of the Greeks. He has been the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, and is a past president of the Modern Greek Studies Association.


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