Book Project

Pathways to Self-Rule

Drawing on popular feelings of exclusion, discrimination, and real experiences with violence and repression, national self-determination movements pledge that the creation of a new state will better serve the community that they claim to represent. Yet, contemporary versions of these movements face a thorny challenge: they must form in a populated territory that is already controlled by an existing state. Using a mixed-method approach, this project develops a theory of self-rule and state-like capacity development among nationalist movements in such settings.

First, I argue that incumbent state’s goals in a contested region will shape the amount of self-rule a competing nationalist movement is able to achieve. I distinguish between those incumbent states which aim to incorporate the contested territory inclusive of the existing population and those which primarily seek annexation of the territory exclusive of its local residents. I propose that nationalist movements are more likely to gain a partial form of self-rule when facing exclusive, rather than inclusive, incumbent states. In my dissertation, I assessed this argument through a qualitative comparison of the West Bank in the Palestinian Territories and Timor-Leste, and through analysis of a sample of cases from the UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset.

The second part of the theory suggests that the legacies of partial self-rule can shape the nationalist movement’s ability to develop fiscal capacity — one of the core features of statehood. In the West Bank, I draw on elite interviews; geo-referenced data on variation in Palestinian coercive capacity; an original, panel dataset on municipal revenues; and local election data to demonstrate that the association between coercive capacity and fiscal capacity is not unconditionally positive, and greater Palestinian control over policing only translates into revenue growth in those areas where opposition to the ruling party, and arguably to the Palestinian Authority (PA) itself, is strongest. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of a wider set of cases of national movements practicing partial self-rule is ongoing. This analysis seeks to explain when and where state-like capacities will develop in complementary fashion at the subnational level.