Abstract: Few civil conflict studies explore the role played by subnational level governments, especially the impact of providing public goods. In this paper, I argue that local governments can mitigate the risk of ethnic conflicts by increasing the provision of public goods. I explore this argument in the context of ongoing ethnic conflicts in Xinjiang, China. With a new dataset of 105 ethnic conflicts in Xinjiang between 1997 and 2005, this study finds that those counties with more government spending on education were significantly less likely to experience conflicts. The results are robust to a wide range of robustness checks.
Abstract: In this paper we examine the long term historical legacy of interstate violence at the local level. Following the argument that individuals are sensitive to the cost of war, the conventional expectation is that individuals from communities that have experienced a high number of military casualties are less likely to approve the use of violence. We extend this logic to examine the effects of violence in the formation of political values, in particular examining the general disposition of individuals towards the use of force in international conflict. We also theorize how local context will alter the way the experience of violence will translate into particular dispositions. Specifically, we argue that the ‘culture of honour’ that characterizes the U.S. South is likely to decrease cost sensitivity to military loss and increase demands for retribution. To test this relationship, we survey 985 U.S. respondents sampled from Amazon Mechanical Turk. Results indicate the importance of both experiencing military casualties and the cultural context of that experience. Respondents socialized in the U.S. South score higher on a latent hawkishness scale relative to those from the non-South contingent on the number of post World War II military casualties from their home counties.
Abstract: Elites within a particular minority out-group in autocracies exhibit fairly heterogeneous reactions to the ethnic group in power, which usually results in intra-group variations in the propensity to participate in ethnic conflict. Yet the conditions giving rise to these within-group differences are not well understood. In this paper, in contrast to existing studies that emphasize the role of electoral competition, domestic diversion, and political exclusion, I highlight the importance of cross-ethnic patronage. If minority elites in some localities receive more patronage, there is a lower likelihood of inter-ethnic violence in these places. Specifically, a strategic use of cross-ethnic patronage mitigates the risk of ethnic conflicts through two mechanisms. First, the sharing of government spoils at stakes gives minority elites disincentives to initiate anti-regime mobilizations. In addition, this co-optation approach strengthens social control with the help of more cooperative minority elites. I explore this argument by using original county-level fiscal and personnel data of China's Xinjiang region, including annual payrolls and the ethnic composition of over 220,000 local bureaucrats. Based on a dataset of ethnic conflicts in Xinjiang from 1980 to 1995, this study finds that counties with more cross-ethnic patronage spending were less likely to experience conflicts.
Abstract: This paper lays out three stylized facts about Xinjiang's ethnic conflicts between the 1980s and the early 2000s. First, in contrast to the general pattern found in other cases, Uyghur dissidents were more likely to come from lower social classes. Second, a majority of political challengers tended to use terrorist attacks as their repertoire of contention. Third, Uyghur secessionist movements were inclined to use Islamic rhetoric to frame their claims. I argue that the extant literature provides insufficient answers for these revealed patterns. Instead, a state-centered theory, which highlights both state capacity and ruling strategy, offers a better explanation.