Organizing Insurgency: Networks, Resources, and Rebellion in South Asia International Security
Paul Staniland  |  2012

A central question in civil war research is how state sponsorship, overseas funding, involvement in illicit economics, and access to lootable resources affect the behavior and organization of insurgent groups. Existing research has not arrived at any consensus, as resource wealth is portrayed as a cause of both undisciplined predation and military resilience. A social-institutional theory explains why similar resource wealth can be associated with such different outcomes. The theory argues that the social networks on which insurgent groups are built create different types of organizations with differing abilities to control resource flows. There is no single effect of resource wealth: instead, social and organizational context determines how these groups use available resources. A detailed comparative study of armed groups in the insurgency in Kashmir supports this argument. A number of indigenous Kashmiri insurgent organizations received substantial funding, training, and support from Pakistan from 1988 to 2003, but they varied in their discipline and internal control. Preexisting networks determined how armed organizations were built and how material resources were used. Evidence from other South Asian wars shows that this is a broader pattern. Scholars of civil conflict should therefore explore the social and organizational processes of war in their research.