The Politics of Anticolonial Resistance: Violence, Nonviolence, and the Erosion of the British Empire

36 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2020

Date Written: August 19, 2020

Abstract

This paper studies conflict in a hierarchical international system, the British Empire. How did the British Empire respond to violent and nonviolent resistance within its colonies? I develop a theory explaining how and why the metropole becomes involved in and grants concessions to its colonies. In contrast to more recent work, I find that violence was more effective at coercing metropolitan concessions to the colonies in the British Empire than nonviolence. This theory is supported with a wide range of data, including yearly measures of anticolonial resistance, every colonial concession made by the British Empire after 1918, daily measures of metropolitan discussions of colonial issues from cabinet archives, and web-scraped casualty data from British death records. My findings show that the effectiveness of resistance is conditional on the political structure that it is embedded in and that hierarchy matters for understanding state responses to resistance.

Keywords: empires, conflict, decolonization, hierarchy, violence, nonviolence, suffrage

Suggested Citation

McAlexander, Richard, The Politics of Anticolonial Resistance: Violence, Nonviolence, and the Erosion of the British Empire (August 19, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3677290 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3677290

Richard McAlexander (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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