Francesca Grandi

Doctoral Candidate Graduate Career Services Fellow, Political ScienceYale University

Award Information

2011 IDRF Program

Political ScienceYale University

Civilian Violence in Post-Conflict Environments: The Role of Politics

In Italy WWII ended in April 1945 but the violence did not. The literature does not consider post-conflict violence a puzzle, but rather a constitutive feature of societies emerging from war. Yet, the simple observation that killings in postwar Italy did not occur uniformly problematizes this perspective. Why were some areas distinctively more violent than others? Under what conditions did the violence subsume or resume over time? Existing accounts do not provide compelling answers to these questions and fail to look at the violence within a larger political context. By dismissing it as unproblematic the literature implicitly postulates that postwar violence follows the same logic that drives wartime violence. Yet, the dynamics that drove the killings in postwar Italy call for bringing post-conflict politics back in. The Italian case is particularly useful also because it presents patterns similar to those that we find today in countries emerging from war: the presence of a military occupier, a domestic government constrained by both economic disruption and allegiance to a much more powerful international ally, and the re-ordering of the political systems. A better understanding of post-conflict violence can further our chances of limiting it. Within this overarching motive, the present research has three specific aims. The first is to analyze patterns of post-conflict violence in post-WWII Italy. The second is to understand how violence intertwines with democratic consolidation in societies emerging from war. The third is to draw generalizable conclusions about the interaction between violence, democratic consolidation and statebuilding from the Italian case to other contexts, such as Iraq for example. In post-conflict settings killings after the official end of hostilities follow a specific political logic and have goals different from those during wartime. Actors use violence to carve a space for themselves in the nascent democratically competitive environment.