The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Comparative Speaker Series- Johanna Birnir (Univ of Maryland)

The Challengers Winning Coalition

Mon, October 21, 2019 | BAT 5.108

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Comparative Speaker Series- Johanna Birnir (Univ of Maryland)

Abstract: Indonesia's recent history is replete with both ethnic and religious conflict (Bertrand 2008, Schule 2017, Harsono 2019).  However, in 2019 Indonesia's voters - close to 200 million of them - peacefully chose between roughly 245,000 candidates running for more than 20,000 national and local legislative seats across the country. (BBC 2019).  Even so the elections were marked by increasing mobilization of identity, especially religion.  This project asks what determines which identity cleavage – ethnicity or religion - is mobilized in political contestation, be it peaceful or violent?  The literatures on the Minimum Winning Coalition (MWC) and cross-cutting cleavages respectively posit that identity groups will form the smallest possible winning coalitions and that political contestation increases when cleavages are segmented.  Building on these insights, we argue that members of large identity groups that are left out of, or under-represented through, identity based MWC’s will seek to redefine the axes of identity competition in a mobilization of a potentially oversized Challenger Winning Coalitions (CWC) of a shared identity that affords them access.  We test our conjecture cross-nationally on civil war outcomes and explore the mechanisms of our argument in the electoral setting across administrative levels in Indonesia.

Bio: Jóhanna Kristín Birnir is a Professor in the department of Government and Politics and the director of the All Minorities at Risk project (AMAR).  Jóhanna studies the effect of identity (ethnicity, religion, gender) on contentious political outcomes (elections and violence), and has done extensive fieldwork in the Andes and in South-East Europe.  Jóhanna´s  first book "Ethnic Electoral Politics" (Cambridge University Press) examines the relationship between political access and minority strategic choice of peaceful electoral participation, protest or violence against the state.  Her current book project (under contract with Cambridge University Press and supported by the Global Religion Research Initiative - University of Notre Dame) examines the relationship between identity (ethnicity and religion) and minority peaceful and violent political mobilization.  Jóhanna´s articles on identity and politics are published in numerous academic journals including the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Party Politics, Latin American Research Review , and Journal of Global Security Studies.  Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. 

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