Scholars generally agree that conflict reshapes social processes, institutions, and coalitions. Yet, the literature on post-conflict reconstruction has privileged the state, and typically focused on extraction, coercion, and power-sharing institutions. My dissertation brings non-state governance into the research on post-conflict state-building, theorizing and empirically measuring who governs at the local level in post-conflict arenas and through what strategies. Drawing on nine months of fieldwork from the North Caucasus, where I conducted interviews, collected local newspapers, and coordinated surveys, I trace how varied patterns of violence have shaped competition and collusion between state, religious, and customary authorities, altering which domains became the purview of state control and which remained governed by non-state authorities and local communities. I argue that governance results from the interaction between state agents, informal authorities, and ordinary civilians. While acknowledging the role of inherited institutions, my multimethod investigation shows how they were strategically transformed during the breakup of the Soviet Union, creating both unintended consequences and the basis for sub-national governance today. This provides more general insights into processes of rebuilding authority after the collapse of previously entrenched regimes, highlighting the asymmetric power that state elites have in an authoritarian regime while also locating the agency of religious, customary, and
business authorities as well as regular civilians.
Localized Order: Responses to State Collapse in the North Caucasus
Civilian Strategies Amidst Conflict: Patterns of Engagement in Post-Soviet Chechnya
Patterns of Violence: Disaggregating the Impact of Exposure to Violence
Fieldwork as Experience of Authority and State Capacity
Transnational Combatant Impact on Wartime Order