Does state weakness increase support for ethnic violence? This study proposes individuals who feel insecure due to state weakness are more likely to support interethnic violence conditional on exposure to chauvinist messaging. Support for interethnic violence is evaluated through a survey experiment in Southern Kyrgyzstan. The results show random assignment of chauvinist nationalist rhetoric only induces support for interethnic violence among respondents who trust informal non-state actors from their ethnic group to provide them security. The findings suggest state weakness leads individuals to view their ethnic group as an alternative provider of security and that when primed by chauvinist rhetoric, these individuals become more supportive of violence on their group’s behalf. A case study of the 2010 riots in the Southern Kyrgyz city of Osh illustrates how underlying support for violence may escalate to actual violence as a result of state breakdown, examining events in the months after the Kyrgyz state lost authority following the April 2010 revolution. Jointly, the survey findings and case study illustrate pathways for violence in ethnically divided low-capacity environments and potential drawbacks from protest-oriented revolutions.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.