A guest lecture by Raúl Sánchez de la Sierra - University of Chicago.
Abstract: We analyze the militias of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, their labor market, and their connections to society, by combining a wide range of historical data for 6,809 individuals with data of 707 episodes of armed group village governance, constructed through historical in-depth research in 239 villages. We find that the behavior of militias, who recruit 94% of rural armed group labor, perpetrate 36% of violent events, represent half of village control episodes and offer little material rewards, is inconsistent with prevailing economic explanations. Instead, militias channel revenge and community protection motivations, and the voluntary cooperation of village institutions is central for recruitment. A major driver in their success are motivations created by past foreign-led armed groups' violent attacks. We find that one such attack causes a motivation opportunity cost equal to 8 times the yearly p.c. income. The militias are best described as violent social organizations, whose success is fueled not so much by incentives for crime as by huge demand for revenge and community protection, and resembling, in some cases, widely successful violent social movements.
Held on Zoom: https://mcgill.zoom.us/j/83111058124