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Mobilizing Narratives: Comparing Afghan Hazaras in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Bangladeshis in Islamist Groups

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While recruitment of middle and upper-class Bangladeshis by Islamic jihadist terror groups and Iranian mobilization of Afghan Hazaras to fight in the Syrian civil war present two extremely different regional challenges, this study shows how these movements are linked in

While recruitment of middle and upper-class Bangladeshis by Islamic jihadist terror groups and Iranian mobilization of Afghan Hazaras to fight in the Syrian civil war present two extremely different regional challenges, this study shows how these movements are linked in the ways in which state and non-state actors deploy similar narrative strategies to mobilize support. I argue that narratives that capitalize upon the failure of upward social mobility and governance failures are highly useful for recruiting individuals to join either state or non-state organizations when appropriately and specifically linked to the particular historical, cultural, and political environment. I will demonstrate this by comparing and contrasting the use of recruitment narratives playing off of grievances for Iran's IRGC recruitment of poor Afghan Hazaras with low-levels of formal educational achievement and Islamist terrorist groups’ recruitment of middle- and upper-class Bangladeshis. The study argues that while the contexts and life experiences between IRGC Hazara and Bangladeshi terror group recruits are quite distinct, they are similarly motivated by narratives that emphasize the creation of a strong ideological and religious community based on alienation defined by a lack of desired and expected upward social mobility and profound failures of basic governance.

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2020-05

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An analysis of how narcocorridos portray the political sociology of the Mexican Drug cartels in Mexican society

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Since the collapse of the Medellin Cartel in Colombia in 1993, the Mexican drug cartels have been increasing in strength and international presence. Along with the organization's political and economic involvement, a deeply rooted culture has been developing. Three distinct

Since the collapse of the Medellin Cartel in Colombia in 1993, the Mexican drug cartels have been increasing in strength and international presence. Along with the organization's political and economic involvement, a deeply rooted culture has been developing. Three distinct time periods define this culture: pre-Medellin Cartel collapse (1970s-1993), post-Medellin Cartel Collapse (1993-2006) and post-President Calderon's Drug War announcement (2006-present day). More specifically, the history and fascination with the cartel is documented in songs, known as narcocorridos, which celebrate and support the drug cartels. The science of political sociology addresses the power relationship that exists between a state, its citizens, and the state's social groups. This study investigates the political sociology of each period, specifically how society viewed the cartel and their roles within the cartel. I argue that the narcocorridos accurately describe the evolution of narcoculture in Mexican society. This study consists of analyses of narcocorrido song lyrics, the political sociology of each time period, and finally, the societal perception of the drug cartel. First, I will evaluate the most popular songs' lyrics of the three defining time periods in the Mexican Drug Cartel history. Next, I will analyze the lyrics and determine whether or not they accurately reflect the political sociological features of the time period. Last, I will discuss what the societal perceptions of being associated with the cartel were during each time period. This study concludes by hypothesizing what the future of narcocorriodos will be. This prediction will demonstrate how the songs will continue to reflect the political sociology of the time period, including the societal attitudes towards the cartel.

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2016-05

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Between War and Peace: Why Some Congo Narratives Evolve and Others Remain Entrenched

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Despite regional peace agreements, billions of dollars in aid, and the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission in the world, conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo persists. This paper explores criticisms made by political scientist Séverine Autesserre, who

Despite regional peace agreements, billions of dollars in aid, and the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission in the world, conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo persists. This paper explores criticisms made by political scientist Séverine Autesserre, who argues that three simplistic narratives revolving around conflict minerals as a cause, sexual abuse against women and girls as an outcome, and rebuilding central state control as the solution dominate how international interveners view the Congolese conflict. Autesserre further posits that conflict continues because peacebuilding efforts fail to address local dynamics. Using monitoring and evaluation reports of peacebuilding projects in the eastern Congo, primarily from the U.S. Agency for International Development, this paper examines three questions: Do aid agencies have any local peacebuilding projects? If so, do these projects reinforce the dominant narratives? And lastly, do these projects view conflict as a continuum that must be managed through process-oriented objectives, or as a binary phenomenon requiring events-oriented objectives, such as elections? The analysis is based on 10 total reports gathered online, the majority of which are from USAID. Due to a lack of publicly available data and M&E reports on Congo peacebuilding, this collection does not represent a random sample and is not being used to make statistically significant conclusions. Nevertheless, the M&E reports provide a window into how the “rubber meets the road,” so to speak, in terms of how USAID and others view the role of their peacebuilding programs and how to assess programmatic success.

These reports reveal there are certainly some local peacebuilding programs and they do appear to view conflict as a continuum requiring process-oriented goals, such as creating local community mediation organizations. In terms of Autesserre’s three dominant narratives, the results are more mixed. This assortment of seemingly contradictory findings does not mean Autesserre’s arguments are invalid. The USAID Congo Country Strategy document unlocks this apparent contradiction as it explicitly acknowledges Autesserre’s criticisms and appears to move toward finding more nuanced approaches to the conflict. However, at times it still emphasizes the same dominant narratives and state-to-state level approaches. This paper, therefore, concludes that USAID, and potentially others, are in a state of transition between entrenched and evolving narratives. The discord in these evaluations highlights the internal crisis peacebuilders in the Congo are currently facing as they reassess their narratives. In keeping with the self-improving nature of M&E, hopefully these international interveners can move through their narrative transition in an efficient manner, so that they can remain a supportive peacebuilding partner to the Congolese people.

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2016-05