The Nepali State and the Dynamics of the Maoist Insurgency

Steven Samford, Prakash Adhikari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In contrast to existing quantitative studies of the civil conflict in Nepal, we argue that combinations of motive and opportunity were crucial for the development of the Maoist insurgency and that these conditions stem largely from the nature of the Nepali state. The decade-long insurgency was characterized by two distinct dynamics. In the initiation period of the war (1996–2000), the insurgency was driven largely by newly enabled Maoist organizers capitalizing on the caste, ethnic, and economic divisions that had been codified over time by autocratic state-building efforts. In the more violent and geographically widespread maturation period of the war (2001–2006), the insurgency depended less on historical grievances than on the motivation of rebels and sympathizers by the often-indiscriminate violence perpetrated by the besieged Nepali state. We provide empirical evidence for this argument in a narrative section that contextualizes the Maoist insurgency as well as in a fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) of data for the 75 Nepali districts in the two periods of the insurgency. fsQCA allows for the assessment of how combinations of the largely state-generated motivations and opportunities affected the dynamics of the insurgency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-481
JournalStudies in Comparative International Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


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