This research seeks to extend the literature on the micro-dynamics of civil wars by focusing on a little-studied issue: the role of middle level commanders in unstable armed groups. How do they broker and shape the relationships of politico-military leaders and grassroots combatants? Our contention is that middle level commanders play a crucial role in shaping rebel groups’ profile and conduct even if they do not dictate the movement’s political agenda. This research will be conducted in Eastern Chad where armed groups have proliferated since the 1970s. Drawing on her past experience of fieldwork in this region, the fellow will carry out her research with a qualitative method. The analysis, which will provide a historically and socially grounded understanding of rebel hierarchy in Chad, seeks to open up a new set of questions on a conflict which has not received adequate attention. In addition to a contribution to the extant literature on armed conflicts, this research will deliver timely, policy-relevant findings at a crucial point when the European Union has deployed its biggest peace keeping mission in Chad. The fellowship is crucial to the project as it will allow the fellow to diversify her research profile by collaborating with internationally leading scholars at Berkeley; implement the acquired training in innovative research at the return host institution in France; and enhance her competitiveness in the male-dominated fields of African studies and conflict studies.
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