Food, state power, and rebellion: The case of maize

Why do rebellions occur and persist in some countries but not in others? Evidence shows that natural resources affect the fighting capacity of rebel groups, yet by focusing on lucrative resources that are rare in most rebellion-afflicted countries, such as oil and diamonds, scholars neglected one necessary input for rebellion: staple crops. Focusing on maize, the world’s most prevalent staple, this study argues that, as one of the most important resources for rebel groups, maize can have a destabilizing effect on the state’s ability to thwart rebellion. These claims are corroborated statistically on a new time-varying, high-resolution global dataset of staple crop productivity, and then qualitatively through analysis of archival records on the Mau Mau rebellion. In identifying an overlooked, global linkage between agricultural abundance, state capacity, and intrastate violence, this study explains strong geographical and temporal variations in rebellions at both the subnational and global levels.

Publication Date:
Sep 07 2018
Date Submitted:
Jul 10 2019
International Interactions

Note: The file is under embargo until: 2020-12-31

 Record created 2019-07-10, last modified 2019-07-11

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