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Zones of Rebellion: Kurdish Insurgents and the Turkish State (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015).

The Kurdish insurgency in Turkey is one of the longest-running civil wars in the Middle East. In Zones of Rebellion, Aydin and Emrence present the first empirical analysis of Kurdish insurgency, relying on original data.  The book also integrates Turkish-Ottoman history with social science theory to unveil the long-term policies that inform the distribution of violence in the Kurdish conflict. The authors show the astonishing similarity in combatants’ practices over time and their resulting inability to consolidate Kurdish people and territory around their respective political agendas.   

Zones of Rebellion has been reviewed in Perspectives on Politics, Journal of Politics, Military Review, Nationalities Papers, International Affairs, H-Net Reviews, Choice, and Hürriyet Daily News.      


Killing the Movement: How Islam Became a Rival of Ethnic Movement in Turkey, 1991-2002”, Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change 41(2017): 33-67.

Reactive groups adopt a variety of repertoires ranging from institutional resistance to violence to counter mobilizing efforts of movements. Countermovement studies provide useful insights into how violence by non-state actors can constrain social movements’ success. Few studies however considered the possibility that violence may, on the contrary, facilitate the outcomes sought by the movement. Under what conditions do political killings of movement members affect support for the movement? To answer this question, we follow the evolution of the Kurdish ethnic movement in Turkey as a movement party and track changes in the movement’s constituency in response to countermovement violence (1991-2002). The study uses an original dataset of countermovement killings by the ethnic movement’s Islamist rival, Hizbullah across 113 districts in thirteen southeastern provinces. We demonstrate that countermovement violence has non-uniform effects on electoral support for the movement party. These effects are conditional on initial movement strength: in localities with prior loyalties to the ethnic movement, Hizbullah-inflicted harm consolidates the movement party’s constituency. By contrast, countermovement violence is met with reduced support where the movement is weak and is struggling to make inroads to the community. Our findings suggest that initial preferences might play important roles in understanding movement outcomes.

 “The Political Consequences of Emergency Zones: Evidence from Turkey” (Under Review).

Are emergency zones effective counterinsurgency measures? In response to the Kurdish rebellion, the Turkish state put thirteen provinces under emergency rule (1987-2002). In this paper, we investigate the link between emergency rule and electoral support for the pro-insurgent party. First, using matching methods, we show that provinces put under emergency rule were more likely to vote for the pro-insurgent party. Second, using sub-province data, we investigate which counterinsurgency practices worked as a mechanism to connect emergency rule to pro-insurgent vote. We find that detentions targeting civilians systematically shifted electoral preferences toward the pro-insurgent party. These results show that indiscriminate violence comes with unintended consequences for the counterinsurgent.

What Explains Violent Events: Grievance, Opportunity and Signaling (Draft).”

This paper offers a unified framework for understanding violent events. It argues that grievance, opportunity, and signaling (GOS) are integral components of a successful violent event. Violent events are likely to succeed if (a) there is a group of aggrieved individuals who support the event at several capacities; (b) organizers operate with relative ease in harming the targets; and (c) the event presents a good investment for the future by imposing political conformity on civilians and projecting organizers’ power. We test our argument with evidence from the Turkish civil war. We focus on PKK attacks in the countryside against civilian targets and property. We limit analysis to the 1984-1990 period when the PKK mainly committed violence against these targets in rural areas. The data are collected at the village level, the lowest administrative unit in Turkey, and have an extensive coverage, including roughly five thousand units. Our findings show that grievance/greed and opportunity/threat are not necessarily competing explanations. Violent events occur when there is a group of people who become aware of their disadvantaged position and support insurgents who then utilize their comparative advantage vis-à-vis their opponent to succeed. Second, the signaling aspect of violent events shows that civil wars have a strong intra-community dimension. Insurgents turn their attention first and foremost to in-group members, punishing them as an example to co-ethnics to ensure group conformity.