Mirjam Edel / Maria Josua

How Authoritarian Rulers Seek to Legitimise Repression: Framing Mass Killings in Egypt and Uzbekistan

GIGA Working Paper, No. 299, March 2017

Abstract
How do authoritarian rulers legitimate repressive actions against their own citizens? Even in autocracies with limited accountability, discursive justifications are often put forward to decrease the costs of domestic repression. Although the research depicts state repression as the opposite of legitimation, justified coercion against some groups may generate legitimacy in the eyes of other parts of the population. This paper conceptualises the suggested links between legitimation and repression. It studies the justifications of mass killings by integrating framing theory with recent research on the domestic and international dimensions of authoritarian rule. Given the common threats at the global level and the diffusion of repressive tactics, we assume that discursive justifications of repression in authoritarian regimes change over time, probably due to learning processes. We compare Egypt and Uzbekistan to analyse the government rhetoric in the Rabi‘a and Ferghana Valley protest crackdowns, respectively, taking into account the audiences of the framing and the sources of the frames that justify repression.

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GIGA Authors

Dr. Maria Josua is a research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies and speaker of the research team "Authoritarian Politics." She was previously coordinator of the Leibniz Association-funded research network "International Diffusion and Cooperation of Authoritarian Regimes" (IDCAR) and since July 2019 has been leader of a DFG research project on the justification of state repression in Tunisia and Morocco. Her research focuses on authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa, and especially on legitimation and repression.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Maria Josua

Anti-Terror Legislation as a Tool of Repression in Arab States

GIGA Focus Middle East, 04/2019

André Bank / Maria Josua

More Stable Together: The International Dimensions of Authoritarian Rule

GIGA Focus Global, 02/2017

Maria Josua

Legitimation towards whom? Managing the legitimacy crisis in Algeria during the Arab Uprisings

Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, 11, 2017, 2, 301-324