Alex Waterman

The Shadow of ‘the Boys:’ Rebel Governance without Territorial Control in Assam’s ULFA Insurgency

Small Wars and Insurgencies | 2022

  • Abstract

    This article leverages data from an oft-overlooked case of rebel governance – India’s United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) – to demonstrate the importance of de-centring territorial control as a prerequisite for rebel governance. ULFA neither controlled territory nor developed formalised bureaucratic institutions, yet its ‘parallel government’ held considerable sway over Assamese public life during 1985–1990, underpinned by its social embeddedness, influence upon media discourse and crucially its subversion of state structures, until its ability to limit state repression collapsed. The rise and fall of ULFA’s rebel governance illustrates the hybrid socio-political terrain upon which rebel governance is often laid.

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    Small Wars and Insurgencies

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