“Mary Isaac | Research Space”

This is a restricted group where I'll share my research materials with close collaborators.

How does violence shape identity and ethnic group cohesion? How has violence played a role in the division of the Assyrian people that has resulted in the formation of nine coexisting and competing paramilitary groups? There are nine Assyrian Paramilitary groups in Iraq that coexist and sometimes compete with one another simultaneously. This leads me to question the role of violence in shaping ethnic group division and cohesion. While existing literature identifies how violence supports group cohesion, the case of the multiple Assyrian militias in Iraq challenges these findings. Furthermore, existing literature on ethnic militias focuses more on their strength and cohesion in comparison to one another and less on reasons why competing groups come to fruition. Assyrians in Iraq are a strong case for this puzzle as there are nine militias representing the same ethnic group. Rather than compare the dynamics of paramilitary group formation and strength, this study will be looking at the impact of violence on the division amongst the Assyrian ethnic group by studying the several existing militias. By looking at whether violence has shaped identity and how identity has been transmitted across generations, I hope to determine whether the different encounters with violence and perpetrators results in the current political variation of Assyrians. I will engage in in-depth semi-elite interviews with current paramilitary members of each existing Assyrian militia, their parents, and grandparents. I expect that those who have had more recent experiences with violence are more likely to identify the enemy as the most recent aggressor. I also expect that paramilitary members who have not personally experienced violence, but whose parents or grandparents have been persecuted or attacked, will most likely identify the enemy as their family member’s aggressor, and this in turn, will influence their current identity.

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