Mary Isaac | Research Program

This paper seeks to answer the following question: What explains the variation in paramilitary group formation within an ethnic group? This question arises from the fact and observation of the nine competing Assyrian Paramilitary groups exist in Iraq that primarily serve to protect the Assyrian peoples and villages. To explore this question, I will engage in in-depth interviews with current paramilitary members of each existing Assyrian militia, their parents, and finally, if possible, their grandparents. By looking at how identity and violence have worked together across generations, I am hoping to understand whether the different lived experiences by family members result in the current variation amongst Assyrians, specifically on how they perceive their identity and who they perceive as the enemy. 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 those paramilitary members who have not personally experienced violence, but whose grandparents have been persecuted or attacked, will most likely identity the enemy as their family member’s aggressor, and this will influence their current identity. This project will further the intellectual merit on the legacies of ethnic conflict and political violence by contributing to literature on ethnic-group cohesion and disunity. I choose to look at the legacy of such violence on the current political behavior of this ethnic group because I believe that each paramilitary group has divided along the lines of who the greater perpetrator is, which has impeded on the group’s ability to thwart threats from ISIS and other current perpetrators.


Creative Commons Licence


Created date

November 15, 2019