Stopping State Repression: An Inquiry Into Spells

Wednesday, October 21, 2020
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Virtual Seminar

  • Christian Davenport

* Please note all CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.

Seminar Recording:


About the Event: While research into why repression varies has thrived, essentially no effort has been made to examine stopping large-scale applications once underway. We put forward a new theoretical framework that conceptualizes repressive behavior as a rare/slow-changing process that is unlikely to terminate unless it is perturbed by a significant cost. As such, we maintain that repression is more likely ended by democratization than from diverse factors commonly espoused in the literature and policy community (e.g., military intervention, naming/shaming, international law and economic sanctions). Investigating a new database regarding 239 high-level repression spells for the period 1976-2007, we find that democratization is associated with spell-termination, while there is little systematic pacifying influence for other factors. Additionally, we find that non-violent movements for change largely drive democratization but that these movements have little direct impact on state repression themselves.

Draft Paper


About the Speaker: Christian Davenport is a Professor of Political Science and Faculty Associate at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo and Elected Fellow at the American Association for the Arts and Sciences. Primary research interests include political conflict, measurement, racism and popular culture. He is the author of seven books and author of numerous articles appearing in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science and the Annual Review of Political Science (among others). He is the recipient of numerous grants (e.g., 12 from the National Science Foundation) and awards.