Katerina Tertytchnaya co-hosts workshop on strategies of nonviolent repression

Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at DPIR Katerina Tertytchnaya has co-hosted a workshop at Brasenose College exploring the subject of nonviolent strategies of repression.

The one-day event was held in conjunction with Emily Hencken Ritter, Associate Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University last month, and united academics across the social sciences from Europe, the UK, and the US.

The study of repression has traditionally focused on violent strategies of repression, but a growing body of research examines how states use nonviolent means to control populations. The workshop brought together scholars working on a variety of topics across democratic and non-democratic settings to map out the conceptual territory of this developing research agenda.

The discussion aimed to define the concept of nonviolent repression and understand its relationship to violent repression, while probing the boundary between strategies of rights’ restriction and nonviolent repression. 

The workshop also explored who the agents enacting nonviolent repression are, and what incentivises them to repress; what the effects of nonviolent repression may be, both on the targets of repression and those who observe it; and how strategies of nonviolent repression can be effectively measured. 

Participants agreed that while strategies of violent and nonviolent repression can constrain citizens’ behaviour, nonviolent repression is often perceived differently to violent repression. 

Katerina, who leads an ESRC New Investigator project on Nonviolent Repression in electoral autocracies commented: 

“One of the key takeaways of the day was that to better understand nonviolent repression, it is imperative to conduct a large-scale, comparative study of regimes that are democratic and those that are not. Differentiating between democracies and authoritarian regimes prevents us from pointing out strategies of repression which are common across them and from finding out ways to combat them.”

“The workshop also challenged ideas about who carries out repression. Previous research has focused on the police or security services as the main agents of repression, but here the discussion included administrators, bureaucrats, and judges.”

The workshop ended by looking forward to the next stages in developing this research agenda. 

The workshop was generously backed by the Government Network, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Brasenose College, the UKRI Economic and Social Research Council and Vanderbilt University.