© 2017

How Socio-Cultural Codes Shaped Violent Mobilization and Pro-Insurgent Support in the Chechen Wars


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Emil Aslan Souleimanov, Huseyn Aliyev
    Pages 1-6
  3. Emil Aslan Souleimanov, Huseyn Aliyev
    Pages 7-29
  4. Emil Aslan Souleimanov, Huseyn Aliyev
    Pages 31-44
  5. Emil Aslan Souleimanov, Huseyn Aliyev
    Pages 45-56
  6. Emil Aslan Souleimanov, Huseyn Aliyev
    Pages 57-68
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 69-79

About this book


 This book argues that the existing scholarship on asymmetric conflict has so far failed to take into account the role of socio-cultural disparities among belligerents. In order to remedy this deficiency, this study conceptualizes socio-cultural asymmetry under the term of asymmetry of values. It proposes that socio-cultural values which are based upon the codes of retaliation, silence, and hospitality – values which are intrinsic to honor cultures, yet absent from modern institutionalized cultures – may significantly affect violent mobilization and pro-insurgent support in that they facilitate recruitment into and support for insurgent groups, while denying such support to incumbent forces. Utilizing Russia's counterinsurgency campaigns in the First and Second Chechnya Wars as an empirical case study, this study explains how asymmetry of values can have an effect on the dynamics of contemporary irregular wars.


Chechnya Violent mobilisation Insurgency Irregular war Honor cultures

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Security Studies, Institute of Political ScienceCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Center for Security StudiesMetropolitan University of PraguePragueCzech Republic

About the authors

Emil Aslan Souleimanov is Associate Professor of International Area Studies at Charles University, Czech Republic. His recent work focuses on the micro-dynamics of violence and political ethnography with emphasis on Russia’s North Caucasus.

Huseyn Aliyev is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Center for Security Studies of Metropolitan University Prague. His current research interests are civil wars and extra-state armed groups, as well as informal politics and institutions. 

Bibliographic information


“This pathbreaking study not only amplifies our understanding of Russia's ongoing wars in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, but also pioneers an important and heavily under-researched perspective on how socio-cultural codes shape violent mobilization and pro-insurgent support in insurgencies and counterinsurgencies fought in honorific societies. This should be a must read for anyone wishing to understand the socio-cultural foundations of insurgency and counterinsurgency in general and in Russia's North Caucasus in particular.” (Stephen Blank, Senior Fellow for Russia, American Foreign Policy Council) 

“Souleimanov and Aliyev’s book is the first of its kind to offer a micro-level analysis on the role of socio-cultural values in insurgencies. This detailed presentation of the socio-cultural codes of retaliation, silence, and hospitality in Chechen Wars is a must read not only for researchers in area studies, but also for anyone interested in armed conflict dynamics and the socio-cultural aspects of insurgencies.” (Julie Wilhelmsen, Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs)