Walter, Steven Roger Andrew
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Repression is a vitally important topic in International Relations. It affects countless people every day, oftentimes in horrific and violent ways. Yet despite this, the academic approach to its study is woefully lacking. We focus on a narrow definition of the concept that is but a shade of what everyday citizens know to be repression. We make assumptions about what fuels it and what stops it based on a limited quantification. We fail to see it for what it is: just one tool in a toolbox that is at the disposal of state leadership. We must reexamine the concept starting at the core definition. By expanding our definition of the idea of repression, we can gain a better understanding of what it means to repress: when it happens, why it happens, where it happens, and most importantly, how it can be stopped. My project will begin with a full re-conceptualization of the term, moving then to acknowledge the many previously unconsidered factors which help to determine a given state's decision-making process. The next section will discuss an additional factor: timing. Repression can have different effects depending on when it is applied, and this is exemplified by examining it in the context of civil war duration. The third substantive section will consider the counter-intuitive observation that sometimes what citizens are demanding is essentially repression. All three sections emphasize the importance of looking at repression in novel ways, and make it clear that there are very real consequences if we continue to ignore the full spectrum of state behavior.