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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews scholarly theory and empirical results concerning the relationship between terrorism and government torture. It argues that terrorism and torture are forms of dissent and repression, respectively. Recognizing terrorism and torture as subsets of broader conceptualizations common in the literature on political violence provides insights into the conditions under which governments respond to opposition activity with violence (and vice versa) in the context of terrorism. Following a discussion of the literature on political violence, a summary is presented of the behavioral incentives—and disincentives—that government authorities face regarding the use of torture as a counterterrorism strategy. I also review literature about the mediating influence of domestic political institutions on the relationship between terrorism and torture, arguing that democracy does not always constrain—and sometimes incentivizes—government torture.

Keywords: torture, terrorism, institutions, dissent, repression

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