Legal identity and rebel governance
A comparative perspective on lived consequence of contested sovereignty
in Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship
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Legal identity in the context of civil war comprises a highly significant but vastly understudied field of inquiry with huge humanitarian significance. This chapter studies insurgent movements that confer legal identity, including forms of citizenship. It asserts that to capture the coercive, performative, and legal aspects of this phenomenon, we need diverse conceptual lenses. The chapter combines specific elements of political science, anthropology, and international law to answer two questions. First, what are the key similarities and differences in how insurgent groups instil legal identity? Second, and based on this comparative mapping, how can legal identity in relation to rebel governance be conceptualised? The newly opening field of research reviewed in this chapter is relevant to practitioners and academics alike. The issuance of legal identity documents by armed groups raises a broad range of empirical, conceptual, normative, and humanitarian questions about sovereignty, the foundation of law, state–society relationships, and the materiality of identity documents.


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