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Divided ArmiesInequality and Battlefield Performance in Modern War$
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Jason Lyall

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691192444

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691192444.001.0001

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The Rise and Fall of the Mahdi State

The Rise and Fall of the Mahdi State

A Natural Experiment

Chapter:
(p.90) 3 The Rise and Fall of the Mahdi State
Source:
Divided Armies
Author(s):

Jason Lyall

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691192444.003.0003

This chapter provides a theory-building study of the rise and subsequent fall of the Mahdiya during the First (1881–1885) and Second (1896–1899) Mahdi wars against Anglo-Egyptian forces. It also illustrates the effects of a sudden and unexpected shift from low to extreme military inequality while also building out the matched template used to structure paired comparisons in subsequent chapters. The Mahdi constructed an egalitarian and inclusive notion of the collective Mahdist community that translated into low military inequality. The Khalifa, by contrast, radically reshaped the Mahdiya's social contract, choosing to rule atop an exclusionary ethnocracy that favored his own Baggara tribe and, even more narrowly, his own Ta'isha clan. Military inequality was correspondingly extremely high; many tribes and ethnic groups were subjected to coercion, forced displacement, deliberate starvation, and near-genocidal levels of violence that severed the connection between the regime and its soldiers.

Keywords:   Mahdiya, Mahdi wars, First Mahdi War, Second Mahdi War, military inequality, Mahdist community, ethnocracy

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