Disobedience in China's Military: Networks, Identity, and Competing Loyalties
“China’s military remains enough of an enigma that even specialists have often assumed it to be a highly cohesive institution in which disobedience is vanishingly rare. However, this assumption runs contrary to both the historical record and to the PRC’s own public reporting on its military forces. This talk draws from Hundman’s book manuscript, Disobedience in China’s Military, which applies social network analysis to Chinese-language primary sources in order to theorize when individual Chinese military commanders choose to disobey inappropriate orders and how they choose to do so. It argues that decisions about how to respond to inappropriate orders are based on whether commanders have competing military loyalties and whether they serve as brokers between otherwise unconnected individuals in their social networks. Maintaining competing loyalties makes disobeying orders that come from one among many legitimate authorities seem more legitimate. Serving in brokerage roles increases commanders’ power to manage the consequences of disobedience. The project thus links micro-level decisions about disobedience to meso-level outcomes like battlefield effectiveness, interaction with civilians, and civil-military relations, as well as to larger questions of wartime political dynamics, rebellion, nationalism, human rights, authoritarian politics, and state power.”

“Eric Hundman is Assistant Professor of Political Science at NYU Shanghai, as well as an Associate in Research with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. Generally, his work focuses on international relations, Chinese and Taiwanese politics, social networks, military organizations, strategy, and decision-making processes. His research has appeared in outlets such as International Security, European Journal of International Relations, The Review of Policy Research, ChinaFile, SupChina, and Foreign Policy. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2016, and was a U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security Fellow at Dartmouth in the 2016-17 academic year.”

Faculty host: Franziska Keller (  
                        Jean Hong (  

Speaker(s) Prof Eric Hundman
NYU Shanghai
Date 8 Mar 2019 (Friday)
Time 12:00 - 1:30 pm
Venue Room 3301 (via lifts 17-18), Academic Building, HKUST
Prof Eric Hundman
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
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