Accueil > Insurgencies: Guerilla Warfare Strategies from 1808 to the Present (Lecture)

KINT 5130 - Cultures of War

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

What keeps soldiers together when they fight? Is masculinity a concept intrinsic to military organizations? What constitutes India's strategic cultures? Does culture matter for victory in war? What made German soldiers effective at the beginning of World War II? Why do NGOs and the military often not cooperate in today's complex humanitarian emergencies? Culture has been shown to be an important determinant of these events and to do a better job than traditional realist theories. This course is about cultures in operations as well as cultures shaping defense and security policies. First, it provides an introduction to the core functioning principles of military organizations, exploring concepts like cohesion and masculinity. Second, it focuses on military cultures in conventional wars as well as contemporary peacekeeping operations and counterinsurgencies. Third, it looks at the level of politics: assessing political and strategic cultures. The course will discuss different theories and approaches on the role of ideas in security studies and military sociology. Through in-depth empirical examples from contemporary operations (such as Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq) explain when it matters and when it does not.


RUFFA, Chiara (Assistant Professor)

Pedagogical format

50% of each seminar will consist of teacher's lectures on core concepts and empirical examples. 50% of each seminar will be open for discussions and to develop the analytical and critical skills of the students.

Course validation

Grading will be composed of three parts:
- A research paper (max 6,000 words) to be submitted by April 26. An outline and short abstract of the paper needs to be submitted by April 10. Further detail on this assignment will be given on the first day of class. This assignment is worth 50% of the grade.
- One written assignment (max 500 words) shall be handed in before each session via email. The assignment consists in answering two questions related to the related readings. Further detail on the format will be given on the first day of class. This assignment is worth 40% of the grade.
- Participation in class (worth 10%): you are expected to be able to comment on the oral presentation and to think on how it related to the reading


This course has three core learning objectives:
- introduce the students to the ongoing debate on culture, cohesion and civil-military relations
- improve students' conceptual and analytical skills on assessing and evaluating arguments in the field of security Studies and (but to a lesser extent) in military sociology;
- train students to tie empirical examples with theories and help them understand problems and opportunities in using ideational factors to explain current events related to war and peace.
- Train students to actively engage in public discussion and essay writing

Required reading

  • Michael C. Desch, “Culture Clash: Assessing the Importance of Ideas in Security Studies”, International Security , vol. 23, No.1, (Summer 1998), pp.141-70
  • John S. Duffield, Theo Farrell, Richard Price, Michael C. Desch, “Correspondence: Isms and Schisms: Culturalism versus Realism in Security Studies”, International Security, Vol. 24, No.1 (Summer 1999), pp.156-180
  • Alastair I. Johnston, “Thinking About Strategic Culture”, International Security, vol. 19, No. 4 (Spring 1995), pp.32-64