Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Clayton Thyne

Second Advisor

Dr. Emily Beaulieu


What conditions give rise to and nurture ethno-nationalist terrorist movements in India? Specifically, can geography create grievances and be beneficial in a terrorist campaign? I investigate how geography prevented historical development in certain locations in India. I theorize that rugged geographic features prevented economic, social, and political development. Underdevelopment and isolation created grievances in the population. Aggrieved groups then utilized the same geographic features that prevented development to launch effective terrorist campaigns. I conduct a district level analysis of terrorism in India using statistical and GIS analysis. I supplement the analysis with case studies from the Indian states of Uttarkhand, Tamil Nadu, and Assam. I also include a case study from Nigeria to demonstrate the applicability of my theory outside of Asia. I find that geographic features, specifically forested terrain, and proximity to international borders impeded development and increased the likelihood of terrorism.