East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

May 31, Eric Hundman, “Networks and Loyalties: The Social Roots of Military Disobedience in the Sino-French War”


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society presents


 “Networks and Loyalties: The Social Roots of Military Disobedience in the Sino-French War”

Eric Hundman

PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science

The University of Chicago

4:30-6:00p.m., Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.


Obedience to authority is often thought to be paramount in military organizations, but disobedience in various forms—including desertion, foot-dragging, rebellion, compromise, negotiation, surrender, mutiny, and outright insubordination—is common. This project explores such variation by explaining how commanders respond to their orders in war, with a focus on explaining when and why well-trained, ostensibly loyal commanders disobey their superiors. I first lay out a theory of how commanders judge their orders to be inappropriate, then show how the interaction between social network brokerage and loyalty determines their ultimate responses. I substantiate this theory using case studies of two Chinese commanders engaged in the Sino-French War (1883-1885): Xu Yanxu (徐延旭) and Bao Chao (鮑超). Both of these commanders judged their orders to be inappropriate, but one obeyed and the other disobeyed. Drawing on extensive primary-source data gathered from archives in China and Taiwan between 2012-2015, I leverage a variety of personal texts—including private correspondence, internal government documents, military communiqués, media reports, and official pronouncements—to show that these commanders judged their orders and assessed their loyalties as my theory predicts. In order to evaluate these commanders’ brokerage positions, I also constructed novel egocentric network databases that allow me to model changes in these commanders’ social networks over time. I therefore offer a new theory of military disobedience rooted in both structural and purposive mechanisms. Because this project develops new data from an understudied war that China fought in the late 19th century, it also contributes to debates on the strength of the Qing state, the development of China’s military, and China’s international relations.


Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Yan Xu (xuyan@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Xi Song, Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao


This presentation is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences and Center for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

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