Revitalization Theory, Cultic Belief, and Militia Violence: The Case of the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia

Brad Whitsel, Pennsylvania State University - Fayette

This paper examines and applies Anthony F.G. Wallace's theory of social movement "revitalization" to the mobilization of some violent-prone militia groups. Although drawn from the field of cultural anthropology and normally applied to "nativist" movements in combat with the larger, environing society, Wallace's theory is underexamined and may shed light on the way that countercultural, anti-statist groups develop and construct their belief systems. The historical record of a one-time, high-profile militia organization (The West Virginia Mountaineer Militia) is used as a case study outlining aspects of Wallace's revitalization theory. The paper is based on field research and interviews with militia members.

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Updated 05/20/2006