In his vast body of social scientific work, Charles Tilly made two fundamental contributions to our understanding of the development of the modern state. First, rather than developing naturally out of collective life or as the result of constitution making, Tilly argued that states grew out of war and preparations for war. In a second part of his work, he saw state development intersecting with changes in contentious politics—at a minimum through the action of social movements within civil society, and at a maximum through revolution. The first part of Tilly's work is best known in political science, particularly in international relations and the study of the state, while the second is better known in sociology. However, Tilly never attempted to bring the two major strands of his work together. Bridging war, states, and contention is the goal of this essay, which begins “with Tilly,” proceeds to a critical reflection “contra Tilly,” and concludes by going “beyond Tilly” to attempt a Tillian analysis of the effects of America's post-9/11 wars on the American state and on contentious politics.

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