Disaggregating the Study of Civil Wars

Led by Kristian Skrede Gleditsch
Oct 2007 – Sep 2011
This project investigates the causes of civil war and prospects for settlement or recurrent violence. It moves beyond quantitative research that uses the nation state as the unit of analysis by focusing on characteristics of the specific actors (both rebel groups and regimes), on geographical variation, and the role of transnational linkages.
The project will explore civil wars in a geographical perspective and transnational context. Cross-country comparative statistical studies, as well as much of the case-study literature, focus on various state characteristics that influence the likelihood of civil war. However, the nation-state is both too large to serve as an appropriate unit of analysis of civil wars - which are often characterized by local processes and large geographical differences within states - and too small to adequately capture conflict development, since this frequently involves transnational constituencies and activities that cross national boundaries. This project will apply theories of conflict interactions at the micro-level, recognizing that civil-war violence rarely encompasses entire states and that the relevant local processes and relations between groups in some locales (e.g., ethnic minorities) can differ fundamentally from national-level dynamics. The three main research components are:
  • develop new data on non-state actors that better reflect the local conditions and interactions;
  • analyze the relationship of these characteristics to conflict, using geocoding and GIS resources; and;
  • use computational modeling to explore the micro-level processes and conditions that may give rise to civil war and peace at the macro-level.
The project is placed within an existing collaboration, Geographic Research on War (GROW-Network), which includes researchers at PRIO/CSCW and abroad.
This work is supported by a five-year, Outstanding Young Investigators (OYI)/"Yngre fremragende forskere" (YFF) award from the Research Council of Norway. The project leader, Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, is one of only 20 applicants who succeeded in the highly competitive round for 2007 (185 proposals were submitted). The OYI scheme is designed to enable talented young researchers within all disciplines to realise their potential for international excellence in research and develop competence leading large projects. The scheme is part of the RCN's effort to enhance the quality of Norwegian research.


Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Holtermann, Helge (2012) Explaining the Development–Civil War Relationship, Conflict Management and Peace Science 29(1): 56–78.
Simkus, Albert; Ola Listhaug; Karin Dyrstad; Halvard Buhaug & Kristen Ringdal (2011) Microfoundations of Civil Conflict Reconciliation: Ethnicity and Context, International Interactions 37(4): 363–387.
Tollefsen, Andreas Forø; Gudrun Østby; Halvard Buhaug; Kristian Skrede Gleditsch & Helge Holtermann (2011) It’s the Local Economy, Stupid! Geographic Wealth Dispersion and Conflict Outbreak Location, Journal of Conflict Resolution 55(5): 814–840.
Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede & Nils Weidmann (2010) Mapping and Measuring Country Shapes: The cshapes Package, R Journal 2(1): 18–24.
Ruggeri, Andrea & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (2010) Political Opportunity Structures, Democracy, and Civil War, Journal of Peace Research 47(3): 299–310.
Buhaug, Halvard (2010) Dude, Where's My Conflict? LSG, Relative Strength, and the Location of Civil War, Conflict Management and Peace Science 27(2): 107–128.
Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede (2010) On Ignoring Missing Data and the Robustness of Trade and Conflict Results: A Reply to Barbieri, Keshk, and Pollins, Conflict Management and Peace Science 27(2): 153–157.
Heger, Lindsay; Aaron Clauset; Kristian Skrede Gleditsch & Maxwell Young (2010) The Strategic Calculus of Terrorism: Substitution and Competition in the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Cooperation and Conflict 45(1): 6–33.
Cunningham, David (2010) Blocking Resolution: How External States can Prolong Civil Wars, Journal of Peace Research 47(2): 115–127.
Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede; Doreen Kuse & Nils Weidmann (2010) The Geography of the International System: The CShapes Dataset, International Interactions 36(1): 86–106.
Jensen, Peter Sandholt & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (2009) Rain, Growth and Civil War: The Importance of Location, Defence and Peace Economics 20(5): 359–372.

Book Chapter

Beaulieu, Emily A. & Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham (2011) Dissent, Repression, and Inconsistency, in Erica Chenoweth, ed., Paths to Violence. Boston, MA: MIT Press (173–196).
Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede (2011) Entries on “Civil War” and “Data, Spatial”, in International Encyclopedia of Political Science. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede & Kyle Beardsley (2010) Core Issues in International Data Collection, in International Studies Encyclopedia, Volume on Scientific Study of International Processes. New York: .

Conference Paper

Holtermann, Helge (2011) Exploiting State Weakness: Insurgent Mobilization ‘On the Cheap’ in NepalMontreal, Canada, 16 March.
Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede; Halvard Buhaug & Lars-Erik Cederman (2011) Square Pegs in Round Holes: Inequalities, Grievances, and Civil WarSeattle, WA, 1–4 September.
Buhaug, Halvard; Helge Holtermann & Ole Magnus Theisen (2010) Drought, Political Exclusion, and Civil WarNew Orleans, LA, 17–20 February.
Bakke, Kristin M.; Lee Seymour & Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham (2010) Shirts Today, Skins Tomorrow: The Effects of Fragmentation on Conflict Processes in Self-Determination DisputesNew Orleans, LA, 18 February.
Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede; Lars-Erik Cederman & Halvard Buhaug (2010) Square Pegs in Round Holes: Grievances, Inequalities, and Civil WarFort Worth, TX, 22–23 October.
Buhaug, Halvard; Helge Holtermann; Gudrun Østby & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (2009) Poverty, Inequality, and Conflict: Using Within-Country Variation to Evaluate Competing Hypotheses, presented at 50th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, New York, NY, 15–18 February.
Cunningham, David & Douglas Lemke (2009) Distinctions Without Differences?: Comparing Civil and Interstate Wars, presented at American Political Science Association, Toronto, Ontario, 5 September.
Cunningham, David; Kristian Skrede Gleditsch & Idean Salehyan (2009) The Enemy of My Enemy Deserves My Support: Transnational Support for Insurgent Groups, presented at American Political Science Association, Toronto, Ontario, 4 September.
Rød, Jan Ketil & Halvard Buhaug (2008) Civil Wars: Prospects and Problems with the Use of Local Indicators, presented at 49th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, San Francisco, CA, 26–29 March.
Østby, Gudrun; Helge Holtermann; Kristian Skrede Gleditsch & Halvard Buhaug (2008) Poverty, Inequality, and Conflict: Using Within-Country Variation to Evaluate Competing HypothesesClaremont, CA, 24 October.
Holtermann, Helge (2008) Poverty and Civil War. An Assessment of Four Prominent Explanations of the Relationship Between Per Capita Income and Civil WarAmsterdam, Netherlands, 2 July.

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