16 November 2013 § 2 Comments
I’m currently working on a paper about when demobilization occurs after civil war without international intervention. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of rigorous political science literature (in English) on the reasons that some countries implement DDR after conflict and others don’t, or whether peacekeeping makes DDR more likely to succeed. At a more basic level, I also haven’t found a comprehensive list of DDR programs and their outcomes.
Nicholas Sambanis and Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl have a good overview of the conceptual problems with measuring demobilization, and there have been some interesting studies focusing on the individual-level effects of DDR, like Blattman & Annan in Liberia [PDF], Humphreys & Weinstein in Sierra Leone [PDF], Gilligan, Mvukiyehe & Samii in Burundi [PDF], and D’Aoust, Sterck & Verwimp in Burundi [PDF]. Any other recommendations addressing the issues above? Suggestions in English and French are welcome.
10 November 2013 § Leave a Comment
Just wanted to point out that I’ve been listing links to datasets on conflict and governance on the righthand sidebar of the blog’s home page. If you read the blog in an RSS reader or just click on links to specific posts, you may not have seen this. Right now it’s at 24 links and counting, ranging from large dataverses (Harvard, World Bank) to mid-size databases (AidData, PRIO Armed Conflict Data, Yale ISPS,) replication datasets for individual papers (Mapping Migration in the DRC, Non-State Actor Data).
If you’re a Stata user, you may also be interested in the -wbopendata- module, which allows you to download World Bank data directly from Stata.
31 October 2013 § Leave a Comment
The recent push by FARDC and the FIB to uproot M23 from some of their strongholds in North Kivu looks, as Jason Stearns put it, historic. African Defence Review has the single best article I’ve seen on how the FARDC has started getting its act together and the FIB has taken advantage of its component forces’ air power to take the fight to M23. Jason also points out that Rwanda has largely stayed out of the fighting, under diplomatic pressure from the US and UK. Digital Djeli has a good piece on how amnesty for M23 leaders is the “elephant in the room” at the Kampala negotiations; it will be interesting to see how the negotiations proceed now that the rebels’ military position is weaker.
30 October 2013 § 1 Comment
Danny Hirschel-Burns had a great post earlier this month on whether people are violent by nature over at The Widening Lens. He reviews a number of seminal works on this issue (Stanley Milgram, Christoper Browning, Dave Grossman and Randall Collins) and concludes that while most people are “inherently adverse” to killing others, violent coercion and social sanctioning can lead people to kill. Notably, he estimates that intergroup coercion is probably more effective in this regard than either authority or ideology.
This fits very well with Scott Straus’ findings about adult men’s participation in the Rwandan genocide. In his 2006 book The Order of Genocide, he interviews convicted genocidaires* about their actions, and found that the two most common reasons for killing others were “intra-Hutu coercion” and “wartime fear and combativeness” (p. 136). In his telling, the invasion of the Tutsi-led RPF rebels from Uganda in 1990 deeply unsettled ethnic relations, made violence less unthinkable in daily life, and made people more receptive to genocidal political propaganda. When the genocide began in 1994, however, ideology and fear alone were not enough to convince most men to kill. Genocidaires were provided with material incentives, like claiming the houses and cattle of their victims, but were also violently threatened by other Hutus if they didn’t participate.
*Straus notes that because his respondents had already been convicted, they should not have felt it necessary to downplay any anti-Tutsi ideology which motivated them, since they presumably couldn’t be punished again. I think this misses the possibility that prisoners who continued to be openly anti-Tutsi might be socially sanctioned in other ways within the prison system. However, in general I don’t think this detracts from the plausibility of his overall argument.
27 August 2013 § Leave a Comment
Jeannie Annan and Marie Gaarder have a recent paper out on using experimental and quasi-experimental methods to evaluate programs in countries which have experienced conflict (link, PDF). They review the methodological approaches of a number of recent post-conflict evaluations, and address the ethical implications of doing research in conflict zones. Their list of questions about the ethics and feasibility of such evaluations is very good:
(ii) Does the sample size factor in the potential for higher attrition due to potential security, issues, migration or ethical concerns? …
(v) Is there a security protocol or guidelines for evaluation staff? Does evaluation staff fall under any organizational protection for security?
(vi) Who carries the legal responsibility for the risks taken? Have the researchers partnered with an organization able to bear the risks? …(viii) Does the evaluation team have strong key informants who can provide thoughtful analysis about the security situation and the research implications at the design phase and throughout the evaluation?
Required reading for anyone who’s considering doing research in post-conflict countries.
18 July 2013 § Leave a Comment
When do ethnic cleavages increase the risk of conflict? Under what conditions is a strong common identity likely to emerge, thereby reducing that risk? How are patterns of social identification shaped by conflict? We draw on empirical results regarding the nature and determinants of group identification to develop a simple model that addresses these questions. The model highlights the possibility of vicious and virtuous cycles where conflict and identification patterns reinforce each other. It also shows how processes of ethnic identification amplify the importance of political institutions and traces the effects of national status and perceived differences across ethnic groups. Finally, we demonstrate how a small but sufficiently potent group of ethnic radicals can derail a peaceful equilibrium, leading to the polarization of the entire population. We reexamine several historical cases as well as empirical correlates of civil wars in light of these results.
Worth reading for the modeling of the salience of ethnic identification as an endogenous variable. In related news, I’m starting to work through a backlog of interesting materials accumulated during my busy last few months at work before starting my PhD studies this fall, so expect the pace of blogging to pick up again.
24 April 2013 § Leave a Comment
Along the lines of Adam Elkus’ shared reading lists, here’s what I’ve picked up recently, along with their Amazon summaries:
- Catherine Boone, Political Topographies of the African State. “Examines political regionalism in Africa and how it affects forms of government, and prospects for democracy and development. Boone’s study is set within the context of larger theories of political development in agrarian societies. It features a series of compelling case studies that focus on regions within Senegal, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire and ranges from 1930 to the present.”
- Danny Hoffman, The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia. “Considers how young men are made available for violent labor both on the battlefields and in the diamond mines, rubber plantations, and other unregulated industries of West Africa. Based on his ethnographic research with militia groups in Sierra Leone and Liberia during those countries’ recent civil wars, Hoffman traces the path of young fighters who moved from grassroots community-defense organizations in Sierra Leone during the mid-1990s into a large pool of mercenary labor. Hoffman argues that in contemporary West Africa, space, sociality, and life itself are organized around making young men available for all manner of dangerous work. Drawing on his ethnographic research over the past nine years, as well as the anthropology of violence, interdisciplinary security studies, and contemporary critical theory, he maintains that the mobilization of West African men exemplifies a global trend in the outsourcing of warfare and security operations. A similar dynamic underlies the political economy of violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and a growing number of postcolonial spaces.”
- Peter Little, Somalia: Economy Without State. “In the wake of the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, a “second” or “informal” economy based on trans-border trade and smuggling is thriving. While focusing primarily on pastoral and agricultural markets, Peter D. Little demonstrates that the Somalis are resilient and opportunistic and that they use their limited resources effectively. While it is true that many Somalis live in the shadow of brutal warlords and lack access to basic health care and education, Little focuses on those who have managed to carve out a productive means of making ends meet under difficult conditions and emphasizes the role of civic culture even when government no longer exists. Exploring questions such as, Does statelessness necessarily mean anarchy and disorder? Do money, international trade, and investment survive without a state? Do pastoralists care about development and social improvement? This book describes the complexity of the Somali situation in the light of international terrorism.”
- Richard Reid, Warfare in African History. “Examines the role of war in shaping the African state, society, and economy. Richard J. Reid helps students understand different patterns of military organization through Africa’s history; the evolution of weaponry, tactics, and strategy; and the increasing prevalence of warfare and militarism in African political and economic systems. He traces shifts in the culture and practice of war from the first millennium into the era of the external slave trades, and then into the nineteenth century, when a military revolution unfolded across much of Africa. The repercussions of that revolution, as well as the impact of colonial rule, continue to this day. The frequency of coups d’états and civil war in Africa’s recent past is interpreted in terms of the continent’s deeper past.”
- Thomas Risse (ed.), Governance Without a State? “For readers who think the world is steadily moving toward the Westphalian ideal of a universal system of sovereign states, this book will be a revelation. For readers who despair at the chronic problem of weak and failing states, this book contains intriguing ideas about alternative forms of stable governance.”
21 April 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’m only a few months behind the curve on this one – Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way had a very interesting article in December’s issue of Perspectives on Politics called “Beyond Patronage: Violent Struggle, Ruling Party Cohesion, and Authoritarian Durability” (earlier ungated version at SSRN).
This paper argues that institutionalized party patronage — the focus of recent studies by Barbara Geddes, Jason Brownlee, and Beatriz Magaloni — is an ineffective source of elite cohesion. Patronage may preserve elite unity during normal times, but it is often insufficient to ensure elite cooperation during crises. The most durable party-based regimes are those that are organized around non-material sources of cohesion, such as ideology, ethnicity, or bonds of solidarity rooted in a shared experience of violent struggle. In particular, parties whose origins lie in war, violent anti-colonial struggle, revolution, or counter-insurgency are more likely to survive economic crisis, leadership succession, and opposition challenges without suffering debilitating defections. To demonstrate this argument, we compare post Cold War regime trajectories in Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Pure patronage parties in Kenya (KANU) and Zambia (UNIP) that were not founded in violent struggle suffered severe defections and fell from power after the Cold War. By contrast, Frelimo in Mozambique and ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe, which were both the outgrowth of long and violent liberation struggles, remained highly cohesive and retained power in the face of powerful opposition challenges and significant economic downturn.
The RPF in Rwanda fits this narrative quite well, and in a 2006 article, Filip Reyntjens noted that the CNDD in Burundi also enjoyed some legitimacy among the Hutu majority because of its role in the civil war. I wonder if this has something to do with Joseph Kabila’s unusual longevity in power, as well. He doesn’t appear terribly interested in either governing or politicking, but he does seem to lean on his father’s legacy, perhaps getting a boost from any legitimacy he might have earned during the first war. When I was in Kinshasa in 2009 I remember noting that all of the political posters featured Kabila père rather than the current president. Would be curious to hear thoughts on this from people who are more familiar with the elder Kabila’s political legacy than I am.