Here’s a handful of interesting articles & books that have passed through my
huge pile of unsorted PDFs neatly tagged Evernote notebooks recently. I’ve included links to ungated versions when available; please let me know if you have access to a free version of any of the gated texts.
- Chris Blattman’s lecture notes on what American political scientists know about the connection between poverty and violence. A quick, thought-provoking slide deck.
- Adrian Detges on the spatial logic of pastoralist violence in northern Kenya (gated). Key point: “Conflict locations reveal more about the strategic choices made by armed groups in a given conflict situation than about the ultimate causes of their struggle” (p. 57)
- Maarten Bosker and Joppe de Ree on ethnicity and the spread of civil war (published version, ungated draft). They find that civil wars between ethnic groups are more likely to spill across national borders than other types of civil war, probably because ethnic groups themselves often cut across borders. This is similar to Lars-Erik Cederman et al.’s recent work on transborder ethnic kin and civil war. Another possible mechanism is highlighted by Sarah Kenyon Lischer’s work on the destabilizing effects of cross-border refugee camps.
- Clemence Pinaud on the making of a military aristocracy in South Sudan (gated). A very different analytical lens than is usually brought to bear on the country.
- Danielle Beswick on the paradoxes of military capacity building in Rwanda (published version appears to be available for free right now). Nothing new here if you’ve been watching Rwanda and M23 for a while, but the focus on the risks of a strong military is a useful addition to policy discussions of security sector reform.
- I haven’t read Severine Autesserre’s Peaceland yet, but it’s high on my list. Another article covering similar territory to Autesserre’s last book is Jens Stilhoff Sörensen’s piece on the failure of statebuilding. Key quote: “In its aim to secure, I argue, contemporary state-building and global liberal governance contribute to social and spatial fragmentation in different forms, rather than reconciliation and re-integration.They do so by dismantling previously existing frameworks and introducing market relations where the state has few instruments for attracting cross-sectarian loyalty” (p. 49).
- Michael Gilligan et al. on how conflict affects social cohesion at the community level in Nepal. Key point: “We find that violence-affected communities exhibit higher levels of prosocial motivation… We find evidence to support two social transformation mechanisms: (1) a purging mechanism by which less social persons disproportionately flee communities plagued by war and (2) a collective coping mechanism by which individuals who have few options to flee band together to cope with threats” (p. 604)
- Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl on how wartime trauma and intentional political distortion may affect retrospective survey research with armed groups.
- Kristine Eck on how jurisdictional overlap between “customary” and “modern” legal institutions can lead to large increases in conflict over land in west Africa (published version is ungated for the moment).