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Civil War and Substate Conflict

10 hour course

Laia Balcells (Georgetown University)

June 25 – 29 (9.00  – 11.00 am)




In this class we will study the causes and consequences of substate armed conflict. We will attempt to understand the causes of civil wars, their dynamics and characteristics, and their consequences. We will start by defining civil war and discussing why should we study it as a distinct phenomenon from other forms of political violence and/or international war. We will explore micro and macro level approaches to the causes of civil wars, considering classical works in economics and political science, as well as some recent contributions in the field. We will consider the relationship between the international system and civil wars, bridging the literature on internal conflict with that of international relations. We will look at different types of civil wars, paying special attention to forms of warfare and to the relationship between ethnicity and conflict. We will then dig into civil war dynamics: tactics and repertoires of violence in conflict (including violence against civilians), characteristics of armed group organizations, the varying relationship between armed groups and the state, and rebel governance during wartime. Finally, we will explore the determinants of civil war duration and termination, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, the political and economic consequences of conflict, and the impact of transitional justice processes on postwar reconciliation.

Download the Reading List (pdf)