Book manuscript: Social Order in Civil War
War zones are usually portrayed as chaotic and anarchic. In irregular civil wars, however, they are often ordered. Furthermore, different forms of order often coexist in areas controlled by the same non-state armed group, where the behavior of both civilians and combatants vary substantially. What explains this variation?
This book manuscript develops a theory of the creation of order in war zones by theorizing the behavior of non-state armed groups, the responses of local populations, and the effect of their interaction on wartime institutions. My central argument is that disorder emerges when armed groups fight for control with other warring sides or face internal principal-agent problems; under these conditions, combatants have incentives to discount future outcomes heavily, making social contracts with local populations unlikely to work. When a social contract is established, armed groups may intervene minimally or broadly in civilian affairs; their choice, I argue, depends on the likelihood of organized civilian resistance, which is, in turn, a function of the quality of pre-existing local institutions.
I test the theory with original data on the armed conflict in Colombia. Using original data on local communities gathered with surveys and interviews, I find that armed groups' behavior vary not only across organizations as usually assumed, but also within them: both guerrillas and paramilitaries treat local communities quite differently depending on contextual as well as structural factors. As for civilians, they adapt to the changing dynamics of war in different ways depending on the institutional context. Using an original survey with civilians and ex-combatants, I find that recruitment is most likely in communities ruled by armed groups. Using quantitative and qualitative data, I also find that resistance usually emerges against armed groups' ruling attempts in communities with legitimate and effective institutions. These findings are supported by an in-depth study of a quasi-natural experiment in three neighboring communities.By invalidating common assumptions about rebel and civilian behavior in the midst of war, and about the evolution of institutions in war zones, the project has implications on our study of several wartime and post-conflict dynamics. It also has implications on the timeless question about how aspiring rulers come to power.
"One National War, Multiple Local Orders: An Inquiry into the Unit of Analysis of War and Post-war Interventions." In M. Bergsmo and P. Kalmanovitz (Eds), Law in Peace Negotiations. Oslo: Torkel Opsahl Academic Publisher.
"Local Orders in Warring Times: Armed Groups' and Civilians' Strategies in Civil War." Qualitative Methods: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research. Spring.
"Armed Groups, Communities, and Local Orders: An Inter-relational Approach." In Towards Rebuilding the Country: Development, Politics, and Territory in Regions Affected by the Armed Conflict. Edited by Fernan Gonzalez. Bogota, CINEP-ODECOFI.
War dynamics in Kosovo
With Stathis Kalyvas and Garentina Kraja (Yale University). This project studies the links between the origins of insurgent groups and their wartime behavior. It also looks at long-term reintegration of ex-combatants. We are currently collecting data on the Kosovo Liberation Army. This project has been funded by the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Sweden (2009-2011).
Civilian Agency in civil war
This project investigates the effects of variation in social order on civilians' choice vis-a-vis insurgent, counterinsurgent, and drug-trafficking groups. The theoretical framework was developed in 2006 and fieldwork is still ungoing, funded by SSRC's Drugs, Security and Democracy grant (2012-2013).
Rebel governance in civil war
With Nelson Kasfir (Dartmouth) and Zachariah Mampilly (Vassar). We are co-editing a book on rebel governance, a new field in civil war studies that investigates why, and how, non-state armed groups create governing structures.
Non-state armed groups' governance and civilian agency
With scholars at Oxford, Sussex, and Yale. This project investigates the determinants of variation in non-state armed groups' governance and its effects on the wellbeing of individuals and households. We will collect data in Lebanon, Niger, South Africa, India, and Colombia. The project is funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grant for Development Research (2010-2013).
The microdynamics of civil war in the Colombian case
With Stathis Kalyvas (Yale University). We conducted a survey with former combatants of paramilitary and guerrilla groups in Colombia, as well as civilians. The project seeks to investigate recruitment, armed group behavior, and demobilization.
"Recruitment into Armed Groups in Colombia: A Survey of Demobilized Fighters." In Yvan Guichaoua (ed.), Mobilizing for Violence: Armed Groups and Their Combatants. Palgrave-Macmillan, forthcoming (with Stathis Kalyvas)
"A Micro-level Approach to the Armed Conflict in Colombia: Results of a Survey with Demobilized Fighters of Guerrilla and Paramilitary Groups." In Freddy Cante (Ed.), Argumentation, Negotiation, and Agreements. Bogotá: El Rosario University. With Stathis Kalyvas. 2008.