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Contemporary Conflict Group


The contemporary conflict group launched on January 21, 2011, as a student-run platform for discussing the problems of quantitative and qualitative research on contemporary conflict. The group has brought together students and faculty with an interdisciplinary background interested in and working on the issues of contemporary conflict, particularly, but not limited to, violent intra-state conflict.

The primary goal of the group is to advance the research of the participants by providing a platform for critical engagement with other students and faculty on the problems each participant is anticipating or has encountered in their work. Many of these problems overlap across the group. Faculty members who have addressed similar problems in their research are invited to participate in the discussions.

The second goal of the group is to provide a forum for building constructive relationships for collaborative work and publication among students and faculty. The group is at the same time broad and focused, for group membership to be open to all those interested in the problems of research on contemporary conflict and for participants to find collaborators with similar particular interests.

The overarching objective of the group is to facilitate participants in the development and sharing of ideas and building a pool of knowledge and a support network around the challenging research on contemporary conflict. 

Current Group Members: Shane Barter; Adam Bower; Brenda Fitzpatrick; Tal Nitsan; Stewart Prest; Aim Sinpeng; Anastasia Shesterinina; Carla Winston; Cameron Whitehead

Activities in the 2010/11 Academic Year
Weekly Meetings  Fridays, January 21 - April 29, 2011 -- 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Liu Institute, Seminar Room 121
Graduate Student Workshop

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Liu Institute, 3rd Floor Boardroom


Conflict Group Workshop on Research Methods
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Liu Institute, 3rd Floor Boardroom

10:00 - 12:00: Quantitative Approaches, Macartan Humphreys
12:00 - 1:00: Lunch
1:00 - 3:00: Qualitative Approaches and Mixed Methods, Dara Kay Cohen
3:00 - 3:30: Coffee Break
3:30 - 5:30: Fieldwork and Interaction with Research Participants, Erin Baines and Ketty Anyeko
5:30 - 6:30: Reception

Each session will begin with an introduction by the key speaker (30-40 min.), followed by what promises to be a vibrant and fruitful discussion focusing on the issues of research on conflict and/or in conflict settings that the participants have or might encounter in their work.

Please note that participation is by invitation only. For more information, please contact Anastasia at


Past Meetings and Events

Friday, January 21, 2011: Introduction

Friday, January 28, 2011: Civilian as a Unit of Analysis
Presenter: Shane Barter
Guest Commentator: Erin Baines (Liu Institute for Global Issues)
Questions: What unit of analysis do we select in studying micro-processes of conflict? Who is the civilian? How can we disaggregate the category of civilian for a more fine-grained study of contemporary conflict?
Barter, Shane J. “Ulama, the state, & war: community Islamic leaders in the Aceh conflict.” Contemporary Islam, Online First™ (September 2010).
Wood, Elisabeth J. Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Friday, February 4, 2011: Negative Cases of Conflict
Presenter: Stewart Prest
Guest Commentator: Benjamin Nyblade (Department of Political Science)
Questions: What is a negative case in the study of contemporary conflict? How do we select negative cases? What are the benefits and trade-offs in studying negative cases of conflict?
Prest, Stewart. “Research Proposal: Explanations for the Lack of Conflict in Bolivia.” Presented at the Contemporary Conflict Group Meeting, February 4, 2011. (Note: Draft copy. Not for citation or dissemination without permission from the author.)
Mahoney, James and Gary Goertz. “The Possibility Principle: Choosing Negative Cases in Qualitative Research.” American Political Science Review 98:4 (November 2004).

Friday, February 25, 2011: Civilian Strategies in Conflict
Presenter: Erin Baines
Guest Commentator: Brian Job (Department of Political Science, Liu Institute for Global Issues)
Questions: What strategies do civilians adopt in conflict? How do we study civilian strategies in conflict?
Readings: TBA

Friday, March 18th, 2001: Lecture Series, “The Fourth Stage of the Arab-Israel Conflict”
Guest Speaker: Prof. Alan Dowty, Notre Dame University
Dowty, Alan. “The Fourth Stage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” To be distributed.

Friday, March 22, 2011: Lecture Series, “An ethnography of the international intervention in the Congo”
Guest Speaker: Severine Autesserre
Readings: TBA

For more information please contact Anastasia Shesterinina at


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