Northwestern Events Calendar


LACS (Virtual) Faculty Colloquium: The Violent Bias in the Study of Civil War (Ana Arjona)

When: Wednesday, May 6, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM CT

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: free

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings, Global & Civic Engagement


The study of civil war has focused, for obvious reasons, on violence. Yet, civil war is about much more than violence. Ana Arjona argues that the focus on violence hinders our understanding of the most common type of armed conflict in the world today. In particular, equating civil war and violence leads to (i) a theoretical bias, whereby scholars overlook other aspects of war that could shape the outcome of interest; and (ii) an empirical bias that assumes, mistakenly, that when we measure violence we are measuring civil war. Professor Arjona illustrates her claim with studies on the Colombian conflict, a case that has been studied by many political scientists and economists. She concludes with ideas on how to move this research program forward.

Ana Arjona is Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern. Her research investigates the dynamics and legacies of organized violence, especially civil wars and organized crime, local governance, state building, and the foundations of political order. She was the Director of the Center for the Study of Security and Drugs at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá in 2018-2019, where she is now Associate Researcher. She is the author of the award-winning book Rebelocracy: Social Order in the Colombian Civil War (2016) and co-editor of Rebel Governance in Civil War (2015). She has been a Fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. 

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Meeting ID: 969 2069 7904

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