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Research Seminars Series FGGA: Ideology and Civilian Victimization in Civil War

Thursday 12 May 2016
Schouwburgstraat 2
2511 VA The Hague

Second seminar in a new research seminar series at the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs (FGGA). The FGGA Research Seminar will be a forum for the presentation and discussion of current, high-quality research on topics covered by the faculty, including governance at the global, European, national and sub-national levels; public management, public policy and political economy; crisis, conflict and security; and development, sustainability and public health. The aim of the seminar is to stimulate academic discussion and collaboration at the faculty and between the faculty and leading academics and academic institutions in the field. The seminar will feature both external speakers and researchers from our own faculty.

For more information about the seminar series, please contact Johan Christensen (j.christensen@fgga.leidenuniv.nl), Joris van der Voet (j.van.der.voet@fgga.leidenuniv.nl) or David Ehrhardt (d.w.l.ehrhardt@luc.leidenuniv.nl). 

No affiliation with Leiden University or registration is required to attend. We hope to see you all in the seminars!


Ideology and Civilian Victimization in Civil War

Jim Hughes, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Anar Ahmadov, Leiden University

Why do some groups fighting in civil war target civilians more than others? Current literature attributes varying levels of civilian victimization to the differences in linkages between the fighting groups and civilian population, fighting groups’ levels of territorial control, their relative capabilities, external resources, and organizational structures. We propose an alternative explanation which brings back and emphasizes the role of ideology. We argue that activist belligerents’ ideology conditions their decisions about targeting. In some cases it sets normative constraints on action, even if the action (a preference for targeting combatants) involves higher costs and risks. We examine these hypotheses against alternative explanations on the causes of civilian victimization using a mixed-method approach that combines a comparative historical study of armed groups (including the state) in the Northern Ireland conflict with a statistical analysis that uses a novel sub-national and group-level dataset of fatalities between 1969 and 2005. Our findings suggest that an understanding of what ideology is in a particular conflict context, and how it orders the worlds of the belligerents and shapes the normative environment in which violence is enacted, is vital for interpreting civilian victimization.​

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