Looking for a summer fellowship?

Here are some places to help you get started:

Applications due on March 15th for START Summer Fellowships on Illicit Networks: http://www.start.umd.edu/careers/summer-fellowship-illicit-networks

Boston College provides a list of summer fellowships in multiple locations: http://www.bc.edu/offices/ufel/fellowships/summer.html

APSA also maintains a great database of funding, fellowship, and academic funding sources: https://www.apsanet.org/content_3115.cfm?navID=416

By far and away, however, one of the most comprehensive lists of funding opportunities is maintained by the Peace and Collaborative Development Network, and also offers information on finding alternate sources of funding, writing grant and fellowship applications, etc. You can find it here: http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/profiles/blog/show?id=780588%3ABlogPost%3A41887#.Uwajv_ldVCE 


And in Current Events….

For those of you who missed the news this morning:




For those of you who read Russian: http://www.newtimes.ru/articles/detail/77630







Civil Wars, Reconstruciton, and Reconciliation

On February 5th, the New York Times ran a piece by Thabo Mbeki on the closure of civil wars, and the role of courts in the reconstruction period. Mbeki was President of South Africa from 1998-2008, and witnessed the nation’s difficult recovery from Apartheid. In the closing paragraph of the article, Mbeki states:

“The United States also had a civil war. Its fault lines were already visible nearly a century before, at independence. Americans would do well to remember that the country’s political leadership was wise enough to rule out court trials for the defeated at the end of the Civil War and instead opt for Reconstruction.”

Mbeki’s sentiment is laudable, but flawed. Although I hate to jump into historical civil wars, there are a few reasons to do so in this case:

1) Civil wars have changed drastically in terms of actors, motivation, resources, size, and several other notable factors since the start of the Cold War, let alone the time of the American Civil War. The comparison is anachronistic.

2) Reconstruction in the United States was not a smooth journey of reconciliation – it was a bitter journey that included the Military Reconstruction Act of 1867, which divided the defeated South into 5 militarily-ruled territories. These territories were ruled by martial law, with troops actively in place. Johnson’s impeachment was actually tied to the reconstruction process, a result of displeasure among the Radical Republicans.

3) Henry Wirz, a confederate soldier of Swiss origin was executed as a result of his management of Camp Sumter during the war. His trial and execution took place after the war ended, and was for war crimes. He is the most famous case of an execution and trial following the war, but not the only one. Robert Cobb Kennedy and Champ Ferguson were also executed following the war for their involvement as confederate leaders.

The divisions between the North and South are still visible in many modern political debates. They definitely are not a guide post for Reconstruction in post civil war states.

South Africa’s post civil war reconciliation movement had its roots in restorative justice, an idea that definitely warrants study, and shows promising results in the settings where it has been implemented. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee had its flaws, but was one of the first (if not the first) initiatives of its kind. To compare it to the American post civil war reconstruction cheapens its actual impact on post-conflict reconstruction.

The role of courts, as Mbeki suggests, isn’t necessarily conflict resolution. The idea of restorative justice and reconciliatory movements can have a notable and worthwhile impact, however. If courts are encouraged to push for restorative justice in post-conflict scenarios, they may be able to play an important role. What doesn’t belong in the post-civil war setting is the traditional incarceration-based justice system used in many modern states.

Why not incarcerate individuals for their involvement in civil wars? There are many reasons, but the most pressing of all is the lack of resolution and closure provided to either party when incarceration or execution is used. On the contrary, results with reconciliation and restorative justice practices are promising. See the discussion of Mogamba spirits on the post civil war period in Mozambique for more on this dynamic, particularly those found in the book Traditional Justice and Reconciliation after Violent Conflict: Learning From African Experiences.

For more on restorative justice and its role in post-insurgency and post civil war environments, see the following resources:

Jus Post Bellum and Transitional Justice (2013) May and Edenberg

The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices (2000) Barkan

Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice After Civil Conflict (2003) Biggar

Justice and Reconciliation in Post-Apartheid South Africa (2009) du Bois and du Bois-Pedain

Conflict Resources

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a bit. Just because I like to stir up trouble. 

All the talk about conflict resources like cobalt, diamonds, and tantalum, is making waves in Western media. We’re watching the general public start to make buying decisions based on ethics. Or are we? I mean, even before Apple gained kudos for decreasing their use of conflict minerals, the company still outsold ALL Windows PCs. Combined. 

This raises a few key questions for scholars and the public. 

First, the economics. What do companies gain by avoiding the use of conflict minerals? Is there a price difference that is being transferred to consumers? Can a jewelry store charge more for diamonds that are certified conflict-free? What is the premium on conflict-free purchases? 

Second, the consequences. Conflict-free. Great. What about other ethical qualms, like slavery? Let’s take it to another level, though. by publicizing the existence of conflict resources as goods that exist on the market, are we inadvertently advertising a form of funding to insurgent groups?

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of conflict-free goods. But this is one complex ball of wax that does deserve some consideration. 

A few fun resources for further information on media and conflict, and natural resources and conflict: 

Conflict Mineral Disclosures: A mandate of the Dodd-Frank Act Lindberg and Razaki, 2012

Taming the Resource Curse: Implementing the ICGLR Certification Mechanism for Conflict-prone Minerals Blore and Smillie, 2011

Cracking Down on Conflict Minerals, Strickland, 2011

Conflict Minerals Legislation: The SEC’s New Role as Diplomatic and Humanitarian Watchdog, Woody, 2012

Lessons Learned from Addressing Conflict Minerals with a Supply Chain Strategy, Forrer, Mo, & Yeaw, 2012

Is There Blood on Your Hands-Free Device? Veale, 2012

Media Publicity and Insurgent Terrorism: A twenty-year balance sheet, Tan, 1988

The Politics and Coverage of Terrorism: From media images to public consciousness, Wittebols, 1991

Globalised Rebellion: The Darfur insurgents and the world, Jumbert and Lanz, 2013

The Spoils of Nature: Armed civil conflict and rebel access to natural resources, Lujala, 2010

Do Natural Resources Matter for Interstate and Intrastate Armed Conflict? Koubi et al, 2013

Organizing Insurgency: Networks, Resources, and Rebellion in South Asia, Staniland, 2012

A Quick Journey to February 11, 1984

I was still in diapers, but the Indian sub-continent was in an uproar in 1984. The Punjab rebellion – a movement which began with the request for decentralization, greater Sikh liberty, and the recognition of the Sikh religion – was underway.  

On February 11, 1984, following years of unrest, the United States granted Jagjit Singh Chouhan – a prominent Sikh leader and proponent of a free Khalistan – a visa. Australia and the United Kingdom also sat on the sidelines, anxiously watching the events unfold. 

Chouhan was an interesting character. Although the granting of his visa gathered significant attention in 1984, it was a part of a larger picture. This charismatic leader had pushed for a free Khalistan for years. He produced passports, currency, and postage stamps for the state he hoped to see form – some say, with the help of an American businessman. Chouhan lived in exile from 1971-2001, with a brief two year return to India from 1977-1979. For 21 of those years, he was officially in exile. Leading a fight that many people don’t realize existed, this leader claimed that by 2007 his free Khalistan would be formed, with the help of Kashmiri parliament members. He died in April of that year. 

The effects of insurgency and war on the gender composition of a population, investment decisions of rural economies, and state cooperation with terrorist and separatist groups have all been examined using the Punjab insurgency as a case study. The conflict is still a fresh wound for many Indians, and an area of fascinating and well-documented research for scholars. 


For more information on the Punjab insurgency and the leaders behind it, see the following resources:

Journal Articles

India’s Counter-Insurgency Experience: The ‘trust and nurture’ strategy Goswami, 2009 

Counter-Insurgency in India: Observations from Punjab and Kashmir Telford, 2001

Punjab Since 1984: Disorder, order, and legitimacy Singh, 1996

Impact of Terrorism on Investment Decisions of Farmers: Evidence from the Punjab insurgency Singh, 2013

Gender-Differential Effects of Conflict on Education: The case of the 1981-1993 Punjab insurgency Singh and Shemyakina, 2013


Reduced to Ashes: The insurgency and human rights in Punjab by Kumar and Singh, 2003 

Fearful Symmetry: India-Pakistan Crises in the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons by Ganguly and Hagerty, 2005

Terrorism and Insurgency in India: A study of the human element by Capt. Ashish Sunal, VrC, 1994


*Do not assume that the books included in this list are purely scholarly works. I make a strong effort to include perspectives of different sides in conflict, so that a deeper understanding of events is created. Weigh each side for yourself, think critically, and remember that often times books on a particular conflict are written by stakeholders in the conflict itself. 

Women in Conflict

In ancient times – also referred to as undergrad – I had a project in my final semester that motivated me to live on Red Bull and work 36 hours at a stretch. I loved what I was doing. I was crazy enough to believe there was enough information available to tackle it.

I was looking into the relationship between women and civil wars.

The problem? I had one month to complete the project, and the data just didn’t exist. There were a few scholars working on the problem – some of whom had flaws in their study structure or math.  Mary Caprioli covered the topic in the early 2000s, but left many questions unanswered. And there was a gaping hole in the realm of data.

At some point, I want to pick that project up again, dust it off, and finish it. Much of the existing literature focuses on the impact of women in the peacebuilding process, with a specific lens on African conflicts (see Gizelis, 2011 for a good example). Other researchers focus on women as victims.

Luckily, a new trend is gaining traction. The importance of women as actors, not victims or peacebuilders, is growing. Case studies are emerging with intriguing results. Mohamed, 2013, Oriola, 2012, and Meth, 2010 are examples of this new initiative.

Part of me hopes that with the development of case studies, data collection will be easier in the next decade, and research on women’s role in civil wars will increase. If women are recognized as having a potential to affect peacekeeping and peacemaking processes as many scholars argue (Hendricks and Chivasa, 2008, for example), the same should be expected for conflict processes.

If you are working on this relationship, know of any quality resources, or just have an opinion to voice, please share below!