Call for Papers
LSE Global Governance International Conference
Persistent Conflict in the 21st Century
London 25 June 2011
London School of Economics & Political Science
Much of the scholarly debate about contemporary conflicts has focused on root causes and other factors that relate to the initiation of conflict. Much less attention has been directed to understanding why contemporary conflicts are so difficult to end. Once set in motion, violent conflict tends to persist, recur, mutate, and spread across borders as currently seen in places like Afghanistan, Somalia, or Yemen. It has been estimated that the average duration of civil war has increased from two to fifteen years over the past half century and that fifty percent of peace agreements collapse within five years. This conference will put the issues of conflict duration, persistence, and recurrence front and center and will seek to shed light on these understudied and under-theorized dimensions of contemporary conflict.
The conference seeks to foster a multi-disciplinary discussion that draws on a broad range of methods and intellectual resources in the social sciences. We invite proposals for papers particularly from advanced PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, early-career academics and practitioners, that address any of the three broad themes of the conference.
Conflict Duration and the Stages of Conflict: The conflict literature has been dominated by discussions of economic and political causes of civil war; for example, the debate about ‘greed and grievance’ and the ‘root causes’ paradigm. Are these approaches useful in explaining the duration of armed conflicts? Are drives of conflict inception and conflict persistence different? Much of the academic and policy debate has also followed a linear understanding of the stages of conflict and has emphasized the importance of sequencing in international responses, from conflict prevention and crisis management to stabilization and post-conflict reconstruction. The conference will examine the benefits and drawbacks of this paradigm and consider whether the focus on conflict persistence and recurrence is useful in interrogating the assumptions implied in this way of thinking about conflict.
Drivers of Conflict Persistence: The literature has begun to conceptualize the issue of persistence and to theorize some of the factors associated with prolonged and recurrent conflict. However, the emphasis so far has been primarily on material factors such as capabilities and resources, which calls for a more sustained examination of the role of agency. Key characteristics of contemporary wars involve organized crime, informal economic activities, human rights violations, and other abuses of power. How are these and other developments related to prolonged and recurrent political violence? Moreover, those who employ violence and those targeted by it routinely offer up normative and identity-based arguments couched in the language of legitimacy, be it religious or political, local or international. This calls for examination of the relationship between narratives and ideological frameworks and their adaptation over time, on one side, and the evolving dynamics of conflict, on the other.
External Interventions: Quantitative evidence on the effects of external interventions (military, economic, or mixed) in prolonged conflicts is mixed. Recent qualitative research has argued that development aid may inadvertently do more harm than good in situations of conflict and fragility. Important questions arise about the impact of external interventions on conflict persistence. For example: What is the role of different forms of external intervention in creating an enabling environment for persistent conflict? Can interventions give rise to perverse incentives that favor extended conflict, or empower various actors who benefit from instability or engage in practices that militate against the emergence of peace?
We invite conceptual and theoretical contributions as well as case-study analysis of particular conflicts, with special emphasis on innovative qualitative and quantitative methods across the social sciences.
Please send a CV and a paper abstract of 300-500 words to Tom Kirk at firstname.lastname@example.org by 4 January 2011. For other enquiries, please contact the conference convenor Dr. Iavor Rangelov at email@example.com.
Abstracts to Tom Kirk: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions to the conference convenor Dr. Iavor Rangelov: email@example.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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