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Warfare, Political Identities, and Displacement in Spain and Colombia

Author

Listed:
  • Laia Balcells

    (Duke University)

  • Abbey Steele

    (Maxwell School of Syracuse University)

Abstract

This paper explores the causes of displacement during civil wars. Recent scholarship has shown that conventional civil wars – those in which forces are relatively balanced – and irregular civil wars – those in which one side is substantially stronger than the other – exhibit different patterns of violence. We hypothesize that, while the mode of violence differs, the form of displacement should be consistent across the wars: displacement is a tactic of war that armed groups use to conquer new territories. By expelling civilians associated with rivals, armed groups improve their odds of gaining control of contested territory. This implies that members of a group are targeted for displacement because of their identity and presumed loyalties. We test the theory using two fine-grained datasets on individuals displaced during a conventional civil war, in Spain (1936-1939), and an irregular civil war, in Colombia (1964-). In both cases, the war cleavage was reflected in national elections: thus, where political parties received support indicated which populations were sympathetic to rivals. In both civil wars, we observe higher levels of displacement in locations where more sympathizers of rival armed groups reside. The paper makes three contributions. First, it shows that the microfoundations of displacement are similar in two types of civil wars. Second, it is the first comparison to our knowledge of the sub-national dynamics of displacement within two different civil wars. Third, it explains macro-level differences with a coherent micro-level framework.

Suggested Citation

  • Laia Balcells & Abbey Steele, 2012. "Warfare, Political Identities, and Displacement in Spain and Colombia," HiCN Working Papers 124, Households in Conflict Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:124
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    File URL: http://www.hicn.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/HiCN-WP-124.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Laia Balcells, 2011. "Continuation of Politics by Two Means: Direct and Indirect Violence in Civil War," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 55(3), pages 397-422, June.
    2. Abbey Steele, 2011. "Electing Displacement: Political Cleansing in Apartadó, Colombia," HiCN Working Papers 96, Households in Conflict Network.
    3. Laia Balcells, 2008. "Rivalry and Revenge: Making Sense of Violence against Civilians in Conventional Civil Wars," HiCN Working Papers 51, Households in Conflict Network.
    4. Laia Balcells, 2012. "Violence and Displacement in Civil War. Evidence from the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)," Working Papers 603, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. Abbey Steele, 2011. "Electing Displacement: Political Cleansing in Apartadó, Colombia," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 55(3), pages 423-445, June.
    6. Jason Lyall, 2009. "Does Indiscriminate Violence Incite Insurgent Attacks?," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 53(3), pages 331-362, June.
    7. Abbey Steele, 2009. "Seeking Safety: Avoiding Displacement and Choosing Destinations in Civil Wars," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 46(3), pages 419-429, May.
    8. Abbey Steele, 2011. "Electing Displacement: Political Cleansing in Apartadó, Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 008747, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ana María Ibá-ez, 2014. "Growth in forced displacement: cross-country, sub-national and household evidence on potential determinants," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Migration and Economic Development, chapter 13, pages 350-387 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Yuri M. Zhukov, 2014. "Theory of Indiscriminate Violence," Working Paper 365551, Harvard University OpenScholar.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    violence; civil war; displacement; Colombia; Spain;

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