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This is the first of two chapters to take a closer look at Sub-Saharan Africa, which is both the world’s least-industrialized and ethnically most-diverse continent. I start here with an examination of Somalia and Uganda, which are both states which have seen low levels of industrialization and an increase in ethnic fractionalization in recent decades. In Somalia the lack of formal sector job creation in the 1970s and 1980s contributed both to the collapse of the state along clan lines and a shift by which Somalia has gone from being considered one of the most ethnically homogenous countries in Africa to one of the most diverse, as the salience of clan identity has risen in order to allow citizens to gain access to land and livelihoods. In Uganda a failure to create structural transformation has led to increased competition for land, leading individuals to utilize their often newly formed ethnic identities to claim ownership and title over rural land. I provide evidence from a variety of local land conflicts that revolve around ethnicity, as well as ongoing debates around both the listing of ’indigenous communities’ in Uganda’s constitution and the creation of new districts.
This chapter discusses the place of conflict in transitional justice. Building on a range of historical real-life examples, it argues that conflict is an important rather than incidental part of many, if not all, transitional justice processes. The chapter initially focuses on value conflicts and then turns to conflicts of interests (political power, offices, money, etc.). Drawing on recent realist work in political theory, the chapter argues that it is time to give politics its due and idealisation a rest in transitional justice. This is not an argument against ideals, but against an approach that is idealistic in the wrong sense, in such a way as to suppress, erase from view, real experiences of conflict. Towards the end, the chapter explores recent attempts in the transitional justice literature to take conflict more seriously, particularly Christine Bell’s account of transitional justice as bargaining.
Abim district, located in Uganda’s Karamoja region, is one of the scores of new administrative units created under the country’s decentralization policy. The establishment of Abim district in 2006, following decades of conflict in northern Uganda, was accompanied by changes in ethnic identity within local communities of Ethur farmers. Based on oral history fieldwork in Abim, Meyerson documents these changes in sociopolitical identification among the Ethur. In doing so, he demonstrates how political decentralization has become a venue for the combination of international discourses of indigenous rights, national notions of ethnic citizenship, and grassroots histories of intercommunal relations.
China has witnessed numerous incidents of social protests over the past three decades. Protests create uncertainty for authoritarian governments, and the Chinese government has created, strengthened, and coordinated multiple dispute-resolution institutions to manage social conflicts and protests. Accommodating the aggrieved prevents the accumulation of grievances in society, but concessions require resources. As the frequency and scale of collective action are closely tied to the political opportunity for action, the Chinese government has also contained protest by shaping the political opportunity available to the aggrieved. Cai and Chen show that when the Chinese central government prioritizes social control, as it has under Xi Jinping's leadership, it signals that it will tolerate local governments' use of coercion. The result is an environment that is not conducive to the mobilization of collective action, large-scale occurrences of which have been uncommon in China in recent years.
We examine whether politically irrelevant events can cause conflicts, by analyzing the effects of professional football games in Europe on protests in Africa—an unintended spillover across the continents. By expanding psychological theories, we argue that the outcomes of the football games in Europe can affect African people's subjective evaluation of domestic politicians, which in turn can trigger protests. By exploiting as-if random variation in the results of 15,102 close football games conditional on betting odds, we find that compared to draw games, close losses of African players’ teams increase peaceful protests in their original countries while not changing the likelihood of riots or armed conflicts. The effect is particularly large for non-ethnic protests targeted at a central government. Close losses also temporarily decrease people's trust in their country's leader. By contrast, close victories do not have equivalent or compensating effects on protests or public opinion. These results suggest asymmetric misattribution: people in Africa unreasonably blame domestic politicians for bad luck in European football games, prompting protests; but they do not credit politicians with football victories.
How do voters in a developed economy react to political violence at the ballot box? Most of the current literature suggests that a social movement turning violent dampens its support. To this end, we examine the effect of violent clashes and indiscriminate state repression on Hong Kong's 2019 municipal election. Using original geocoded data, we proxy violence and repression by the frequency of police shooting tear gas rounds at protesters. Despite the movement turning in part violent, the presence of indiscriminate state repression reduces regime support. We offer evidence that repression de-mobilized pro-regime voters. We discuss possible explanations behind our findings and how the specificity of political violence may matter in shaping public support in protest movements.
A large literature examines how citizens in violent conflicts react to the conflict's events, particularly violent escalations. Nevertheless, the temporal nature of these attitudinal changes remains under-studied. We suggest that popular reactions to greater violence are typically immediate but brief, indicating short-term emotional responses to physical threats. Over the longer term, however, public opinion is more commonly shaped by non-violent events signaling the adversary's perceived intentions, reflecting slower but deeper belief-updating processes. We support this argument using dynamic analyses of comprehensive monthly data from Israel spanning two full decades (2001–20). Rather than violence levels, we find that long-term changes in Jewish attitudes on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict follow non-violent events implying Palestinian preferences, particularly failed negotiations and out-group leadership changes. Our findings underscore the importance of public opinion's temporal dynamics and show that non-violent events, which are often overlooked in the literature, play a prominent role in shaping long-term attitudes in conflictual contexts.
Diversity's effect on violence is ambiguous. Some studies find that diverse areas experience more violence; others find the opposite. Yet conflict displaces and intimidates people, creating measurement challenges. We propose a novel indicator of diversity that circumvents these problems: the location of physical structures at disaggregated geographical levels. We introduce this solution in the context of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Our data reveal a curvilinear relationship between diversity and conflict-related deaths, with the steepest increase at low diversity, driven by an increase in violence when our proxy for the Catholic proportion of the population rises from 0 to 20 percent. These patterns are consistent with a theory of group threat through exposure.
This chapter examines processes of hydraulic development and state-building. It explores the ways in which modern ‘hydraulic missions’, and the new waterscapes and patterns of water use and supply resulting from them, reflect and have helped consolidate specific state-building and national development agendas. Building on this, the chapter shows that these hydraulic projects have also repeatedly involved dispossession, displacement, conflict and violence, and everywhere created new forms of insecurity for some alongside ‘water security’ for others; and as corollaries of this, that water-related conflicts have been more closely associated with development than its dearth, and more with resource abundance than scarcity. Lastly, the chapter argues that the spectre of climate change has already led to a resurgence of hydraulic development and associated conflicts – and that more will surely follow. Empirically, the chapter focuses on Israel, Cyprus, Syria and Sudan, providing illustrative examples of the range of hydraulic conflicts and insecurities which have ensued across these cases, associated especially with dam building, land-grabbing and agricultural modernisation.
This chapter introduces and develops an initial critique of ‘eco-determinist’ thought on climate, water and environmental security. The chapter shows, against this tradition, that the tension between local geographical constraints and demographic pressures is not the central cause of contemporary water-related insecurities, and that there are good structural reasons for this, rooted in the logics of global capitalism. The chapter demonstrates that eco-determinist thinking is both substantively misleading and normatively questionable. And it argues, on these grounds, that climate change–induced scarcities are in and of themselves unlikely to become a major source of conflict. These arguments are advanced both theoretically and via empirical analysis of, among other things, the patterns of water stress and scarcity across the book's ‘divided environments’, claims about 'water wars' on the Euphrates, Jordan and Nile Rivers and evidence on the current and likely future impacts of climate change on water resources. Overall, the chapter shows that what Robert Kaplan has called a ‘revenge of geography’ is unlikely, even under conditions of accelerating human-induced climate change.
This chapter explores the consequences of war for water security and insecurity. It maps out and analyses four main ways in which war matters for water: through infrastructure destruction; through population displacement; through the expropriation of resources and infrastructures; and through war’s profound if mostly indirect ramifications for state-building and development. Empirically, the chapter draws on evidence from across the divided environments considered in this book, including the ongoing wars in South Sudan, Syria and Lake Chad, the 2003–5 Darfur war, recent Israeli wars on Gaza and key historical conflagrations such as the 1948–9 Arab-Israeli war. The chapter argues through all of this that war is deeply contradictory, being simultaneously highly destructive and highly productive in its water security consequences. And it argues that this is likely to remain the case in an era of climate disruption: while, for some, war is likely is have sharply negative climate vulnerability consequences, it is nonetheless also the case, the chapter shows, that adaptive capacities are often founded on infrastructures and hierarchies of political violence.
This concluding chapter summarises and synthesises the book's main arguments on four levels: in relation to its five ‘divided environments’; with regard to what these cases, and the similarities and differences between them, suggest about the relations between water and (in)security; with reference to the broader significance of the analysis for understanding ecological politics and the study thereof; and on what, by extension, all this might tell us about the likely future conflict and security implications of climate change. Neither the eco-determinist nor liberal traditions, the book as a whole shows, are adequate to understanding water security and insecurity today, or to grasping the wide-ranging conflict and security implications of climate change; political ecology–informed premises are required instead. But what does this tell us about the coming landscape of climate change and conflict? The book closes by offering a series of tentative predictions.
The claim that there exists a complex ‘nexus’ linking water and other global challenges has become a commonplace of discourse on resource governance. But how should the relations between water and cognate areas be understood? This final main chapter of the book takes up this question by examining the four main relations underpinning water security and insecurity today: with trade, agricultural production, energy and capital. The chapter considers these four relations in turn, in each case providing an overall mapping of the 'transformations and circulations' that define them and an assessment of how they shape water-related (in)securities, especially in the book's five divided environments. The chapter argues that water is much more a dependent than an independent variable in nexus relations and that patterns of water (in)security are determined neither by natural availability nor market efficiencies, but instead by countries’ positionings within a structurally unequal and hierarchical capitalist world order. Against neo-liberal arguments, the chapter thus argues that contemporary capitalist nexus relations are a central part of the problem of water – and climate – security.
This full-length chapter introduces the book’s central themes and approach to analysing them. It starts by summarising the current public and policy ‘common sense’ on climate security, and by showing that the evidence base for this orthodoxy is weak or, at best, contested: this establishes the book’s primary research puzzle. With this set out, the remainder of the chapter details the book’s approach to exploring this crucial but contested issue. It does this first with regard to epistemology and method – critiquing extant environment-centric, quantitative and discourse-centric approaches, and via that articulating an alternative ‘international political ecology’ framework for the analysis of environment–security relations. It does it, second, in substantive terms, explaining the book’s focus on water as a key variable in, and analogue for understanding, climate–security linkages. And it does it, third, with regard to cases, introducing the book’s empirical focus on the five ‘divided environments’ of Cyprus, Israel–Palestine, Sudan–South Sudan, Syria and the Lake Chad basin. The chapter concludes by briefly explaining how the remainder of the book is organised.
This chapter serves as a companion to the previous one, focusing on the second main plank of eco-determinist climate and water security reasoning: drought. The chapter argues that the evidence on drought and conflict is weak and misleading; that today droughts have far more limited economic and political consequences than is usually imagined; and that we should not expect accelerating global climate change to fundamentally alter this. These arguments are developed via analysis of the first supposed ‘climate wars’ – the Darfur war of 2003–5, the ongoing Syrian civil war and the ongoing Lake Chad basin crisis – as well as consideration of the history of drought impacts and climate change projections. On each of these counts the chapter shows that the evidence, and thus the grounds for concluding that climate change–induced droughts will trigger ever-more conflict in future, is remarkably thin. Picking up on the previous chapter, the chapter also explores the politics of drought–conflict discourse, showing that ‘drought’ is often an exercise in deflecting state responsibility and obscuring political agency which does little for the security of the rural poor.
This chapter is a companion to the previous one and extends many of its themes, but this time in relation to territorial frontiers. ‘Frontiers’, as understand here, are simultaneously geographically peripheral to existing centres of political and economic power, objects of outward expansion and colonisation, and home to both abundant resources and local populations who are routinely marginalised, excluded and sometimes expelled in the name of development. The chapter explores such frontier dynamics in relation to ‘water frontiers’ within Sudan, the Palestinian territories, the Lake Chad region and north-eastern Syria. It shows that frontiers are sites of extreme levels and forms of appropriation, inequality, degradation, conflict and insecurity, as well as resilience and resistance, both in general and in relation to water specifically. And the chapter closes, in line with previous ones, by turning to climate change, noting that frontiers are widely misunderstood within climate crisis discourse – and by reflecting on how they are actually likely to fare as the planet warms.
What are the implications of climate change for twenty-first-century conflict and security? Rising temperatures, it is often said, will bring increased drought, more famine, heightened social vulnerability, and large-scale political and violent conflict; indeed, many claim that this future is already with us. Divided Environments, however, shows that this is mistaken. Focusing especially on the links between climate change, water and security, and drawing on detailed evidence from Israel-Palestine, Syria, Sudan and elsewhere, it shows both that mainstream environmental security narratives are misleading, and that the actual security implications of climate change are very different from how they are often imagined. Addressing themes as wide-ranging as the politics of droughts, the contradictions of capitalist development and the role of racism in environmental change, while simultaneously articulating an original 'international political ecology' approach to the study of socio-environmental conflicts, Divided Environments offers a new and important interpretation of our planetary future.
A review of three books shows that the crisis of democracy literature is exceptionally diverse. It ranges from overconfident postulations and proposals without systematic arguments and comparative analysis on the one hand to novel theorizing and balanced accounts, including cautious use of historical evidence, on the other hand. Accordingly, there is much variation in how much the different contributions succeed in drawing lessons from historical developments to better understand and reduce contemporary challenges.
Why do people leave home and seek asylum? Conflict, war, and persecution, living in fragile states, being trafficked, and climate change may all play a part. Global statistics of forced displacement are reviewed.
Types of journeys and attendant experiences are considered, and reasons for how and why people may come to the United Kingdom.
We then review developments in international refugee policy and law, and problems with the current approach, including the role of socioeconomic status, the difficulties in how initiatives are funded, and the lack of long-term perspectives. There are barriers to resettlement in wealthier third countries. Restrictive and punitive asylum policies have a high human cost. There are limits to international cooperation.
This all matters to health professionals because understanding someone’s context explains much about individual behaviour. It enables relevant enquiries to be made, and appropriate help offered. Some possible misapprehensions are considered.
Contextualising conflict provides further testimony of children’s legitimacy as rulers between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. This chapter turns to narrative accounts of dynastic challenge, opportunistic conflict and kidnap to address the problematic association between child kingship and magnate violence. Evidence for the appearance and escalation of conflict while a boy was king has often been accepted without sufficient critical scrutiny. The chapter shows that attempts to remove children from their royal positions were rare, and that conflict often upheld their legitimacy to rule rather than undermining it. Applying the arbitrary label of violent opportunism to all instances of conflict when a child was king oversimplifies the complex range of reasons for magnate disputes. Instead, conflict could be, among other things, a legitimate response to royal succession, a habitual aspect of the negotiation of disputed property and rights, or a product of recurring quarrels over hierarchy and prominence. The child king’s presence and active participation could, once again, convey a significant and authoritative weight.