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February 26: David Laitin

Professor David Laitin will present, Civil War Narratives.

Leah Halvorson Email LeahHalvorson


This paper – really a new kind of dataset – presents two (out of an eventual twenty-five) narratives of civil war onsets (and non onsets) from randomly generated countries over the past half-century. We juxtapose our model’s predictions for each country/year next to the actual country’s history, to see how well our theory (Fearon and Laitin, APSR, 2003) – one that focuses on the conditions that favor insurgency over grievances or clashes of civilizations – performs in the explication of actual cases. In general, we justify the random method of case selection. In the actual cases, we look for false and true positives and negatives; for potentially consequential missing variables; and for mechanisms linking variables that we claim are propitious for the onset of civil war to actual civil war onsets.

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