Research event

The violent bias in the study of civil war

Ana Arjona, Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University, presents her paper on "The Violent Bias in the Study of Civil War". This event is part of the International Security Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for International Security.

The study of civil war has focused, for obvious reasons, on violence. Yet, civil war is about much more than violence. Ana Arjona's paper argues that the focus on violence is problematic both theoretically and empirically as it leads to three types of bias: conceptual, theoretical, and methodological. Arjona discusses each of these types of bias and provides detailed examples in the literature. She argues that the implications are serious, as these biases can undermine theory building, measurement, knowledge accumulation, and policy making. The paper cries for a broader research agenda on the dynamics and legacies of civil war, and identifies ways to overcome these problems.



Ana Arjona

  • Ana Arjona is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University. She obtained her PhD in political science from Yale University (with distinction), and has been a Fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She served as Director of the Center for the Study of Security and Drugs at Los Andes University in Bogota, Colombia in 2018-2019, where she is now an affiliated researcher. Her research investigates the dynamics and legacies of organized violence, especially civil wars and organized crime, local governance, state building, and the foundations of political order. She is the author of the award-winning book Rebelocracy: Social Order in Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2016), co-editor of Rebel Governance in Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and author of several articles and book chapters.