Ethnicity, Natural Resources and Civil War Onset (completed)

Funding institution: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Funding period: 2012-2015
Principal Investigator: Matthias Basedau

According to the literature on conflict, ethnicity and natural resources are under certain conditions risks for intra-state conflict. Theoretically, the combination of ethnic diversity and resources should be particularly dangerous as both together may generate strong motives for uprising and increase an ethnic groups’ insurgency capacity, by providing financial means and recruitment pools.

However, studies on ethnicity and resources have operated independently of each other thus far. Moreover, previous research has investigated causal mechanisms only at a rather aggregate level. This project unifies both literature strands and seeks to investigate the precise mechanisms that may lead to violence in the presence of both resources and ethnic diversity.

Methodologically, the project engages in geo-referencing below the national level and combines macro-, meso- and micro-perspectives in a three-level analysis. At the macro-level, a global database will be created that identifies overlapping locations of resources, relevant and deprived ethnic groups and conflict, in order to uncover general patterns. At the meso-level, the project will engage in a within-country comparison of two pertinent country cases (Bolivia and Nigeria) in which the presence of resources and relevant ethnic groups, as well as the levels of violence, vary across subnational units. At the micro-level, extensive field work in two carefully-selected local sites per country will aim at uncovering the exact mechanisms by which the combination of ethnicity and resources leads to violence or not.

Project Publications

2017: “A Taste for Rebellion: Which Grievances Make People Support Violence against the State? Survey Evidence from the Niger Delta.” International Interactions. 44 (3): 437-462. Replication Files.

2016: “Does Violence Pay? The Effect of Ethnic Rebellion on Overcoming Political Deprivation.” Conflict Management and Peace Science. 33 (1): 3-24.

2016 (with Jan Pierskalla): “The Effects of Oil Production and Ethnic Representation on Violent Conflict in Nigeria: A Mixed-Method Approach.” Terrorism and Political Violence. 28 (5): 888-911.

2015: “Ethnic Mobilization in Resource-Abundant African States. Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses of the Role of Ethnic Identity and Natural Resources in Armed Intrastate Conflicts.” PhD Thesis, University of Hamburg (317 pages).

2015 (with Matthias Basedau): “When Do Religious Leaders Support Faith-Based Violence? Evidence from a Survey Poll in Juba in South Sudan.” Political Research Quarterly. 68 (4): 760-772.

2014: “Why and How Civil Defense Militias Emerge: The Case of the Arrow Boys in South Sudan.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 37 (12): 1039-1057.

2013 (with Matthias Basedau): “Does Uranium Mining Increase Civil Conflict Risk? Evidence from a Spatiotemporal Analysis of Africa from 1960 to 2008.” Civil Wars. 15 (3): 306-331.