PS 948 Political Violence

Although violence is an ancient social phenomenon, the study of violence is increasingly common in political science and related disciplines. Within the past 15 years, an exciting field of study has emerged, bringing together experienced and newer scholars alike and researchers with diverse regional interests and methodological approaches. This course is designed to introduce students to core debates and to cutting edge research in the emerging field. The central questions asked during the course include: What is violence? Are different types of violence—such as civil war, terrorism, ethnic violence, and genocide— meaningfully studied together? What are the key research questions that have been identified in the emerging area of study and what questions deserve more attention? What are the differences in terms of methodological approach, theoretical arguments, and empirical findings when violence is studied at the macro-level versus the micro-level? What are the relative roles that core variables such as states, economies, ethnicity, and ideology should play in explaining the phenomenon of political violence? Is political violence inherently dynamic and an endogenous process? Are there any cumulative empirical findings emerging from this field? And how should researchers evaluate competing hypotheses? Research design and the problem of linking theory to evidence will be of particular concern. The course should appeal to students in both the comparative politics and international relations subfields as well as to students in other disciplines and/or with regional interests in Africa, Europe, Latin America, and South Asia.