Democracy and Displacement in Colombia’s Civil War
(2017, Cornell University Press)

Steele comps B 030117[20].jpgRoughly 60 million people in the developing world are currently displaced from their homes and communities, constituting not only a massive humanitarian challenge, but also disrupting the foundations of political and economic development. Typically, such displacement is understood as a haphazard byproduct of conflict, or a product of ethnic difference. My book Democracy and Displacement in Colombia’s Civil War presents a typology of displacement forms based on how armed groups target civilians. Individuals escape selective violence and masses avoid indiscriminate violence, which account for displacement as a byproduct of violence. But a third form is the product of intentional, collective targeting by armed groups: political cleansing. Armed groups collectively target groups of civilians who they suspect of disloyalty, to politically cleanse a territory and gain control of it. While it is difficult to detect civilians’ preferences during civil wars, I identify elections as crucial mechanisms that reveal political loyalties to armed groups. In Colombia, democratic reforms allowed counterinsurgent groups to more easily target civilian sympathizers of the insurgency, and to ally with politicians who faced new competition and sought to regain their traditional political authority.

The book employs a mix a quantitative and qualitative methods, based on fine-grained data collected in Colombia during eighteen months of fieldwork.

The book can be ordered here.


Andrea Ruggeri in The Journal of Politics