14. April 2011

CfP: New Perspectives on Conflict and Security: Understanding Civil War and Intrastate Conflict

Conference: Call for paper and panel proposals

This conference will explore a range of debates and topics related to intrastate conflict and civil war. It is open to those who wish to present work on specific armed conflicts, on broad patterns and debates related to the 'nature' of civil war, and on historical perspectives as well as contemporary issues. It also seeks to explore international dimensions including conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding.

Intrastate conflict represents the principal form of organized violence in the contemporary era, and yet scholarship in this field remains divided on a range of core issues.

In recent years some have argued that important changes have occurred in the nature of violent conflict. 'New wars' are characterized by state failure and a social transformation driven by globalization and by specific patterns of identity conflict. Other scholars have argued that intrastate conflicts are the criminalized, anarchic remnants of war, devoid of political 'meaning'. Meanwhile, quantitative research appears to point to a decline in the number and magnitude of intrastate conflicts.

In contrast, others maintain that intrastate conflict and civil wars reflect fundamentally important political and social processes, and will continue to do so. The consequences that they have for domestic and international politics, and their human impact, suggest that intrastate conflicts remain a key driving force for political change. Claims of a 'decline' in the number of civil wars have also been challenged. In light of these and other debates we welcome paper proposals on topics such as:

  • - What is the current knowledge regarding the causes and nature of intrastate conflicts, and the factors which help to explain their onset, duration, intensity, termination and recurrence?
  • - Has intrastate conflict fundamentally changed in nature in recent years?
  • - Is the era of large civil wars over? Or are apparent downward trends in the number and magnitude of civil wars a reflection of the definition and codification of such conflicts – rather than 'reality' – and the historical timeframe used for analysis?
  • - What are the most interesting methodological trends and debates in the study of intrastate conflict?
  • - Do events in Libya and elsewhere suggest a new wave of 'social revolutions'?
  • - What are the prospects for international intervention into intrastate conflict aimed at resolving conflict and building peace?
  • - Are there historical patterns in terms of victimization, rebel recruitment, the war economy – and other factors – in civil wars?
  • - What is the future agenda for the study of civil wars and intrastate conflict?

This event is organized by the editorial team of Civil Wars journal with the support of the University of Birmingham College of Social Sciences Advanced Social Science Collaborative fund, and the Department of Political Science and International Studies. Those interested in presenting are invited to submit a paper proposal or query to Ben Zala at BPZ898(at) by 15 May 2011.

All papers presented will be considered for publication in Civil Wars.