2016 News

In June, the German Foundation of Peace Research (DSF) decided to fund my research project on group hostilities in conflict zones. I’ll be able to use the technology developed in collaboration with Roos van der Haer and Niranjan Sahoo to run electronic surveys (with mobile cash reimbursements) in India and Kenya. In addition, Constantin Ruhe has joined the project and we’re currently finalizing the research plan. Finally, I scored a 5-year position at the Zukunftskolleg which entails a lot more time to do research and build a teaching portfolio. I am very grateful to the DSF, the Zukunftskolleg, and my collaborators.

New survey system

Over the past few months, I’ve developed a computer system for reimbursed mobile surveys (RMS). Interviews are conducted via SMS and respondents are paid through the M-Pesa mobile cash system. In collaboration with Roos van der Haer and Niranjan Sahoo, I’ve put together a working paper describing the technology and we’ve manged to deploy the system to India. Two more deployments are underway in Afghanistan and Kenya. The focus so far has been on the technology, but great new substantive research is on the horizon for the next conference season! I’ve also published some papers: The second dissertation paper has appeared in “Conflict Management and Peace Science” and collaborative work with Andrew Linke and Halvard Buhaug was published in the “International Studies Review”. The conflict zone prediction (see below) has been conditionally accepted in “Political Science Research and Methods”.

Conflict zone prediction

I wrote a new paper on predicting conflict zones in civil wars. In a nutshell, the basic assumption here is that the determinants of violence in civil wars are often local (as the literature tells us). I use conflict events from the UCDP GED dataset and geographic covariates of violence to fit Point Process Models to predict the spatial distribution of violence in ten civil conflicts. In a cross-validation test, the models fitted to nine countries predict the remaining country rather well. Check out the extrapolations for Africa and the Greater Middle East if you have Google Earth installed here or take a quick glance at this poster for the general idea.

Methods paper in Political Geography

In collaboration with Karsten Donnay, I’ve put together a method for analyzing reactive patterns in spatial event data. The corresponding paper and the R package are now available online. We demonstrated the efficiency of the method in Monte Carlo simulations and its merit in an analysis of civilian reactions to insurgent violence in Iraq. I hope the software will help uncover conflict dynamics in irregular wars and maybe even suitable interventions to stop local cycles of violence.


I actually finished my PhD thesis last fall… That was a big pile of work to say the least. I’ll try to update this site more frequently now that this thing is taken care of…