What do we study?
In our Conflictology group/lab, we are interested in studying closeness centrality between individuals, groups, or states and how this process leads to the evolution of conflict and/or resolution thereof. We believe conflict evolves through salient structures such as markets and pastoral transhumance spaces. We therefore, study space and networks in intertribal border markets as factories of conflict and infrastructure for peace. How is conflict produced in intergroup interaction or within those networks in space and time? How does space between individuals, groups or states influence prevalence of conflict? How does distance and social geometry influence conflict formation? How are conflict vibes and triggers distributed in space and time? How does individuals, groups or state’s spatial representation affect conflict evolution, resolution and transformation? Our approach is conflictological- progressing from states to the underlying interaction between individuals and within groups in space and time.
Our research is focused on two spaces: (1) The intertribal border markets- to mean both tangible and intangible expression to principles of social structure binding communities to a holistic system through human relations in time and space. We consider a ‘market’ to represent both spatial space and a set of norms, institutions and value system upon which individuals, groups or states transact conflict and peace. (2) Transhumance Pastoralism- this form of livelihood has shifted from community-based herding to market-centered. Climate change continues to shrink the grazing land, consequently, disrupting livelihood. This environmental change has led to the evolution of maladaptive strategies such as armament of pastoral communities with small arms and light weapons (SALW). Proliferation of SALW is the major cause of death and disrupted livelihood among pastoral communities.
We believe that some of the most challenging questions in conflictology and polemology (war studies) today, can be answered by studying states, individuals and groups as a whole unit through interdisciplinary prism. For example, the important question of how non-state actors such as the extremist groups shapes the domestic and international security architecture of states has been studied extensively in Africa and other parts of the globe. As a result of this research, the African Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council offers the opportunity to extremist groups to the negotiating table.
In our lab, we are expanding this research on the actors of conflict to address a broad scope of actors (state, individual and group) as a whole unit related to production, distribution and transformation of conflict. The interdisciplinary work in our lab hosts collaborations between conflictologists, geographers, mathematicians, climate change scientists, GIS experts, economists and international relations researchers, all under one umbrella of Conflictology. We strive to understand the human-human relations/networks that drives human behaviour and dictates their actions in groups and at states level in time and space.