Articles, book chapters, and working papers

Peer-reviewed articles and book chapters

"The Long-Term Economic Legacies of Rebel Rule in Civil War: Micro Evidence from Colombia," Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2023 (with with Ana Maria Ibañez, Julian Arteaga, Juan Camilo Cardenas and Patricia Justino).

"Violence and Voting in the U.S.: How School Shootings Impact Elections." American Political Science Review (with Laura García and Matthew Lacombe), (2022).

"War-to-peace transitions and the behavioral legacies of civil war: A plea for looking beyond violence." International Journal of Drug Policy, (2021).

"The Qualitative Transparency Deliberations: Insights and Implications" Perspectives on Politics (with Alan Jacobs et al.) (2021).

"Subnational Units, the Locus of Choice, and Theory Building: The Case of Civilian Agency in Civil War." In Agustina Giraudy, Eudardo Moncada and Richard Snyder (Eds), Inside Countries: Subnational Research in Comparative Politics, Cambridge University Press (2019). 

"Civilian Cooperation and Non-Cooperation with Non-State Armed Groups: The Centrality of Obedience and Resistance." Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol 28 (4) (2017).

"Institutions, Civilian Resistance and Wartime Social Order: A process-driven natural experiment in the Colombian Civil War." Latin American Politics and Society, Vol. 58 (3), pp. 99-122 (2016).

"Conflict, violence and democracy in Latin America." Introduction to the first bilingual issue of Political y Gobierno , Vol. XXIII (1) (with Luis de la Calle) (2016).

"Wartime Institutions: A Research Agenda." Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 58(8) (2014).

"Civilian Resistance to Rebel Governance." In Ana Arjona, Nelson Kasfir and Zachariah Mampilly, Rebel Governance in Civil War (Cambridge University Press). Earlier version: HiCN Working Paper 170 (2015).

"One National War, Multiple Local Orders: An Inquiry into the Unit of Analysis of War and Post-war Interventions." In M. Bergsmo and P. Kalmanovitz (Eds), Law in Peace Negotiations. Oslo: Torkel Opsahl Academic Publisher (2009).

"Local Orders in Warring Times: Armed Groups' and Civilians' Strategies in Civil War." Qualitative Methods. Spring (2008).

"Recruitment into Armed Groups in Colombia: A Survey of Demobilized Fighters." In Yvan Guichaoua (ed.), Understanding Collective Political Violence. Palgrave-Macmillan. With Stathis Kalyvas (2011).

"Armed Groups, Communities, and Local Orders: An Inter-relational Approach." In Towards Rebuilding the Country: Development, Politics, and Territory in Regions Affected by the Armed Conflict. Edited by Fernan Gonzalez. Bogota, CINEP-ODECOFI (2009).

"A Micro-level Approach to the Armed Conflict in Colombia: Results of a Survey with Demobilized Fighters of Guerrilla and Paramilitary Groups." In Freddy Cante (Ed.), Argumentation, Negotiation, and Agreements. Bogota: El Rosario University. With Stathis Kalyvas. 2008. 

Working papers

“The Effects of Violence on Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Research Agenda.” Background Paper for the UNDP LAC Regional Human Development Report 2021. UNDP LAC Working Paper Series. Violence has profound effects on individuals, communities, and countries. It affects mental health, child development, education outcomes, political participation, and social relations. It transforms formal and informal institutions, the quality of governance, public goods provision, and democracy. Yet, these effects do not impact all people equally: gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, and geographic location can determine people’s risk of being a victim as well as how severe the consequences are that they will endure. When violence systematically affects the most disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, it can reinforce and amplify inequality. Surprisingly, the causal effect of violence on inequality has received scant attention. This background paper hopes to lay the foundations for a research agenda on the effects of violence on inequality in human development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)—the most violent and most unequal region in the world. By connecting various literatures on the dynamics of violence in LAC with different bodies of work on the effects of violence on individual and collective outcomes, the paper discusses several channels by which violence can perpetuate and amplify various types of inequalities.

“The Impact of Political Killings on Political Participation: Evidence from Colombia.” With Mario Chacon (EAFIT, Colombia) and Laura García (University of Toronto). This paper investigates the impact of selective killings of politicians on political participation in Colombia. We compile an original dataset on almost 2,000 killings of mayors and municipal council members over the last four decades and estimate the effects of this violence on political participation and the quality of municipal governments. Using municipalities where killing attempts failed as a comparison group, we find that political killings significantly decrease turnout.

“The Violent Bias in the Study of Civil War.” With Juan Pablo Castilla (Los Andes, Colombia). The study of civil war has focused, for obvious reasons, on violence. Yet, civil war is about much more than violence. We argue that the focus on violence hinders our understanding of the most common type of armed conflict in the world today. In particular, equating civil war and violence leads to (i) a theoretical bias, whereby scholars overlook other aspects of war that could shape the outcome of interest; and (ii) an empirical bias that assumes, mistakenly, that when we measure violence we are measuring civil war. We illustrate our claims with studies on the Colombian conflict, a case that has been studied by many political scientists and economists. We conclude with ideas on how to move this research program forward.

“The Legacies of Civil War on Citizens’ Preferences for the Rule of Law.” With Juan Camilo Cárdenas (UMASS Amherst), Patricia Justino (WIDER & Institute of Development Studies, UK), Ana María Ibañez (Interamerican Development Bank) and Sarah Moore (Northwestern University).  Scholars and policy makers often assume that civil war erodes citizen support for the rule of law.  This premise is at the core of research programs on, and policies for, post-conflict reconstruction. Yet, the weak support for the rule of law in war-torn societies has been assumed rather than investigated, and the mechanisms are seldom spelled out. This paper tests this assumption---and some of its implicit mechanisms---in the Colombian case. We focus on citizen support for extralegal measures in order to fight crime, a policy area where support for the rule of law is weak in many Latin American countries, especially those that have recently endured a civil war. Relying on different bodies of work, we identify the potential mechanisms by which civil war, or some of its dynamics, could erode citizen support for the rule of law. Based on these literatures, we would expect citizens living in areas that have endured the presence of non-state armed actors, more violence, higher levels of disorder, or more repressive rebel institutions---especially if those institutions translated into greater security---to be more prone to disregard the rule of law. Using data on individuals and communities both during and after war in Colombia, we find that this is not necessarily the case. Our findings show a positive association at best, and a non-significant correlation at worst, between each of these factors and support for the rule of law. These results raise questions about widespread assumptions about war-torn communities and open new avenues of research on the political legacies of war, political behavior, and the rule of law. The results also have implications for post-conflict interventions aiming to foster the rule of law and democracy in post-conflict societies.

"Attitudes of Former Members of the Farc-EP Towards Their Reincorporation Process" (Actitudes de exintegrantes de las Farc-EP frente a la reincorporación). With Leopoldo Ferguson, Natalia Garbiras-Diaz, Juana Duque, Tatiana Hiller, Lewis Polo, and Michael Wientraub. CEDE Working Paper No. (24). As of 2019, two years had passed since the demobilization of the Farc-EP. The reincorporation process of former combatants is one of the main challenges of implementing the Final Agreement signed between the Colombian state and the guerrilla organization in November 2016. Progress on reincorporation will ensure its sustainability. In this document we analyze the attitudes of former members of the Farc-EP with respect to this process during its early phases. To do so, we use the results of the National Reincorporation Registry (RNR), carried out between the National Reincorporation Agency (ARN) and the Farc component of the National Reincorporation Council (CNR). After showing that former members display positive attitudes towards their reincorporation process, and noting some others that raise concerns, we explore which characteristics of former members of the Farc-EP and their environment are associated with better attitudes and conditions for the implementation of this point of the peace agreement. We complement this analysis by contrasting activities of the population in the process of reincorporation with those of the civilian population, drawing parallels in terms of public policy challenges for both groups. The evidence presented in this document sheds light on possible future priorities to determine where efforts should be concentrated.

“Process-Driven Natural Experiments.” With Silvia Otero (El Rosario University, Colombia). This paper develops a novel methodology called Process-Driven Natural Experiments (PRODNEs), which combines elements from natural experiments, process-tracing, and small-N comparisons.  As in natural experiments, a PRODNE takes advantage of an exogenous shock that randomly assigns a treatment but, in contrast to experiments, it entails the analysis of a small number of cases. Rather than estimating the average treatment effect by comparing treated and non-treated units, PRODNEs rely on within-case analysis on a few units using process-tracing, and comparing the trajectories or causal pathways across cases. We argue that PRODNEs can be useful for both theory-building and theory-testing in various types of research designs that rely on either process-tracing or experiments as the logic of causal inference. In this paper, we explain how PRODNEs relate to other methods and identify their advantages within different research designs. We argue that PRODNES are an important addition to qualitative, quantitative, and multi-method methods, and allow for exploiting in creative ways the great inferential potential of natural experiments. 


“Do Rebel and Criminal Governance Thrive Where the State is Weak?” The literatures on civil war and organized crime argue that rebel and criminal groups thrive in localities where the state is weak. The emphasis is usually on state provision of basic services and security because these two factors are expected to determine civilian cooperation with the state as well as with rebel and criminal groups. Yet, these organizations also obtain the cooperation they need in local territories by becoming de facto rulers. In this paper, I advance two arguments. First, what allows rebels and criminals to rule local populations is not state weakness but poor governance, regardless of its source: high-quality non-state governance can shield communities from the entrenchment of rebel and criminal groups even if the state is absent. This is of particular importance in developing countries because swaths of territory are often governed by non-state authorities. My second argument is that dispute resolution institutions, which have been largely overlooked, are as important as security and service provision because rebels and criminals can more easily consolidate their rule in localities where dispute resolution is highly inefficient or illegitimate. I test this argument as well as the causal mechanisms with original, longitudinal evidence on state capacity, governance, and rebel and criminal rule in areas where political and criminal armed actors have operated in Colombia. The paper has implications for our understanding of rebel and criminal behavior, the evolution of insurgency and organized crime, and policy debates about counterinsurgency, post-conflict reconstruction, and the prevention of organized crime.


“An institutionalist approach to civil war recruitment: Evidence from Colombia and Kosovo.” Why do men and women join non-state armed groups? The literature on this topic provides multiple explanations, and the existing empirical evidence overwhelmingly shows that joiners are driven by very different motivations. Still, we lack a theoretical approach that can reconcile these findings. Moreover, we continue to ignore the conditions under which recruitment is most likely to take place. In this paper, I argue that recruitment is most likely to occur in localities where rebels (or other non-state armed groups) become de facto rulers. Just as institutions shape human choice in peacetime, there are multiple mechanisms by which wartime institutions influence civilians’ decision to enlist. I test this argument with data on joiners and non-joiners in two very different civil wars: the Colombian war (1968-2016) and the Kosovo war (1998-1999). The paper provides a framework to explain not only why civilians join armed groups but also where are they most likely to do so. In addition, it offers an explanation of the seemingly contradictory findings of the existing literature. Being the first study of micro-level data on civilians and combatants in more than one conflict, the paper also makes an important empirical contribution to our understanding of participation in civil war.

"Dispute resolution: The tool for aspiring rulers." With Deborah Boucoyannis (George Washington University).  

“State capacity: A subject-centered approach." With Sarah Moore (Northwestern University).


“A research agenda on gender and data collection on civil war phenomena.” With Sarah Moore (Northwestern University) and Kiran Stallone (UC Berkeley).

"Armed Groups' Governance in Civil War: A Synthesis." Literature review commissioned by the Program on States and Security (2009).


Violence against politicians in Colombia, with Mario Chacón (in progress).

Rampage school shootings in the U.S., with Laura Gracía-Montoya and Matthew Lacombe.