Publication Date

2012-04-30

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2012-04-30

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

International Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2012-04-09

First Committee Member

William C. Smith

Second Committee Member

Bruce M. Bagley

Third Committee Member

Laura Gómez-Mera

Fourth Committee Member

Elvira María Restrepo

Fifth Committee Member

Francisco Piedrahita

Abstract

This dissertation examines the politics of political violence in contemporary Colombia. Levels of violent contestation declined significantly in Colombia after 2003, during the implementation of the so-called Democratic Security Policy (DSP). Notwithstanding this general diminution of violence, the results of the DSP varied significantly across the different regions of the country. While the level of violent contestation of state authority by non-state actors has decreased in some regions, in others violence actually increased or remained basically unchanged. What explains these variations in political violence? The argument explored in this dissertation is that distinctive regional configurations or combinations of economic, social, political, institutional, cultural and geographic factors crucially shape the effectiveness of state security policies. Employing Boolean algebra and comparative case study analysis the dissertation examines seven variables in order to identify these regional configurations: poverty and inequality; presence of lootable resources (coca, oil and gold); institutional presence; political inclusion; number of insurgent groups; social density and geography. Although the implementation of the DSP produced significant changes in the level of contestation at a national scale, empirical analysis of the 1995-2011 period leads to the conclusion that the particular characteristics of each regional configuration are ultimately fundamental in determining variations in violent conflict at the subnational level.

Keywords

Violent contestation, Democratic Security Policy, armed conflict, greed vs. grievance, lootable resources, institutional presence , political inclusion

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