Research

My research can be divided into three broad topics. The first explores connections between the environment and conflict. This is the topic that has received most of my attention in recent years. Funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme, the European Research Council, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the US Department of Defense, the World Bank, and various programs within the Research Council of Norway, this work has benefited from collaboration with scholars from, e.g., ETH Zurich, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Observer Research Foundation, University of MarylandUniversity of Sussex, and Uppsala University.
* Do short-term climatic anomalies increase conflict risk?
* Under what conditions can water scarcity induce cooperation?
* Is there a link between agricultural production and political violence?

A second cluster of publications addresses the relationship between ethno-political exclusion and civil war. This work emerged from an EU-funded collaborative project between ETH Zurich, University of Essex, and PRIO; the GROW-Net. Research under this umbrella mirrors the first group in emphasizing disaggregated approached to the study of armed conflict but puts the focal lens squarely on local actors and their political context instead of studying predefined geographical units (conflict zones, districts, grid cells). Among other things, this work has shed light on the following questions:
* What matters more for conflict risk; interpersonal or intergroup inequalities?
* How does group size and political status affect local ethno-national rebellion?
* Is the inequality-conflict nexus scale dependent?

The third pillar of my research concerns local determinants of civil war, including spatial attributes of conflicts. This was the core focus of my PhD project and has remained a key interest since. Part of this work has involved geo-referencing the UCDP-PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset (until v.3-2005; since updated as the PRIO Conflict Site dataset) and the development of a unified framework for studying spatial conflict data: the PRIO-GRID. This work continues as part of PRIO’s contribution to the ENCoRe network. Relevant research questions include:
* Does local natural resource wealth increase conflict risk?
* What affects where conflicts break out, within countries?
* How does location and terrain influence the duration of civil war?

I lead two multi-year research projects at PRIO:  “Climate Variability and Security Threats” (CLIMSEC; 2015-20), funded by the European Research Council, and “Climatic Anomalies and Violent Environments” (CAVE; 2015-18), funded by the Research Council of Norway; see the projects’ pages at the PRIO web for further details.