Skip to main content

Centre of African Studies: News


The Centre of African Studies has been awarded an ESRC-DFID poverty alleviation research grant

The University of Edinburgh Centre of African Studies has been awarded an ESRC-DFID poverty alleviation research grant for

A Comparative Analysis of Ex-Combatants' Economic and Social-Political Power during and after War.

Led by Dr Zoe Marks and Professor Paul Nugent, this project aims to bridge the gap between causal theories of conflict participation and the growing empirical research on post-conflict development by measuring subjective and objective empowerment and disempowerment in context.

It will answer the overarching question: How do discrepancies between individuals' wartime and peacetime opportunities and experiences affect their socio-economic reintegration, incentives to revert to violence, and pathways out of poverty? Particular attention will be given to gender relations, military organizational structures, and social networks.

The latest research on conflict finds young men caught in cycles of economic and political marginalization, the desperation and frustration of which allegedly spur participation in violence. Eventual de-escalation of fighting lands them back in further marginalized spaces, without the skills, schooling, or family structures necessary to sustain peacetime livelihoods. This project seeks to explore and test the theoretical assumptions of this cycle through a mixed methods comparative analysis of armed groups and their fighters, followers, and commanders.

Using surveys, in-depth interviews, and social network analysis, it looks at the disparate trajectories of peacebuilding at the individual, group, and community level in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It will elucidate the organizational and survival strategies of armed groups, and identify post-war patterns and risk factors for poverty and violence. Support networks and survival strategies will be investigated for enhancing future poverty alleviation and peacebuilding initiatives.

Edinburh Students