Comparing armed conflicts primes the production of categories that, when mobilized, can alter the trajectories of the conflicts. Considering the political dynamism of spaces of conflict and intervention, and that practitioners regularly seek out academic expertise, this book discusses the possibilities and limits of comparative approaches to understanding armed conflict and intervention.
Capacity-building experts, development workers, international organizations, and diplomats use their previous experiences and bring them into new contexts to understand and respond to their environment. Conflict actors can also make comparisons to buttress their political position in negotiations, consolidate their control over fighters, and as calls for transnational rebel solidarity. The use of such comparisons is an inherently political move and it has an impact on the production of scientific knowledge, on conflict dynamics themselves, and on the formulation and implementation of conflict management policy: comparison is inherently a practice of order-making. While there are important epistemological and methodological stakes associated with researchers engaging in comparison, there are also important productive effects connected to the research avenues taken.
The chapters in this book were originally published in the Civil Wars.
Introduction: Power and Comparative Methods: Performing the Worlds of Armed Conflicts
Bruno Charbonneau and Adam Sandor
1. The Importance of Context When Comparing Civil Wars
2. Comparing Conflict-related Sexual Violence: Expertise, Politics and Documentation
3. Fanning the Flames or a Troubling Truth? The Politics of Comparison in the Israel-Palestine Conflict
4. Privileged Sphere of Comparison: Empire, Methods and Conflict Intervention
5. The Middle East is Violence: On the Limits of Comparative Approaches to the Study of Armed Conflict
6. Normative Scaling and Crisis Knowledge: The Problematic Use of Selective Analogies to Compare Conflicts
Florian P. Kühn
7. Sahelistan? Military Intervention and Patronage Politics in Afghanistan and Mali
Romain Malejacq and Adam Sandor