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‘Violent trajectories’: A space-time analysis of organised violence in Nigeria

Authors: Nick Dorward*, , Levi John Wolf, University of Bristol, Sean Fox, University of Bristol
Topics: Political Geography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Africa
Keywords: sequence analysis, organised violence, Nigeria
Session Type: Paper
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There is a growing body of literature exploring the subnational and local geographies of organised violence in low income countries (Raleigh, 2014; Wig and Tollefsen, 2016). However, comparatively little research investigates the longitudinal trajectories taken by specific localities. Questions remain unanswered surrounding how dominant forms of violence change over time, how these trajectories are distributed geographically, and what types of places, or structural features, they are associated with? This talk builds upon recent methodological innovations applying longitudinal sequence analysis to the social sciences (Abbott, 2000; Aubrey and Fasang, 2010; Delmelle, 2016). Drawing upon over two-decades of fine-grained violent event data, we characterise the distinct classes of violent trajectories in the histories of different localities within Nigeria. Furthermore, we incorporate the effects of a localities’ immediate neighbourhood to account for spatial context. Our approach creates a discrete classification based open the predominant types of violence displayed within a given area-year, applying a time series clustering algorithm to determine the similarity of localities given their longitudinal histories. Interpreting these sequences can bring us closer to understanding the recent historical and geographical contexts surrounding violent and non-violent states and make predictions regarding the future states a place is likely to experience. Furthermore, by linking to covariate data, we can engage with the structural features associated with different histories, revealing more about the types of places prone to violence. This knowledge can from the basis of policy interventions designed to intercept violent trajectories and change risk factors that cause and sustain violence.

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