Causes and Perpetrators of (Extreme) Political Violence (Scharpf)

Instructor: Adam Scharpf


In this course, we engage with contemporary research on the causes of political violence including mass killings and genocide. The central aim of this seminar is to introduce students to the current debates in the research on violence against civilians. Exploiting different analytical angles that are currently used in the literature, we will focus on macro-level and micro-level determinants of political violence. Special attention will be paid to the actors that perpetrate those acts. The seminar will guide students towards developing their own research questions and carrying out their own research. Students will be asked to produce work throughout the semester, beyond doing the readings in preparation for class discussion.

Example Literature

  • Weinstein, Jeremy M. 2007. Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence. Cambridge University Press.
  • Valentino, Benjamin A. 2004. Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century. Cornell University Press.
  • Verwimp, Philip. 2006. “Machetes and Firearms: The Organization of Massacres in Rwanda.” Journal of Peace Research 43(1): 5-22.

Course Requirements

Course requirements include regular attendance, active class participation, a class presentation, acting as a discussant, and two research papers (one on theory and one on empirics).