Risk, Uncertainty, and Violence in Eastern Africa
Previous research on warfare in a worldwide sample of societies by Ember and Ember (Journal of Conflict Resolution, 36, 242–262, 1992a) found a strong relationship between resource unpredictability (particularly food scarcity caused by natural disasters) in nonstate, nonpacified societies and overall warfare frequency. Focusing on eastern Africa, a region frequently plagued with subsistence uncertainty as well as violence, this paper explores the relationships between resource problems, including resource unpredictability, chronic scarcity, and warfare frequencies. It also examines whether resource scarcity predicts more resource-taking in land, movable property, and people, as well as the commission of atrocities. Results support previous worldwide results regarding the relationship between resource unpredictability and warfare frequency. Results regarding resource-taking and atrocities are more nuanced and complex. In almost all findings, relationships are generally in opposite directions in nonstate and state societies. In post-hoc analyses, atrocities are significantly more likely to be committed in states than in nonstates.
KeywordsWarfare Resource unpredictability Resource scarcity Eastern Africa Resource-taking Atrocities
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