Adam Lichtenheld

Fellowship Recipient, Rocca Dissertation Research Fellowship
Department: Political Science
Country Expertise: Uganda
Fellowship Year(s): 2017
Project/Theme Title: Making Migrations: The Coercive Use of Forced Displacement in Civil Conflicts
Abstracts: Why do armed groups intentionally uproot civilians in civil wars? This project draws on original cross-national data and fieldwork in Uganda to show that the instrumental use of wartime displacement goes well beyond instances of ethnic cleansing. Combatants uproot civilians not only to expel "undesirable" populations, but also to identify undesirables by forcing people to send costly and visible signals of loyalty based on whether -- and to where --they flee. Moreover, displacement renders civilians more accessible and "legible," enabling combatants to extract intelligence, economic rents, and recruits from a larger segment of the population. Uprooting civilians can therefore provide unique solutions to information and resource problems by acting as a sorting mechanism and a force multiplier. In light of growing concern over the unprecedented number of people uprooted by modern wars, identifying the factors that drive combatants to displace will aid efforts to prevent, mitigate, and better respond to these crises and their consequences.
Fellowship Year(s): 2015
Project/Theme Title: Forced migration as a weapon of war
Abstracts: "Making Migrations: The Strategic Use of Forced Displacement in Armed Conflicts" This dissertation seeks to explain when, where, and why governments intentionally uproot civilians during armed conflicts. I draw on multiple forms of evidence -- an original cross-national dataset, local-level displacement patterns, and interviews with policymakers and displaced communities in Uganda -- to show how the strategic use of population displacement is an outgrowth of elite efforts to modernize the state and construct political authority in outlying areas. As the first study to systematically analyze forced displacement as a conflict strategy, this project provides conceptual, theoretical, and empirical clarity regarding an increasingly massive feature of international politics and a "predominant, even overwhelming" component of contemporary wars.1 By identifying the factors that drive authorities to use displacement as a weapon of war, this project will aid policy efforts to prevent, mitigate, and better respond to forced migrations.