Trinity Researcher Receives Prestigious European Research Council Starting Grant

Posted on: 16 December 2011

A €1.4 million grant has been awarded to Dr Clionadh Raleigh of the Department of Geography in the School of Natural Sciences to enable her to continue her research on the causes of the various types of political violence found within and across African states.  The prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant, which aims to support the most talented early career researchers to carry out pioneering work in all fields of research, was awarded for a period of five years.

Political violence in Africa ranges from civil wars to communal conflict, political militia activity to violence directed towards civilians.  Dr Raleigh’s research takes a holistic approach to look at all of these forms of violence and seeks to explain them within a novel theoretical framework, emphasising two stages of onset indicators, and employing the latest available disaggregated data methodologies for spatial and temporal dynamics.   It also introduces spatial and scaled approaches to comprehensively study conflict, as risks, triggers and dynamics are spatially inscribed and hierarchical. 

The project, which is built on the most comprehensive, publicly available dataset on Armed Conflict Location and Events (ACLED) created by Dr Raleigh and her team of researchers, models the onset of political violence using sub-national factors, including political exclusion, economic marginalisation, human rights abuses, ecological shifts, public goods access and demographic characteristics.  The research emphasises that insurgency and opposition violence is a spatial and political process, shaped by the political, economic and social geographies of states.   

Currently the widespread view is that conflict in Africa is confined to a few crisis prone states.   New evidence suggests however that almost all states are sites of substantial, widespread political insecurity. Civil war accounts for less than half of all conflict across African states; the remaining half is composed of communal and political militia violence, rioting, protests and violence against non-combatants outside of a war context. These forms of ‘invisible’ violence often involve state collusion and present a widespread risk to civilians.

ERC Starting Grants aim to support up-and-coming research leaders who have the proven potential of becoming independent research leaders.  Dr Raleigh’s grant will support the creation of a new research teams which will consist of a lecturer, two post doctoral researchers and three doctoral researchers.