IRPS Colloquium
Carl Müller-Crepon

Roads to Rule, Roads to Rebel: Relational State Capacity and Conflict in Africa

Carl Müller-Crepon | ETH Zürich
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Maison de la paix, P1-850

The International Relations / Political Science Research Colloquium Series constitutes a collection of events organised by the Political Science / International Relations department.

As a part of its International Relations / Political Science Colloquium Series, the Department of Political Science/International Relations is pleased to invite you to a talk by Carl Müller-Crepon (ETH Zurich), who will give a presentation entitled ' Roads to Rule, Roads to Rebel: Relational State Capacity and Conflict in Africa '.

Abstract: Weak state capacity is one of the most important explanations of civil conflict. Yet, current conceptualizations of state capacity typically focus only on the state and ignore the relational nature of armed conflict. We argue that opportunities for conflict arise where relational state capacity is low, that is, where the state has less control over its subjects than local elites. This occurs in ethnic groups that are poorly accessible from the state capital, but internally highly interconnected. To test this argument, we digitize detailed road maps of Africa and convert them into a road atlas akin to Google Maps. We measure the accessibility and internal connectedness of groups via travel times obtained from this atlas. To address the endogeneity of road networks,
we use an instrumental variable design based on simulated road networks. We find that low relational state capacity is a key determinant of armed conflict in Africa.

Carl Müller-Crepon is a PostDoc at the International Conflict Research Group at ETH Zurich. His recently finished dissertation focuses on state building in twentieth century Africa and its effects on local development and conflict. At ETH Zurich, he is part of the ERC NASTAC project that analyzes the interplay between nationalism and state (trans)formation in Europe.