Geospatial analyses of non-state actors in violent conflicts
This chapter focuses on the use of quantitative geospatial analysis for investigating non-state actors (NSA) in violent conflicts. Drawing on author's research concerning communal violence in the Darfur region of Sudan, it illustrates how the specific methodological approach can be translated into a concrete research design, and how problems that arise during the research process can be dealt with. The chapter focuses on conceptual issues related to the generation of plausible spatial hypotheses, the selection of units of analysis, the operationalization of core variables and the interpretation of results. Subnational geospatial analyses allow not only new ways of analysing conventional questions related to rebel groups and other NSA but also the analysis of new questions. Spatial disaggregation permits the consideration of characteristics of NSA that are very difficult or impossible to investigate on the national level. Subnational analyses may reveal that rebel groups are particularly active near military bases or government facilities.