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Regular version of the site

Working paper

A Quasi-Experimental Study of Contagion and Coordination in Urban Conflict: Evidence from The Syrian Civil War in Damascus

Comparative Politics, Peace and Conflict Studies. PS. academia.edu, 2014
Motivated by dichotomous scholarly results on the conflict-communication nexus, I compare the predictions of two competing theories of urban conflict based on coordination and contagion. I exploit a quasi-experimental intervention in the Syrian nation-wide communications in November 2012 along with a geolocated dataset of daily conflict locations (n= 627) in Damascus to build a panel (n= 275 days x 252 spatial units = 69,300), to show that disruption of communications coincided with an unprecedented increase in the geographic dispersion of conflict. Furthermore, while compared to pro-regime atrocities rebel activity was more spread in space and time, lack of coordination meant more spatiotemporal clustering: a combination of global dispersion and local clustering defined the insurgency. On average, one additional prior incident in the spatiotemporal vicinity translated to 25% higher rates of recurrence. In addition to detecting significant spatiotemporal spillover of violence, I show that the contagion was effectively activated during the blackout.