• ’Ethnic conflict’ in Colombia? The impact of the unit of analysis and the area of study on recognition of wars as ‘Ethnic’

    FABIO DIAZ (see profile)
    Colombia, History, Ethnology--Study and teaching, International relations, Political science
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    #Colombia, #conflict, ethnicity, Peace, Colombian history, Ethnic studies, Sociology of conflict
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    Reflecting on methodology means thinking about the decisions a researcher makes when approaching the subject of study, the questions posed and the concepts embraced. The use of any methods should not overlook the epistemological and ontological assumptions underlying the selection of a particular methodology, though this is not often explicitly considered. Therefore within these considerations, the definition of the unit of analysis and the area of study of a research must be made explicit. Answering questions about where a research takes place and what or who is being analyzed is necessary for any good research. The current research on ‘ethnic conflicts’ seems to illustrate the effect of the lack of reflection on the previous questions and their implications for rigorous research. Therefore reflections about the validity of their findings and the explicit assessment of their methodological assumptions (such as the unit of analysis and the area of study) are scarce. The chapter discusses this through presenting the problems and advantages of using or not using ethnicity as a unit of analysis and of using or not using specific regions as areas of study in researching civil war. The discussion is illustrated throughout with reflections on how the notion of “ethnic conflict” relates to the on-going Colombian conflict. In particular it uses the province of ‘El Cauca’ as an area of study to assess the validity of analysis of the conflict as an ethnic conflict (where the area of study is local and the unit of analysis a particular group), as opposed to the descriptions of the Colombian conflict more commonly given in literature that do not mention ethnicity, taking the country as a whole as the area of study and the most salient armed groups in the country as the unit of analysis).
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago


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