Development and conflict

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

Rather than interpreting violence and war as necessarily the antithesis of development, the aim of this course is to engage with how violence and war are also embedded within processes of state formation and development. From this starting point, this course aims to develop more nuanced ways of disaggregating between different forms of violence and disentangling the causes, functions, meanings and outcomes of violence and war.

The course will enable students to interrogate the relationship between violent conflict and development and will provide a comprehensive grounding in theory, policy and practice surrounding war and violence. Throughout the course there is emphasis on understanding war and peace as a continuum, rather than seeing them as distinct and separate phenomena, and conceptualising a ‘spectrum of violence’ that explores both the ‘spectacular’ violence of war and other forms of structural, ‘slow’ and everyday violence that shape the relationship between conflict and development.


The course is structured so as to allow students to engage with

  • (1) the causes of violent conflict (weeks 1-3);
  • (2) the structures and manifestations of war (weeks 4-6);
  • (3) Interventions and the aftermath of war (weeks 7 – 10)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of boundary activation in mobilising violent conflict.
  • Examine how violent conflict shapes and is shaped by concepts of masculinity and femininity. 
  • Use the lenses of gender, ethnicity and class to explore the everyday experiences of violent conflict.

Core Reading

  • Cramer, Christopher (2006), Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries, London: Hurst. Chapter
  •  Tilly, Charles. 1985. “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime”, In: Bringing the State Back In, edited by Peter Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).
  •  Jutta Bakonyi and Berit Bliesemann De Guevara (2009), “The Mosaic of Violence: An Introduction”, Civil Wars, 11:4, pp.397-413.
  •  Kalyvas, Stathis, Ian Shapiro and Tarek Masoud (2008). “Introduction: integrating the study of order, conflict, and violence”. In: Stathis Kalyvas, Ian Shapiro and Tarek Masoud (eds). Order, conflict, and Violence. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Kaldor, Mary (2013) “In defence of new wars”. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 2 (1).
  •  Paul Richards (2005), “New War: An Ethnographic Approach”, In: Paul Richards (ed), No War No Peace: An Anthropology of Contemporary Armed Conflicts. Oxford: James Currey Ltd.
  • Leander, Anna. 2004. “Wars and the un-making of states: taking Tilly seriously in the contemporary world”, In: Stefano Guzzini and Dietrich Jung (eds.) Contemporary Security Analysis and Copenhagen Peace Research. London: Routledge.
  •  Richard Snyder (2006), “Does Lootable Wealth Breed Disorder?: A Political Economy of Extraction Framework”, Comparative Political Studies 39: 943–968.
  • Michael Barnett and Thomas Weiss. 2011. Humanitarianism Contested: Where Angels Fear to Tread (Routledge Global Institutions), Chapters 5 and 6. [electronic copy available via SOAS library website]
  •      Bellamy, Mark J. and Edward C. Luck. 2018. The Responsibility to Protect: From Promise to Practice, London: Polity Press. Chapter 1: R2P as Principle and Policy [electronic copy available via SOAS library website]
  •  Quinton-Brown, Patrick. Oct. 2020. “The South, the West, and the Meanings of Humanitarian Intervention in History.” Review of International Studies 46, no. 4: 514–33. [electronic copy available via SOAS library electronic journals]

Additional Reading

  • De Waal, Alex (2009). “Mission without end? Peacekeeping in the African political marketplace”. International Affairs, 85: 99–113.
  •  Macginty, Roger. (2012). “Against Stabilization”. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 1(1), 20-30.
  •  O'Kane, Eamonn. 2006. “When Can Conflicts be Resolved? A Critique of Ripeness”, Civil Wars, 8(3-4): 268-284.
  •  Di John, Jonathan and James Putzel. 2009. Political Settlements. Issues Paper. Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, International Development Department, University of Birmingham.
  •      5. Al-Ali, N (2005) ‘Reconstructing Gender: Iraqi women between dictatorship, war, sanctions and occupation’ Third World Quarterly vol 26, no 4, pp 739-758.