Gaku Ito, “The Insurgent Disease? Simulating the Geography of Insurgent Violence,” Working Paper Series Study on Artificial Societies no.48 (May 2015)
There is now a near consensus among students of civil war that violent incidents in civil war clusters in space. However, the underlying generating mechanisms remain disputed. Two primary explanations have been proposed to explain spatial patterns of insurgent violence: first, clusters of insurgent violence stem from contagious nature of insurgent violence; and second, clusters of violence simply mirror a similar distribution of structural factors that attract insurgents. This paper aims to address this question using an agent-based model incorporated with geo-referenced data of Afghanistan. This data-driven computational approach allows for nuanced specification of the micro-level mechanisms of insurgent behavior underlying the observed macro-level spatial patterns of violence. The computational model demonstrates that the observed patterns of in- surgent violence in Afghanistan are consistent with a simple mechanism of relocation diffusion constrained by the exogenous conditions. The in-sample predictive perfor- mance of the computational model underscores its internal validity. Moreover, the findings are found to be robust to changes in model’s modifications.
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