Limits of Control — Challenges to Spatiotemporal Analysis of Sub-State War
Christian Ickler – 2014
Territorial control by violent (non-)state actors (VNSA) in sub-state war features prominently in many fundamental concepts in conflict studies. Though there have been attempts to measure this phenomenon or at least delimit it from a spatiotemporal perspective, these have so far been based either primarily on qualitative expert assessments or rely on dyadic event data to determine contested areas. In this methodological research paper, I present three approaches that can be used to estimate actor presence on basis of spatiotemporal approximation. In doing so, I focus on challenges and obstacles that can be encountered when measuring territorial control via the proxy of territorial contestation. Spatiotemporally disaggregated violent incidence data is used to analyze a small subsample of countries in sub- Saharan Africa in order to determine various ways of visualizing territorial contest. Further points of discussion include the impact of data aggregation, the availability of context data and analytical methods used for these evaluations.