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Wars don’t look like what they used to. Using a variety of new data sources from modern war zones, Jacob Shapiro of Princeton University offers transformative insights into the nature of 21st century terrorism, civil wars and development aid. Join us for this conversation between Dr Shapiro and Dr Samuel DeCanio of King’s College London on the way we govern warfare.

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The Guest

Jacob N. Shapiro is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and co-directs the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project, a multi-university consortium that compiles and analyzes micro-level conflict data and other information on politically motivated violence in nine countries. He studies conflict, economic and political development, and security policy. He is author of The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations, co-author of Foundations of the Islamic State: Management, Money, and Terror in Iraq, and co-author of the forthcoming Small Wars, Big Data: The Information Revolution in Modern Conflict. His research has been published in broad range of academic and policy journals as well as a number of edited volumes. He has conducted field research and large-scale policy evaluations in Afghanistan, Colombia, India, and Pakistan.

Shapiro received the 2016 Karl Deutsch Award from ISA, given to a scholar younger than 40 or within 10 years of earning a Ph.D. who has made the most significant contribution to the study of international relations. He is an Associate Editor of Journal of Conflict ResolutionWorld Politics, and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, a Faculty Fellow of the Association for Analytic Learning about Islam and Muslim Societies (AALIMS), a Research Fellow at the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP), and an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS). Ph.D. Political Science, M.A. Economics, Stanford University. B.A. Political Science, University of Michigan. Prior to graduate school Shapiro served in the United States Navy.

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0:48: How did you get interested in this project?

2:05: Why should people be interested in studying asymmetric conflict?

4:20: Why are western militaries investing so heavily in technology when their opponents are often technologically weak?

6:33: What’s the theoretical argument of your book about asymmetric conflict?

9:30: Are there any drawbacks of studying conflict through the lens of non-combatants?

12:25: What is the role of communications and cellular technology in the relationship civilians have with combatants?

17:50: You had a student who had been a special operations task force commander in Iraq, and he had an interesting story about cell phones. Can you tell us that story?

20:52: Did insurgents have any response to civilians using cell towers to send tips to the government?

23:30: Was the telecommunications experience in Iraq different from Afghanistan?

25:10: When we think of the term ‘big data’, we usually think of maybe someone in Silicon Valley analysing large datasets removed from events on the ground. But the book draws on a variety of data sources. How did they help you study conflict?

30:24: What argument do you develop on the relationship between poverty, development aid and violence?

34:51: What’s the different impact of big and small aid projects?

39:00: Does timing matter for development aid? Should you bring in small projects first to reduce violence and follow it up with larger projects to enhance local development?

40:20: How did this research help you create a network between academics and policy makers?

42:17: What is the next stage of your research agenda?