Dr. Laia Balcells Ventura, "Secessionism and Affective Polarization; Cases of Scotland, Catalonia, and Northern Ireland"


On October 25th at noon, please join Dr. Laia Balcells Ventura (Dept. of Government, Georgetown University) on Zoom for her lecture, "Secessionism and Affective Polarization; Cases of Scotland, Catalonia, and Northern Ireland." 

Can territorial contestation be a basis for affective polarization? If so, how does it vary across territories? The burgeoning literature on affective conflicts and polarization has largely focused on partisan divisions; Dr. Balcells argues that contentious political issues such as those relating to territorial integrity should also be a basis for such affective polarization, where citizens feel concord with those sharing policy preferences and animus for those who do not. Dr. Balcells specifies hypotheses about territorial-policy based affective polarization, and brings comparative survey evidence from three European regions with salient and contentious territorial claims: Scotland, Catalonia, and Northern Ireland. While these three cases encompass different outcomes of territorial disputes, Dr. Balcells results show strikingly similar levels of affective polarization.

Laia Balcells is a political scientist specializing in the study of political violence as well as nationalism and ethnic conflict. She earned her PhD from Yale University in 2010 and has been Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University (2012-2017). She has been a Niehaus Visiting Associate Research Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University (2015-16). Her first book, Rivalry and Revenge: The Politics of Violence during Civil War (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics; 2017), deals with the determinants of violence against civilians in civil war, and explores micro-level variation in the Spanish Civil War and Côte d’Ivoire. Her more recent work examines preferences for secessionism and their relationship with redistribution and identity-related factors. She has also recently explored post-war low-intensity violence (in Northern Ireland), wartime displacement (in Colombia and Spain), and cross-national variation in civil war warfare and its implications on conflict duration, termination and severity. She is currently using design-based inference tools to study the consequences of violence and transitional justice in post-conflict settings. She uses a multi-method approach to her research questions, and she has a particular interest in the study of historical phenomena using the tools of political science and economics.

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