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De Bruin Awarded $429K NSF Grant: Civilian Support for Armed Groups


Assistant Professor of Government Erica De Bruin has been awarded a $429,080 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to support the project "Explaining Civilian Support for Political and Criminal Armed Groups."

Scholars have found that one of the most important determinants of civilian support is the degree of control that an armed group has over a territory. Yet in many communities, multiple armed groups, including rebel groups, state security forces, drug trafficking organizations, and gangs, compete for control.

With two collaborators, Michael Weintraub (SUNY-Binghamton) and Livia Schubiger (London School of Economics), De Bruin will survey civilians in Colombia about their attitudes and behavior towards the armed groups that compete to govern their territory. The aim is to understand how civilians in these areas of contested control choose which groups, if any, to support.

Doing so is important because civilian support can help tip a community toward one group or another and thereby affect conflict outcomes. The findings will give scholars and policymakers new tools with which to better predict and prevent civilian collaborations with armed groups and facilitate the demobilization of combatants in post-conflict settings.

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