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Sara Mitchell
Cross Border Troubles? Interstate River Conflicts and Intrastate Violence
Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 03:30pm - 05:00pm
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Ave. Columbus, OH 43201

Register for this event here.

To read Professor Mitchell's associated paper, please click here.
Sara Mitchell

Sara Mitchell is professor of political science and department chair at the University of Iowa. She received her Ph.D. in political science at Michigan State University in 1997. She is co-director of the Issue Correlates of War Project (http://www.paulhensel.org/icow.html) and an associate editor of Foreign Policy Analysis and Research & Politics.

She is coauthor of Domestic Law Goes Global: Legal Traditions and International Courts (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Guide to the Scientific Study of International Processes (Wiley-Blackwell 2012), The Triumph of Democracy and the Eclipse of the West (Palgrave Macmillan 2013), and Conflict, War, and Peace: An Introduction to Scientific Research (CQ Press/Sage 2013). She has edited several special journal issues and has published more than 30 journal articles and book chapters.

Mitchell is the recipient of several major research awards from the National Science Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development, as well as numerous research grants from the University of Iowa and Florida State University. Her areas of expertise include international conflict, democratic peace, international organizations, diversionary theory, international courts, conflict management, territorial, maritime, and river issues, and time series analysis.

Mitchell is co-founder of the Journeys in World Politics workshop, a mentoring workshop for junior women studying international relations (http://www.saramitchell.org/journeys.html). She received the Faculty Scholar Award (2007-10) and the Collegiate Scholar Award (2011) from the University of Iowa.


Mitchell examines the relationship between interstate river conflicts and intrastate violence such as riots, strikes, demonstrations, and civil wars in the Western Hemisphere, Western Europe, and the Middle East.  Interstate disagreements over cross-border river basins increase the potential for intrastate conflict by creating unequal access to water resources, displacing populations due to damming and diversion projects, and increasing demands for freshwater as population growth occurs.

Mitchell finds that states that experience more interstate conflicts over shared river basins are at a higher risk for multiple forms of intrastate conflict, raising the risk of internal conflict by as much as 800 percent. Water quantity issues tend to be the strongest factor increasing domestic conflict, while navigational, water quality, and irrigation issues have little influence on civil conflict. Armed conflicts and civil wars are more likely to occur in situations of ethnic dominance when countries also contest water issues with their riparian neighbors.


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