Jóhanna K Birnir
University of Maryland, College Park
Few scholars have had as profound a substantive and methodological influence on the field of conflict studies as has Ted Robert Gurr. Advances that Gurr’s research agenda initiated provide a loose unifying theme to the volume’s 14 substantive chapters. Some authors explicitly build their review on Gurr’s contributions to specific topics, including grievance (Asal & Deloughery), crime (Grabosky), and terrorism (Englund & Stohl). Another thoroughly surveys changes in empirical patterns of wars, albeit with a passing reference only to Gurr’s data as one of many collections (Wallensteen), and one reviews research on climate change and conflict (Theisen, Gleditsch & Buhaug), a topic that Gurr’s own chapter notes that he did not explore. What the volume lacks in thematic cohesion, individual chapters make up for in excellent overviews of the evolution of the literature about the discrete topic that they examine. In addition, several of the chapters illustrate the authors’ research agendas, including the relationship between liberalism, religion and conflict (Lichbach), the role of security in state choices (Starr & Simon), and the interplay between transnational and indigenous contestations (Martin & Wilmer). Regrettably of 21 contributors only 3 are women, and only Barbara Harff is a sole author of a chapter. In addition to the topics covered in the volume, many women scholars work on topics increasingly crucial to the conflict field such as refugees and immigrants, or gender and conflict, which Gurr highlights among the ’future [topics] of conflict studies’. Finally, an external bibliography, available only on the publisher's website, is an unusual feature better incorporated into the volume itself, whose primary purpose is surveying the literature.