Is War Contagious? The Transnationalization of Conflict in Darfur

by Jennifer L. De Maio

Abstract

Scholars often regard the transnationalization of civil wars as unique expansions of the war and in doing so overlook the importance of the international system in contributing to the spillover of violence. The relationship between domestic situations and international contexts directly contribute to the transnationalization of civil war. I focus on the widening of the Darfur conflict from a domestic conflict to a war with strong international connections and ties. I argue that the transnationalization of war in Darfur is not the result of diffusion or contagion. Instead, the spillover of violence is the result of calculations on the part of the Sudanese government, which is using the violence in Darfur to wage proxy wars in Chad and the Central African Republic. A dangerous system of war has developed, with the governments of Chad, the CAR, and Sudan supporting and arming rebel groups in pursuit of wider political objectives and military goals.

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Jennifer De Maio received her PhD from UCLA and is Assistant Professor of Political Science at California State University, Northridge. Her research focuses on civil wars and conflict management in Africa and she is the author of Confronting Ethnic Conflict: The Role of Third Parties in Managing Africa’s Internal Wars, forthcoming from Lexington Books.