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PhD Students

Dario Wachholz


Research Interests

  • Sociocultural determinants of intra-state armed conflict
  • Inter-ethnic violence
  • Sub-Saharan Africa


Cultural Collectivism and Armed Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa

This thesis explores the causality between
culture and armed conflict. It suggests intergroup violence largely results
from certain types of group organisation. Loosely-affiliated groups fail to
organise armed violence, while closely-knit groups tend to show organised
outgroup aggression because their structures entail internal social cohesion
and antagonisms towards others. Culture represents the common norms, values and rituals shared by a distinct group of people and predisposes to the ability for
organisising coherent groups. This predisposition mirrors the dichotomy between
individualism and collectivism as the archetypes of group-specific cultural
socialisation. Groups which highlight the importance of individualism have a
much smaller capacity to engage in armed conflict than groups whose culture is
highly focused on collectivism. Cultural norms and rituals bifunctionally
transmit information about the social order and constitute its very foundation
by ensuring pro-social behaviour. Culture acts on human beings through a nexus
of inter alia infant and adult socialisation, identification, compliance and neurology. Common myths, symbols and rituals are strongly integrative and signal commitment to a common cause. Such mechanisms set up boundaries that represent social distance between group members and outsiders. However, these characteristics can become distinct features of prejudice and foster mutual and perpetually-reinforced intergroup antagonisms, a belief in the inherent morality of the own opinion, stereotypes, parochial altruism and the willingness to cause harm.


Dr Christine Cheng


Dario holds a BA in political science from the University of Bamberg and an MA with distinction in War in the Modern World from King’s College London. He interned at the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies (Institute of African Affairs) and won the Hanson Prize for highest first year result in the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy while completing the Associateship of King’s College London.



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