Local Leaders, Dispute Arbitration, & Violence in Nigeria

Tuesday, December 6, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Virtual to Public. Only those with an active Stanford ID with access to E008 in Encina Hall may attend in person.

Catlan Reardon seminar

Communal violence remains an enduring experience across many multi-ethnic societies. In these diverse communities, small-scale clashes can quickly escalate into severe cycles of violence. While tensions within these communities are nearly ubiquitous, the outbreak of violence is not. What accounts for these pockets of peace within conflict zones? I argue that violent outbreaks depend on the efficacy of local leaders—and citizen responses—in dispute resolution, which are shaped by the strength of ties leaders possess both within (bonding capital) and across (bridging capital) communities.

To examine my core theoretical predictions, I conducted a randomized controlled trial and surveys with local leaders and citizens across 88 communities in Nigeria. I find that leaders with cross-group ties perceive outgroup leaders with more credibility, report more successful dispute resolution and, ultimately, fewer violent events. In addition, I find that the residents who live under more bridged leaders are more likely to comply with decisions and report improved security.


Catlan Reardon
Catlan Reardon is the Einstein-Moos Postdoctoral Fellow at CDDRL at Stanford University. She received her PhD in Political Science in August 2022. Her research lies at the intersection of elite political behavior, violence, and the political economy of development, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Her book project explores how local leaders impact violence through examining their key roles as arbiters of local disputes, drawing primarily from field research in North-Central Nigeria. She is particularly interested in understanding the incentives behind local leader behavior within local conflict resolution and how this influences the extent to which small-scale clashes escalate into larger spirals of violence. She also has several projects examining the effect of top-down and bottom-up peacebuilding interventions on violence and social cohesion. She has conducted field work in India, Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria.

Virtual to Public. Only those with an active Stanford ID with access to E008 in Encina Hall may attend in person.