Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Laura Seay

Second Advisor

Guilain Denoeux


This thesis seeks to ascertain the apolitical crisis conditions under which armed non-state actors (ANSAs) accrue power. Existing literature examines the structures that nurture ANSA power, including territorial control, group legitimacy, and access to resources. A monopoly on the use of force enables groups to sustain these structures. I explore whether ANSAs instrumentalize moments of apolitical national crisis to nurture these pillars of power and expect that groups will decrease their reliance on the use of force, instead utilizing catastrophes as opportunities to bolster legitimacy among local populations. Statistical, spatial, and qualitative analyses buttress this pursuit. In short, this research suggests that groups do try to accrue power in times of crisis, though not through service provision. Instead, they rely on force initially, and with an interaction effect between the temporal and spatial variation of their use of force – a curious finding that necessitates further investigation. As well, inter-group competition does not increase; groups instead seek to build alliances when threatened. Lastly, some groups rely on performativity sometimes – namely, politically motivated ANSAs use symbolic appeals. The duration and expansiveness of a disaster might also affect which groups make these appeals.


natural disasters, economic crises, political violence, Ethiopia ONLF, Turkey PKK, Mexico Gulf Cartel

Click below to download supplemental content.

DF Creation.Rmd (31 kB)
R Markdown - Initial Data Wrangling

Multiple Linear Regression Models.Rmd (15 kB)
R Markdown - Statistical Analysis

SpatialAnalysis2.Rmd (32 kB)
R Markdown - Spatial Analysis

Case Studies.Rmd (6 kB)
R Markdown - Case Studies Selections and Plots

EM-DAT.xlsx (3589 kB)
Natural Disaster Dataset

Global Crisis Dataset.xlsx (1594 kB)
Economic Crisis Dataset

ansa3.rds (7761 kB)
Subset of UCDP GED excluding state-sanctioned violence episodes

wdi_pop.xlsx (43 kB)
Population Dataset

wdi_sqkm.xlsx (23 kB)
Country Area Dataset

UCDP GED.csv (150542 kB)
ANSA Attack Dataset

thesisCYG.rds (299 kB)
Country Year Group (CYG) Dataset

emdat3.rds (1370 kB)
EM-Dat with corrected lat-long values (35 kB)
Natural Disaster Time Thresholds (ArcGIS inputs)

Spatial (255769 kB)
Annualized Attacks within Distance Thresholds of Natural Disasters (ArcGIS outputs)

ansa4.rds (1982 kB)
Bare bones of ansa3.rds to quicken processing

emdatloc3.rds (178 kB)
Dataset to join with GIS outputs

emdatloc4.rds (24 kB)
Dataset from which to annualize natural disaster data

km100joined.rds (7283 kB)
Merge of km100raw.rds and emdatloc3.rds

km100raw.rds (4211 kB)
Compilation of annualized 100 km GIS outputs

km100_sub5.rds (42 kB)
100 km Time Intervals

km100_sub6.rds (1 kB)
100 km Mean & Mean Logged Fatalities and Civilian Casualties

km1000raw.rds (217496 kB)
Compilation of annualized 1000 km GIS outputs

km1000joined.rds (322585 kB)
Merge of km1000raw.rds and emdatloc3.rds

km1000_sub5.rds (165 kB)
1000 km Time Intervals

km1000_sub6.rds (1 kB)
1000 km Mean & Mean Logged Fatalities and Civilian Casualties