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date: 16 October 2019

Summary and Keywords

A common focus of geography in IR research has been the research on the role of neighborhoods in conflict and peace. Although the theoretical explanation is still underdeveloped, several findings suggest that there may be a neighborhood effect on whether states are at peace or prone to conflict and war. In the realm of quantitative research, contiguous states were found to be more apt to go to war than non-contiguous states. This early work on contiguity spilled over to a concern with territory by looking at the role of borders. The greater the number of borders a state has, the more wars it is likely to experience. This finding can be interpreted in two ways. Those who take a contiguity perspective see the greater number of borders as making for more contiguous neighbors and therefore for a greater opportunity for war; whereas those who take a territorial perspective see the greater number of borders as requiring boundaries to be marked and/or defended with the use of force. Additionally, while the traditional domain of research concerning territory has been international relations, the territorial conflict scholarship has recently started to branch into the arena of domestic politics. Probably the most prominent focus of this new research has been the proclivity of ethnically based territorial claims that operate on the level of domestic politics to escalate to the point of armed conflict and civil war.

Keywords: geography, territory, contiguity, interstate conflict, territorial disputes, domestic politics, partition, secession

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