Last week, journalists and academics posted the ten books that most influenced them. Putting a twist on that idea, I present seven works (articles and books) that have been seminal in the development of my own thinking on armed conflict and public health.
Azam, Jean-Paul, And Anke Hoeffler. 2002. “Violence Against Civilians in Civil Wars: Looting or Terror?.” Journal of Peace Research 39(4):461-485.
While not directly related to public health, Azam and Hoeffler (2002) present a causal mechanism between the political conditions of conflict and deliberate violence against civilians. The authors combine a game theoretic model with a statistical analysis of African refugee data to conclude that violence against civilians is often part of a larger, purposeful military strategy.
Ghobarah, Hazem Adam, Paul Huth, and Bruce Russett. 2003. “Civil Wars Kill and Maim People-Long after the Shooting Stops.” The American Political Science Review 97(2):189-202.
Ghobarah et al. (2003) is one of the few attempts to bring public health into political science conflict research. The authors, publishing in political science’s top journal, find that armed conflict negatively impacts health after the war has concluded. More importantly, the article is an initial attempt to reconcile the data and literatures of both fields.
Kaldor, Mary. 2007. Human Security. Polity.
Mary Kaldor’s book is a collection of seven essays describing the historical context, theoretical foundations, and development of human security as a concept. Human security is part of an attempt by a growing number of political scientists to study conflict from the perspective of populations rather than states. This sub-discipline is also the most open to incorporating public health into concepts of security.
Levy, Barry S., and Victor W. Sidel. 2000. War and Public Health. American Public Health Association.
The edited volume is a collection of core readings of the public health during armed conflict. While informative, the works contained are largely normative appeals as to the importance of health during conflict.
Murray, C J L et al. 2002. “Armed conflict as a public health problem.” BMJ 324(7333):346-349.
In the article, political scientist Gary King and three epidemiologists discuss the basic concept of war as a negative health consequence, the problems acquiring information on the health impact of war, and propose new and better measures of the health impact of armed conflict. Most importantly, the authors call for greater collaboration between political scientists and public health experts to better understand the dynamic between health and conflict. The article is not a research project but rather an attempt to publicize the gap in research regarding armed conflict and public health.
Prinzing, Friedrich. 1916. Epidemics Resulting from Wars.
Friedrich Prinzing’s book is one of the first major studies of public health during armed conflict. The author, writing during the first half of World War I, systematically describes epidemics during more than twenty wars. Prinzing offers few theories regard the relationship; rather he presents a historical overview of wartime epidemics. This work is the intellectual parent of Smallman-Raynor and Cliff’s 2004 seminal book.
Smallman-Raynor, M. R., and A. D. Cliff. 2004. War Epidemics: An Historical Geography of Infectious Diseases in Military Conflict and Civil Strife, 1850-2000. Oxford University Press, USA.
Smallman-Raynor and Cliff’s 2004 book is a comprehensive review of infectious disease epidemics during and after armed conflict throughout modern history. This seminal work uses both historical accounts and modern statistical analyses to describe the behavior of war-related epidemics. However, similar to Prinzing’s 1916 book, the authors develop few theories on the causal relationship between conflict and epidemics. Rather, they focus on presenting a detailed descriptive account of the phenomenon.
Christopher R. Albon is a political science Ph.D. specializing in armed conflict, public health, human security, and health diplomacy.