Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Committee Member

Jonathan Strand

Second Committee Member

John Tuman

Third Committee Member

David Damore

Fourth Committee Member

David Kreamer

Number of Pages



Since the 1990s questions of environmental security and resource politics have become salient areas of examination within academia, policy circles, the media, and popular culture. While there are great concerns over the posited effects of global climate change, the empirical literature remains unclear as to if and how freshwater insecurity leads to cooperation or conflict at the subnational level. My dissertation examines this puzzle by asking a more narrow question: how does the intersection of water insecurity, ethnic politics, and state capacity contribute to communal cooperation and conflict? My dissertation contributes to the literature along multiple dimensions. First, unlike most of the extant literature, I incorporate institutions, state capacity, and political agency into my models. Second, I have reified the existing theoretical arguments for environmental conflict to explain the processes by which ethnic exclusion and water insecurity interact to produce intrastate conflict. Third,I have adapted new measures of water insecurity from the hydrological literature. Fourth, I explore different dimensions of water insecurity (geographic and economic water insecurity) that have not been examined previously. Fifth, my empirical chapters have demonstrated that states passing the \water barrier," a threshold upon which a state cannot meet its freshwater needs, face significantly higher levels of riots, protests, and ethnic conflicts compared to states not passing this threshold. By extension, the contagion effect" of these localized climate disruptions often have regional, or global significance. My findings demonstrate that both the onset and intensity of subnational conflict is contingent upon different modes of water insecurity and the dynamics of ethnic political exclusion. Consequently, my contribution to the scholarly climate change debate demonstrates how examining new measures of water insecurity can be used to improve our understanding of how freshwater scarcity influences intrastate conflicts.


Civil Wars; Environmental Politics; Ethnic Conflict; Ethno-Environmental Conflict; Water Conflict; Water Security


Political Science

File Format


File Size

0.788 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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