Research Portfolio Post #7

My research question of the small-n neopositivist research is “Why does Christian religious peacebuilding intervention and prevention differ in conflicts within Latin America?”

With this question I want to use Latin America as an area of focus, in order to research how and why religious peacebuilding varies in different countries in Latin America. The dependent variable in this question is type of religious invention in peacebuilding, which would be measured in type of peacemaking method.[1] This would be measured in no involvement, traditional diplomatic efforts, track II peace-making, and field-diplomacy. [2] These methods to peace making are evaluated and further explained in Luc Reychler’s work.[3]

Primary sources to operationalize the dependent variable would include looking at the Vatican News to follow church news and involvement in Latin America.[4] This information can provide specific news about the involvement of the Catholic Church in Latin America, which has a major presence and role in Latin America. The news can outline different ways that the Catholic Church is becoming involved in affairs within Latin America.[5] Another primary source that would also be used to operationalize the dependent variable would be to look at statements and peacebuilding actions of the secretariat of state in the Vatican.[6] This can outline the overall goals and feelings of the Catholic Church regarding specific aspects of peacebuilding or conflicts, which can be checked with other sources to see the future action of lack of action aligns with statements from the secretariat of state.[7] To see the recent events occurring in Latin America, from a more secular perspective and to see news events that involve other Christian denominations El País is a source that can be used. [8]

Using each of these sources allows the actions of Christian institutions, especially the Catholic Church, to be tracked and studied in this research.


[1] Reychler, Luc. “RELIGION AND CONFLICT.” International Journal of Peace Studies 2, no. 1 (1997):, 20.

[2] Ibid, 20.

[3] Ibid, 19.

[4] “Secretariat of State – Index.” n.d. Accessed October 27, 2019.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “The Latin American Church Joins Pope’s Appeal for Peace in Syria – Vatican News.” 2018. April 16, 2018.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Luzón, Javier Moreno. 2019. “Análisis | ‘Por Dios y por España.’” El País, October 24, 2019, sec. Opinion.



Luzón, Javier Moreno. 2019. “Análisis | ‘Por Dios y por España.’” El País, October 24, 2019, sec. Opinion.

Reychler, Luc. “RELIGION AND CONFLICT.” International Journal of Peace Studies 2, no. 1 (1997): 19-38.

“Secretariat of State – Index.” n.d. Accessed October 27, 2019.

“The Latin American Church Joins Pope’s Appeal for Peace in Syria – Vatican News.” 2018. April 16, 2018.


4 thoughts to “Research Portfolio Post #7”

  1. Savannah,

    I agree with your selection of primary data from the Vatican News because, as you mention, news media about the Vatican’s involvement and position as the largest Catholic Institution would be helpful in outlining peacekeeping trends.
    Along with your primary sources, it may be helpful to elaborate and clarify how you plan to operationalize your DV. For example, what criteria have to be met or what standards of peace-building have to be met for each type that you’ve listed: no involvement, traditional diplomatic efforts, track II peace-making, and field-diplomacy? How are these types demonstrated or represented; is this through media sources and official statements as you mention or is this decision based on a combination of both? What differentiates and qualifies each type of intervention and how do they fit within the case?
    Looking into individual types such as types of involvement, measured as “some”, “none”, or “ a lot” or types of peace-building diplomacy, “traditional”, “field” or “none” may clarify how peace-building and intervention strategies types work. Like in Saunders’ article, use a combination of certain factors to indicate a certain outcome (transformative or nontransformative) which for you would be types of peace-building that you expect.
    Additional primary sources that may be helpful could include public response or survey data from locals on their attitudes toward Christians, the Vatican and intervention. This data could provide insight into the nature of peace-building as being more or less effective in instances where the population have support or no support for the Vatican. Also, data from Christian NGOs on the ground doing peace-building work would be helpful in outlining difference in peace-building initiatives. NGOs and The Vatican could be looked at through their allocation of funds to certain peace-building projects and even public and individual donations that outline specific incentives and planning.

    I look forward to seeing how your research continues and I;m excited for your topic as I think there is a lot of potential to shed light and find interesting patterns on peace building, the Vatican and Institutions.

  2. Hi Savannah,
    This is the first I’ve read of your work, and I greatly enjoyed it. First, you’ve properly constrained your unit of analysis to a particular region—Latin America. Next, you’ve identified peacemaking methods from existing scholarship—diplomatic efforts, field diplomacy, and others. Something you’ve also done particularly well is identify the primary sources that will be useful to you, such as media from Vatican News. As someone who enjoys the linguistic aspect of nearly everything, it might be fascinating to collect a set of keywords that reappear within live news reports, tweets, and articles, and figure out why certain language is harnessed repeatedly to evoke a particular message or image of the Catholic Church.
    Another primary source that may be similarly useful is a comparison—how do those in Latin America feel about the Vatican’s methods for peacemaking and religion-building? How do those news sources offer an entirely different story of what is happening? Your question is about how conflicts differ in Latin America; trying to determine how conflict arises will be easier if you are evaluating the emotions and perspectives of those on the ground, in the Latin American communities, and you can start to determine when the seeds of dissent and dissatisfaction and conflict have begun to brew, and in what ways.
    One suggestion for improvement is to specify how you will measure those peacemaking methods. What values can “diplomatic efforts” take? Will it be on a Likert scale? Will it be merely “present/absent”? In addition, field diplomacy can have several different indicators. What are those indicators—communication, conciliation, mediation? What do each of those three look like?

    I look forward to continuing to read your work!

  3. Savannah,
I think this more narrow topic is very interesting, and very relevant as much of the population of Latin America is catholic, and tends to practice a more conservative, traditional form of the religion. In your research of the variation of peacebuilding efforts, are you just looking at techniques or also researching the effects and outcomes those techniques had/if they succeeded or failed? If I am not mistaken, many of the groups that do field-work as representatives of the Catholic Church are local missionary groups that are not in direct communication with the Vatican. How would this play a role in your research? Are you factoring this into the track II peacemaking? How would each of these types be represented? I feel like clarity on operationalization would clarify that. I’m excited to see progress on your research!

  4. Savannah — you do a good job of discussing primary sources that are relevant and important to your project here. You’ve also received some good suggestions from others to help move your research forward, particularly as you consider the dependent variable. Remember that in this methodology the idea of “explaining variation” doesn’t make sense (that is a concept specific to large-n research). Instead, the question in this methodology should focus on the specific cases and the known outcomes — the precise events — that you are proposing to explain (e.g. “why did Kennedy pursue a transformative strategy and Johnson a non-transformative strategy in Vietnam?” to use the Saunders article as an example). What is it, specifically, about peacebuilding initiatives in the cases that you have identified for comparison that is different and that needs to be explained?

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