Elisabeth Wood

“Rape is not the unavoidable collateral damage of war. Victims – women and men of all ages – are not brought down by crossfire or an errant missile, and it is not they who should suffer the stigma of rape but the perpetrators. They were intentionally violated. As Neil Mitchell has emphasized, “…rape is not done by mistake.”

But rape is not inevitable in war. Armed groups—non-state actors as well as state militaries—often choose to prohibit rape by their members and do so effectively. This fact should strengthen efforts to hold accountable groups that do engage in rape.” 

– Elisabeth Jean Wood

Elisabeth Jean Wood  is Professor of Political Science, International and Area Studies at Yale University and a member of the External Faculty of the Santa Fe Institute. She is currently writing two books, one on sexual violence during war, drawing on field research in several countries, and a second on political violence in Colombia (with Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín).


She is the author of Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador and Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador, and co-editor with Morten Bergsmo and Alf B. Skre of Understanding and Proving International Sex Crimes and with Ian Shapiro, Susan C. Stokes, and Alexander S. Kirshner of Political Representation.

Among her recent articles and book chapters are “Ideology and Civil War: Instrumental Adoption and Beyond,” “Multiple Perpetrator Rape during War,” “Transnational Dynamics of Civil War,” “Rape during War Is Not Inevitable: Variation in Wartime Sexual Violence,” “Armed groups and sexual violence: when is wartime rape rare?” “Sexual Violence during War: Variation and Accountability,” and “The Social Processes of Civil War: The Wartime Transformation of Social Networks.”

Elisabeth serves on the Board of Directors of the Peace Research Endowment and as Coordinator of the International Scientific Committee of the Observatorio de Restitución y la Regulación de Derechos de Propiedad Agraria [The Observatory of Restitution and Regulation of Agrarian Property Rights], and other policy related organizations. She also serves on the Editorial Board of the Contentious Politics series of the Cambridge University Press.

Elisabeth was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010. She has carried out field research in Colombia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Peru, and Israel/Palestine. At Yale she teaches courses on comparative politics, political violence, collective action, and qualitative research methods. She received the Graduate Mentor Award for the Social Sciences in May 2013.