Examinations of substate politics are mostly limited to single-case studies or statistical analyses. Seldom are qualitative methods applied with a comparative aim in mind that can unveil patterns of political ordering on the local level. In this GIGA session we discuss how to gather comparable data across field sites and how to compare them analytically. The lecturer will provide examples from his comparative studies on local security arenas in the Central African Republic, Lebanon, Somaliland, South Sudan, and Haiti. Students are encouraged to share their own experiences and plans during class.