Research clusters

The cultural politics of conflict

(Coordinators: Bert Suykens and Maarten Hendriks)

The research cluster on the cultural politics of conflict  wants to foreground the moralities, ideologies and cosmologies that motivate and shape conflict and violent politics. It aims to pay specific attention to the ways in which imaginaries influence people’s participation in conflict, and the role conflict plays in the formation of political subjectivities.

More info

Governance in conflict

(Coordinator: Koen Vlassenroot)

War and violent conflict are often presented as anarchic, with the most basic governance activities abolished and all services lacking. Yet CRG’s programme ‘governance in conflict’ wants to challenge this popular assumption and focus explicitly on the role of governance in and during conflict. Often this type of governance is highly hybrid, with multiple actors – rebel groups, state officials, politicians, businessmen, traditional leaders – levying taxes and providing protection, justice, social services etc for specific groups or individuals. The interactions between these different actors can result in confrontation, but also offer room for negotiation about and over these different modes of governance, also for the general population. Moreover, after formal peace agreements, modes of governance-in-conflict often persist. CRG’s micro-level approach to conflict analysis is especially suited to track and investigate these multiple and hybrid forms of governance in conflict and their impact on the population living with conflict situations.

More info.

The politics of intervention

(Coordinator: Bruno De Cordier)

The term ‘interventions’ often brings up association with its narrow sense, i.e. military interventions. In this CRG line of work, however, ‘interventions’ are defined as all extraneous actions that aim to steer and inform social dynamics and modernization, often using the momentum and opportunities shaped by a political and societal crisis or conflict.

More info.

Resources and conflict

(Coordinator: Jeroen Adam)

Resources have always played a pivotal role in conflict. This is especially the case since the fall of the Berlin Wall, as the decline in assistance to many governments and rebel groups in the Global South resulted in a renewed competition over private sources of support, including control over natural resources. Natural resources therefore influence both the onset of violent conflict and the duration of civil warfare since these greatly determine the capacity of these armed actors. Considering the central role played by these natural resources, this had spurred multiple debates. Yet, a majority of these studies depart from correlations based on highly questionable data sets, and in-depth, empirical data is still scarce. The CRG aims to tackle these lacunae by studying the role of natural resources through an ethnographic and empirically based approach. Questions include the role of natural resources in financing armed groups and the different shapes resource extraction can take in conflict settings. Secondly, the CRG also researches how these shifts in public authority over natural resources impact on the daily livelihoods of civil populations.

More info.

Regimes of violence

(Coordinators: Bert Suykens and Julian Kuttig)

Recent years have seen a resurgence of authoritarianism. Most prominent, a wave of authoritarian populist regimes and movements that equally swept through countries in the so-called Global North and South. The socio-political (trans)formation processes of these regimes and movements remain obscure. While democratically elected, their mode of rule is often characterized by the cultivation of an almost Schmittian enmity. Not surprisingly, authoritarian populist regimes and movements deploy or inspire violence and use new technologies of control to claim authority over populations and territory. While the electoral support these regimes garner is highly important, authoritarian populists’ tactics cannot always be easily distinguished from those of nascent autocracies, where the electoral system eroded, but where the repression of dissidents and free speech is still absorbed or neutralized by a certain popular appeal. At the same time, their actions are reminiscent of earlier debates about violent democracies.