Research clusters

The cultural politics of conflict

(Coordinators: Bert Suykens & 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.

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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.

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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.

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Landscapes of conflict

(Coordinators: Esther MarijnenJeroen Adam)

The research cluster landscapes of conflict focuses on the conflict dynamics associated with ever-changing human-nature relations in a wide range of different landscapes. Researchers in the cluster work in a large variety of geographical contexts in Central Africa, Southeast Asia and Western Europe. What connects their respective research projects is a deep interest in the interrelations between society and the environment, analysed from a political angle.  

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Regimes of violence

(Coordinators: Bert Suykens 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.