Contesting Governance: The Global Challenges of Rule, Accountability, and Citizenship

Across the globe we see changing landscapes of power and governance. At different levels, transparent, accountable, and legitimate forms of order are eroding, affecting  state structures, processes of legitimisation, and people’s claims to inclusionary citizenship. At the same time, non-state actors, including multinational corporations, rebel groups, criminal organizations, and civil society more generally, organize to challenge existing social and political structures, translating into alternative arrangements of power, profit and protection. In response to these reconfigurations, the Contesting Governance Project addresses inter alia the following research questions:


  • How do non-state (armed) actors govern?
  • How does the governance by (armed) non-state actors shape the everyday lives of citizens in protracted conflicts?
  •  How can we transform the hostile relationships between citizens and police forces across the globe (e.g. in Kenia, South Africa, France or the US) to avoid violent escalations and move towards guarantees of non-recurrence?
  • Why is civic space under pressure in different types of regimes, including  in older  democracies? How do civic groups try to defend their civic space?
  • How does the turn of Western states to remote warfare, often legitimized by claims to ‘precision’ and ‘self-defence’ undermine  core democratic principles?
  • How can and do citizens resist and contest acts of oppression?

Contesting Governance: the Global Challenges of Rule, Accountability, and Citizenship’ brings together researchers from different disciplines and departments working around an interdisciplinary common core, as well as in four interrelated sub-projects: ‘governance and citizenship in protracted conflict’, ‘civic space under attack’, ‘transformative policing’, and ‘intimacies of remote warfare’.

Contesting Governance has two main objectives: i. Establish an interdisciplinary UU-expert network on Contesting Governance in research, education, and societal debates; ii. Create an international consortium around Contesting Governance to open up different routes of funding for further research.