Conflict Studies Group

The Conflict Studies group focuses on the dynamics of contemporary violent conflicts and collective violence. It aims to unravel the complexity of the web of relations and alliances producing contemporary war and violence, and the ways clusters of conflict cross-infect and exacerbate each other.

Barricade line separating interior troops and protesters seen as the conflict develops. Clashes in Kyiv, Ukraine, 2014 - Wikimedia Commons

We combine open source investigation with ethnographic fieldwork in areas ranging from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, South-Africa, Ukraine, former Yugoslavia, Colombia and El Salvador to the US, France and the Netherlands, drawing on a variety of academic disciplines such as anthropology, political sociology, international relations, history and critical political economy. We depart from an understanding of violent conflict and war not so much as an outcome with clear causes, but as social phenomena which are mutating and unstable.

Our researchers are involved in a range of projects on:

  1. Non-state armed actors: unravelling the governance and mobilisation of gangs, militias, and paramilitaries. 
  2. Remote warfare and new technologies of violence: critically analysing the role of interventions by advanced (Western) militaries and the way these impact civilian harm and blowback.
  3. Urban violence and policing: studying the interplay between structural urban inequalities, police discrimination/brutality and civil unrest.
  4. Cyber conflict and information warfare: exploring the ‘making of’ war and security in/through cyberspace, the role of information manipulation during violent conflict, and the emergence of hybrid threats.
  5. The Weaponization of the Environment: how ecological issues and challenges impact or are impacted by violent conflict and injustices

Our research is closely linked to the educational minor in Conflict Studies and Master's programme in Conflict Studies and Human Rights