Past projects

A list of projects that researchers from the department have worked on in the past. 

Politics of State Secrecy: the Long Shadow of Authoritarianism on the Legitimacy of State Secrecy in France and Greece, 1945-2015

Since 2001, liberal democracies have increasingly defended themselves with secret means. Intelligence and security services have acquired more powers, more financial means, they have incorporated new bureaucratic allies, and new oversight and control mechanisms. Yet, democratic secrecy remains paradoxical: modern state secrecy has effective or associative roots in autocracy rather than democracy. Such roots are at the heart of recurring, sweeping crises of legitimacy of intelligence communities. Why is state secrecy more legitimate in certain circumstances than in others?

  • ResearcherDr Eleni Braat
  • Funding: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • Duration: 2020-2025
The Forgotten Peace? The Lausanne Peace Conference and the new Middle East, 1922-23

'The Forgotten Peace?: The Conference of Lausanne and the New Middle East, 1922-23' is intended to mark the centenary of the conference and the concluding treaty. Despite being “the longest lasting and most successful of the post-First World War settlements” (Keith Jeffrey and Alan Sharp) the Lausanne Conference has received considerably less attention from scholars. The organisers see the upcoming centenary less as an opportunity to provide a “missing” equivalent to existing studies of Versailles, however, and more as an opportunity to transcend traditional diplomatic history, reintroducing non-state actors such as multinational companies, banks, political parties, NGOs and the media. Lausanne shifted borders and unleashed unprecedented population exchanges, but it also changed how capital, goods and information moved between east and west, as well as within the Middle East region. The edited volume that comes from this project will be published by the Gingko Library in 2022.

  • Researchers: Dr Ozan Ozavci and Jonathan Conlin
  • Funding: The Gingko Library (London); the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon)
  • Duration: 2018-2023
The Multilateralization of European Security: Conducting the Cold War through the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe

In the wake of the crisis in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea, ‘the question of war and peace has returned to our continent’, as several foreign ministers recently emphasized. With a ‘new Cold War’ seemingly in the offing, they appealed to salvage European security through multilateral, Pan-European diplomacy. This idea is far from new. This project aims to examine how the so-called ‘Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe’ (CSCE) contributed to a peaceful conduct of the Cold War and its conclusion.  This investigation is based on the working hypothesis that the CSCE led to the ‘multilateralization of European security’, and as such transcended the East-West antagonism. These findings will not only shed a new light on the CSCE as a historical process but can also teach us how to resolve international tensions through multilateralizing European security today. 

  • Researchers: Dr Laurien Crump
  • Funding: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • Duration: 2017-2021
Blueprints of Hope: Designing Post-War Europe. Ideas, Emotions, Networks and Negotiations (1930-1963)

What is the idea of Europe? The image of European integration as a purely economic project is fundamentally incomplete. From its inception, European integration was always informed by moral ideas that allowed traumatised societies to face a new future. The pre-history and early years of European integration were in fact marked by intensive discussions about the future of Europe, encompassing a variety of blueprints for a new order.

Which ideas mobilised the elites and their target audiences, and which ideas fell short of being put into practice? This project places forgotten or lesser known blueprints in the limelight, and will analyse how they were conveyed, through various transnational, religious and political networks.

Securing Europe, Fighting its Enemies. The Making of a Security Culture in Europe and Beyond, 1815-1914

The ERC SECURE project examines the formation of a European security culture between 1815 and 1914. The project team compares seven security regimes that Europe applied around the world, in places as diverse as the Ottoman Empire and China.

These extremely dynamic regimes were motivated both by threats from anarchists factions, pirates and smugglers, for example, and by political, moral, colonial and other interests. Mobilising increasing numbers of professional ‘agents’ from various quarters – including police, judicial authorities and armed forces – they evolved from military interventions into police and judicial regimes and ultimately contributed to the creation of a true European security culture.

Uncovering and introducing new historical sources, the project pioneers a new multidisciplinary approach to the combined history of international relations and internal policy, aiming to ‘historicise security’.

The role of (Post)colonial Public Intellectuals in Europe: Figures, Ideas and Connections

The aim of this project is to investigate the role of ‘(post)colonial’ intellectuals in public debates in Europe and their impact on ideas of citizenship, governance and the public sphere. This research is an important contribution to the topic of institutions: the public intellectual is a key actor within the open society, influencing public opinion while operating on the periphery of formal politics.

Whole-of-Society Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (WOSCAP)

The WOSCAP project seeks to enhance the capabilities of the European Union for implementing conflict prevention and peacebuilding interventions through sustainable, comprehensive and innovative civilian means. Fieldwork research will be conducted in Ukraine, Yemen, Georgia, and Mali.

Conflict Studies experts from Utrecht University act as the academic lead of the consortium and are also tasked with the quality assurance of all academic output of the project and are responsible for the synthesis of the case studies.

  • Researchers: Georg Frerks and Chris van der Borgh. Besides Utrecht University, nine other international parties are involved with the project.
  • Funding: Horizon 2020, European Commission
  • Duration: 2015-2017
The Dutch in the Early Modern World: The Rise and Fall of a Global Power

In the early modern age the Dutch Republic was a world power, leading the way in global capitalism and overseas expansion, and playing a central role in European politics. Until now, however, no overview exists of the Dutch in the world in this period. The purpose of this project is to write a scholarly textbook, which has already been accepted for publication with Cambridge University Press: The Dutch in the Early Modern World: The Rise and Fall of a Global Power.

  • Researcher: David Onnekink
  • Funding: Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS)
  • Duration: 2016
Women’s role in peace and security in the self-administered areas of northern Syria

This research project focuses on the bottom-up, female-led peace and reconstruction processes in northern Syria. The political and economic roles that women are playing in peace and reconstruction processes are the focal point of the analysis. Specifically, the efforts being made by local women and women's organisations in delivering social services, security, and good governance in this fragile and conflict-affected environment.

Research projects History of International Relations
Rebel Governance in Sri Lanka and Lebanon

This two-year project focuses on an actor commonly overlooked in discussions of governance. Non-state actors are often involved in governance practices and thereby often perform as a state. This research looks at the range of governance practices and institutions in different contexts of rebel-controlled territory.

By carrying out in-depth studies in Sri Lanka and Lebanon, this project contributes to academic and policy debates on governance in so called ‘fragile states’ and potential reassessment of rebel actors.

Brave New World: Internal Colonization in Europe, 1900-1940

This NWO Veni research project studied discourses and practices of internal colonisation in interwar Europe, which were underpinned by quests for food security, social improvement, national grandeur, and the modernisation of agricultural production and rural societies.

The project revealed the emergence of a strong belief in state planning throughout Europe, in democratic and authoritarian contexts alike, as the rural world became a site of increasing government intervention.

  • Researcher: Liesbeth van de Grift
  • Funding: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Veni grant
  • Duration: 2011-2014
Rethinking the Peace of Utrecht

The Peace of Utrecht (1713) marked the close of 40 years of warfare, in which many of the major European states were involved. It is said to have restored the 'Balance of Power' in Europe and ended the 17th-century wars of religion. The treaty also, however, opened a phase in which the global context became increasingly dominant in European politics.

This project aspired to establish an international research network to study the Peace of Utrecht and its consequences. The project yielded three international conferences in Osnabrück, Madrid, and Utrecht, as well as various publications, all within the context of several activities organized by the city and province of Utrecht.

  • Researchers: David Onnekink, Inken Schmid-Voges, Ana Crespo Solana, Renger de Bruin
  • Funding: NWO (Internationalisation in the Humanities grant)
  • Duration: 2011-2014