Dr. Lauren Gould

Assistant Professor
International and Political History

Lauren Gould is Assistant Professor in Conflict Studies and the project leader of the Intimacies of Remote Warfare programme on new strategies of remote warfare across Africa and the Middle East.


Gould is a Utrecht University (UU) Public Engagement and Centre for Global Challenges  fellow, a co-founder of the IOS Contesting Governance platform, and sits on the board of the Nuhanovic Foundation Centre for War Reparations. In 2019-2020 she participated in the UU Westerdijk Programme for talented female scholars. 


She is a lecturer at the Centre for Conflict Studies and the coordinator of the minor Conflict Studies. She is the founder and coordinator of the UU Summer School Contemporary Conflict Analysis: Actors, Issues & Technologies of 21st Century Warfare, designed for practioners and (international) students. 


Gould studied Social Psychology (BA Cum Laude, 2006) and Conflict Studies and Human Rights (MA Cum Laude, 2007) at Utrecht University. In March 2016 she completed her PhD on international criminal law enforcement and the governing of the northern Ugandan conflict. She has also taught in the Conflict Studies programme at the University College of Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam.  


Current Research: The Intimacies of Remote Warfare 


Western states are increasingly turning to remote warfare to govern perceived security threats from a safe distance across the Middle East and Africa.Remote warfare is a form of interventionism characterised by a shift away from boots on the ground towards deploying light-footprint military operations. It generally involves a combination of drone and air strikes from above, and special operation forces and private contractors on the ground. Although partly about distancing, it paradoxically depends on assembling intimate transnational partnerships through political alliance formations and security cooperation.


Gould's research projects focus both on how the US has spearheaded this form of military engagement, but also how many other advanced militaries are following suit. Her research projects study how remote warfare is legitimized, what military alliances are forged, what technologies are used and how these actors and technologies interact and have an impact on civilian harm and blowback. From a conflict and critical security studies perspective her aim is to conceptualise the changing character of warfare in the 21st century.


Gould has conducted fieldwork in Uganda, South Sudan and in Iraq in collaboration with PAX for Peace. She has also conducted fieldwork closer to home, including the Netherlands, UK and Belgium.


She leads a consortium of civil society partners (including Amnesty, Pax and Airwars) in negotiating new civilian harm transparency policies with the Dutch Ministry of Defence.


For further details see the Intimacies of Remote Warfare programme 


On this topic she published:


Gould, L., Woudwijk, M., & van Dort, J. (eds.) (2022). Hawija: De verwoestende werkelijkheid van onze langeafstandsoorlog tegen IS. Uitgeverij Aspekt.


Gould, L., Stel, N. (2021) Strategic ignorance and the legitimation of remote warfare: The Hawija bombardments. Security Dialogue: 1-18.


Demmers, J., Gould, L., & Snetselaar, D. (2020). Perfect war and its contestations. In S. Maltby, B. O’Loughlin, K. Parry, & L. Roselle (eds.), Spaces of War, War of Spaces (1st ed.) New York: Bloomsbury Academic.


Demmers, J. Gould, L. (2020). The Paradox of Remote Warfare. In A. McKay, A. Watson and M. Karlshøj-Pedersen (eds.) Remote Warfare: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. E-International Relations Publishing Collected Volume. 


Demmers, J., Gould, L (2018) An assemblage approach to liquid warfare: AFRICOM and the hunt for Joseph Kony. Security Dialogue 49(5): 364 - 381.


And wrote the op-eds:


And recorded the podcasts:



PhD research: Global Justice Assemblage 


Gould's dissertation lends insight into how a complex and layered 'global justice assemblage' (as she choose to define it) of transnational actors, with different interests and strategies, cooperated and competed with each other on the pressing issue of how to secure and how to bring justice to the northern Ugandan conflict. It illustrates how an assembly of actors (including the government of Uganda, the ICC, the US, African Union and NGOs) varyingly have upheld a ‘new war’ frame of the violent conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the government of Uganda. Secondly, it examines how this new war frame legitimised a number of judicial and military interventions, purportedly to ‘protect the human rights of others'. Thirdly, it reflects on how these interventions played out in the day-to-day lives of those targeted, both discursively and materially. Finally, it analyses who had an interest in upholding these signifying narratives and institutional responses. 


For her PhD research Gould conducted qualitative field research in east Africa between 2009-2015. 


Her PhD research culminated in a number of publications that focus on some of the different security interventions that have been implemented to address the violence perpetrated during the conflict, such as International Criminal Court arrest warrants and the US AFRICOM led military mission to defeat the LRA. 


See for example: 

Gould, L (2015) The Politics of Portrayal in Violent Conflict: The Case of the Kony 2012 Campaign. Alternatives, 39 (4): 207-230. 



Gould supervises one PhD student, she is the Conflict Studies minor coordinator and teaches and supervises in the MA Conflict Studies and Human Rights. See "Courses" for an overview of the courses she has developed and coordinated.