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Winner of 2024 Conflict Research Society Book of the Year Prize

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The Conflict Research Society congratulates Peer Schouten on winning the 2024 Conflict Research Society Book of the Year Prize for his book titled Roadblock Politics: the origins of violence in Central Africa. Based on research in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR), Peer Schouten maps more than a thousand of these roadblocks to show how communities, rebels, and state security forces forge resistance and power out of control over these narrow points of passage. In doing so, he develops a new lens through which to understand what drives state formation and conflict in the region, offering a radical alternative to explanations that foreground control over minerals, territory, or population as key drivers of Central Africa’s violent history.

The prize committee received over 50 nominations from conflict/peace researchers, institutions, practitioners, and publishers from around the world. The committee chose the winning title out of four short-listed books based on criteria such as how well the book demonstrates a significant contribution to conflict/peace studies, impact factor, methodological rigour, robustness, and credibility of the findings, the extent to which it is interdisciplinary, quality of writing, and presentation.

The jury was impressed with the way that Schouten unpacks the motif of the roadblock to explain much broader patterns of conflict and state building in Central Africa. According to one of the jury members: “Schouten takes a seemingly niche phenomenon and shows that it is absolutely not niche, but central in the production and renegotiation of power in countries where the administrative state is not strong.” The jury agreed that the fieldwork on which Schouten draws is outstanding, and illustrates his deep knowledge of the territories in which he works. He compellingly weaves in historical legacies with contemporary patterns of violence and competition for power, bridging conflict studies, development studies, and political economy. A well-written text, Shouten develops theories of power – based in roadblock politics – that travel well to other contexts and challenge conventional thinking about what we should focus our attention on in contexts of violence. Congratulations on an interesting book that shows us how something as simple as ’the roadblock’ has much broader implications for our understanding of violence, authority, and power, and how they manifest in unexpected ways.

This winner was elected out of a total of three finalists in the shortlist. These were excellent contenders for the prize and the judges also praised the excellent quality of research in all of the shortlisted books. Our congratulations are extended to the following running up shortlisted titles (in no particular order):

  • Maria Sosnowski. Redefining Ceasefires: Wartime Order and Statebuilding in Syria. Cambridge University Press.
  • Jason Stearns. The War that doesn’t say its Name: The Unending Conflict in the Congo. Princeton University Press.

Thank you also to the CRS Book Prize Judges – Julia Zulver, Isabel Phillips, Robert Nagel, Luke Abbs, Corinne Bara, and Allard Duursma (facilitator).

Imrana Alhaji Buba wins the Cedric Smith Prize 2024

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The Conflict Research Society congratulates Imrana Alhaji Buba, winner of the Cedric Smith Prize 2024. Imrana is a Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo, Norway. His research is situated at the intersection of social resilience, civilian agency, and the prevention of violence. Before starting his PhD, Imrana worked for a decade as a community development and conflict sensitivity specialist in Nigeria. He also founded the Youth Coalition Against Terrorism, a volunteer-based organization in northern Nigeria that seeks to prevent violent extremism through peace education programs. The Cedric Smith Prize is awarded annually to the best article or thesis chapter in peace and conflict research by a PhD student.

Imrana’s winning article, “Civilian Protection Payment and the Escalation of Violence against Civilians in Northwestern Nigeria,” published in Global Studies Quarterly, explores the unintended effects of protection payments as a self-protection strategy for communities in northwestern Nigeria and beyond. He argues that communities that pay levies to militia for protection only achieve temporary safety because protection payments transform into acquiescence or resistance, making the community less safe over time. The author’s commendable fieldwork in Nigeria allowed for the inductive development of these novel theroetical expectations.

Imrana’s article fills a clear gap in academic research on civilian strategies to protect themselves. Given the lack of evidence on northwestern Nigeria, the research has important implications for policy and practice. It highlights the need to understand the challenges faced by communities in conflict zones and to evaluate the effectiveness of various strategies to alleviate these pressures. The research suggests that civilians’ choices play a pivotal role in conflict dynamics, opening up a poetntially fruitful avenue for future exploration.

The CRS received eleven excellent submissions for the prize from all over the world. Special mention goes to the following two authors who were shortlisted for the prize: Tessa Devereaux Evans for “To Have and to Hold: The Determinants of Insurgent Gender Governance,” and Kiran Stallone for “Love in war? The strategic use of intimacy in armed conflict” (see here).


The 2024 CRS conference call for papers is live!

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The Conflict Research Society (CRS) invites submissions that explore topics related to global and domestic fragmentation, the initiation and cessation of conflict, contentious politics, diplomacy, peace processes, and geopolitical transitions.

We have some exciting news:

  • The conference is hosted in partnership with PeaceRep: The Peace and Conflict Resolution Evidence Platform based at the University of Edinburgh Law School;

  • After the resounding success of last year’s workshops, we will be hosting the format again;

  • The organizing committee is very excited to invite applications for a limited number of PeaceRep ODA Scholarships for selected presenters from ODA recipient countries.

Read the full call for papers here.

Remember to submit your proposals online by 20 January 2024!


Noyonika Das receives the 2023 Sydney Bailey Fund

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Noyonika Das is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. She holds a Master’s degree in Society and Culture and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Noyonika is also a PhD fellow at the Elections, Violence, Parties Project (EVaP). The EVaP project presents new theory and evidence on the nature, organization, and consequences of electoral violence. In the project, Noyonika is investigating why and how incumbents use violence to manipulate local elections. Her main research interests are the dynamics of political violence and its implications on subnational authoritarianism and democratic backsliding.

Noyonika’s doctoral dissertation develops a novel argument to explain why political parties engage in the violent subversion of local elections. The dissertation argues that local offices are important for consolidating partisan foundations and for establishing party dominance. In contexts where state-building is uneven and access to resources is scarce, local elections often witness fierce clashes between political groups who are vying for access to state power. A multi-method approach helps to unpack the spatial logic of election related violence and its implications for establishing partisan control at the local level. Using the Eastern Indian state of West Bengal as a primary empirical case, the thesis finds that the state incumbent party uses violence to consolidate and expand its electoral control. Violence is a joint collaboration between actors at different levels of governance; i.e., between the state incumbent party and local party workers or local elites. The dissertation outlines the logic of violence in local elections; this logic holds important insights on how violence can be used to undermine challenges to power from below, thereby further entrench the state incumbent. The findings have important implications for research on decentralization and subnational authoritarianism.

Noyonika will use the Sydney Bailey Fund to test the aggregate implications of violence in local elections. This analysis will involve collecting qualitative and quantitative data of the elections which followed the violent local election of 2018. Data on an additional election year will reveal the temporal implications of violence in local elections and whether coercive strategies of electoral control pay off in the long-run.

Sigrid Weber wins the Cedric Smith Prize 2023

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The Conflict Research Society congratulates Sigrid Weber, winner of the Cedric Smith Prize 2023. Sigrid has recently completed her PhD at the Department of Political Science at University College London (UCL) and will shortly start as a postdoc at the Immigration Policy Lab at Stanford University. Her research is situated at the intersection of conflict studies and forced migration. The Cedric Smith Prize is awarded annually to the best article or thesis chapter in peace and conflict research by a PhD student.

Sigrid’s winning article “Controlling a Moving World: Territorial Control, Displacement and the Spread of Civilian Targeting in Iraq” examines how armed actors respond to population movements during civil wars. She argues that displacement alters local balances of control between territorial rules and challengers, who respond with distinct forms of violence to incoming supporters from opposing loyalty groups. To test her theory, she creates a novel monthly dataset of territorial control, one-sided violence against moving populations, and displacement patterns in the Iraqi civil war against the Islamic State, using a combination of manual coding and machine learning. Her findings show how civilian targeting by territorial challengers and rulers(re-)emerges in displacement destinations. Understanding these dynamics enhances our comprehension of violence in civil wars and can inform policy and practice concerning violence against displaced populations in conflict zones.

Sigrid’s article extends previous theories of civilian victimization and territorial control by conceptualizing local populations as a dynamic element that changes incentives for armed actors to govern with violence. The Cedric Smith Prize committee was impressed by the way in which Sigrid’s research combines novel theoretical insights with a carefully chosen and meticulously executed methodological and empirical approach.

The CRS received 22 excellent submissions for the prize from all over the world. Special mention goes to the following three authors who were shortlisted for the prize: Melanie Sauter for “Politicized Health Emergencies and Violent Resistance against Healthcare Responders” (see here), Andres D. Uribe for “Coercion and Capture in Democratic Politics”, and Sean Paul Ashley for “Born Strong: Wartime Institutions and the Durability of Rebel Regimes.”

Call for Papers: The CRS Annual Conference 2023

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Annual Conference 2023

11-13 September

We are excited to announce the call of papers for our 2023 annual conference. In September 2023, we will celebrate the Conflict Research Society’s 60-year anniversary at King’s College London.

We welcome submissions that explore topics related to conflict initiation and cessation, political violence and its alternatives, peacebuilding, reconciliation and reparation.  Read the call and submit your proposals by 15 January 2023.