Category Archives: Class Discussions

Yes, it’s possible to do research in conflict zones. This is how.

Studying active conflict zones in the 21st century is uniquely difficult. New forms of war and non-state armed actors blur the lines of the battlefield, and Westerners are increasingly targeted. We have spent years researching the politics of warlords, rebels and … Continue reading

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Afghanistan militias: after a decade of counter-insurrection efforts, what role do they play?

As a candidate and now as US president, Donald J. Trump has consistently refused to specify his plan for fighting Daesh, short of his earlier promise to “bomb the (expletive) out of them”. The White House also seems to be … Continue reading

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The ‘Tribal Politics’ of Field Research: A Reflection on Power and Partiality in 21st-Century Warzones

Can fieldwork still be done in today’s most violent warzones? We contend that long-held methodological principles about power and impartiality do not hold in today’s conflict-ridden environments. Research of this kind can still be pursued, but only if the scholar’s … Continue reading

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What An Afghan Warlord-Turned Vice President Tells Us About Military Intervention and State Building

Last month, American officials denied Afghan warlord-turned Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum a visa to the United States. In doing so, they did not simply refuse entry to the second-ranking official of a regime the United States helped put in place. … Continue reading

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Warlords, Intervention, and State Consolidation: A Typology of Political Orders in Weak and Failed States

Despite efforts to bolster failed states over the past two decades, many states in the international system still exhibit endemic weakness. External intervention often leads to political instability and in most cases fails to foster state consolidation, instead empowering and creating ties with the … Continue reading

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NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone

Book review – NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone by David P. Auerswald and Stephen Saideman, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2014, ISBN: 9780691159386  

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What Legitimate Actor?

Below is a blog post that I just wrote for the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law and their online debate on “Building peace locally” and “Working with local non-state actors” (available at: http://www.kpsrl.org/online-debate/online-debate-discussion/t/what-legitimate-actor). Building peace locally is a noble … Continue reading

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Is Armed Truce the Future of Political Order?

Max Weber, in his seminal Politics as a Vocation lecture, defined a state as “a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” What logically follows the German sociologist’s classical … Continue reading

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Urban Violence in Comparative Perspective

As the readers of this blog obviously know, most of my fieldwork in the past seven years has taken me to Afghanistan. Yet as a researcher of conflict and political violence, I find myself interested in other parts of the … Continue reading

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No Sustainable Peace without Involving Transnational Partners

Next week the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law will bring together a mix of academics, policy-makers, and NGO representatives to talk about the transnational dimension of ‘local’ conflicts, in Mali and Afghanistan more particularly. Before we all meet in the … Continue reading

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