Seminar Series, Wednesday, 13 December, 17:00-18:00 UK time – please register here

Geopolitics, (in)security and the EU’s evolving engagements in Armenia after the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war: a feminist perspective

Presenter: Dr Laura Luciani, Ghent University, Discussant: Dr Ariel Otruba, Arcadia University

Abstract: Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, calls for a ‘more geopolitical’ European Union have gained traction. While practitioners have welcomed this ‘geopolitical turn’ as a move towards more EU actorness on the global stage, critical scholars warn that it may strengthen gendered and racialised insecurities in international politics. This paper interrogates the EU’s ‘geopolitical turn’ by examining its external engagements in Armenia after the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Having historically played a peripheral role in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, over the past two years the EU has stepped up its conflict mediation profile and presence in Armenia – presenting itself as the only alternative to Russia’s conflict management. Drawing on the theoretical lens of feminist geopolitics, the paper explores the question of whose security is conceived of and protected by a ‘geopolitical EU’ in Armenia and how this is experienced and questioned by differently situated populations on the ground. First, zooming-in on the EU’s engagements in the conflict-affected Syunik province of Armenia, the paper unpacks how ‘security’ and ‘peace’ are enacted in EU policies and everyday life. Second, zooming-out on the macro-scale of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its reverberations in Armenia, the paper highlights how individuals on the ground contest geopolitical orders and the colonial logics therein. The paper is based on a fieldwork-based qualitative methodology combining interviews, multi-sited observations and the close reading of relevant policy documents, reports and (social) media sources.

Seminar Series, Monday, 8 November, 16:00-17:00 UK time – please register here

The EU’s responses to authoritarian transnational repression phenomenon

Presenter: Dr Saipira Furstenberg, Ca’Foscari University of Venice, Discussant: Prof. Alexander Dukalskis, University College Dublin (UCD)

Abstract: Authoritarian transnational repression has become an increasingly recurrent phenomenon in these last years. Recent research demonstrates a global turn in spatialisation and extra-territorialisation of authoritarian security measures (Cooley and Heathershaw 2018). As argued by Furstenberg, Lemon, and Heathershaw (2021, 4), “for authoritarian governments, extraterritorial security practices form an extension of their domestic pursuit of regime security”. So far, the existing research has focused on the extent to which authoritarian states control, repress and police their population across borders (Heathershaw and Cooley, 2017; Glasius 2018; Tsourapas, 2021). This scholarship provides important insights on the methods of authoritarian transnational repression practices and their detrimental effects on human rights and security of targeted individuals (see further Moss, 2016; Michaelsen, 2018; Schenkkan and Linzer, 2021; Anstis and Barnett, 2022). Trough tactics such as physical threats, Interpol arrest warrants, digital surveillance, authoritarian states are not shying away to silence their critics abroad, even in democratic countries. However, we still have inadequate understanding on how Western democracies respond to authoritarian transnational repression. This paper discusses the effects of authoritarian transnational repression as a non-traditional security threat and the EU’s responses to this phenomenon. The paper seeks to answer the following questions: How does the EU react to extraterritorial authoritarian practices? And what are the main policy responses and measures adopted at the EU level to address authoritarian transnational repression? By examining these questions the paper aims to provide an initial overview and analysis of the existing EU policy framework and toolbox to counter authoritarian repression across borders. It further advances our understanding on the ability of the EU and its institutions to build resilience against authoritarian influence. The paper draws its analysis from a mixture of secondary and primary sources such as interviews, policy documents and grey literature.

Seminar Series, Monday, 5 June, 18:00-19:00 UK time – please register here

Where the social meets geopolitics: fighting against gender-based violence and providing support to victims in the Abkhaz-Georgian borderland of Samegrelo

Presenter: Gaëlle Le Pavic, Ghent University and UNU-CRIS (Paper co-authored with Giacomo Orsini, Fabienne Bossuyt, and Ine Lietaert), Discussant: Prof. Bruno Coppieters, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

Abstract: This paper analyses how Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) providing social services in the borderland created by the de facto border separating Abkhazia and the Samegrelo region, navigate the (geo)political constraints they face. Previous research documented the impact of (geo)political dynamics and the influence of two major regional players: the European Union (EU) and Russia. However, social consequences produced by de facto borders and in particular the impact on the functioning of CSOs in the complex landscape of a de facto borderland, has never been investigated. Relying on in-situ observations, (online) interviews, and visual ethnography, this paper delves into three types of services where the impact of the de facto border is remarkable: support for victims of domestic violence, support for IDPs, and elderly care. In some cases, people are crossing the de facto border to access these services, as a shelter for victims of domestic violence, retirement homes,  or IDP allowances are not provided in Abkhazia. CSOs assisting these beneficiaries try to work across the de facto border via partner organisations based in Abkhazia. In order to do so, they keep a low profile not to compromise the safety of the beneficiaries and raise funds not only from international donors and organisation but also from local authorities and private individuals. 

Seminar Series, Monday, 15 May, 15:00-16:00 UK time – please register here

Exploring the role of civil society organisations in the foreign policy of de facto states: An analysis
of Kosovo, Palestine and Taiwan since 2008

Presenter: Butrint Berisha, PhD Candidate, Tartu University, Discussant: Professor Gëzim Visoka (Dublin City University (DCU))

Abstract: This project seeks to investigate the diplomatic efforts of civil society organisations (CSOs)
in three de facto (contested) states: Kosovo, Palestine, and Taiwan. While the relevant literature has
established that de facto states are inclined to pursue different alternative channels to increase their
diplomatic engagements, the empirical evidence points to a significant diplomatic activity from CSOs
in that direction. Some of the tasks that CSOs based in Kosovo, Palestine and Taiwan have
undertaken include lobbying for bilateral recognitions and multilateral accessions, establishing
channels of communication with governments of non-recognisers, interacting with transnational
actors and general public in parent states and non-recognisers, undertaking representation duties on
behalf of governments, and engaging in conflict resolution. Because of lack of United Nations (UN)
membership and limited diplomatic recognition, CSOs seem to engage into the role of ‘diplomats’
thus becoming involved in foreign policy endeavours, seeking to enhance the legitimacy and assist
the survival and recognition of the contested state.

Best Paper Award Seminars, 27 April 2023 & 3 May 2023

Our Network invites everyone to two online seminars honouring the winners of our inaugural Best Paper on Statehood, Sovereignty and Conflict Prize

Thursday 27 April, 19:00 – 20:30 CEST: ‘Reclaiming sovereignty: Political authority in the strategies of three indigenous leaders in Brazil’Register here

Speakers João Nackle Urt, Universidade Federal de Roraima and Tchella Fernandes Maso,Universidad del Pais Vasco. Discussant: Sankaran Krishna, University of Hawaii.

Wednesday 3 May, 16:00 – 17:30 CEST: ‘De-sovereignisation as an instrument of Russia’s conflict resolution strategy in the context of post-Soviet de facto states. The cases of Transdniestria and the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples’ Republics’. Register here

Speaker: Jaroslava Barbieri, University of Birmingham. Discussant Helge Blakkisrud, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

Seminar Series, Monday, 27 March, 18:00-19:00 UK time – please register here by 24 March

Foreign Intervention, Contingent Sovereignty, and Areas of Limited Statehood:  The Case of Iraq’s Disputed Territories

Presenter: Shamiran Mako (Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University), Discussant: George Kyris (University of Birmingham)

Abstract: Foreign interventions have enduring effects on state capacity, fractionalization, and territorial fragmentation in ethnically divided societies. Research on foreign intervention illustrates the domestic, regional, and international conditions that prompt external interventions to quell civil wars, pursue foreign policy objectives, or facilitated democratization through post-conflict state and peacebuilding within the context of democracy promotion. The doctrine of contingent sovereignty emerged as a U.S. foreign policy doctrine to contain rogue states within the post9/11 era. This article will focus on how the concept of contingent sovereignty  that undergirds foreign interventions, produces areas of limited statehood and impedes statebuilding by fragmenting authority in post-conflict settings, looking at the disputed territories in post-2003 Iraq. The short piece is part of a larger project I am in the early stages of developing that explores how foreign imposed regime change and externally-imposed democratization and statebuilding fuel national and sub-national contention and fractionalization over territorially contested spaces in divided societies.

Seminar Series, Monday, 6 March, 18:00-19:00 UK time – please register here by 3 March

Rebel Governance as Self-Legitimation: The FARC’s Justificatory Practices of Governance Provision

Presenter: Wolfgang Minatti (European University Institute), Discussant: Dr Niels Terpstra (Radboud University)

Abstract: How has the FARC insurgency sought to legitimise itself? A central endeavour of armed actors in civil war is the legitimation of their authority through engaging with civilian communities, as rebel groups are dependent on popular support to sustain themselves. However, less has been said about rebel’s internal self-legitimation: rebel groups need to justify their authoritative role and their position of power not only to others but also to themselves to help them identify as rulers. A rebel group’s discourses and practices of governance, I argue, provides a crucial lens to investigate such processes of self-legitimation. This paper discusses the self-legitimation of the Colombian rebel group FARC to provide an empirical snapshot of how the group embedded moral meaning into their governance relations. Drawing on several months of fieldwork in central Colombia where I interviewed ex-combatants about their relations with civilians during the conflict, I argue that the FARC developed a relatively stable legitimation pattern, a set of discourses and practices, that allowed the rebel group to justify themselves as rulers by emphasising their peasant origin, service provision and violence as revolutionary self-defence.

Seminar Series, Monday, 5 December, 18:00-19:00 UK time- please register here by 28 November.

‘Stateless in their Country? Various Perspectives on Legal Status of the De Facto States’ Inhabitants’

Presenter: Stefania Kolarz, University of Wrocław. Discussant: William T. Worster, University of Amsterdam.

Abstract: The status of the population of the so-called de facto states is a relatively rarely discussed issue within the broader framework of the legal consequences of non-recognition. For lawyers, it is most often enshrined in the context of self-determination or the potential existence of the right to secession (e.g., works of G. Anderson, C. J. Borgen). Researchers representing other disciplines enrich this rigid legal framework with a more nuanced perspective, e.g. focusing on the identity of the de facto states inhabitants or the direction of political development of secessionist regions (e.g., works by J. O’Loughlin, V. Kolossov, and G. Toal, or H. Blakkisrud and P. Kolstø, D. Ó Beacháin). Moreover, scholars have given more and more attention recently to the issue of passportization carried out by patrons of the de facto states (e.g., S. Littlefield, V. M. Artman). Nevertheless these studies do not address the fundamental question of the legal status of people living in the self-proclaimed republics nor provide for a comprehensive legal analysis of their legal rights and obligations; the very finding of the ‘invisibility’ of the de facto states from an international legal perspective is just a starting point for more in-depth research.

The presented essay will aim at filling this gap. It is part of the prepared doctoral dissertation entitled ” The international legal status of the de facto states”, focusing on Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, and Nagorno-Karabakh. The analysis is based on a hypothesis that, depending on the adopted perspective, a resident of the de facto state may be a stateless person, a citizen and/or a member of a minority, or a person having multiple citizenships. An individual possessing only unrecognized citizenship of a de facto state will be perceived by the international community as a stateless person, and by the self-proclaimed republic – as its citizen. Depending on the documents held, he or she may also be a citizen of the parent state (which oftentimes implies being a member of minority within its territory), or a citizen of the patron state.

Each of the described configurations seems to be unfavorable to the inhabitants of the de facto states as it leads to the lack of certainty of their legal situation. While it may bring some additional rights (e.g., freedom of movement thanks to possessing a patron’s passport), it also exposes the individual to supplementary burdens on a national level (e.g. military service, tax regime). The question is thus what kind of protection, rights, and freedoms do such individuals enjoy under international law?

Seminar Series, Monday, 7 November, 18:00-19:00 UK time- please register here by 2 November.

‘No Eternal Allies, No Perpetual Enemies: Cooperation and Conflict between Turkish State and Turkish Cypriot State’

Presenter: Celal Özıkzan, King’s College London. Discussant: Adrian Florea, Unviersity of Glasgow.

Abstract: The social and economic formation of Northern Cyprus after the Turkish occupation and the division of the island are severely under researched. The focus has instead been on the political, legal,
international, geopolitical, military and security matters related with the Cyprus Problem.
Lack of proper research on the political economy of Northern Cyprus has led to several groundless
assumptions, one of which is the parallelism in economic policy making between Turkey and Northern
Cyprus. Some commentators explain the parallelism with mutual cooperation while some others explain
it as an outcome of the dependency of Northern Cyprus on Turkey. One way or other, parallelism in
economic policy making is taken for granted. This paper, supported with comprehensive and novel
archival work as well as with historical data, argues to the contrary that contradiction, not cooperation,
was the defining feature in economic policy making between the two polities—even immediately after
the division of the island.

Seminar Series, Monday, 3 October, 18:00-19:00 UK time- please register here by September 29

‘Do rebel groups create power-sharing institutions during civil wars?’

Presenter: Andrea Novellis, Network for the Advancement of Social and Political Studies, University of Milan. Discussant: Constantino Pischedda, University of Miami.

Abstract: Do rebel groups create power-sharing institutions during civil wars? Insurgents adopt several strategies to ensure their constituency’s material and political support, from creating effective governance institutions to eliminating other groups competing over the same constituency. However, fewer studies have been conducted on the relationship between rebels and other constituencies, which is often assumed to be violent and conflictual. In multi-ethnic territories, rebel coalitions institutionalized through power-sharing may prevent infighting and coordination problems, and ensure the support of sectors of multiple constituencies. I argue that rebels may try to create power-sharing institutions due to relative power considerations and incomplete hegemony over their original constituency. However, it is the rebels’ ideological framing that ultimately makes power-sharing possible. I explore this theory through a paired comparison of the failed power-sharing negotiations between the LTTE and Tamil-speaking Muslims in Sri Lanka, and the institutions created by the PYD/SDF in North-East Syria.

Join us for our first in-person Business Meeting at the General Conference in Innsbruck!

The Research Network on Statehood, Sovereignty and Conflict Business Meeting will take place on Thursday 18:00 – 19:00 (25/08/2022) in Building: A, Floor: 4, Room: SR19. Click here to add it to your itinerary. We are looking forward to meeting everyone in person!

Seminar Series, Friday, 1 July, 18:00-19:00 UK time- please register here by June 26

‘Who Rules Where Over Whom When the Fighting Stops: How States and Secessionists Control Territory and People After Separatist Wars’.

Presenter: Nicholas Barker, University of Birmingham. Discussant: Megan Stewart, American University’s School of International Service.

Abstract: My book project, Who Rules Where Over Whom When the Fighting Stops: How States and Secessionists Control Territory and People After Separatist Wars, presents a study of the termination and aftermath of secessionist wars, using a theory building research strategy with two case studies – the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict (covering the period 1994-2006) and the Serbia-Kosovo conflict (1999-2008) – to develop an empirically-grounded theoretical framework which tries to explain state and secessionist post-war strategies for controlling territory and populations. I draw on fieldwork and archival research carried out in Georgia, Abkhazia, Serbia, Kosovo and the UN archives in New York, and present further evidence to evaluate and extend the framework from ‘shadow cases’ of secessionist wars in the Caucasus, the Balkans and Eastern Europe, contributing to knowledge of how post-war political orders are formed and contested. Chapter Two presents the book’s theoretical framework. First, it conceptualises control strategies (the outcome of interest) in terms of the constitutive features of territorial and demographic control. Second, it theorises states’ and secessionists’ post-war objectives in terms of a cleavage of reincorporation versus full separation which is broken down into objectives about revising or preserving de facto control, reflecting the constraints of a post-war environment (constrained objectives, the main explanatory factor). Third, it identifies territorial and demographic features of post-war environments that actors use to translate objectives into strategies. Fourth, it provides an argument about how the parts fit together: objectives explain control strategies, mediated by the constraints and opportunities of the environment, with actors adopting control strategies in the expectation that doing so will establish or influence the ‘facts on the ground’ of territorial and demographic control in a way that aligns with their constrained objective and brings about the intended outcome. Fifth, the framework provides expectations about which control strategies are associated with particular constrained objectives (the observable implications).

Seminar Series, Tuesday, 7 June, 18:00-19:00 UK time – please register here by May 31

‘Citizenship in De Facto States: Comparative analysis of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria’

Presenter: Ramesh Ganohariti, Dublin City University. Discussant: Gezim Krasniqi, University of Edinburgh.

Abstract: The contested nature of the de facto state results in an unclear and contested legal (citizenship) status for people residing in these polities. Krasniqi (2019) argues that this ambiguous legal status of de facto states can result in their citizens not having full rights as those afforded to citizens from recognised states, and thereby possess liminal citizenship. In other words, de facto state citizens are neither nationals nor stateless (Bryant, 2014; Krasniqi, 2019), but concurrently can be seen as both, and “more often than not … are ‘invisible’ when it comes to international law” (Krasniqi, 2019, p. 5). My work argues that multiplicity is a more encompassing concept vis-à-vis liminality when discussing citizenship in de facto states. This research argues that liminality paints a partial picture of citizenship. Multiplicity acknowledges the intersectionality and entanglement of multiple citizenship regimes, each with different degrees of recognition, and with each citizenship comprising of three core dimensions: legal status, rights and duties, and belonging/identity based (Bloemraad et al., 2008; Delanty, 2000; Joppke, 2010; Kochenov, 2019). Thus, my presentation will discuss the explanatory power of the concept of “multiplicity” when researching citizenship in contested territories.

Seminar Series, Monday 2 May, 18:00-19:00 UK time- please register here by April 25.

‘Life-cycle documentation issued by old and new states, between real and make-believe’

Presenter: Marika Sosnowski, German Institute for Global and Area Studies. Discussant: Cindy Wittke, Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Politics.

Abstract: This paper examines how the tripartite relationship – between the state, the law and people – is unsettled and contested in civil war environments through the issuance of life-cycle event documentation (such as birth, death and marriage certificates) by actors other than the old, established state. It does this in the context of one of the most critical conflicts of our time, the Syrian civil war. Since the uprising in 2011 and subsequent civil war began in Syria in 2012, a range of actors have set up new states, developed legal systems and provided life-cycle documentation to people living within the areas they control in order to claim them as citizens. To analyse this so far vastly under-researched phenomenon, this article provides a conceptual discussion of this practice, backed up by empirical data, along three different, but complementary, lines of enquiry that all materially manifest in life-cycle documents: the performative nature of the state; the order-making abilities of the law; and, people caught in citizenship constellations. While a great deal of work has already been done to explain the tenuous, yet resilient, foundations upon which all nation-states rest, these three threads shift our gaze away from the obvious places where power is promulgated and enforced to elucidate how life-cycle documentation can be used to both undermine and support these structures.

We have designed this series as an opportunity for graduate students, post-docs, and early-career tenure track faculty to get feedback on their work. Therefore, please note that registered attendees will be expected to have read the paper in advance and be ready to offer feedback during the seminar, alongside the discussant. You will be forwarded the paper a week before the seminar. 

We look forward to seeing many of you in this and the following seminars. Any questions, please email the coordinator of the series Dimitra Mareta at

Call for ECR submissions for new seminar series!

We would like to announce a seminar series for early career researchers. We have designed this series as an opportunity for graduate students, post-docs, and early-career tenure track faculty to get feedback on their work.

The seminars will be structured as 1-hour zoom sessions, with the early career participant briefly and informally introducing their work and a discussant and registered attendees providing feedback. All registered attendees will be expected to read the paper in advance.  Presenters will be invited to recommend their discussant, so this is an extra opportunity to connect to and receive feedback from specific scholars (in the network, or beyond). We hope this format provides participants with feedback that they can incorporate into their work as they advance in their careers.

If you are interested in having your work discussed, please email our Seminar Coordinator, Dimitra Mareta, at with a 150-word abstract, a list of at least 3 potential discussants in order of preference (and Dimitra will try secure one of them), and your availability for the following dates (times are CET, please identify all the dates and times you are available):

April 6, 18:00-19:00 | April 7, 19:00-20:00 | May 2, 18:00-19:00 | June 7, 18:00-19:00 | June 7, 19:00-20:00

Please share this call with ECRs in your network. For any questions, please reach out to Dimitra.

Call for Panel and Paper Proposals!

We are very excited to announce that a Research Network proposal for the creation of a section titled “Pushing the Boundaries of Research on Statehood, Sovereignty, and Conflict” at the ECPR General Conference 2022 has been accepted. The full program, including our section details can be found here. We encourage the submission of proposals from Network members in particular. Please reach out to the steering committee with any questions.

Call for Papers!

Network members Valentin Clavé-Mercier and Karolina Werner are pleased to announce that they will be holding a ECPR Joint Sessions (virtual) workshop on “Sovereignty, Governance, and Indigenous Peoples: Engaging with Indigenous Political Thought”. Paper proposals are invited from everyone in the network (and beyond) interested in the workshop. Submissions can be made here and are due on February 2, 2022. Please find the call for papers attached.

Join our Business Meeting!

The business meeting of the Statehood, Sovereignty and Conflict Research Network will take place via Zoom on Monday, 30 August 2021 from 17:00 – 18:00 CEST. The zoom link has been emailed to all members. If you are not yet a member or did not receive it, please email and we will share it with you!

Launch of the Research Network!

On 28 June 2021, our Research Network was launched through an online event that included a keynote talk by Nina Caspersen (University of York) on ‘De Facto States Then and Now- Reflections on a Dynamic (Not Frozen!) Field of Research’ and a Roundtable discussion on Conflict Knowledge in Times of Global Crisis and Digitalisation with Roxanna Andrei (University of Coimbra), Oscar Mateos (Blanquerna-URL), Solveig Richter (University of Leipzig) and Sam Ritholz (University of Oxford).  Follow here to view the recording of the keynote talk and the roundtable

CALL FOR PAPERS! Secession and (Post-)Liberal International Relations

We are inviting abstract submissions for an online workshop on Secession and (Post-)Liberal International Relations to take place 3-5 November 2021. For more information, please see the call for papers below.