Lectures with Professor Michale Pugh 18-19 May

The conflict and method research node is happy to announce two upcoming events with Professor Michale Pugh, the University of Bradford, who is visiting Uppsala University and the research node on Conflict & Method. As a part of his visit he will give two lectures, which we hope you will find interesting. 

Lecture 1 

Thursday 18th May, 10.15-12.00, ENG/2-0026 (The English Park campus, House 2)G/2 - 0026

Peacebuilding with Oligarchy? 

Interventionists who introduce peacebuilding negotiate with political leaders and stumble into  mutually constitutive systems of economic development founded on the promotion of competitive capital accumulation. Interlocuters are often oligarchs who protect economic liaisons, interests and clientelism through 'democratic' political activity. Oligarchy is not unknown in 'democracies' contributing to peacebuilding either. The lecture reflects on twenty years of study in southeastern Europe and examines methodological challenges to the analysis of oligarchy.

Lecture 2

Friday 19th May, 10.15-12.00, ENG/7-0043 (The English Park campus, House 7)

Transition, Transformation or Temporary Permanence? Capitalism and the 'Waiting Rooms' of Peacebuilding.

The expectations of emancipatory intervention in war-torn societies have given way to scepticism about transition (from what to what?). Peacebuilding's liberal social values and capitalism have nevertheless played a role in transforming societies. Sociologists, anthropologists and ethnographers have shown that spaces of international and domestic agency leave inhabitants to resist and adapt to structural adjustment in 'waiting rooms'. Supposedly temporary, the rooms take on a permanence, from which exile or primitive accumulation are potential 'escape routes’.  

Most welcome!

If you have any questions, please contact


Informalization and It's Discontents: Economic Exclusion and Islamic Radicalization in Northern Nigeria

Seminar with Kate Meagher, London School of Economics

In this seminar, I will examine how northern Nigeria’s large informal economy interacts with processes of Islamic radicalization, as an incubator of disaffection or a buffer against economic pressures.  Drawing on field research conducted in 2011 and 2014 in the northern Nigerian cities of Kano and Kaduna, I will consider how economic pressures and religious change are transforming the capacity of the informal economy for constructive labour absorption and social integration.

Decades of market reforms have reinforced long-standing patterns of regional inequality, resulting in extreme poverty and deprivation in the Muslim north despite Nigeria’s celebrated economic resurgence, in which the gains of growth have been concentrated in the Christian majority south.  In northern Nigeria’s burgeoning informal economy, poverty and the collapse of economic opportunity have reshaped informal economic relations, eroding existing systems of social integration and creating new flashpoints for radicalization. 

Based on interviews with operators and associational leaders in a selection of eight common informal production and service activities, I show how mounting economic pressures are restructuring patterns of ownership, political identity, educational attainment and religious affiliation within the informal economy.  Pre-existing relations of religious tolerance and economic interdependence are being eroded by new struggles over access to informal jobs and social support networks.  Popular disaffection is heightened by security failures and human rights abuses, which exacerbate local economic stresses and resentment against the state. 

I will conclude with an examination of the ways in which security and employment policies have exacerbated rather than resolved problems of poverty and disaffection owing to a failure to appreciate the realities of poverty, unemployment and informal economic systems in northern Nigeria.

  • Datum: Torsdag 1 December, 13-15
  • Plats:  ENG/6-0022
  • Föreläsare: Kate Meagher

October 28 - Ravaillac the Scapegoat: Punishing the Assassin, Agonizing over Meaning

Lecture with Robert Appelbaum

Terrorism is not a thing, and it is only just barely an idea. In point of fact, our understanding of terrorism comes primarily through our perception of terrorist events – but events are complex phenomena, whose meanings depend on attitudes toward acts, agents, agencies, scenes and purposes.

François Ravaillac (1578– 1610) was a minor French legal representative and tutor from the provinces who felt called upon to kill his king, Henry IV, for the sake of the cause of Catholics in Europe. Kill the king he did, in the middle of Paris, with a stab to the king’s heart, and the nation was shocked. What now? Ravaillac was immediately apprehended, interrogated, and tortured, but no reason he gave for his treachery was satisfactory. Was there something inside the mind or soul of Ravaillac that could explain it, something Ravaillac was determined to hide? Did he have accomplices? Did he know something other people didn’t? Did he exist in a way that other people didn’t?

The interrogation, torture, and brutal execution of Ravaillac – he was humiliated, branded, quartered and torn to pieces, as a mob attacked him – exemplifies the popular strategy of trying to find the meaning of a terrorist act in the person who committed it.

  • Datum: 2016-10-28 kl 13:015 – 15:00
  • Plats: Engelska parken 2-0076
  • Föreläsare: Robert Appelbaum

Våra forskare


Charlotta Widmark, kulturantropologi, Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi.


Roland Kostic, freds- och konfliktforskning, Hugo Valentin Centrum.

David Sjögren, historia, Institutionen för pedagogik, didaktik och utbildningsstudier.

Mats Utas, antropologi, Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi.

Affilierade forskare

Robert Appelbaum, engelsk litteratur, Engelska institutionen

Karl-Johan Lindholm, arkeologi, Institutionen för arkeologi och antik historia.

Fifteen years after 9-11: What do we actually know about terrorism – and is that knowledge part of the problem?

The inescapably manifest dialectic between efforts to suppress terrorist networks and the effective reproduction of terrorist networks – visible not least through the emergence of new state formations like ISIL – renders policy a research objective as logical as terrorism itself when it comes to understanding the growth and spread of radical Islam.

This presents researchers with a challenge to scrutinize and come to terms with political as much as epistemological fundaments of current strategies to fight terrorism. Policies are forged in webs of meaning. These webs of meaning consist, on the one hand, of values which underwrite the desirability of expected outcomes of policies – and, on the other hand, of assumptions which stipulate that specific policies produce certain effects. The fact that scholars contribute to this web of meaning – by echoing or challenging values as much as applying or refuting stipulations of cause and effect – makes academic or expert knowledge on terrorism as relevant a research objective as policy itself.

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