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Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research / AISSR
Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

In recent decades, there has been a growing divergence between the organisation of society and the inherited conceptual framework of the 20th century political sciences. The group seeks to re-examine established notions of identities, categorizations and boundaries defined by classical political science concepts through different forms of empirical investigation.

The programme group Transnational configurations, conflict and governance (TCCG) analyses politics as transnational processes in which a multitude of actors are involved. The group critically examines the identities, categories and boundaries at work in these processes, beyond state-based concepts and explanations. A key feature of the TCCG group is its interdisciplinarity. The group’s interest in transnational transformations has given rise to research on three main themes:

  1. studies of reflexivity and learning in policy development;
  2. a conceptually driven interest in new security challenges, migration and border control; and
  3. the study of authoritarian rule, democratic practices and contestation, with a focus on civil society and political processes beyond the state, both subnational and transnational.

Programme group leaders

Dr. I. (Imrat) Verhoeven

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

Dr. D.V. (Darshan) Vigneswaran

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

Our staff

Our projects

  • AuthoritarianGlobal: authoritarianism in a global age

    Authoritarianism in a global age: controlling information and communication, association and people movement

    This ERC funded project investigates changes in both the nature and the sustainability of authoritarian rule in relation to the erosion of decision-making autonomy at the state level posited by globalisation theorists.

    Research question

    The overarching research question of this project is: how is authoritarian rule affected by and responding to globalisation of (a) information and communication, (b) association, and (c) people movement?

    The wholly unpredicted series of revolts that recently spread across the Arab world suggests that the nature and sustainability of contemporary authoritarian rule are not well-understood. Openness to global ICT and media, international NGOs, and inflow and outflow of people have thrown up new challenges for authoritarian rulers in terms of how to control citizens.

    In four sub-projects, this project will investigate:

    1. Whether, how and to what extent globalisation of information and communication, association, and people movement affect authoritarian persistence (longitudinal quantitative study, 1970-2011)
    2. How, i.e. with what policy mechanisms, authoritarian states respond to globalisation of information and communication, association, and people movement (qualitative multi-sited studies relating to Belarus, China, Iran and Zimbabwe)
    3. How to understand the phenomenon of subnational authoritarianism in its engagement with the democratic state and the wider world in relation to information and communication, association, and people movement (mixed method subnational studies of states within India and Mexico)
    4. What authoritarianism is in a global age: reconsidering authoritarianism’s defining characteristics of low accountability and high coercion, and whether these still relate exclusively to statehood (theory study)

    The project will transcend the theoretical and empirical separation between globalisation studies (which have neglected authoritarian contexts) and authoritarianism studies(which have taken relatively little notice of effects of globalisation)

    • Funded by: ERC Advanced Grant 
    • Period: 1-7-2013 until 30-6-2018
    Prof. M.E. (Marlies) Glasius

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

  • The daily governance of transit migration in Turkey at European Union borders - The two-way influence of Turkish-European Union border and migration management practices

    This project examines the daily governance of ‘transit’ migration by Turkish political and security professionals at the European Union (EU) borders. It draws upon a sociological approach that focuses on migration and border management practices by Turkish authorities within everyday forms of ‘risk’ governance. In particular, the research explores the two-way influence of EU and Turkish risk ‘perceptions’ and risk ‘technologies’ in relation to transit migration and investigates how such interaction affects daily experiences of migrants and gives way to new intentions, struggles and mobilities.


    The research applies a triangulated methodology based on genealogy, qualitative interviews and ethnographic research. Data collection will take place at Turkey's two land border crossing points and at one sea border crossing point with the EU as well as in Ankara. Thus, the project is empirically, theoretically and methodologically original and makes a timely intervention into current debates over migration pressures facing the EU from Turkish territories, especially with regard to the increasing number of Syrian refugees in Turkey and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.

    The research will add to the European research excellence in critical security studies and produce results with the societal impact of raising awareness about Turkey becoming a key country of transit migration and immigration.

    • Period: 24 months (2 year fellowship)
    • Funding: Horizon 2020 Marie Curie IF 
    Dr. B. (Beste) Isleyen

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

  • Neither dwarf nor leviathan: Explaining territorial and functional variation in state capacity

    Citizens live longer, happier lives where states are able to perform their core functions effectively. Even though weak states have received considerable attention from scholars and policy-makers, the concept of state weakness has remained under-theorized.

    Academic shortcomings

    The shortcomings of current conceptualizations are revealed by mounting empirical evidence that (1) state capacity does not extend homogeneously across national territories and (2) that a state’s capacity to control and coerce citizens is distinct from its capacity to care for them by providing education and public health.

    Previous work mostly assumed that the reason why states do not exercise coercion and care throughout the territory is simply their inability to do so. This perspective, however, cannot explain why states invest more in building capacity in some regions than in others, or why coercive and caring capacity are geographically uneven. To understand this, it is crucial to acknowledge that states in the developing world can and do invest in building capacity, but are also confronted with the need to ration resources. 

    Research aim

    This project conducts a subnational comparative analysis of Mexico, which scores well on conventional measures of state capacity, but is perceived by some security experts as critically weak. The project’s research aims are twofold:

    1. To conceptualize and map intra-country differences on the basis of a new geo-referenced dataset of infrastructure for coercion and care (empirical goal)
    2. To theorize and explain the state’s decision to invest resources in a hospital, school, police station or military barracks in a specific place (analytical goal)

    To accomplish these goals, the applicant will participate in advanced training in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the University of California, San Diego, a leader for the collection and analysis of spatial data. The acquired skills will strengthen the emerging GIS expertise at the University of Amsterdam, which houses the return phase.

    • Funding: EU Marie Curie
    Dr. I. (Imke) Harbers

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

  • A place for the asylum seekers. European migration policies and their socio-spatial impacts

    A Place for the Asylum Seekers (PASS) aims to assess the complicated field of discourses and practices of regulating migration flows into the EU, focusing on its socio-spatial impact since 2013, when the last Dublin III Regulation was promulgated.

    After a preliminary analysis of EU immigration and asylum law, the project examines the cases of Italy and of the Netherlands, using a dual perspective:

    • 1. A top-down perspective, involved in the analysis of the European, Italian and Dutch immigration policies;
    • 2. A bottom-up perspective, embedded in the migration experience and focused on the migrants' agentivity. 

    The final goal of PASS is to elaborate empirical data in order to build more human rights oriented policies. PASS intends also to provide an appropriate political response to the needs expressed by the migrants and to combat misconceptions about them through disseminating its results, as requested by the European Commission (Understanding and Tackling the Migration Challenge: The Role of Research, 4-5 February 2016).

    • Period: 24 months (2 year fellowship)
    • Funding: Horizon 2020 Marie Curie IF
    Dr. D.V. (Darshan) Vigneswaran

    Project Supervisor


    How has the EU been constructed in the Middle East debate and how has the Middle East been constructed in the European debate? These questions will guide the new network on EU-Middle East relations, led by the University of Amsterdam

    EU-Middle East relations constitute a cornerstone of the EU’s external relations. The UvA will lead an international research consortium of seven European and Middle Eastern partners to bridge the gap between policy-making and academic research on EU-Middle East relations (EUMENIA). The network targets students and academics as well as think thanks, policy makers and NGOs.

    The international consortium has received an Erasmus+ grant of €300.000 within the Jean Monnet Activities of the European Commission and will run for 3 years.

    Dr. D. (Dimitris) Bouris

    Academic Coordinator


    FOLLOW is a 5-year research project at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science research (AISSR) of the University of Amsterdam.

    FOLLOW is supported by a Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) and is led by Prof. Marieke de Goede. The project studies daily practices of public and private actors who are countering terrorism financing. We study the dilemmas and ethical and practical challenges of detecting/monitoring, reporting and prosecuting terrorist financing in an increasingly technology- and data-driven context.

    FOLLOW analyses the ways in which private companies increasingly operate in the frontline of security practice. FOLLOW uses the notion of a Chain of Security in order to conceptualise the ways in which security judgements are made across public/private domains and how countering terrorism financing efforts take shape in practice. Redeploying Bruno Latour’s concept of ‘chain of translation’ we follow the path of suspicious transactions from banks to FIUs to the courtroom whereby a transaction is rendered from bank registration to suspicious transaction to court evidence.

    Prof. dr. M. (Marieke) de Goede

    Executive Staff


  • Collaboration, Research and Analysis Against the Financing of Terrorism

    CRAAFT 'Collaboration, Research and Analysis Against the Financing of Terrorism' is an EU-funded international research network with partners in Belgium, the UK and Slovakia. The main objective of CRAAFT is to understand, analyse and develop Counter-Terrorism Financing capacities in the European Union. Its research objectives include the assessment of current threats, capabilities, legitimacy and futures of Counter-Terrorism Financing in the European Union and beyond.

    Prof. dr. M. (Marieke) de Goede

    Executive Staff


  • Protecting migrants against violence

    The Swedish Research Council has awarded a second major grant for collaborative research on migration between the Universities of Gothenburg and Amsterdam. This new grant will support Anja Karlsson Franck (Gothenburg) and Darshan Vigneswaran (UvA, IMES) to study how migrants seek protection from violence on the journey from Myanmar to Malaysia and Thailand. The project will run for three years.

    International migrants are subject to a lot of violence. The international community finds this violence unconscionable and excessive, but has a limited understanding of how migrants can be protected from harm. Part of the problem is that research has consistently focused on how states and international organizations can protect migrant victims, instead of examining how migrants help to establish protection for themselves. 

    This project will contribute to efforts to understand and enhance migrant protection by studying how Myanmar migrants relate to migrant regularization schemes spanning Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. Tracing migrant trajectories along four migrant corridors from the beginning of their journeys to their end, we explore why migrants sometimes seek regularization, why at other times they seek ways of protecting themselves against the state, and how this seemingly ambivalent behavior shapes broader migrant protection regimes.

    Collaboration between Sweden and the Netherlands

    Forging a collaboration between two research projects that have thus far looked separately at the micro- (Franck) and macro- (Vigneswaran) dimensions of migrant protection, this project will generate new data, conceptual insights and practical knowledge to help us better understand how the everyday efforts of migrants determine the impact and effectiveness of international efforts to protect them from harm.

    Dr. D.V. (Darshan) Vigneswaran

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

  • Geopolitical economy of the belt and road initiative and its reflections

    A new joint research programme coordinated by Mehdi Amineh (University of Amsterdam and Program Director of EPA-IIAS), Willem Vogelsang (Deputy Director of IIAS), and Zhang Yuyan (General Director of IWEP-CASS) between the Institute of World Economy and Politics of the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences and the Energy Programme Asia of the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden, The Netherlands.

    The joint research programme analyses the origin, processes, and impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), focusing on the international and transnational activities of and responses to Chinese corporations in selected countries in Asia, Africa, and the European Union. We also examine the emergence, policies, and geopolitical impact of the related multilateral institutions set up by China, the regional and global reception of such multilateral institutions, their relationship to the activities and policies of Chinese corporations, and how these institutions could alter the existing regional and global order.

    The current research programme is the third joint research project of the Institute of World Economy and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (IWEP-CASS) and the Energy Programme Asia of the International Institute for Asian Studies (EPA-IIAS).

    Dr. M. (Mehdi) Parvizi Amineh

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    WP Groep: Docenten Politicologie

  • Just Prepare

    Just Prepare - Putting REsident Practices And REsidential areas at the center of a JUST and effective energy transition in underprivileged neighbourhoods

    In underprivileged neighbourhoods, attempts to realize the energy transition face mismatches between retrofit of poorly isolated houses and residents’ energy practices, and between residents and those actors planning and implementing solutions. These mismatches may hamper the energy transition in terms of effectiveness and justice (i.e. distribution of benefits and burdens; degree of access to decision‐making; and recognition of how vulnerable groups are affected by the energy transition). Shaping an effective and just energy transition in underprivileged neighborhoods encounters lack of knowledge about the diversity of energy related household practices, and about how to involve residents in planning and implementation of housing renovation.

    This project develops the necessary methodological and substantive knowledge in Amsterdam-Zuidoost, Rotterdam Bospolder Tussendijken, Nijmegen and Gemert; uses that knowledge to create solutions in Living Labs with municipalities, housing corporations, residents and other relevant actors; improves these solutions on that basis; and prepares the findings for use elsewhere in a Learning Lab with Living Lab participants and a wider group of municipalities, businesses and other stakeholders.


    The project is led by John Grin and Imrat Verhoeven of the UvA, and also includes Floris Vermeulen and Mendel Giezen of the UvA. Other involved researchers are from the Radboud University, TU Delft, Eindhoven University of Technology, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, and HAN University of Applied Sciences. Furthermore, the project includes a total of 41 practice partners such as provinces, municipalities, housing corporations, energy companies, consultants and other organizations.

    Dr. I. (Imrat) Verhoeven

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

    Prof. dr. J. (John) Grin

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance