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Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

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.

Our interests include contestation surrounding intergovernmental organisations and interactions between states, citizens and non-state actors in different settings, ‘western’ and ‘non-western’; and in different configurations, from the urban or rural neighbourhood to supranational or deterritorialised spheres.

Our research programme has two interlinked core research areas: conflict and institutional transformation, both of which we consider as a consequence and further cause of transnationalisation processes.  


Our research programme examines conflicts at every level: from neighbourhood conflicts to civil war.

While recognizing that conflicts vary substantially in depth and scale, we consider it worthwhile to examine linkages and comparisons in the dynamics of conflicts against the background of transnationalisation.

We look at the negotiation or escalation of different forms of objective or subjectively experienced inequality and exclusion, and at outcomes in terms of distributive effects, changing identities, and forms of citizenship or its denial.  


Our second core research area concerns ongoing transformations in the institutional forms of and relations between states, interstate organisations and transnational civil society, markets and knowledge infrastructures.

We have a special interest in the emergence of new types of governance institutions.

We are concerned with the contested legitimacy of these institutions, the norms they propagate and the outcomes they generate.  

Concretely …

Our research themes include: 

  • agriculture and food practices and policies (Grin; Hoffman; Loeber); 
  • authoritarianism and globalisation (Aarts; Glasius; Harbers); 
  • citizens and activism (Glasius; De Jong; Laws; Pallister-Wilkins; Verhoeven); 
  • critical security studies (De Goede; Hoijtink; Simon; Sullivan); 
  • values in public administration (Fleischer; Rutgers); 
  • core-periphery relations, migration and borders (Doomernik; Holman; Jeandesboz; Pallister-Wilkins); 
  • reflexivity and learning on .e.g. sustainability and urban issues (Grin; Hagendijk; Hajer; Kwa; Laws; Loeber).
Read the full programme of the Transnational Configurations programme group here

Programme Group Leaders

prof. dr. J. (John) Grin

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

prof. dr. M. (Marieke) de Goede

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance

Our Staff

Our Projects

  • AuthoritarianGlobal: 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

    Visit the AuthoritarianGlobal project website

    prof. dr. 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

    S. Aru


    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.

    Vistit the EUMENIA project website

    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.

Visit the FOLLOW project webiste

prof. dr. M. (Marieke) de Goede

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance