The Amsterdam Center for Conflict Studies provides a platform for interdisciplinary and international scholarly cooperation. While each affiliated scholar has an individual focus and expertise, the research undertaken at the ACCS are clustered around these research themes:
The members of the Conflict and Governance Programme share an interest in the relationship between conflict and practices of democratic governance. This practice orientation provides a window onto governance and defines an approach to understanding conflict as a driver for, and an outcome of, policy and political action. The members of the group share a particular interest in the frontlines practices that translate broad political and policy commitments into action and the responses that such action generates from the public.
The dramas that play out along the boundary between frontline practice and the public are a source of insight into how terms like radicalization and sustainability get tangible meaning in action, into the dynamics through which policy controversies develop, and into the ways that meaning is contested and develops when citizens organize and take action. The interactions that drive these dramas can help us grasp the varied ways in which practices of activism, politics, public administration, and conflict resolution influence each other and, together, shape the horizon of democratic governance.
Our interest in practice translates into efforts to engage practitioners throughout the research process. We see practitioners as partners, as inquirers in their own right, and seek to develop settings that give practical expression to this notion of a partnership. These efforts range from providing forums for practitioners to speak about their work, to organizing research as an inquiry into practices of governance, contestation, and conflict resolution, to developing theoretical insights through forms of joint reflection on action. A goal of these efforts is to promote learning about, and in, practice that can contribute to theoretical insights and to the practical development of democratic governance.
Political violence is a regular feature of social life, but varies widely in type and scale. Ranging from killings to riots to large-scale civil wars and genocide, political violence encompasses a broad set of phenomena. The perpetrators may be state or non-state actors, violence may target state actors or civilians, and violence may produce few or many victims. Political violence can be domestic or international in scope.
This research stream within the Amsterdam Center for Conflict Studies brings together scholars whose work lies within this continuum. We aim to improve the study of political violence by challenging disciplinary and conceptual boundaries. By engaging with each other and asking how forms of political violence relate to and diverge from one another, we aspire to open up new directions in the study of political violence.
Conflicts and political violence are often accompanied by displacement, an increase in medical emergencies, shortages of basic needs, and infrastructural collapse. This is the operational terrain of humanitarianism aimed at saving lives, reducing suffering, and upholding human dignity in emergencies. Humanitarian responses are therefore an integral part of the conflict landscape and the mitigation of conflict’s impact on affected populations.
Peacebuilding is aimed at preventing the outbreak, recurrence or continuation of armed conflict. Ending and preventing civil wars and other forms of armed violence often includes peace negotiations; the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations; the protection of civilians in conflict zones; and violence prevention and reconciliation efforts.
The humanitarian response and peacebuilding fields include a wide range of actors from states and their militaries; to UN agencies, peacekeepers, regional organizations and international NGOs; to local actors, such as civil society, women groups, or health care workers and emergency responders.
The Amsterdam Centre for Conflict Studies brings together a number of researchers and practitioners working in the field of humanitarianism and peacebuilding to explore key issues such as current and future challenges in humanitarianism and humanitarian responses to people on the move; civilian (self)-protection and well-being; the use of force in peacekeeping operations; the gender dimensions of conflict and women’s peacebuilding networks; and diverse forms of local peace and resilience building.