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Research Projects

Contesting MigrationDGIS Town

Principal Investigators: Olga Demetriou, Antonis Ellinas. 

Postdoctoral Research Associates: Bernardo Lopez Marin, SGIA Durham,, Janina Pescinski, SGIA Durham,, Maria Kenti-Kranidioti, SPS University of Cyprus

Funding Body: ESRC, £825,523

Duration: 1/1/2023 to 31/12/2026

Contesting Migration" studies the governance of migration through the lens of refugee reception sites with a focus on political contestation. It analyses pro- and anti-migrant activism at reception sites, namely, Ceuta and Melilla in Spain, Lampedusa and Trieste in Italy, and Chios and Evros in Greece. The project employs tools from comparative politics and political ethnography to study this activism. It builds on findings from two earlier projects: MEDRECEPTIONS, which studied such activism in Greece and Cyprus (funded by the Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation) and a preliminary project funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Small Grants. It also utilises ideas developed during a visiting fellowship at the LSE, which examined how refugees define states.

Project website:

Outputs: Demetriou, Olga. 2023. Reconsidering the vignette as method: Art, ethnography, and refugee studies. American Ethnologist 50(2): 208-222

Demetriou, O., Constantinou, C.M. and Tselepou, M., 2023. Lateral colonialism: exploring modalities of engagement in decolonial politics from the periphery. Third World Quarterly, pp.1-18

The States that Refugees Define: institutional and cultural forms of activism in exceptional locations (LSE Hellenic Observatory Research Project)


Decolonising Education for Peace in AfricaDEPA logo, hands with books

Principal Investigators: Prof Parvati Raghuram (PI), Dr Craig Walker, Prof Stefanie Kappler, Dr Stephen McLoughlin, Dr Melis Cin, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, Professor Ashley Gunter, Dr Lorna Christie, Dr Mwazvita Dalu, Dr Tendayi Marovah, More Panganayi, Tominke Christine Olaniyan

Funding Body: AHRC (GCRF) £1,997,694

Duration: March 2020 to March 2024

Decolonising Education for Peace in Africa (DEPA) is addressing the question: What are the different knowledges and values underpinning peace and how can these practices be connected and compared across countries to create curriculum content and mode of delivery in informal and formal settings, Secondary and Higher Education (HE), in order to decolonise peace education?

Operating across 5 countries for the first phase – Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the UK - the project is, for the first time, providing new data based on Arts and Humanities methodologies on how peace is understood within displaced and marginalised communities. Researchers, community workers and communities that have experienced conflict are connecting to produce state of the art knowledge.  The DEPA project has funded an additional 8 projects, extending into Algeria, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Sierra Leone.

Project website: 


Peacekeepers as Soldiers and Humanitarians: The Impact of Contradictory Roles and Responsibilities on The Protection Mandate of PeacekeepersDGIS, car on sand track

Principal Investigators: Jutta Bakonyi (Durham University), Anne Flaspoler and Janosch Kullenberg (Durham University), Geoffrey Lugano (Kenyatta University), South West Livestock Professional Association (Somalia), Cercle National de Réflexion sur la Jeunesse (DRC)

Funding Body: AHRC: £400,849

Duration: July 2020 to July 2023

The protection of civilians in areas of violent conflicts and wars is among the main tasks of military peacekeeping. Peacekeepers are, however, often required to straddle military, diplomatic and humanitarian roles: They fight violent actors who are often not easily distinguishable from civilians, patrol roads and convoy humanitarian deliveries, while they are simultaneously requested to develop relations with communities affected by violence, to mediate conflicts and often also to provide humanitarian goods.

The research project explores how military peacekeepers are experiencing their protection mandate and how they navigate their complex responsibilities. The project then compares and contrasts these experiences with those of civilians and humanitarian actors who are on the receiver side of peacekeeper’s protection mandate. We use biographic and narrative interviews to capture experiences, but also work with ‘mapping voice’ to look into spatial arrangements of protection practices. This will provide an in-depth and differentiated account of protection mandate and practices of peacekeepers taking account of organisational and operational differences of AU and UN missions.

Project website:

Outputs: Performing the Protection of Civilians Mandate: Experiences of African Military Peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Federal Republic of Somalia | Global Policy Journal


Development Rights of Children Living in Unrecognised StatesDGIS women in desert

Principal Investigators: Dr Marieke Hopman (PI, Maastricht University), Prof Fons Coomans (Co-PI, Maastricht University), Dr Sarah McGibbon (Durham University), Amal de Chickera (ISI), Dr Sangita Bajulaiye (ISI), Guleid Ahmed Jama (Maastricht University), Dr Ramesh Ganohariti (Leiden University), Human Rights Centre Somaliland, Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion

Funding Body: Dutch Research Council (NWO) and Children’s Rights Research Fund – €788,665 (£677,190)

Duration: April 2019 to July 2024

Perhaps one of the most vulnerable groups in the world, children living in unrecognised states receive little (if any) attention in international bilateral and multilateral for a, and academic research, due to the fact that they fall beyond the state-centric structure of the international community. Since the goal of the UN is to provide access to justice for all, and to build effective and inclusive institutions at all levels, these children should not be left behind any longer. This research is a study on the development rights of children who are living in unrecognised states. The research is conducted by a multidisciplinary research team, in collaboration with practitioners and local actors. Four different case studies are involved: the Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic, Somaliland, Palestine and Abkhazia. 

Project website:

Outputs: MJ Hopman and T Smajic ‘Navigating conflicting normative orders: When violence isn't violence’ (2023) Legal Pluralism and Critical Social Analysis 35

MJ Hopman ‘The child's right to freedom of expression in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara’ (2022) The International Journal of Human Rights 582

'Things that a child shouldn’t say” – The right to freedom of expression for children living West of the Berm’ (Report)


The Cultural Heritage of Conflict 

Principal Investigators: Prof Annika Björkdahl (Lund University), Dr Stefanie Kappler (DGSi) and Dr Johanna Mannergren Selimovic (Swedish Institute of International Affairs) 

Funding Body: The Swedish Research Council (4,8 Mkr) 

Duration: January 2017 to December 2019 

Violence leaves a tangible and intangible legacy and societies emerging from war and conflict have to deal with a difficult heritage.  

The project investigates what role such difficult cultural heritage of conflict plays in transitions to peace. It explores and theorizes the links between tangible cultural heritage of material sites and things and intangible cultural heritage. The project does so by employing a conceptual framework that takes into consideration how sites and things that constitute the legacy of the conflict produce ‘social ensembles’ of agents, narratives and events. 

'The Cultural Heritage of Conflict' Project Page 


Peace and the Politics of MemoryDGIs village

Principal Investigators:Dr Stefanie Kappler  (DGSi), Dr Johanna Mannergren Selimovic (Swedish Institute of International Affairs) 

Funding Body:The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (5,5 Million SEK) 

Duration: January 2017 to December 2019 

In societies emerging from violent conflict, victims, perpetrators and bystanders often live side by side, harbouring conflicting memories and experiences of violence. One of the most pressing questions concerns how the difficult past can be remembered without threatening the fragile peace of the present and future. This project investigates if and how commemoration impacts on the quality of peace, and aims to explain why commemoration may contribute to the making of a durable peace or the perpetuation of conflict. 

The project addresses the lack of detailed investigations into the fluid and frictional construction of commemoration in societies transitioning from war to peace, and thus makes an original contribution to the literatures of transitional justice and peacebuilding. Further, the project provides policy-relevant insights into how commemoration can function in support of peacebuilding. 

'Peace and the Politics of Memory' Project Page