Fragmentation

My new research project “Fragmentation” (Project: SEP-210206785) will be funded for two years through a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, a European grant aimed at “enhancing the creative and innovative potential of Experienced Researchers.”

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This project offers to study processes of state formation and state fragmentation by conducting extensive fieldwork and an in-depth analysis of sub-state actors in Somalia and Afghanistan. Conventional views assume that most international actors prefer building bureaucratic states and work with locals to realize this aim. This project investigates the post 9/11 shift in international engagement that prioritizes empowering sub-state actors with the ability to control populations, regardless of their willingness to build stable states.

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This timely focus aims to explain why states remain fragmented and identifies the conditions under which sub-state actors integrate into the state’s institutions. The project develops a theory of sub-state authority at odds with two dominant paradigms of state formation: state formation as a struggle against societal forces; and state formation as a bargaining process. It tests hypotheses on the nature of political order and the role of the international environment in sub-state governance.

This work builds on my experience and networks in both countries. It also unfolds an elaborate outreach strategy, which could in turn benefit the reconstruction of a viable political order in Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.