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.”


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.


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.