Berghof Conflict Research is now part of  Berghof Foundation


Theses and Dissertations

“Whores or Heroes?” (PhD thesis)

The reintegration of former Combatants: The Added Value of Gender Theory

Katrin Planta, who is also a researcher in the Non-State Armed Groups project, takes the opportunity to analyze aspects of her project work more closely in her doctoral thesis. This dissertation seeks to contribute to the growing body of literature on gender and war by focusing on shifting patterns of gender relations and thus power structures in war-to-peace transition processes. It will draw from conflict resolution theory and feminist scholarship on gender and war to investigate why changing gender roles in war-time often fail to alter societal gender norms in the long-term.

Project duration: since 2010
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Supervision: Prof. Sven Chonjacki, Freie Universität Berlin

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Making Memory Work (PhD thesis)

The Impact of Museums and Memorials on Reconciliation in Rural Communities of Latin America. A Comparative Research Project in Peru and Guatemala

This PhD project examines the growing phenomenon of creating ‘places of memory’ – e.g. museums and memorials – as part of the process of truth-seeking in post-conflict settings, taking the examples of Guatemala and Peru. In particular, the project will focus on places of memory in rural areas, which are playing a role in processes of reconciliation within communities. As well as addressing the multiple meanings of the concept of ‘reconciliation’, this dissertation will investigate the perceptions and meanings that different social actors involved in these processes attach to the places concerned. The research will also reflect on the potentially conflicting fields of global and local memory cultures.

Project duration: since 2009
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Georg Zundel PhD grant student
Supervision: Prof. Hans J. Giessmann/Prof. Sven Chojnacki, Freie Universität Berlin/Dr. Martina Fischer

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Kashmir and Regional Security (PhD thesis)

Paradigms of Peace and Prospects for Conflict Transformation

The purpose of this study is to understand the root-causes of the Kashmir conflict and explore peaceful alternatives for transforming it in order to bring peace and prosperity to the region. After the reciprocal atomic tests by both India and Pakistan, the Kashmir conflict became a nuclear flashpoint and a striking threat to the peace and security in the South Asian region. This study seeks to establish an alternative architecture for security and conflict transformation. It explores and analyzes the competing interests of stakeholders involved with this issue to find a win-win solution. It also offers an analysis of the complexities of the internal, intra-state and intractable conflicts. In addition, this research aims to identify and evaluate the existing theoretical frameworks for conflict transformation and seeks for a paradigm shift away from the traditional contours of the Kashmir problem. How to build peace and sustain it in divided societies, which are based on ethnic identities, will be the major focus of this dissertation.

Project duration: since 2009
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Georg Zundel PhD grant student
Supervision: Prof. Hans J. Giessmann/Prof. Sven Chojnacki, Freie Universität Berlin

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Interactive Theatre in Post-War Lebanon (PhD thesis)

15 years after the official end of the civil war, Lebanese society continues to be highly fragmented. Ethnopolitical allegiance not only shapes state structures and the legal framework, but permeates all institutions of society right down to the identity formation of individuals. The war led to geographic fragmentation, where flight and expulsion created more or less homogeneous villages and town districts. It also created a “geography of fear” (Khalaf) which makes relationship-building between groups in society even more difficult. However, sustainable peace can only be created through relationship-building that will ultimately lead to a transformation of social institutions and structures. Based on action research, this project investigates methods employed by local peace activists to create a space for such relationship-building. Its goals are twofold: to develop concrete insights into meaningful action available to local activists who presently engage in Lebanon; and to formulate general insights with respect to methods of relationship-building that can claim universal relevance.

The method of relationship-building that forms the focal point of the project is “Forum Theatre”, where, through a series of workshops, participants from formerly antagonistic groups work together to create common “places of change”. Participants address real-life situations that they all experience as unsatisfactory and frustrating, and thus have a wish to change.

Project duration: 2004-2010
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Supervision: Prof. Jürgen Pohl, University of Bonn

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Institutionalised Dialogue and Negotiation Support Structures (PhD thesis)

The Contribution of Peace Secretariats to Conflict Transformation in Sri Lanka

Facilitating contact, exchange and cooperation among parties in an ethnopolitical conflict can take a great variety of organisational and technical forms. This PhD project seeks to understand the contribution made by the ‘peace secretariats’ in Sri Lanka during the peace process of 2002. These are institutionalised dialogue and negotiation support structures set up to perform secretarial functions during negotiations, to help implement peace accords and to support monitoring and communication efforts made by conflict parties. The main interest behind this research is to understand whether institutionalising such support structures is beneficial to the peace process, and to conflict transformation in general. Based on a review of relevant concepts such as regime theory, institutional theory and impact assessment, it will contribute towards establishing a theoretical foundation for institutionalised dialogue and negotiation support structures. By examining the experiences in Sri Lanka and comparing them with other similar conflict cases (e.g. South Africa, Nepal or Colombia), it should become possible to develop conclusions on the transferability of the findings and to make further research recommendations.

Project duration: since 2009
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Supervision: Prof. Hans J. Giessmann/Dr. Norbert Ropers

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“Victimhood in Dialogue” - Peacebuilding and Dealing with the Past in Post-War Regions (PhD thesis)

The main objective of this PhD project, begun in 2009, is to investigate the interrelations between politically-motivated violence and identity formation, both individual and collective. The aim is to explore forms of external support for regenerating post-war societies that are conducive to preventing violent conflicts from recurring, particularly in areas where the perceived identity of victimhood is fuelling the political discourse. The research will focus on dialogue projects that are currently underway, initiated and supported by external actors in such regions. The organisers and participants will be interviewed about their experiences and interactions, in order to reflect on appropriate ways to deal with the experience of victimhood in conflicts and peace processes.

Project duration: since 2009
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Supervision: Prof. Hans J. Giessmann/Dr. Martina Fischer

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Blending the Rule-of-Law and Traditional Justice in Hybrid States (PhD thesis)

Dispute Resolution as an Object of Exogenous Modernization in Afghanistan

Project duration: since 2009
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Supervision: Prof. Hans J. Giessmann/Dr. Oliver Wolleh

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The Bangsamoro Rebellion (PhD thesis)

Mediation Efforts and the Role of Armed Groups in Conflict Transformation Towards Re-Establishing the State’s Monopoly on the Use of Force

This dissertation project at the University of Hamburg deals with mediation efforts and the role of armed groups in conflict transformation towards re-establishing the state’s monopoly on the use of force. The case study focuses on the violent conflict in the Southern Philippines (Mindanao) between the Philippine government and the Muslim Filipinos. The project combines elements of conflict analysis, conflict transformation theory debate and practical conflict resolution and mediation approaches in intra-state conflicts.

Project duration: 2009-2012
Contact: Thomas Boehlke
Supervision: Prof. Hans J. Giessmann

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