Department of Comparative Politics

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The Politics After War is a research network for collaborative activities and knowledge sharing among researchers interested in dynamics of party politics, political mobilisation, state-society relations and the state in post civil-war contexts.

Our research focuses on rebel-to-party transformation, political parties, state-building and democratisation. We are particularly interested in the relationship between conflict type and ending, rebel group organisation and transformation, and the quality of electoral politics, peace and democracy in post-war societies.

Existing analysis of the politics of armed groups is predominantly limited to the transition phase. It explains the challenges of rebel group to political party transformation and the factors involved in a successful transition in terms of conflict endings and organisational legacies. But aspects of the transition, such as the type of conflict-ending and war time legacies, as well as armed group characteristics, such as ideology, identity, strength of social networks, and organisational structure, have far-reaching impacts on party politics, state building, peace and democracy well beyond the transition phase.

The Politics After War network brings together researchers with expertise across a broad spectrum of intra-state contexts, allowing us to draw general conclusions regarding cross-regional trends and also to understand context-specific factors that impact on outcomes.

By linking literature on armed groups, political parties and state-building, we aim to ensure that future research on the politics of armed groups speaks to the pressing issues of international peace-building, democratisation and development.

We aim to enrich the conceptual tools used to understand the comparative politics of armed groups by structuring our research around the following four assumptions:

  • Empirical comparisons should be made across categories, for example across time, the North/South divide, types of war, and types of conflict ending. Limiting our empirical points of comparison constrains theoretical thinking.
  • The consequences for democracy should feature more prominently in our analysis of armed groups. Research should examine not only the institutions of democracy, such as political parties, but also how armed groups have shaped legislative agendas, political accountability and other opportunities for political voice.
  • Case comparisons should be made across theoretical divides and across levels of analysis. The political trajectory of the party, elites, and members of an armed group are not the same.
  • Methodological pluralism should be embraced, including a mix of quantitative research, political ethnography, explicit process tracing, and single and comparative case studies extended over time.