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Research grants from RJ

News: Oct 21, 2019

The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (RJ) has awarded two projects at the Department of Political Science grants.

New roles in a hostile world? How liberal states are changing their foreign policy in a new security environment

Douglas Brommesson, Lund University and Ann-Marie Ekengren, University of Gothenburg
SEK 5 168 000 00

With an increasing level of confrontation in world politics, small liberal states face the challenge of balancing normative liberal beliefs against the need for military security. This challenge leads to potential role conflicts. In the proposed project, we consider such role conflicts in the five Nordic states, typical small liberal states that are challenged by the shifting world order. We approach potential role conflicts in the Nordic states in two ways. First, we describe how the foreign policy roles of the Nordic states have evolved in the new security landscape of Northern Europe over the last ten years. Second, we explain how these states balance their varied and potentially incompatible roles, in relation to both the overarching systemic changes and domestic opposition. These two aims are achieved through conducting elite interviews and analyzing foreign policy declarations and key speeches of leading politicians. The second aim more specifically makes use of a process-tracing approach in order to explain when and how role contestation has led to role change. Through these steps, we will gain important new knowledge of how the systemic transformation of the world order is challenging the existing roles of states, necessitating the reevaluation of their role locations and, in turn, their foreign policies.

From Revenge to Forgiveness: Strengthening Durable Peace in Post-Conflict Societies

Kristen Kao, SEK 3 141 000

Civil conflicts gravely damage the state’s legitimacy. Institutions are rendered incapable of providing security; social trust among its citizenry diminishes; and non-state actors step in to fill the vacuum of power. Following conflict, the state needs to re-establish itself as the legitimate arbiter of processes aimed at bringing former rebel collaborators to justice. Unless it carefully considers subnational variation in the drivers of forgiveness and reconciliation with rebel collaborators, the state may generate new grievances among some communities, increasing the chances of rebel recidivism or the outbreak of new conflict. This project develops and tests a novel framework integrating political science theories of legitimacy with psychological theories of forgiveness, feelings of (in)justice and desire for revenge. To test this framework, we conduct in-depth interviews, hold focus groups and implement three large-scale surveys with embedded experiments (N=3,600) in Iraq, a country that has endured a series of civil conflicts culminating in the recent confrontation with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This project employs innovative tools to identify both the subnational drivers of violent resentment towards the state and the drivers of reconciliation. It provides policymakers with the information necessary to design successful strategies for reconciliation, re-establishment of state legitimacy, and lasting peace.

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