Conflict Politics Violence

Transition Development Territory

The state Policy Research

Identity Sovereignty

Bart Klem


I work as an associate professor in Peace and Development Research at the School of Global Studies, Gothenburg University (since 2020). Before that I worked at the School of Social Political Sciences at Melbourne University and at the Political Geography section at the University of Zurich. I am a development sociologist (MA) and political geographer (PhD) by training. From 2006 to 2012, I conducted applied research consultancies through my registered company Bart Klem Research. I closed the company when I became a university lecture, but I continue posting my work on this website.

Focus and perspective

Politics, state institutions, de facto sovereignty and public authority in (violently) contested environments are my main themes of interest. These concepts have normative connotations, but what is interesting about conflict-affected contexts is that received wisdom about legitimacy, legality or morality often gets turned on its head.

The self-evident nature of the state often gets called into question, purportedly illegal political formations manage to craft some legitimacy, and the presence of violence does not equal plain anarchy or disorder. And this in turn raises interesting questions about what we tend to consider ‘normal’ contexts, where normative schemata about what is natural or just are more clearly scripted and rehearsed, but not necessarily more accurate.

These questions may seem purely academic, but they actually raise some pertinent issues with regard to policy-practice as well. The echelons of policy-making, the sites where policy gets ‘translated’ to practice, and the ways in which such practice connects to ‘local beneficiaries’ or ‘interlocutors’ are social arenas, just like any other. Policy is as much a discursive form political performance aimed at crafting legitimacy, as it is an instrumental rationality connecting interests, objectives and means.

More concretely…

Now what does this high prose, and elevated principles expressed in it, actually mean in practice? For an overview below with examples of my previous activities.

Academic publications

Evaluation of interventions in conflict affected countries.

Policy oriented research on issues of conflict.

Workshops, training and capacity building on conflict and development.

Alongside my academic teaching, I have been involved in the following activities: