Prospective Thesis Topic: The Dynamics of Peace and Conflict in the Middle East (generic)

With the establishment of the PRIO Middle East Centre, we invite proposals for MA thesis on the the dynamics of peace and security in the Middle East. The centre has a broad agenda, with five thematic pillars:

  • Great Powers: The role of great powers in the region (continuity, rivalry, repertoire, influence, dependencies), both in historical perspective and with a focus on current shifts.
  • Regional Dynamics: The regional patterns of enmity and amity – of alliances and region-wide cooperation, of hegemonic ambitions competition and confrontation – including how this plays out within particular countries or sub-regions.
  • Statebuilding: The social contract between regimes and their citizens, with an emphasis on welfare politics, political participation and accountability. A particular interest in security-related dynamics, including civil-military relations, the role of paramilitary or rebel organizations, and the interface between military confrontation and political processes (ceasefires, military stalemates, and fluctuations in military strategy and intensity of fighting).
  • Migration: With an emphasis on refugee migration, the main interest is in examining its political consequences, including the right to return as a prime issue in peace processes; the role of exile based political and military mobilization for conflict dynamics and post-settlement reconciliation; as well as impact on peace processes of exclusively exile based representatives for the opposing parties.
  • Transnational Movements: Political and military mobilization across borders, on the basis of religious or ethnic identity, including radicalization processes and the role of state actors in enabling (though offering sanctuary, diplomatic, or military support) such groups.

The PRIO Middle East Centre is a new four-year initiative, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the grant administered by the Research Council of Norway. Its main aim is to build research competence of relevance for Norway's engagements in the region. The centre's formal lauch will take place in fall 2019 (including the project web-page). The new centre is led by Kristian Berg Harpviken, and includes a number of Middle East experts as well as many with relevant thematic expertise. The centre also has a developed network among academic institutions in the region and beyond.

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