Join us at EISA 2022

Members of the research group are organising the Section ” Spatializing International Relations” at EISA 2022. See description below and apply with panels, roundtables, and abstracts!


Analysing violent conflicts and peace processes from a spatial perspective is slowly but steadily holding entry into IR in general and peace and conflict studies in particular. Yet, there has been no sustained inquiry into linking peace and conflict with space and place. A spatial analysis can provide new and important insights into processes of peace and the dynamics of conflict as situated within and constitutive of different spaces and places. This innovative section thus explores war and peace through spatial approaches, both empirically and theoretically and in doing so advances and emplaces the field. Currently, much of the academic writing inadvertently incorporates a spatial perspective when focusing on struggles over territory, borders or resources. Institutional analysis, geo-political investigations, but also global vs. local debates and place-based perspectives assume an integral and strongly space-related part of academic frameworks. What is missing in current IR-scholarship, though, is to bring to the fore the spatial dimension of these spaces, places and sites and to assess how they condition – and are conditioned by – conflict and peace processes. These social and political practices cannot be considered detached from the particularities of the grounded sites they take place in. To fill this lacuna and to advance the spatial turn in IR, the section explores the emergence of conflict and peace as situated within and constitutive of different spaces. All panels, roundtables and papers employ space as an analytic category and develop strong theoretical contributions as well as offering new empirical insights based on original research.

Join us at EISA on 14 September

The project will be well represented at the upcoming EISA conference in Sofia, 11-14 September. Project leader Annika Björkdahl will chair a panel on “War in the City? Exploring the relationship between urban violence and armed conflict”. The panel will include the following presentations by project members:

  • The urbanization of war: Linking urban violence to armed conflict (Ivan Gusic and Annika Björkdahl)
  • Are armed conflicts becoming more urban? (Emma Elfversson and Kristine Höglund)
  • Urban encounters with violence from afar: Disturbing the ‘here’ and ‘there’ of peace and conflict analysis (Johanna Mannergren Selimovic)

Panel on Urban Violence in Troubled Cities at RGS-IBG 2019

Project members Emma Elfversson and Ivan Gusic, together with Jonathan Rokem (Kent University), arranged a panel at the annual conference of the Royal Geographic Society in London, 28-30 August. The panel sought to bring together different perspectives on urban violence, encompassing peace research, geography, urban planning, sociology and other relevant disciplines. It comprised papers on spatial dimensions of violence in postwar Colombia, the interplay between violence and architecture in Apartheid South Africa,  the (urban) clash of globalising and nationalising logics, and rural/urban patterns of ethnocommunal violence in Africa. Presentations were followed by a Q&A and constructive interdisciplinary discussion.

Special issue: The Spatiality of Violence in Postwar Cities

Following our workshop in March, we can now announce that our special issue is under way in Third World Thematics. It brings together a group of experts on urban violence in different geographic settings and applying different theoretical and methodological approaches. Two articles are already out:

Henry Thomson (2019) “Conflict termination, signals of state weakness and violent urban social disorder in the developing world”
Link to publication

Silvia Danielak (2019) “Navigating urban encounters: an infrastructural perspective on violence in Johannesburg’s taxi industry”
Link to publication

Workshop on the spatiality of violence in postwar cities

The project group is organizing a workshop on the spatiality of violence in postwar cities, taking place in Uppsala on 6-7 March.

Participants come from all over the world and will be discussing different aspects to violence, in different urban sites, across many different cities.

Should you like to observe, please let Ivan ( know!

Our project members are co-hosting a panel on urban violence in troubled cities

Project members Emma and Ivan are together with Jonathan Rokem organising a panel on urban violence in troubled cities, to take place in London in August. See more information below!


Urban Violence in Troubled Cities – Towards Comparative Geographies of Hope

Comparative re-examinations of how we understand urban violence and how it affects as well as is affected by space are becoming increasingly critical. Violence in all its degrees and nuances is a growing political and humanitarian concern that is becoming increasingly urban. As a result of these shifts in global and local geopolitical forces, the geographies of cities are being restructured, frequently in unpredictable ways, their populations coming together or becoming polarised with often un-ordinary and underexplored spatial patterns. At the same time, the relational trajectories of violence and securitisation are affected by the geographies in which they take place. Following recent calls for scholarship dedicated to understanding violence from a spatial perspective (Gregory & Pred, 2007; Springer & Le Billon, 2016), this CfP invites interdisciplinary insights from political geography, urban studies, criminology, peace and conflict studies, and political science, among other disciplines, in order to address the differential role which geography plays in the emergence of urban violence pointing to a broader understanding of urban violence and its spatial significance.


Considering the global increase in violent events in several of the world’s major cities (Urdal & Hoelscher 2012), comparative spatial analysis of the expanding world of contested cities can give hope to a more diverse geographical understanding of the dynamics of urban violence and its effect on and interplay with the everyday lives of people. This CfP’s main aim is to shed further light on how comparing urban exclusion, inequality, tension, mobility, connectivity and its relationship to violence can influence local residents in troubled and more hopeful urban environments.


The session’s main objective is to bring together a selected group of international case studies engaging with spatial analysis and urban violence driven by geopolitical regional . In doing so, we seek to start learning from and comparing across different cities – pointing to the growing need to re-think ‘labels’ and ‘concepts’ attributed to cities and neighborhoods, to better conceptualise and adapt policy and practice to (e.g. ethnic, religious, or LGBTQ) minorities and exposed citizens and non-citizens (e.g. migrants, women, unemployed or homeless persons) in an ever more fractured urban geopolitical reality (Rokem and Boano 2018). We are particularly looking for papers that share a joint critical and comparative reading of urban geopolitical violence and spatial analysis in cities from different regional settings.


We invite papers that discuss and address (although not limited to) the following broad topics:


  • How do mobility, proximity, and connectivity shape the opportunities available to engage in violent conflict?


  • Comparing how (historical and contemporary) spatial policies, urban conflicts and divisions impact violence in cities.


  • Comparing planning under violent urban geopolitical conditions and its (lack of) promotion of spatial and social justice.


  • Learning from spatial analysis of urban violence across ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern’ cities.


Jonathan Rokem Rock, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent (


Emma Elfversson, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University (


Ivan Gusic, Department of Political Science, Lund University and The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (


Interested session participants should contact Jonathan Rokem Rock ( by 5th February 2019 to indicate their interest in participating in the session. Please include your affiliation, a proposed title and a 250-300 word abstract.


Successful applicants will be expected to register and pay the RGS_IBG 2019 Conference registration fee.


Location: London

Dates: 28 – 30 August 2019

Conference website:


References cited

Gregory, D., & Pred, A. (Eds.). (2007). Violent Geographies: Fear, Terror, and Political Violence. New York: Routledge.


Rokem J. & Boano C. (2018) Urban Geopolitics: Rethinking Planning in Contested Cities, Routledge, London and New York


Springer, S., & Le Billon, P. (2016). Violence and space: An introduction to the geographies of violence. Political Geography, 52, 1–3.


Urdal, H. & Hoelscher, K. (2012). ‘Explaining urban social disorder and violence: An empirical study of event data from Asian and Sub-Saharan African cities’, International Interactions 38(4): 512–528.