Durable Resolution of Communal Conflicts

Project leader

Emma Elfversson, PhD Candidate

Main supervisor

Kristine Höglund, Professor

Assistant supervisor

Hanne Fjelde, Associate Professor

Project Period


Project Description

The aim of this PhD project is to explore under what circumstances communal conflicts (violent conflicts between non-state groups organized along a shared communal identity) are settled in a manner that promotes durable peace. Communal conflicts can be very violent and often cause disastrous upheaval of local life and livelihoods, resulting in major displacements. Despite the prevalence of communal conflicts and a growing academic attention to these conflicts, academic knowledge about the conditions for their durable resolution is still very limited. Hence, the project aims to develop theory and advance knowledge on this subject. The project has crucial policy implications: a detailed understanding of these processes will improve the efficiency of domestic and international interventions as well as development aid.

The focus of the project is on local conflict resolution processes and how they relate to the way the government handles the conflict. Under what circumstances does the government intervene, and how? What other actors are involved in addressing local conflict? How do different third party actors relate to each other, and how does this affect the outcome? To address these questions, the project employs both quantitative methods, using data on intervention in communal conflict collected for this project, and qualitative methods including field research. Fieldwork focuses on cases in Kenya, and entails interviews with the different stakeholders in local conflict resolution, including government representatives, local elders, participants in peace conferences, and the conflict actors themselves.

Related Publications and Working Papers

Elfversson, Emma, 2017. "Peace and Politics: Promoting durable solutions to communal conflicts". Stockholm: Expert group for Aid Studies, Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Elfversson, Emma, 2016. "Peace from below: Governance and peacebuilding in Kerio Valley, Kenya". Journal of Modern African Studies, Volume 54, Issue 3: 469-493.

Elfversson, Emma, 2016. Communal conflict management dataset codebook (v 1.2). Uppsala: Department of Peace and Conflict Research.

Elfversson, Emma, 2015. "Providing security or protecting interests? Government interventions in violent communal conflicts in Africa." Journal of Peace Research 52(6): 791-805. 

Elfversson, Emma, 2013. "Third Parties, the State, and Communal Conflict Resolution: A comparative study of evidence from Kenya". Paper presented at the Thomas Ohlson Memorial Conference, Uppsala, Sweden, 18-20 April, 2013.

Brosché, Johan & Emma Elfversson, 2012. "Communal Conflict, Civil War, and the State: Complexities, connections, and the case of Sudan". African Journal on Conflict Resolution, Volume 12, Issue 1.

Johansson, Emma, 2011. "Managing Communal Conflicts: The Role of the State". Paper presented at the 52nd Annual International Studies Association Convention, Montreal, Canada, 16-19 March, 2011.

Main Financial Support

Field research is funded by research grants from Swedish funding agencies and scholarships.