I’m an assistant professor of International Relations at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University. I study civil wars and the emergence of informal institutions of security governance. My current research focuses on community mobilization against insurgent violence, the formation of militias—parties to armed conflict that are neither incumbents nor insurgents—and their impact on civil war dynamics. I’m also broadly interested in African politics, transnational aspects of civil wars, and peacekeeping. I have conducted field research in Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi. I received my PhD from Yale University, and prior to that studied at Free University Berlin and Sciences Po Paris. I’m a contributor to Africa is a Country, and you can follow me on Twitter (@coboje).
Conflict Processes & War
Comparative Political Institutions
Congo, Democratic Republic of the (Zaire)
I study civil wars and the emergence of informal institutions of security governance. Under what conditions does civil war violence create new informal security institutions that challenge the state monopoly of force? What types of order emerge and why? What are the consequences of new informal institutions of security governance for violence during and beyond civil war? This research lies at the intersection of international relations, comparative politics, and political sociology. I strive for an interdisciplinary approach and combine theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches from political science, sociology, history, and anthropology. I put particular emphasis on in-depth fieldwork and combine qualitative with quantitative research methods.
Who rules during civil war? This article argues that the concept of armed group governance must be expanded to include auxiliary armed forces linked to rebels or the government. Comparing the organization of rebel and government auxiliaries, the article demonstrates that security governance during war is never static, but evolves over time. Evidence from the civil war in Mozambique (1976-1992) shows that the auxiliary’s origin shapes its initial level of autonomy. Second, auxiliary contribution to battlefield success of one side may induce innovations adopted by auxiliaries on the other. Both have distinct consequences for the nature of governance.
(together with Stathis N. Kalyvas and Livia I. Schubiger). Militias are an empirical phenomenon that has been overlooked by current research on civil war. Yet, it is a phenomenon that is crucial for understanding political violence, civil war, post-conflict politics, and authoritarianism. Militias or paramilitaries are armed groups that operate alongside regular security forces or work independently of the state to shield the local population from insurgents. We review existing uses of the term, explore the range of empirical manifestations of militias, and highlight recent findings, including those supplied by the articles in this special issue. We focus on areas where the recognition of the importance of militias challenges and complements current theories of civil war. We conclude by introducing a research agenda advocating the integrated study of militias and rebel groups.
Article analyzing the challenges to the financing of African Union peace operations, including recommendations for future research agenda and policy.
Article on the challenges of qualitative fieldwork in polarized societies
Contribution to edited volume, Cahen, Michel, Eric Morier-Genoud, and Domingos do Rosário (eds.), The War Within: New Perspectives on the Civil War in Mozambique, 1976-1992.
(together with Hatem Kahloun and Souhaïl Belhadj) Report on informal security institutions during and after the uprisings in 2011 in Tunisia's capital Tunis.