Elena Stavrevska, Ph.D.


University of Notre Dame

Address: 100 Hesburgh Center

City: Notre Dame, Indiana - 46556

Country: United States

About Me:

I am a visiting research fellow at Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. In my research, I have focused on governance and intersectionality in post-conflict societies, European Union’s and India’s approach to peacebuilding, and interpretive methodologies in peace and conflict studies. My current work focuses on intersectional justice and peace settlements in general and the political economy of gender in post-conflict societies in particular. I hold a PhD in Political Science (2017) and an MA in International Relations and European Studies (2008) from Central European University (CEU). I was also a visiting doctoral fellow at the Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice at the University of Toronto (2013). Additionally, I was a Study Programme on European Security fellow (2009-2010), coordinated by the Institut für Europäische Politik in Berlin and funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. I previously worked as a postdoctoral teaching fellow at Bard College Berlin (2017-2018), a work-package coordinator and researcher in the EU-funded project Cultures of Governance and Conflict Resolution in Europe and India (2011-2013) and a teaching assistant at CEU (2010-2012). Beyond my academic work, I have been working closely with different civil society organizations and think tanks in the Balkans. As of 2017, I am a co-founder of Stella, a mentorship program for women and girls in higher education in the Republic of Macedonia, which aims to build solidarity networks and assist in addressing the gender gap while taking into consideration concerns of first generation and minority female students in particular.

Research Interests

Conflict Processes & War

Gender and Politics


Specific Areas of Interest

Peace And Conflict

Peace Agreements

Feminist Peace Politics

Peace Building

The Balkans

Countries of Interest






Journal Articles:

(2018) The Mother, the Wife, the Entrepreneur? Women's Agency and Microfinance in a Disappearing Post- Conflict Welfare State Context, Civil Wars

Tags: Gender and Politics, Political Economy, Conflict Processes & War

This article highlights the political consequences of financial measures in post-conflict economy formation processes. It focuses on how microfinance for women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, even when considered successful, affects women’s agency, what forms of female subjectivities emerge and what forms become excluded or reinforced as a result. Juxtaposing the two goals of microfinance for women – improved family welfare and gender equality – and the consequences, it shows how neoliberal discourses on female economic empowerment through microfinance in the context of a disappearing welfare state may enable limited individual agency within the household, while circumscribing women’s agency in the public domain.

(2018) Economies of Peace: Economy Formation Processes and Outcomes in Conflict-Affected Societies, Civil Wars

Tags: Political Economy, Conflict Processes & War

Looking beyond and beneath the macro level, this special issue is interested in the processes and outcomes of the interaction of economic reforms, socio-economic peacebuilding programmes and international interventions with people’s lived realities. Despite decades of international involvement, many of the debates about peacebuilding and conflict prevention are still detached from the basic livelihoods and everyday concerns of citizens in conflict-affected societies. While the formerly strict distinction between conflict-related and development efforts has been problematised and rethought in recent decades, the (socio-)economic aspects of peace formation still remain on the margins of the discussion. Co-authored with Werner Distler and Birte Vogel.

(2016) EU Support to Civil Society Organisations in Conflict-Ridden Countries: A Governance Perspective from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, and Georgia, International Peacekeeping

Tags: European Politics, NGOs, Conflict Processes & War

From a peacebuilding perspective, EU support for civil society organisations (CSOs) in conflict-ridden countries can be criticised for artificially boosting a liberal, ‘bourgeois’ civil society at the expense of more representative initiatives at the grassroots level. Seen from a governance perspective, however, this criticism is lacking in nuance and conceals the actual rationale and effects of the support. As a basis for a more relevant and realistic debate on international peacebuilding as a form of governance, this paper investigates what the character and effects of EU support for CSOs in conflict-ridden countries actually are: how does it affect the relations between the supported organisations and (1) the wider society, (2) the state, and (3) between the recipient country and the EU? We consider four ideal types of EU conflict governance: ‘liberal peace’, ‘hollow hegemony’, ‘vibrant hegemony’ and ‘post-liberal peace,’ and compare them to empirical data from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, and Georgia. We find that while the objectives of promoting peace and democracy through CSO support tend to fail, the strategic interests of the EU are still maintained. Co-authored with Kristofer Liden, Nona Mikhelidze and Birte Vogel

Book Chapters:

(2016) Space, Class and Peace: Spatial Governmentality in Postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina, Palgrave Macmillan

Tags: Conflict Processes & War, Race, Ethnicity and Politics, Class, Inequality, and Labor Politics

This chapter explores the issue of spatial governmentality as a mechanism of social ordering based on spatial regulation. In particular, it looks at this phenomenon in (post-)conflict societies, using examples from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Adding a temporal dimension to the analysis, it examines possibilities for the creation and development of ‘peace’ spaces along other political cleavage lines that start emerging in the post-war period, such as class cleavage. While the primary goal of the chapter is to contribute theoretically and conceptually to the on-going discussion on the role spaces and places play in peace and conflict zones, it also aims to provide a rich empirical account drawing on ten months on ethnographic research at various locations in BiH. In recent years, the focus has been on managing spaces in which people exist and function rather than managing the people themselves. Space, in this context, is understood as a category that provides an ordering system for both individual and collective thoughts, as well as perceptions and feelings. Inevitably, spatial governmentality is contingent upon the creation of spaces where the governance of the self is consensual and participatory. Such spaces in post-Dayton BiH are created along ethnic and related, religious lines. What we witness is spatialisation of ethnicity, where ethnicity is represented as the dominant centre of power, superior even to the state. This results in the creation and governmentality of ethnic spaces that are not solely geographical, but also linguistic and socio-cultural, present in every aspect of everyday life in the country. These spaces are recreated through a large number of metaphors and practices, which the chapter analyses more closely. At the same time, it zeroes in on the existence of ‘peace’, or in the case of BiH where the war was fought along ethnic lines, supra-ethnic spaces at the grassroots level. Specifically, it brings socio-economic issues to the fore and focuses on the interplay between class, space and relatedly, peace. This is illustrated through everyday life examples of people living in rural areas near or next to the Inter-Entity Boundary Line, which is where governance boundaries overlap and/or unintentionally leave an ‘undergoverned grey area’ in-between, where grassroots actors can fully exercise their agency. Equally importantly, these are also areas where people often struggle for subsistence. The other example of the class-space-peace interplay relates to the recent social protests in several towns in BiH, in the follow-up of which citizens’ plenums have been formed, which have shown potential for developing into supra-ethnic, ‘peace’ spaces. In both of these cases, the existing governmentality of ethnic spaces is challenged and reconciliation can or does occur. Book: Spatialising Peace and Conflict: Mapping the Production of Places, Sites and Scales of Violence, edited by Annika Björkdahl, Susanne Buckley-Zistel.

(2016) Government of Peace and Resistive Subjectivities: Autonomy, Ethnicity and Gender in Northeast India and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Manchester University Press

Tags: Conflict Processes & War, Gender and Politics, Race, Ethnicity and Politics

The apparent peace that prevails today is ‘governed’ peace, which does not completely rule out conflicts, but makes a convenient mix of war and peace—convenient to most parties and stakeholders involved in such conflicts. Thus, the predominant mode of conflict governance, advanced not solely by multilateral, but also by unilateral actors, appears to be what some scholars have labelled as ‘peace-as-governance’. This most common form of peace, ‘applied by international actors through a methodological peacebuilding consensus in conflict zones’, entails pacification, rather than genuine conflict resolution, through governmentalism and liberal state institution building. Such approach is multi-layered and targets all spheres of society. On the one hand, it zeroes in on state institutions in creating the basis for liberal peace and on the other, on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and agencies in governing the society itself. Through this governmentalisation and promotion of liberal peace, the society becomes depoliticised and political agency is removed. Importantly, ‘[t]he liberal peace has been imbued with a specific set of interests, partly through the habitual decontextualisation of classical political theory to support inherency arguments about conflict, or confirm liberal norms of market democracy, and a propensity to reshape rather than engage with non-liberal others. It denies the capacity of others, as well the significance of alternative identities, customs, cultures, patterns of governance, or economy.’ This is also the basis of the concept of government of peace, resulting from the security-development nexus, which entails making social conflicts become at the very least manageable, while making societal schisms opportunities for social development. The focus being on institution building, rather than on social justice and everyday life, has produced new resistive subjectivities. Namely, the subjects that are produced through institution building and the governmental policies of suppression do not merely repeat themselves in their conduct as in the conflict the institutions aim to govern, but in fact revise their subjectivities and advance different emancipatory claims. Two examples include locally relevant ‘identities’, such as ethnicity and gender, based on which people have claimed not solely the citizen’s rights, which the liberal state guarantees, but also the collective rights arguably stemming from their ‘identity’. In this chapter, we first outline the ‘government of peace’ approach of governance, after which we proceed by analysing the interaction of the approach with local ‘identities’ related to ethnicity and gender. In our examination, we draw on substantive fieldwork carried out in India’s Northeast and in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Given the multiplicity of protracted conflicts, including those between the state and the different societal groups, as well as conflicts among different ethnic communities who have lived on the same territory for centuries, India’s Northeast is in some ways comparable to the Balkans. At the same time, the present situation in BiH and the Northeast differ greatly with the former having enjoyed relative stability and period of non-violence since the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord in 1995 and also being significantly less heterogeneous in terms of population and autonomy claims than the Northeast. While the two cases vary in terms of the historical, political and social contexts, and despite the units of analysis being different, the chapter shows that irrespective of the scale of the conflicts, there are important similarities in the way conflict governance has been undertaken. Co-authored with Atig Ghosh. Book: Cultures of Governance and Peace: A Comparison of EU and Indian Theoretical and Policy Approaches, edited by J. Peter Burgess, Oliver P. Richmond and Ranabir Samaddar.

(2016) Agency, Autonomy and Compliance in (Post-)Conflict Situations: Perspectives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Jammu and Kashmir, Manchester University Press

Tags: Conflict Processes & War

This chapter zeroes in on the interaction of local agencies with dominant discourses, as manifested through political, social and cultural practices and norms. Driven by postcolonial sensitivities, it critically engages with the issues of local agency, including its marginal forms, autonomy and resistance. It examines how local agency complies with, (mis)appropriates, rebels against or uses hidden forms of resistance against top-down conflict governance initiatives. It also brings in the notion of the everyday, where the encounter between the local agency and the cultures of conflict resolution takes place drawing on extensive fieldwork undertaken in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Cyprus, and Jammu and Kashmir. Focusing on the concept of space(s), both political and physical, the chapter tries to make different forms of local agency and their relation to the dominant culture of conflict resolution visible. It addresses the question of whether local agency conforms to the set boundaries and if not, what kind of tactics and strategies it uses in questioning those boundaries and claiming alternative spaces. It further problematises borders as conflict resolution mechanisms. Borders have in all case studies initially been used in prevention of further violence, and have as a result later played a major role in the various conflict resolution efforts. In that context, we look at how local agency interacts with physical borders as well as governance and cultural practices related to them. In its analysis of local agency, while trying to bring in empirics from all the case studies, as well as draw parallels across and highlight differences, this chapter zeroes in on different types of local agency, classifying them based on the level of institutionalisation. It shows examples of civil society organisations, non-institutionalised citizens’ initiatives and movements, as well as individuals as critical local agencies in their relation to top-down conflict governance initiatives. Co-authored with Sumona DasGupta, Birte Vogel and Navnita Chadha Behera. Book: Cultures of Governance and Peace: A Comparison of EU and Indian Theoretical and Policy Approaches, edited by J. Peter Burgess, Oliver P. Richmond and Ranabir Samaddar.