Civil society actors in local, national and international contexts

Course - first cycle - 15 credits

Syllabus for students autumn 2013

Course Code:
FK201L revision 2
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of establishment:
11 March 2010
Date of ratification:
22 April 2013
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
02 September 2013
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
30 August 2012

Course description

The aim of this course, which is a continuation course in the multidisciplinary subject of Peace and Conflict Studies, is to give students both theoretical understanding and professional skills that will enhance their employability.

Advancement in relation to the degree requirements

The course can normally be included as a part of a general degree at undergraduate level.

Entry requirements

Prerequisite courses for this course are: Passed courses: FK101E-Peace and Conflict Studies I and FK102E-Peace and Conflict Studies II or [FK101L-Peace and Conflict Studies I and FK102L-Peace and Conflict Studies II].

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

After finishing the course, the student:
• can demonstrate an understanding of civil society actors’ work, relevant to peace and conflict studies
• can demonstrate in-depth understanding of the conditions of civilians in and after military conflicts
• can demonstrate knowledge of predicaments and possibilities of civil society actors’ work in local, national and international contexts
• can demonstrate an critical understanding of the concept civil society

Applying knowledge and understanding

After finishing the course, the student:
• can demonstrate the ability to independently investigate contexts and modalities of civil society actors’ work by employing the analytical concepts relevant to this field of study
• can demonstrate the ability to carry out an analytical task within given time frames
• can demonstrate a critical and scientific approach to experience-near perspectives on organised violence, conflict resolution and the notion of peace

Making judgments and communication skills

After finishing the course, the student:
• can show the specialised ability to independently analyse and critically reflect upon civil society actors’ work in local, national and international contexts
• has the specialised ability to independently evaluate own knowledge in relation to the problems taken up in the course
• identify the need for acquiring further competence within the subject.


Students’ knowledge, understanding, skills and abilities are examined by means of obligatory written assignments, including an take-home exam essay in the form of an independent problem analysis. Students’ communication and judgment skills are primarily examined through seminar presentations.
Students who do not pass the regular course exams have the minimum of two re-sit opportunities. Re-sits follow the same form as the original exams, apart from re-sits for group work, which take the form of individual written and oral assignments.

Course content

The course explores cases of local, national and international contexts in which the civil society actors’ engage within military conflicts, peace processes, humanitarian catastrophes and development projects. The course consists of two modules: Civilians in and after the war (7.5hec) and Civil society actors: frameworks and predicaments (7.5hec).

Civilians in and after the war, 7.5hec

This module offers insights into experience-near perspectives of civilians on organised violence, conflict resolution and the notion of peace. These perspectives are based on ethnographic research concerning the civilians’ understanding and negotiation of normality as well as the modalities of agency both in war- and post-war contexts.

Civil society actors: frameworks and predicaments, 7.5hec

This module explores how civil society actors are limited by – but also influence – political, institutional and other contextual frameworks in their work for peace and against violence. Moreover, results of such efforts are discussed, and relations between theory, policies and practices are problematized.

Learning activities

Lectures, seminars, oral presentations, essays, report writing.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Civilians in and after the war, 7.5 credits

  • Finnström, Sverker, 2008. Living with Bad Surroundings: War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Maèek, Ivana. 2011 (paperback edition; or 2009 cloth edition). Sarajevo Under Siege: Anthropology in Wartime. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Nordstrom, Carolyn. 2004. Shadows of War: Violence, Power and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century. Berkeley: University of California Press. (e-book at Mah library)
Book Chapters and Articles://
  • In Bougarel, Xavier et al. (eds). 2007. The New Bosnian Mosaic. Identities, Memories and Moral Claims in a Post-War Society. London: Ashgate. READ THE CHAPTERS BY:

A. Stefansson (“Urban Exile…”, pp.39-77)
S. Jansen (“Remembering with a Difference…”, pp.193-208)
E. Helms (“’Politic is a Whore’ …”, pp.235-253)
K. Coles (“Ambivalent Builders…”, pp. 255-272).
AS WELL AS Kolind (“In Search of ‘Decent People’…”, pp. 123-138)

  • Kelly, Tobias. 2008. “The attractions of accountancy: Living an ordinary life during the second Palestinian intifada”, Ethnography 9(3): 351-376. (electronic access via Mah library)
  • Povrzanović Frykman, Maja (2008). “Staying Behind: Civilians in the Post-Yugoslav Wars 1991-95”. In: Nicholas Atkin, ed., Daily Lives of Civilians in Wartime Twentieth-Century Europe, pp. 163-193. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press
Articles will be added to this list.

Civil society actors: frameworks and predicaments, 7.5 credits

  • Cockburn, Cynthia. 2007. From Where We Stand – War, Women´s Activism and Feminist Analysis. London and New York: Zed Books (258 p.)

or (same content, different subtitle):

  • Cockburn, Cynthia. 2007. From Where We Stand – Women´s Movements Against Militarism and War. London and New York: Zed Books

  • Della Porta, Donatella and Diani, Mario. 2006 (2nd ed.). Social Movements - An Introduction. Malden, MA and Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell Publishing (249 p.) N.B. EDITION 2006

  • Kaldor, Mary. 2003. Global Civil Society - An Answer to War. Cambridge, Malden, MA: Polity (160 p.)

Articles, chapters, manuals, reports, etc.
  • Adolfo, Eldridge Vigil. 2013. “An Appraisal of the Liberal Peacebuilding Exercise in Sierra Leone” in Eriksson, Mikael and Kostiâc, Roland eds., Mediation and Liberal Peacebuilding: Peace From the Ashes of War?. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 133-154 (21 p.)
  • Autesserre, Séverine. 2009. “Hobbes and the Congo: Frames. Local Violence, and International Intervention”, International Organization, Vol. 63, Issue 2, pp. 249-280 (31 p.)
  • Björkdahl, Annika, Richmond, Oliver and Kappler, Stefanie. 2009. “The EU Peacebuilding Framework: Potentials and Pitfalls in the Western Balkans and the Middle East”, JAD-PbP Working Paper Series, No. 3, June 2009, Lund: Lund University (48 p.)
  • Chenoweth, Erica and Stephan, Maria J.. 2008. “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict”, International Security, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp.7-44 (37 p.)
  • Jarstad, Anna K. and Olsson, Louise. 2012. "Hybrid Peace Ownership in Afghanistan: International Perspectives of Who Owns What and When", Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, Vol. 18, No.1, pp. 105-119 (14 p.)
  • Lederach, John Paul. 2004. Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies, Washington D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace, p. 38 and pp. 40-53 (13 p.)
  • Lorentzi, Ulrika and Larsson, Annika. 2010. Actors for Sustainable Peace – Putting UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security into Practice, Stockholm: Operation 1325 (<82 p.)
  • Martin, Brian. 2012. Backfire Manual: Tactics Against Injustice, Sparsnäs: Irene Publishing (<106 p.)
  • Reich, Hannah. 2006. ““Local Ownership” in Conflict Transformation Projects Partnership, Participation or Patronage?”, Berghof Occasional Paper, No. 27 September 2006, Berlin: Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management (30 p.)
  • Richmond, Oliver. 2011. “De-romanticising the Local, De-mystifying the International: Hybridity in Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands”, The Pacific Review, Vol.24, No.1, pp.115–136 (21 p.)
  • Sharp, Gene. 2010. From Dictatorship to Democracy – A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, East Boston, MA: The Albert Einstein Institution (101 p.)
  • Stubbs, Paul. 2007. “Civil Society or Ubleha? Reflections on Flexible Concepts, Meta-NGOs and New Social Energy in the Post-Yugoslav Space” in Rill, Helena, Smidling, Tamara and Bitoljanu, Ana eds., 20 Pieces of Encouragement for Awakening and Change, Center for Non-Violent Action, pp. 215-228 (13 p.)
  • Thobani, Sunera. 2007. “White Wars: Western Feminisms and the `War on Terror'”, Feminist Theory, Vol. 8, Issue 2, pp. 169–185 (16 p.)
  • United Nations Security Council. 2000. Resolution 1325 (4 p.)
  • Visoka, Gëzim. 2011. “International Governance and Local Resistance in Kosovo: The Thin Line between Ethical, Emancipatory and Exclusionary Politics”, Irish Studies in International Affairs, Vol. 22 (27 p.)

Total: 1231 p. Articles may be added.

Examples of non-required yet recommended reading:
  • Chenoweth, Erica and Stephan, Maria J.. 2011. Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, New York: Columbia University Press (259 p.)
  • von Tongeren, Paul. 2013. “Potential Cornerstone of Infrastructures for Peace? How Local Peace Committees Can Make a Difference”, Peacebuilding, Vol. 1, Issue 1, pp. 39-60

Course evaluation

All students are offered an opportunity to give oral or written feedback at the end of the course. A summary of the results will be made available on the school’s web-pages. The students are also given a possibility to offer feedback for each module.