Civil society actors in local, national and international contexts

Course - first cycle - 15 credits

Syllabus for students autumn 2021, autumn 2020

Course Code:
FK201L revision 5.1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of ratification:
20 May 2020
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
31 August 2020
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
16 June 2017

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].

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

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


The aim of this course is for students to develop a critical understanding of civilians and civil society actors, their roles, relations and the conditions of war and peace in local, national and international contexts. Likewise, the actions of civil society actors and their consequences are discussed.


The course consists of two modules:
1. Civilians in and after war (7.5 hp)
The first module addresses civilians’ experience of organized violence, conflict resolution, and peace processes as well as civilians’ modalities of agency both during as well as after war. The perspectives of civil society actors are analyzed through the consideration of ethnographic research.
2. Civil Society Peace Work: Possibilities, Power, and Resistance (7.5 hp)
The second module covers how civil society actors are limited by, but also influence the political and social contexts in their peacebuilding and conflict management activities, like strategic nonviolence. Furthermore the concrete results of these activities are discussed. The relationships between theory, policy and practice are problematized.

Learning outcomes

The course consists of two modules with the following learning outcomes:
1. Civilians in and after war (7.5 hp)
After completing the module the student will:
1. have an in-depth understanding of the conditions and the contexts in which civilians experience military conflicts;
2. have the capability to critically assess ethnographic research in Peace and Conflict Studies;
3. understand the effects of the war experience and the subsequent peace
2. Civil Society Peace Work: Possibilities, Power, and Resistance (7.5 hp)
After completing the module the student will:
1. have an understanding of methods used by civil society actors, such as social movements, in their efforts against violence and for peace;
2. have knowledge of and a critical approach towards obstacles as well as opportunities facing civil society actors on local, national, and international levels;
3. have a critical understanding of the concept civil society;
4. have the capability to analyze and critically reflect on the work performed by civil society actors in local, national and international contexts.

Learning activities

The course is designed for full-time study. The majority of the student’s workload consists of independent study. The students’ active participation is central to the course.
Students are responsible for keeping up the reading and for coming prepared to each class. Students are expected to take their own initiatives to form reading groups.
The teaching in the modules consists of lectures and seminars.


1. Civilians in and after war (7.5 hp)
Learning outcome 1 and 3 are assessed by means of an individual take home exam (5.5 hp). Learning outcome 2 is assessed by means of active participation in seminars (2 hp, pass is the only grade given).
2. Civil Society Peace Work: Possibilities, Power, and Resistance (7.5 hp)
Learning outcome 1-4 are assessed by means of an individual take home exam (5.5 hp). Learning outcome 2 and 4 are also assessed by means of active participation in seminars (2 hp, pass is the only grade given).
In order to achieve a passing grade on the course in its entirety, the grade of Pass is required for each examination. Students who have achieved a passing grade on a course or part of a course may not be offered a further opportunity to achieve a higher grade.

Grading system

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

Course literature and other teaching materials

1. Civilians in and after war (7.5 hp)
  • Bougarel, X. et al. (eds) (2007) The New Bosnian Mosaic, Identities, Memories and Moral Claims in a Post-War Society. London: Ashgate. (selected chapters)
  • Finnström, S. (2008) Living with Bad Surroundings, War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Kelly, T. (2008) The Attractions of Accountancy, Living an Ordinary Life During the Second Palestinian Intifada. Ethnography 9(3): 351-376.
  • Macek, I. (2011) Sarajevo Under Siege, Anthropology in Wartime. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Nordstrom, C. (2004) Shadows of War, Violence, Power and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Povrzanovic Frykman, M. (2008) Staying Behind, Civilians in the Post-Yugoslav Wars 1991-95. In: Nicholas Atkin (ed.) Daily Lives of Civilians in Wartime Twentieth-Century Europe. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 163-193.
Articles may be added to this list.
2. Civil Society Peace Work: Possibilities, Power, and Resistance (7.5 hp)
  • Chenoweth, E. and Stephan, M. J., 2008, ‘Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict,’ in International Security 33(1): 7-44.
  • Hettne, B., 2009, Thinking about development, Zed Books (concluding chapter)
  • Jahanbegloo, R., 2014, Introduction to nonviolence, Palgrave Macmillan
  • Kaldor, M., 2003, Global civil society: An answer to war, Polity Press, Cambridge
  • Kirkegaard, A., forthcoming, ‘Glocal Resistance and De-colonisation: Civil Society in Khatami’s Islam, Dialogue and Civil Society (2013) and its Relevance to our Reading of Popular Protest and Political Participation,’ in Journal of Resistance Studies
  • Lederach, J. P., 2004, Building peace: Sustainable reconciliation in divided societies, U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington DC (selected chapters)
  • Martin, B., 2012, Backfire Manual: Tactics against injustice, Irene Publishing, Sparsnäs
  • Michális, S. M. and F. Petito, 2009, Civilizational Dialogue and World Order: The Other Politics of Cultures, Religions, and Civilizations in International Relations, Palgrave Macmillan
  • Ratele, K., 2012, ‘Gender and peace building in Africa. Violence, militarised masculinity and positive peace,’ Pambazuka Press, Cape Town. No. 6 in a series of occasional papers (will be posted on Canvas)
  • Sharp, G., 2010, From dictatorship to democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation, The Albert Einstein Institution, East Boston
  • Schock, K., 2015, Civil resistance: Comparative perspectives on nonviolent struggle, University of Minnesota Press (excerpts)
  • Vinthagen, S., 2016, A theory of non-violent action: How civil resistance works, Zed Books
Additional readings of no more than 200 pages may be added.
Recommended reading
  • della Porta, D. and Diani, M. (2006) Social Movements, An Introduction (2nd ed.). Malden, MA.: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Hardt, M. and Negri, A. (2004) Multitude - War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. London: Hamish Hamilton.
  • Smith, J. and Verdeja, E. eds. (2013) Globalization, Social Movements, and Peacebuilding. New York: Syracuse University Press.
  • von Tongeren, P. (2013) Potential Cornerstone of Infrastructures for Peace? How Local Peace Committees Can Make a Difference. Peacebuilding, 1(1): 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.