Head: Dr. Sabine von Löwis

Conflict Dynamics and Border Regions

The disintegration of the Soviet Union led to the creation of not only the fifteen successor states but also a series of de facto states. At the same time, the relatively permeable borders between the Soviet republics became international frontiers. These changes fundamentally altered the way people lived together in the region. More recently, events in Ukraine show that the post-1991 territorial order in the post-Soviet space has proven less stable than previously assumed. For the region’s inhabitants, as well as for regional, national, and international actors, new political realities have emerged.

This research cluster is dedicated to the study of local state and non-state actors and structures that are affected by, and influence the further development of, conflicts. These actors include refugees from conflict regions, populations of disputed areas, and local decision-makers. The research considers the many changing interactions between local and external actors and investigates the ways conflicts are caused and managed, social-spatial dynamics, the actions of affected populations, and the effectiveness of those actions.

Of particular interest are the many new and old territorial orders connected with changes in borders. These range from contested border demarcations to changes caused by entry into, or association with, economic and/or political organisations. Such shifts trigger uncertainties about individual and societal expectations of economic, social, and political futures and associated social and spatial mobility. Ongoing processes of nation building in the newly created post-Soviet states generate additional tensions.


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Einstein Professor for the Comparative Study of Democracy and Authoritarianism at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin