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REPI Recherche et Études en Politique Internationale

Person in charge of the Unit : Oui

REPI is a research unit, mainly dedicated to research and studies in international politics at the Université libre de Bruxelles. It is linked to the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences. REPI fosters fundamental research in the field of international relations and aims at providing a high quality framework for the research in this field (PhD dissertations, publications, conferences...). Depending on available resources, members of REPI can also provide specific expertise for national and international institutions. Furthermore, the research centre encourages the dissemination of knowledge in international relations to a larger audience and represents a convenient space for discussing the teaching of international relations within the university.  REPI also organises seminars and summer schools for professionals and young scholars.

Director : Christian Olsson


Tunisia and Egypt: The memory of two revolutions entangled in ordinary representations and official constructions

In 2010-2011, Tunisia and Egypt witnessed revolutionary movements. Their divergent political evolutions profoundly affected the memory and political consciousness of Tunisian and Egyptian societies as whole. Within an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, this research project aims at both studying how Tunisians and Egyptians - adults and children - have experienced revolutionary events in their daily lives, and at analyzing how these events will be transmitted to younger generations through intimate transmission (individual and family memories) and official-institutional transmission (school curricula and textbooks). The project takes into account two levels of observation and analysis. The first level wants to focus on the reconstruction of individual and family memories and the observation of (new) citizen and political attitudes which adults and children have adopted since the 2010-2011 revolutionary period. The second level intends to examine school curricula and textbooks which are used in primary and preparatory schools before and after revolutionary movements in Tunisia and Egypt. Actors - Tunisian and Egyptian ordinary people - and objects – school curricula and textbooks – are hence at the core of this research. Actors’ representations of revolutionary movements will be compared and dovetailed with an “official” writing version of history as it is expressed in school and ministerial texts. The co-existence of divergent memories - individual, family, collective, official, unofficial - relating to one same event, constitutes a non-institutionalizable heritage of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions’ memory. The compilation of those memories and its mise en valeur will provide fresh historiographical perspectives in writing the present history of Tunisia and Egypt.

ACROPOLIS (Academic Research Organisation for Policy Support) Governance For Development

The research project aims at facilitating a more effective implementation of a comprehensive approach to development and security issues in the partner countries of the Belgian development cooperation​The central research question is the following: what kind of governance networks are needed to effectively implement a comprehensive approach by the Belgian development cooperation? The project will pay particular attention to, on the one hand, the 3D-LO (Defence, Development, Diplomacy - Law & Order) and ICP (Integrated Country Policy) processes already initiated within the Belgian development cooperation and, on the other, the importance of bridging the security-development and humanitarian-development (linked with forced displacement) nexuses. To conduct this policy support research, the project foresees a combination of evidence papers, methodology development and case studies (Burkina Faso & Uganda) to answer this research question. This will ultimately result in an implementation plan, co-created with the stakeholders of the research programme, that will suggest: Guiding principles to implement a comprehensive approach,Concrete indicators to monitor a comprehensive approachAn implementation process that lists the successive steps to be taken in order to implement a comprehensive approach. 

The International Relations of non State Armed Groups

This project deals with the para-diplomatic activities, sometimes described as the “foreign policy”, of non-state armed movements and groups (NSAGs), including of their political branches or representatives. This “foreign policy” can take many forms and shapes, targeting foreign governments, diasporas, the broader “international community” or tapping into the transnational informal economy, the illicit resources of globalization.

Guerre et Po : Wars as a Factor of Reconfiguration of the Political

This research project, gathering 21 researchers during 3 years, funded by the municipality of Paris ('Lauréat Emergence'), coordinated by Dr Amandine Gnanguenon, starts from the observation that the study of 'war' as a phenomenon allows highlighting its changing relations to the political. How does war reconfigure the political? How, in spite of apparent disorder, do warlike situations produce new unexpected political orders? How do contexts of war lead to changes in the perception of norms of legitimacy and legality? How do actors influence the political transformations induced by war? Ultimately, how can one analyse the fact that even when governments seem to crumble, the state, as an ordering idea, usually continues to structure and regulate situations of war?

Borders as an expression of statehood: formal and informal actors at play

On the basis of previous research centering on the political economies of protracted conflicts in Georgia (PhD), this project focuses on the subject of the establishment and the maintainance of borders and boundaries. It enlarges the field of study by looking at formal and informal actors and processes, as well as local and international ones, and aims at bridging the divide between micro and macro analysis. It focuses on a number of studies in, or on the fringes of, the European neighborhood, allowing for fieldwork and data gathering among many relevant stakeholders. In addition to ongoing research on the Abkhaz-Georgian ceasefire line, which predates the 2017 starting date and touches upon the creation of borders in conjunction with separatist processes, this project focuses on the case of Javakheti in Southern Georgia and processes of borderisation and securisation of borders in the Sahara-Sahel. 

Private security and political power in Afghanistan: reshufflings, strategies of influence and state-formation

Private military companies (PMC’s) have played a central role in the war waged by the international coalitions and their local allies in Afghanistan. In this context, the Afghan government has tried to consolidate its control over the local and international PMCs present in the country, officially to strengthen national sovereignty, but also, less avowedly, to solidify the networks of patronage, economic accumulation and power on which it thrives. The aim of this research project is to analyze this process, by means of fieldwork, in view of understanding how the withdrawal of the international forces impact the restructuring of the private security sector in Afghanistan and what it tells us about the Afghan state.

Social anthropology collective inquiry in two African partner universities

Two institutions in Sub-saharan Africa are the study subject of a collective research for the identification of conflicts and strategic groups (ECRIS). The collective methodology helps to understand the dynamics of the institutional contexts of two partner universities through their current challenges, conflicts and innovations. This project came to being after the realisation that Belgium universities know little about their African partners and that the latter are undergoing big changes and transformations. These transformations are not only undergone at partner universities, but also at the national institutions. Belgium universities' interventions, which are more and more of a cross-disciplinary nature and aiming at changing strategic orientations, tend to be at the heart of these transformations. Our collective methodology (ECRIS), built by development sociologists and anthropologists, was aimed at building in a fast and collective way a research question from an inductive manner. This qualitative methodology is based on grounded theory and participatory techniques. This means that we build hypothesis very progressively and pragmatically from data obtained on the field. Researcher: Maria-Martin de Almagro.

International Security Research (ISR)-network

The International Security Research (ISR)-network arises from the need to provide a platform for researchers, both junior and senior, to open up venues for future cooperation and increase the impact of the research community in Belgium and beyond. Coordinated by Dr Tugba Basaran and Dr Christian Olsson, it seeks to further synergies amongst researchers and highlight complementarities of individual research projects. As an open platform, ISR welcomes disciplinary, theoretical, methodological and empirical pluralism and diversity. In order to ensure intellectual consistency and exchange, it is firmly based on a shared interest in security practices and processes, theoretically informed empirical research as well as in the international. This is a multilingual platform with all meetings taking place in English, French, and Flemish/ Dutch and extended by other languages as feasible.

Combattre pour l'humanité: La mondialisation de l'humanitaire et les stratégies des élites dans les pays du Sud, de 1960 à aujourd'hui

Aujourd’hui la plus grande organisation humanitaire du monde avec 80 millions de membres et de volontaires, le Mouvement international de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge (ci-après « le Mouvement ») a été fondé en 1863 lors de la Conférence internationale de Genève, qui fut le point de départ de la naissance du droit international humanitaire (DIH). Sa mission est d’atténuer la souffrance et préserver la dignité des personnes victimes d’une catastrophe naturelle, d’un conflit armé, ainsi que des problèmes sanitaires ou sociaux. Le Mouvement réunit le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR), la Fédération internationale des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge (FICR), et les 191 Sociétés nationales de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge. Malgré leur rôle en tant que « l’ossature » du Mouvement, les Sociétés nationales – notamment celles provenant des pays du Sud – sont très peu étudié. L’objectif général de ce projet est de comprendre la globalisation d’un mouvement humanitaire et du DIH par le prisme de ces constituants. Dans un premier temps, il étudiera la genèse de trois sociétés nationales « extra-européennes » :   le Croix-Rouge kenyan, le Croix-Rouge haïtien, et le Croix-Rouge indien. Dans un deuxième temps, il fournira un regard sociologique sur les élites jouant un rôle central dans la gouvernance de ces mouvements. Et enfin, le projet essayera d’apporter un regard sur les relations de compétition et de coopération au sein du Mouvement, entre les Sociétés nationales.

OCTAV (Research Group on Terrorism, Antiterrorism and Violence)

The members of O.C.T.A.V. build on their dialogue and discussions with security-practitionner in the fields of defense, intelligence, justice and social action involved in contemporary forms of anti-terrorism. Closed-workshops (under Chatham House Rules) are regularly organized. In the context of the latter, security professionals are invited to talk about their activities and the difficulties they encounter. In alternation with research seminars, these meetings are to serve as a platform of ex-change and circulation of ideas between the social universes (academia and security) that they interconnect.  

Mapping the Field of European (In)Security Professionals

This two year-long (2013-2015) project, involving a dozen researchers, is funded by a FP7 consortium ('Source') and coordinated by Prof. Didier Bigo at King's College. It is structured around 3 workshops. The first 2 days-long conference will explore the added value of the hypothesis of a field of security at the level of the European Union and reflect on methods and on the constitution of a common data base allowing to test it. The second workshop after 6 months will take stock of the collected data and reflect on techniques of visualization. It will explore whether the methods of multiple correspondence analysis or of network analysis (through 'Medialab' at Sciences Po Paris) will be useful for us. A third workshop after 18 months will present the results of the strand of research on European internal security and invite people working on issues pertaining to external security in order to highlight the relation between 'internal' and 'external' securities at the level of the EU.