Ph.d. defense of pivotal CRIC research – Isabel Bramsen – University of Copenhagen

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Ph.d. defense of pivotal CRIC research – Isabel Bramsen

Core research of Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC) is presented and assessed on March 9th when Isabel Bramsen defends her Ph.d-thesis “Route causes of conflict: Trajectories of violent and nonviolent conflict intensification”. Isabel Bramsen has researched issues at the heart of CRIC’s research agenda: sociology of emotions, violence/non-violence, theory of conflict and Arab politics. At the Ph.D defense you can gain an insight into the valuable contribution Isabel has provided to CRIC and the field of peace and conflict studies. During her period as Ph.d. Student, Isabel has been a forceful figure in the dynamic development of CRIC; and fortunately she remains at CRIC as a post.doc.

Registration is not needed, but doors close at 2pm.
The dissertation will be sold from Monday from in print and e-book version.


Taking point of departure in the assumption that violence is a form rather than a degree of conflict, the focus of the dissertation is twofold: firstly to theorize conflict and conflict intensity as distinct from violence and secondly to investigate how and why conflicts turn violent (or not). The dissertation consists of 9 articles and frame. The first 4 articles theorizes conflict as a social form consisting of three interrelated elements: a situation of contradiction, conflictual interaction and tension. In conflict escalation these three elements are intensified and reinforce each other in chains of interaction rituals such as demonstrations or fighting that energizes actors for further action. The remaining 5 articles examines three Arab Spring cases that took three different pathways: regime change in Tunisia, repression in Bahrain and violent escalation in Syria. Based on 52 interviews and 90 videos of violence and nonviolence it is argued that violence occurred in particular situations where the attacker dominated the situation or avoided facial confrontation with the victim and that the development of the three conflicts depended on which party had the momentum, the nature of repression whether the parties were internally united as well as whether emotional, material and practice mechanisms pushed the conflict in a violent direction or not. The dissertation concludes by investigating how the insights about violence and nonviolence can be used to improve nonviolent resistance and prevent violence.

Assessment committee

  • Associate professor Birthe Hansen, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (chair)
  • Professor Isak Svensson, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Professor Emeritus Randall Collins, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, USA