Dr Judith Verweijen
Department of Politics and International Relations
Lecturer in International Relations
+44 114 222 1649
Full contact details
Department of Politics and International Relations
The Lodge, upstairs
Judith Verweijen joined the University of Sheffield in September 2019, having previously held posts at the University of Sussex, the University of Ghent and the Nordic Africa Institute.
Her research examines the micro-dynamics of militarization, including of conflicts around natural resources, in zones of protracted violent conflict. She focuses mostly on the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she has conducted extensive field research since 2010.
Judith completed a PhD in Conflict Studies at the University of Utrecht in 2015. Between 2016 and 2019, she played a leading role in the Rift Valley Institute’s Usalama project on armed groups and urban violence in eastern DRC.
Before entering academia, she worked on natural resources and governance in the DRC for different NGOs, was an election observer during the 2006 DRC elections, and worked for a European umbrella of young green organizations.
- Research interests
Judith's work is situated at the intersection of conflict studies, political ecology, and critical military studies. Her current and recent research orientations include:
Natural resources, conflict and armed mobilization
How do natural resources exploitation and conflicts surrounding natural resources relate to armed mobilization and violence? How do armed actors shape regimes of access to and the exploitation of natural resources? And how do narratives surrounding resources come to constitute collective action frames that inspire social and armed mobilization? Focusing on eastern DRC, I have examined a variety of resources–including cattle, gold (both artisanally and industrially mined), and forest products, in particular in protected areas. In addition, I look at atmospheres of violence surrounding environmental defenders.
The micro-dynamics of militarization
Why do people in conflict appeal to armed actors to settle their disputes? How are armed groups and the national armed forces embedded in local economies? What influence do armed actors have on local governance? In what ways do civilians resist armed actors? To answer these questions, I examine the multi-faceted and fine-grained contacts between civilians and armed actors in eastern DRC, thereby providing explanations for the protractedness of violent conflict in the area.
The internal workings of state and non-state armed forces
To understand civilian-military interaction, including violence against civilians, it is crucial to understand how armed forces work internally. How do soldiers and officers understand their profession, and what are their representations of civilians? What norms and discourses are salient, and what norm-enforcement mechanisms are in place? I explored these dimensions extensive interviews with military personnel and armed group combatants, as well as the study of their social practices.
- The evolving techniques of the social engineering of extraction: Introducing political (re)actions ‘from above’ in large-scale mining and energy projects. Political Geography, 102342-102342.
- A microdynamics approach to geographies of violence: Mapping the kill chain in militarized conservation areas. Political Geography, 79. View this article in WRRO
- Revisiting colonial legacies in knowledge production on customary authority in Central and East Africa. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 1-23. View this article in WRRO
- Brokering between (not so) overt and (not so) covert networks in conflict zones. Global Crime, 21(1), 74-110. View this article in WRRO
- Pluralising political forests : unpacking “the state” by tracing Virunga's charcoal chain. Antipode. View this article in WRRO
- Rebel rule: A governmentality perspective. African Affairs, 118(471), 352-374. View this article in WRRO
- Why We Must Question the Militarisation of Conservation. Biological Conservation, 232, 66-73. View this article in WRRO
- Soldiers without an army? Patronage networks and cohesion in the armed forces of the DR Congo. Armed Forces & Society, 44(4), 626-646. View this article in WRRO
- Civilian resistance against the military in eastern DR Congo: a combined social navigation and structuration approach. Qualitative Sociology, 41(2), 281-301. View this article in WRRO
- Navigating ‘taxation’ on the Congo River: the interplay of legitimation and ‘officialisation’. Review of African Political Economy, 45(156), 250-266. View this article in WRRO
- Confronting the colonial: The (re)production of ‘African’ exceptionalism in critical security and military studies. Security Dialogue, 49(1-2), 57-69. View this article in WRRO
- On assessing risk assessments and situating security advice: The unsettling quest for 'security expertise' In Bliesemann de Guevara B & Bøås M (Ed.), Doing Fieldwork in Areas of International Intervention. A Guide to Research in Violent and Closed Contexts Bristol: Bristol University Press.
- Teaching activities
At the University of Sheffield, I teach courses on Peacekeeping, Statebuilding and International Intervention (POL3137), Debating International Relations (POL6970) and Human Rights, Power and Politics (POL237).
Before moving to Sheffield, I taught courses on security studies, violent conflict, and contentious politics at the University of Sussex and the University of Ghent.