Dr Denisa Kostovicova

Dr Denisa Kostovicova

Associate Professor in Global Politics (European Institute and Department of Government)

Department of Government

+44 (0)207 955 6916
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Key Expertise
Democratisation, Ethnic Conflict, Post-conflict reconstruction, The Balkans

About me

Dr Denisa Kostovicova is an Associate Professor in Global Politics at the European Institute and the Department of Government. She is the author of Kosovo: The Politics of Identity and Space (2005) and co-editor of a number of edited volumes, including Transnationalism in the Balkans (2008), Persistent State Weakness in the Global Age (2009), Bottom-up Politics: An Agency-Centred Approach to Globalization (2011), Civil Society and Transitions in the Western Balkans (2013), and Rethinking Reconciliation and Transitional Justice After Conflict (forthcoming).

Dr Kostovicova’s research focuses on post-conflict reconstruction, specifically on transitional justice, conflict networks and Europeanisation. She is particularly interested in the bottom-up perspective on transition from war to peace, and the impact of cross-border dynamics (political, social and economic) on post-conflict recovery. Her regional specialism is the Balkans, but she has also done comparative work with other post-conflict zones. 

Denisa's current projects are 'Art and Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community' (visit artreconciliation.org to find out more) and 'Justice Interactions and Peacebuilding: From Static to Dynamic Discourses across National, Ethnic, Gender and Age Groups’.

Research interests

  • Democratisation and ethnic conflict
  • Nationalism and globalisation
  • Post-conflict reconstruction
  • Human security
  • Civil society and transitional justice
  • European integration of Western Balkans

Dr Kostovicova’s research has been supported by a number of grants, including from the MacArthur Foundation, Volkswagen Foundation, the EU's 7th Framework Programme, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD). She has also collaborated on numerous international research projects, such as the European Study Group on Europe's Security Capabilities, convened by Professor Mary Kaldor at the invitation of Javier Solana, former EU Foreign Policy Chief (2004-2008, reconvened in 2016); Friedrich Ebert Stiftung-funded project on local ownership ‘Exiting Conflict, Owning the Peace’; and was a member of an international team appointed by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Braunschweig, Germany, to assess Kosovo Albanians history textbooks on behalf of the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Education Ministry in Kosovo.

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Teaching responsibilities

Dr Kostovicova convenes a specialist course on Globalisation, conflict and post-conflict reconstruction (GV4C2). She has also taught courses on comparative conflict analysis, global politics and global civil society. Before joining LSE, she had contributed teaching at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. From 2014-2018, Dr Kostovicova convened MSc Conflict Studies in the Department of Government. She was awarded the Major Review Teaching Prize, and was a nominee for the LSESU’s Student-Led Teaching Excellence prize twice. Her PhD students have worked on different aspects of conflict and post-conflict reconstruction on a range of case-studies, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sierra Leone, Israel-Palestine, Crimea and Moldova.

Current and recent projects

In 2015-16, Dr Kostovicova was awarded a Research Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust to look at ‘Reconciliation Within and Across Divided Societies: Evidence from the Balkans’. Using her knowledge of all of the Balkan languages, and building on her work on civil society and transitional justice in post-conflict contexts, Dr Kostovicova studied the RECOM process in the Balkans. This unique, locally-driven NGO initiative for establishing facts about war crimes gathers civil society groups from all ethnic groups in the region. She is currently completing a monograph that provides the first systematic evaluation of the claim that a regional character of contemporary wars has to be addressed with a regional approach to transitional justice.

In 2016, with her collaborators at King’s College London and University of the Arts London, Dr Kostovicova was awarded funding through the Large Grant scheme of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under the Conflict Theme of the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (PaCCS) and through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), for a two-year project ‘Art and Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community.This inter-disciplinary project investigates post-conflict reconciliation by combining history, political science, art and creative practice, to find out and assess the potential of artistic practices and artefacts to play a role in inter-communal conflict resolution, remembrance, forgetting and forgiving. Visit the Art and Reconciliation website for more information on this project that ends in May 2019.

Building on her research interests in a gender dimension of peace-building, and, particularly, of post-conflict justice and justice-seeking, in 2017-2018, Denisa co-ordinated together with Dr Marsha Henry from the LSE’s Department of Gender Studies, the Bosnia and Herzegovina work-package of the ESRC Strategic Network on Gender Violence Across War and Peace, based at the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security.

In 2018, Dr Kostovicova was awarded a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant for the 5-year project entitled ‘Justice Interactions and Peacebuilding: From Static to Dynamic Discourses across National, Ethnic, Gender and Age Groups’. This project will provide a novel way of analysing how post-conflict justice practices advance or hinder peace-building by conducting a fine-grained multi-language empirical analysis of patterns of discourse in four former Yugoslav countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Croatia). The project aims to break new ground in the study of transitional justice by studying justice discourses at the level of words and conversational sequences through interdisciplinary integration and methodological innovation. Dr Kostovicova leads a team of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers based at the European Institute.

Policy and public engagement

Dr Kostovicova maintains a keen interest in policy implications of her research on post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation, and regularly engages in knowledge exchange with policy makers in the EU, the UK and the Balkans. Most recently, she has contributed to the House of Lords International Relations Committee Inquiry report ‘The UK and the future of the Western Balkans’ and the House of Commons Balkans Inquiry. She has written policy papers and reports for the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme. She authored many policy analysis pieces published by Oxford Analytica, Chaillot Papers, Strategic Comment (Institute of Strategic Studies), openDemocracy, Warreport, Transitions on-line, Development & Transition, etc. She has contributed comment for the UK and international media, including The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Observer, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, Associated Press, Public Radio International (US), and others. Also, she regularly blogs for LSE’s Department of Government blog and EUROPP.

Education and professional experience

She graduated from the University of Maine, U.S., and has a PhD and MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and an MA from the Central European University, Czech Republic. Before joining the LSE, she held Junior Research Fellowships at Wolfson College, Cambridge, and Linacre College, Oxford. Prior to pursuing her graduate studies, she worked as a journalist during the wars of Yugoslavia’s dissolution in 1990s, reporting for the CNN World Report and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, among others.


Civil Society and Transitions in the Western Balkans

This book examines the ambiguous role played by civil society in state-building, democratisation and post-conflict reconstruction in the Western Balkans. In doing so, it challenges the received wisdom that civil society is always a force for good.

Bottom-Up Politics: An Agency-Centred Approach to Globalization

Inspired by the work of Mary Kaldor on global civil society and new wars, the authors explore complex, counterintuitive and even unintended forms and consequences of bottom-up politics as the state loses its dominance as a political actor in the global era. Leading theorists such as Albrow, Falk, Held, Rothschild and Sassen, together with young scholars demonstrate the importance of agency to our understanding of globalization.
Persistent State Weakness in the Global Age

Persistent State Weakness in the Global Age addresses the question of why state weakness in the global era persists. It debunks a common assumption that state weakness is a stop-gap on the path to state failure and state collapse.

Transnationalism in the Balkans

Transnationalism in the Balkans provides a sobering insight into the nature of cross-border links in the region and their implications. Several of the authors show how transnational connections in the context of weak states and new borders in the region have been used by transnational actors – be it in the politics, economics and culture -- to undermine a democratic consolidation and keep the practice of exclusive ethnic politics and identities alive.

Kosovo: The Politics of Identity and Space

Kosovo: The Politics of Identity and Space explores the Albanian-Serbian confrontation after Slobodan Milosevic's rise to power and the policy of repression in Kosovo through the lens of the Kosovo education system.