Navigating the public space

Armed groups as public authorities in eastern DRC

Hosted by LSE’s Centre for Public Authority and International Development

Principal Investigator: Koen Vlassenroot
Co-Investigator: Kasper Hoffmann
Researcher: Josaphat Musamba


The investigators will look at how armed groups position themselves as self-sustaining structures and public authorities in eastern DR Congo. Current research interests include the role of armed groups in Congo’s electoral process, the politics of DDR, and war as social ordering. 


The project is guided by a political ethnography approach.



Professor Koen Vlassenroot

Koen Vlassenroot (PhD, Ghent University) is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Conflict Research Group at Ghent University. He investigates armed groups and civil war, and has carried out extensive fieldwork in eastern DR Congo, Uganda, Rwanda and the Philippines. His major contribution in the field of development studies and peace and conflict research is the understanding of the social embeddedness of rurally based armed groups, the mobility of combatants, public authority and non-state forms of governance in conflict zones, the social transformations induced by long-term conflict and DDR processes.

He has been a co-Principal Investigator of several 5-year international research consortia, has directed large international research grants and has carried out research activities and consultancy work for international donor agencies and non-governmental organizations.

At Ghent University, he has built and direct the Conflict Research Group that invests in the understanding of low-intensity, protracted violent conflicts over natural resources, identity and public authority.


Dr Kasper Hoffmann

Dr Hoffmann's research focuses on three main issues: The formation of political identities, the production of political authority and territory, and emerging forms of governance in conflict settings. Specifically, he addresses the intersection between the formation of ethnic identities and processes of territorialisation and on emerging forms of rebel and land governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar. He is part of the Centre for International Development and Public Authority research programme based at the LSE, which is funded by the UK’s Economic Social Research Council.

He is also affiliated with the University of Copenhagen and Ghent University. 

Photo credit: MONUSCO Photos (CC BY-SA 2.0).