Umbrella Protests in Hong Kong - J. Amelung (2016)

Understanding the 2014 Umbrella Protests of Hong Kong – Justine Amelung (May 2016)


In September 2014, thousands of people gathered on the main streets of Hong Kong to protest against its government.  The protests that emerged became known as the “Umbrella Protests” and lasted for 79 days. The demand of the participants was a revision of the 2017 election rules for the next Chief Executive. These rules were not in line with the promise of “universal suffrage” stated in the mini constitution of Hong Kong, the Basic Law. The Protests did not result in any concessions from China and therefore it is argued that they were a complete failure. In this capstone a deeper understanding of the Umbrella Protests will be made through both theoretical and empirical analysis. This includes two theories, one on democratic transition and one on civil resistance movement that will be applied to the situation in Hong Kong. Furthermore, based on the experiences of the participants, this capstone concludes that the views of the media that present the Protests as a failure are too black and white. Although the short-term goal of the Protests may not have been reached, the long-term goal, which is a change in mind-set of the Hong Kong people, has laid the foundation for societal change and further democratic development in the future.

Military Expenditure in MENA - O. Lang (2017)

The Militarization of Politics in the Wake of the Arab Spring. A Comparative Study of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt – Oscar Lang (May 2017)


This essay investigates whether the Arab Spring has affected the militarization of politics in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. It employs data on military expenditures and weapon flows provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute over the ten-year period 2006-2016. The research compares each country’s civil-military relations before and after the uprisings. This paper also addresses the background of each state in the context of the Arab Spring and with regards to the military’s responsibility in the conflict. The research finds that all three countries’ military were impacted by the revolutions, some to a greater extent, with an overall increase in military expenditure and arms imported. This implies a greater role for the armies in the region in the future to come.


Arab Spring; Militarization; Institutionalization; Military Expenditure; Arms Transfers

The Politics of Defining Terrorism – K. El-Kalamawy (2017)

The Politics of Defining Terrorism: The Egyptian State and the Muslim Brotherhood – Kenzy EL Kalamawy (August 2017)


This research paper set out to analyse the exploitation of the state sponsored discourse on terrorism in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt through an analysis of literature and interviews conducted with Egyptians. The historical interaction between the Egyptian State and the Muslim Brotherhood was examined as well as contemporary developments. Egypt’s human rights obligations as well as violations of those rights by Sisi’s government were analysed. The research has concluded that the new regime, headed by Sisi has utilised the label of terrorism as applied to the Muslim Brotherhood to justify its wider repression of the Egyptian population. This is a strategy whereby the new regime reconfigures authoritarianism in Egypt to consolidate its control.

American Civil-Military Gap – S. Engelen-Eigles (2018)

Respected but Neglected: Understandings of the American Civil-Military Gap by Veterans and Military Families – Simcha Engelen-Eigles (May 2018)


Scholars have determined that empirical differences exist in values and opinions between American society and the armed forces, especially after the protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This civil-military gap has mostly prominently been researched using large-scale, quantitative methods, but these neglect to provide rich descriptions of how individuals experience the gap in their lives. This thesis uses the findings from those previous studies as guiding concepts to inform the exploration of how veterans and members of military families make sense of the civil-military gap. Semi-structured interviews are used to elicit in-depth narratives about the gaps that manifest most strongly for respondents. Veterans emphasize that society is unknowledgeable about military life, whereas military family members point to the lack of attention they receive for their supportive role in providing for the common defense. Both veterans and military family members reveal that society is disconnected from its military, but is at the same time strongly opinionated about it—veterans describe those opinions as being overly-sensational, while family members assert that society demands social progress from the military to the detriment of safety, effectiveness, and lethality. These findings reveal that the group-differences discovered in quantitative measures have considerable applicability to the qualitative interpretations made by individuals, and that additional research must take military families into account if the civil-military gap is to be further crystallized. Understanding the experiences of individuals are vital for developing sound policy decisions in military and veterans affairs.

Analysis of Hard Eurosceptic Discourse of European Parties - C. Sheldon (2018)

Towards a European Super State: an Accidental Manifestation or a Calculated Move? An Analysis of Hard Eurosceptic Discourse of European Parties – Christine Sheldon (May 2018)


Euroscepticism has come more to the forefront in both politics and academia over the past few years. Yet catching its essence in an exact definition remains challenging.  Many scholars have attempted to establish definitions and/or classifications of Euroscepticism and very often include opposition to European integration as a key element. European integration, however, is also not characterised by a single understanding. Instead different integration theories recognise different actors and factors diving integration forward. Through an inductive content analysis this study establishes how five Hard Eurosceptic parties understand European integration, whilst utilising the two largest integration theories (Neofunctionalism and Liberal Intergovernmentalism) as sensitising concepts. From this it becomes apparent that all parties show opposition to the growing competencies of the EU and with that the formation of what they deem a United States of Europe, or an EU super state. Yet how this super state is being forming and thus the nature of European integration differs. Therefore two categories of Hard Euroscepticism are distinguished in the parties’ discourse. One category considers integration a process which has been intentionally pushed for by elites, while the other deems the current EU to be an accidental result of years of political decisions made with imperfect knowledge. Consequently, the policy proposals between the two categories also differ. The intentional category strongly advocates for their countries to exit the EU in order to reinstate national sovereignty. The accidental category, in contrast, believes integration should be rolled back to national level, yet not completely eradicated. Exit from the EU is more seen as a final solution or negotiation threat. This distinction indicates that Hard Euroscepticism should not be considered a homogeneous whole. Instead a more detailed classification allows for a better understanding of what Eurosceptic parties oppose and consequently what policy changes are associated with this.

The Challenge of Governing Climate Change in Granollers, Spain – A. Planas Carbonell (2019)

The Challenge of Governing Climate Change. The Effectiveness of Multi-level Governance in Environmental Action: The case of Granollers, Spain (1992-2019) – Aina Planas Carbonell (May 2019)


Climate change is one of the most salient issues of our time. Ulrich Beck, a well-known
contemporary sociologist, has described today’s society as a “risk society”, with a major global
risk being climate change. Although the modern environmental movement dates back to the
1960s, effective mitigation and adaption has failed both at national and global levels. For this
reason, many scholars have advocated for a multilevel approach to climate governance, which
includes new actors, namely local governments and transnational municipal networks (TMNs).
This paper aims to investigate the effectiveness of multilevel governance for environmental
action by zooming in on a case study of a middle-sized European city, Granollers (Spain). By
means of a comprehensive analysis of official documents and semi-structured interviews with
experts from the environment and green spaces (MAEV) department at Granollers’ city council,
it aims to explore how the climate governance dynamics have evolved from 1992 until
nowadays. The findings reveal that complementary governance of local and supranational
actors, as facilitated by TMNs, is crucial for effectively addressing climate change.


Governing Non-Jewish Citizens in Israel – J. Dispa (2019)

The Governing of the Non-Jewish Citizens of Israel: A Historical Analysis – Jop Dispa (May 2019)


The State of Israel was founded by a Jewish settler society in 1948. This state made the Judaization of
what it perceived as its sovereign territory one of its fundamental aims. Using a Foucauldian
framework of governmentality, I argue that, from 1948 until the present, this Judaization is the
rationality that is served in the governing of Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Although formal citizens of
Israel, these people are governed as non-citizens. This governing is based on the technologies of
subordination, alienation, and emigration, realised through different techniques differing in
explicitness all serving the rationality of Judaization. From 1948 to 1967, the governing was very
explicitly present through a technique of direct military rule imposed on all Palestinians. After the
abolition of military rule in 1967, the technologies became less explicitly visible, but were still present
in for example Palestinian representation in Israeli politics. The Oslo accords of the 1990s produced a
discourse of ethnic nationalism that affirmed and legitimised the Israeli Palestinians’ non-citizen
status, making the technologies of governing more explicit than they had been in the decades prior. I
argue that the 2018 basic law ‘Israel – The nation state of the Jewish people’ is the most recent
outing of the same technologies that have been present for 70 years.

Freedom of religion and headscarf prohibition in the Netherlands – M. van der Heide (2019)

Equality versus Neutrality. Freedom of religion and headscarf prohibition for public officials in the contemporary Netherlands – Maud van der Heide (May 2019)


The National Police and Dutch Courts insist that headscarf prohibitions are required to
safeguard the neutrality of the Dutch state. Moreover they assert that the expression of
religious symbols in public offices leads to a conflict regarding impartiality and
independence. In opposition to this, Muslim women and Dutch human rights institutes
consider these prohibitions to be violations of the Equal Treatment Act and therefore in
conflict with fundamental human rights. These directly opposing interests cause a conflict
between the headscarf prohibition for public employees and the principle of freedom of
religion. In order to study this conflict, legal cases from Dutch human rights bodies were
analysed in a qualitative manner. Additionally, articles from multiple media sources were
analysed to complement the legal cases. It appears that the conflict between equality and
neutrality is still prevalent in the Dutch society.


headscarf prohibition, freedom of religion, conflict, state neutrality, impartiality, independence, Equal Treatment Act

From Education to Trickle-up: Refugee Programmes and Dutch Integration Discourse – M. Brons (2019)

From Education to Trickle-up Transformation: Assessing the Potentials of Educational Refugee Programmes in Mediating Public Dutch Integration Discourse – Maia Brons (November 2019)


In response to increased refugee influxes, public Dutch integration discourse has become heavily politicised and polarised. Whilst progressing ethno-cultural stigmatisation and marginalisation of refugees demand urgent change, public efforts are feverishly targeted at finding the best methods to integrate them into our society. This thesis identifies a discursive deadlock, in which integration debates stand rooted in paradigmatic ethno-cultural essentialisms and binary identity politics. This thesis investigates the possibilities of navigating a paradigmatic shift out of this bounded discursive space – towards a more balanced, multifaceted rhetoric. Answering to the lack of research proposing concrete solutions, this thesis argues that educational refugee programmes yield properties which can mediate paradigmatic change. With interviews of refugee education experts as the main data source, this thesis concludes that cross-cultural understanding, discursive contemplation and refugee empowerment, facilitated in the micro-environments of educational programmes, can incite a trickle-up transformation of public Dutch integration discourse.


public Dutch integration discourse, cultural essentialism, identity politics, ethno-cultural marginalisation, multiculturalism, refugee education

Federalism and the Kurds in Iraq and Syria – A. Van Acker (2020)

Crisis as Opportunity: Learning to Walk Alone? Federalism and the Kurds in Iraq and Syria: A politico-legal Comparison – Andrea Van Acker (June 2020)


Syria has been at the front page of the news for almost a decade. Particularly, the many factions that make up the international conflict stand out. In this thesis, I studied the Kurds in the north-western part of the country, particularly their state-building efforts on the basis of direct, bottom-up democracy: democratic confederalism. I compared this system to the federal model of Iraq, in particular with the provisions for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. My findings pointed out that the systems are similar in terms of federal model, but very different within their own regions. I also concluded that a large part of Syrian Kurdish nation-building will depend on Assad’s willingness to cooperate with them.

Andrea’s Web

Networked Resistance in Kashmir - N. Khan (2020)

Kashmir’s Network of Outage & Hope. Networked Resistance Under History’s Longest Communication Blackout – Nabeel Khan (June 2020)


The Kashmir communication blackout was unprecedented in history because of its scale and duration. Due to its recency, it possibly poses a challenge to the last decade’s theories of the dynamic between networked authoritarianism and resistance. The research employs a qualitative method approach by interviewing 13 journalists, lawyers, politicians, and activists resisting under the impossible condition of military occupation with all digital technology banned for 213 days. Due to this strict communication lockdown, much of their experiences under the blockade remain undocumented. It employs Castells’ framework to understand this case study’s peculiar dynamic of power and counterpower, because it may reach the margins of what this theory explains. Results show that while the position as occupier allowed state power to restrict with much greater freedom, years of military occupation and internet shutdown had prepared the Kashmiris for building sophisticated networks employing both analogue and digital communication despite the blackout. The extremity of the blackout had attracted international condemnation from Kashmiris, but India leveraged its power in the global network and never lifted the restrictions following the global resistance. Finally, the case study reveals the dangers of a network society with the introduction of the concept, ‘network dependency’, where authoritarianism with less accountability, such as an ‘occupying power’, can make the condition for counterpower impossible by depriving people of the technology that their societies are shaped around, challenging Castells’ technological optimism.

Assessing Research Foci in Middle Eastern Studies – J. Nabbe (2021)

Between the Global and the National: Assessing Research Foci in Middle Eastern Studies – Jonas  Nabbe (June 2021)


To address misconceptions, this article aims to assess the prevalence and implications of the research foci methodological nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and transnationalism in publications regarding the 2011 Arab uprisings. It proposes a novel spectrum that contrasts the nation-state centred methodological nationalism to the global lens of cosmopolitanism. Transnationalism is placed in between these two, due to its sensitivity to different localities and cross-border variables. A systematic review of 67 relevant sources shows that a majority of publications is methodologically nationalist. While each of the research foci has its own utility, as shown by a comparative analysis, the multi-local nature of the ‘Arab Spring’ suggests that it can be best analyzed transnationally. The findings contrastingly suggest that methodological nationalism is the dominant research focus in Middle Eastern Studies. This article takes some steps in critically discussing what this means and how it can be further handled.


methodological nationalism, cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, Arab Spring

Deconstructing the French “Muslim Integration Problem” narrative – C. Collet (2021)

Deconstructing the “Muslim Integration Problem” Narrative: A Policy Analysis of the ‘Separation Law’ in France – Camilla Collet (June 2021)


The present research paper investigates the representations of Muslim citizens and French society by analyzing the bill “Bolstering Republican principles and the fight against separatism”. The paper draws on Schinkel’s (2017) thoughts on immigration imaginaries in the French context using constructivist lenses. The policy analysis was conducted using the post-structural policy analysis tool “What’s the Problem Represented to Be?” developed by Bacchi (2009). It elucidated the ways Muslim communities are problematized along essential and culturalist lines to enhance a ‘mythical’ and unproblematized French society that is modern and universal. Moreover, laïcité is regarded as a normative value in the bill, not a juridical principle, in order to integrate religious people into French society and formats a “Bad Islam” to a “French Islam”. It opens up a broader discussion about the place of religion in a secular Europe and how “incompatible” religions are constructed in policies to justify securitization.


Social imaginary, Islam problematization, French Muslims Citizens, laïcité, policy analysis, WPR- Bacchi