2022 Summer School Courses

Sonja Stojanović Gajić corse


Security, Conflict and the Rise of Illiberalism

Course Description

This course invites students to explore the relations between security, conflict and peace. More specifically, the course investigates how national security policy, security sector governance and security practices are used to undermine or re-strengthen liberal democracy and peace in Europe and Euroasia. The assumption behind the design of this course is that security governance is an inevitable target of autocratization, for three purposes: (a) guaranteeing impunity for those abusing power; (b) selective enforcement of rules by police and judiciary on the behalf of aspiring autocrats; and (c) legitimization of elite and governance through securitization. We will examine how security discourses and practices beyond deployment of violence are used within states or across state borders to manage political competition and conflicts. The course will critically look at the effects of security practices as they appear under the label of ‘liberal peace-building’, and ‘authoritarian conflict management as a form of wartime and post-conflict order’. Finally, it will critically investigate how they co-exist in the current global order.

The course’s empirical focus will center on security governance within both ‘old democracies’ and post-communist countries, as well as their export of ‘liberal peace’ and ‘illiberal peace’. The effects of security practices will be studied in the cases of the Western Balkans, Hungary, Turkey and Central Asia.

The course will also feature a combination of reflective and research assignments (Country Case Studies) and two hands-on workshops: (a) how to research security policy and (b) how to engage in policy advisory work on security reforms. In this way, the students will be able to get an understanding of the complexity of security as a public good and of the political and practical challenges to the provision of human and national security while attending to the foundations of democracy.



Sonja Stojanović Gajić

Sonja Stojanović Gajić is an experienced researcher and practitioner of security governance and conflict transformation. She has two decades of experience supporting security sector reforms (SSR) and peace-building as a researcher, leader of civil society, and consultant to a number of organizations in Wider Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. She specializes in participatory research, capacity-building, strategic planning, evaluation and facilitation of multi-stakeholder dialogues among security and justice professionals, civil society and politicians.

Sonja holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Belgrade. She was the director of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) (2006-2019) and previously taught security studies at the Faculty of Political Science, the University of Belgrade.

Her recent publications include Stojanović Gajić, S. and D. Pavlović (2021), State Capture, Hybrid Regimes and Security Sector Reform, Journal of Regional Security, 16(2):89-126. and editing of Special issue on State Capture and Security, Journal of Regional Security, 16(2); Stojanović Gajić, S. and Ejdus, F. (eds.) (2018). Security Community Practices in the Western Balkans. London: Routledge.



  • Karadjordjeva 65
    11000 Belgrade, Serbia


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