CORDIS - EU research results

The Spatial Dimension of Insurgent-Civilian Relations: Routinised Insurgent Space

Project description

Studying insurgents' interaction with the public

Rebel groups, such as insurgents, seek to develop popular support and legitimacy. How do these movements organise interactions with supportive constituencies? The EU-funded FOCRIS project will answer this question. It will introduce the concept of Routinised Insurgent Space (RIS) to analyse the process by which insurgent movements interact with supporters to normalise their presence. The project will study two groups: the M-19 in Colombia and the PKK in Turkey. These are very different cases in terms of ideologies, insurgent strategies and success rates in consolidating RIS. The focus will be on four specific forms of RIS: insurgent justice and policing, insurgent service provision, insurgent prison organisation, and insurgent funerals.


Armed groups have always attempted to obtain popular legitimacy and win support in their immediate social environments, as attested by the rich empirical and historical literature on the subject. This project proposes an innovative conceptual approach to assess how insurgent movements spatially organise interactions with their supportive constituencies. It introduces the concept of Routinised Insurgent Space (RIS) to analyse the process by which insurgent movements’ deliberately routinise interactions with supporters with the objective of carving out spaces where insurgent presence becomes normalised and in the long run, potentially hegemonic. It draws predominantly on the social movement and rebel governance literatures. It is an exploratory project, wherein the concept of RIS will be rigorously tested and the full extent of its scope determined. It focuses on two groups (the M-19 in Colombia and the PKK in Turkey), selected as most-different-cases due to their differing ideologies, insurgent strategies and differing success rates (PKK as more successful and M-19 as less successful) in consolidating RIS. Additionally, the spatial and chronological variation in the forms of RIS they employed, allows both within-case and cross-case analysis. The Fellow has deep expertise on both movements with access to data including interview partners, movement primary sources and party literature. FOCRIS focuses on four specific forms of RIS which preliminary research by the author, has demonstrated to occur in movements of different ideological orientation and socio-political contexts: insurgent justice and policing; insurgent service provision; insurgent prison organisation and insurgent funerals.


Net EU contribution
€ 187 572,48
6708 PB Wageningen

See on map

Oost-Nederland Gelderland Veluwe
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 187 572,48