In 2011 Prof Penny Green and Dr Tony Ward were awarded an ESRC Standard Grant of £830,000 for a project entitled: ‘Resisting State Crime: A Comparative Study of Civil Society’ (ES/I030816/1). The award enabled ISCI to recruit two post-doctoral researchers, Dr Thomas MacManus and Dr Ian Patel, and a research and policy manager, Alicia de la Cour Venning. The project aims to study the role of civil society organisations in defining, censuring and resisting criminal acts committed, instigated or condoned by state agencies. It is a cross-cultural study which focuses on countries which are all undergoing processes of reconstruction following severe violent conflict, but which have very different levels of economic and political development. The study includes Burma, Sierre Leone, Tunisia, Colombia, and Papua New Guinea. The project team is currently carrying out background research in preparation for entering the field later this year.
The project’s specific aims and objectives are as follows:
The central aims of the study are to:
- Understand the relationship between state violence, organized non-state political and criminal violence and civil society;
- Understand the fluidity of civil society and the processes of change in its relationship to state and non state violence;
- Understand the role of civil society in defining and censuring criminal, illegal or corrupt behaviour by state officials;
- Explore both the structural and socio-cultural processes involved in the formation of civil society resistance across a number of transitional post conflict states in an effort to assess whether in societies traumatised by state and other forms of related internal violence there exists a dialectical relationship between state violence, the cooperative efforts of individuals within victim communities and the development of a fully articulated civil society.
In each of the selected countries our objectives are:
- To chronicle the life histories of five domestic CSOs before, during and after civil conflict;
- From this comparative survey, and from a review of the relevant literature, to formulate general propositions about the relationship between civil society and state crime;
- To formulate general propositions about the factors influencing the development of civil society and its relation to state and non-state organized violence and corruption in post conflict societies.