Prof. M. van Leeuwen (Mathijs)
Professor - International Relations
Mathijs van Leeuwen is a rural development sociologist, who specialises in conflict and peacebuilding in developing countries. After his graduation at Wageningen University in 1999, he worked as a researcher at Clingendael, and with various NGOs in Kenya, Sudan, Guatemala and Bolivia. His PhD research at Wageningen Disaster Studies (2004-2008) concerned discourses and practices of civil society peacebuilding and their international support, with fieldwork in a.o. Burundi and Guatemala.
Since 2009, Mathijs works at the Centre for International Conflict Analysis and Management (CICAM). His current research work focuses on land disputes, post-conflict land reform, local peacebuilding, state formation, and the discourses of intervening organizations on conflict and peace. Many of his research projects are interactive in nature, and challenge policy makers and practitioners from development organizations to critically reflect on their own work and on the implications of research findings for policy and intervention.
Mathijs is coordinator of the master-tracks ‘Conflict, Territories and Identities’ and ‘Conflict, Power & Politics’ and currently teaches the following courses:
• Conflicting Theories; Applying Theoretical Approaches of Conflicts
• Natural Resources, Conflict & Governance
• Inleiding Conflict Analyse
• Master Thesis supervision
- 2022 - 2026 'SYNERGIZING SUSTAINABILITY' - This interactive research project aims to better understand how policy-making for agricultural development in the Sahel results in synergies, as well as frictions, contradictions, and trade-offs between different development goals, such as boosting food production, employment creation, and nurturing climate resilience and ambitions for enhancing governance, equity and justice, and sustainable peace. The project focuses on the complex interactions and contestations between diverse stakeholders at different levels in the policy making process (e.g. EU, bilateral donors, national ministries, civil society, farmers associations, private sector), including the politics and power of discourses on notions like ‘agricultural sustainability’ and ‘peace’. The project is a collaboration between scholars from Conflict Studies, Environmental Governance, and International Relations, and is mainly carried out by a postdoctoral researcher and a PhD researcher.
- 2018 - 2022 'SECURING TENURE, SUSTAINABLE PEACE? The challenges of localizing land-registration in conflict-affected Burundi and eastern DR Congo' - Through local fieldwork in pilots on new approaches to registration in Burundi and eastern DR Congo, this project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the challenges of local land registration and the recognition of claims in conflict-affected settings. Through knowledge-sharing with practitioners, it generates instruments that help development organizations better map potential outcomes. More information
- 2018 - 2019 'GROUNDED LEGITIMACY; Strengthening local land registration in conflict-affected Northern Uganda' - This project explores how the Ugandan state legitimizes itself through decentralized land governance, and how interventions by development organizations supporting local land registration feed into the legitimacy of the Ugandan state and of customary authorities. This is done through ethnographic fieldwork in Acholi and Teso (sub-)regions of Uganda, where state legitimacy is highly contested, and tenure insecurity prevails. Two post-doc research projects explore the dynamics of legitimation, how development interventions feed into these, and how this contrasts with assumptions and normative ideas on legitimate authority underlying projects on political governance. Findings will be shared through developing legitimacy-focused conflict-sensitivity training, including participatory theatre, and dramatized video-clips. More information
- 2015 - 2016 'ENHANCING LOCAL PEACE COMMITTEES; Facilitating stakeholder debate on the strategic choices involved in transitional justice in Burundi and DR Congo' - Local Peace Committees (LPCs) have become an important strategy to promote transitional justice in conflict affected contexts. Support by (international) development organisations to LPCs implies strategic choices, including on the kind of justice and type of institutions to be promoted at the local level, and the future role of LPCs. However, so far, choices made tend to reflect the implicit assumptions and preferences of intervening organizations, and it remains difficult to assure the involvement and leadership of local stakeholders. This project explores what these assumptions and preferences are, and how local stakeholders can be better engaged in the strategic choices involved in supporting LPCs. More information
- 2014 - 2016 'LOOKING THROUGH THE LENS OF LAND; Enhancing justice through land governance reform in DR Congo's eastern Kivu Provinces and South Sudan's Greater Equatoria Region' - By ‘looking through the lens of land’, this action research aims to contribute to understanding the land-related justice concerns of local people in DR Congo’s eastern Kivu Provinces and South Sudan’s Greater Equatoria region, and how, through land governance and its reform, state and non-state authorities respond to these. On the basis of those insights the research aims to facilitate debate among major stakeholders on context-specific policy options and intervention strategies. More information