Accessibility statement

Professor Nina Caspersen
Head of Department



My research focuses on the dynamics of intra-state conflicts, peace processes and peace settlements, unrecognised/de facto states, and state recognition. In my work I have emphasised the importance of examining dynamics within communal groups and I am particularly interested in intra-communal rivalry and contestation, popular mobilisation and legitimising strategies, and issues of governance. My research is comparative in nature, but much of it has been focused on the Caucasus and the Balkans. My articles have appeared in several leading journals and I am the author of three monographs: Contested Nationalism (Oxford: Berghahn, 2010), Unrecognized States (Cambridge: Polity, 2012), and Peace Agreements (Cambridge: Polity, 2017).  

My work on unrecognised states was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), I was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for my project Peace Agreements: Resolving intra-state conflicts since the end of the Cold War and I am currently involved in a large interdisciplinary project on the health consequences of the conflict in Colombia, jointly funded by DFID, ESRC, MRC and the Wellcome Trust.

I have been working with leading international think-tanks, including the Berghof Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Council on Foreign Relations.  

Personal webpage

Google Scholar page

Twitter: @NinaCaspersen


I hold a PhD in Government from the London School of Economics and Political Science. After finishing my PhD, I was a Lecturer at Lancaster University. I joined the University of York as Senior Lecturer in 2012 and was promoted to Professor in 2016. 

Departmental roles

I am currently Head of Department

University roles

I am a member of the Social Science Academic Promotions Advisory Panel and Co-Director and founder of the university-wide Security, Conflict and Peace network (SCoPe)



My research is broadly focused on the dynamics of intra-state conflicts, peace processes and peace settlements, statehood, and sovereignty. I am currently working on three main projects:

1. Unrecognised/De Facto States:

This started with an ESRC-funded project on unrecognised states entitled 'The Politics of Unrecognised States' (RES-000-22-2728). This project, which was graded Outstanding by the ESRC, drew on a range of examples (from Abkhazia to Somaliland) and on two in-depth case studies: Nagorno Karabakh (Azerbaijan) and Republika Srpska Krajina (Croatia). The aim of the project was to improve our understanding of unrecognised states and thereby engage with, and question, dominant conceptions of sovereignty, statehood, democratisation, and conflict resolution.

This project resulted in the very well-received book Unrecognized States: The Struggle for Sovereignty in the Modern International System (Cambridge: Polity, 2012).

  • "An essential addition to the literature, which dispels the myth of unrecognised states as dark spots on the world map." Political Studies Review
  • “a significant contribution to a growing literature on sovereign anomalies. It is a thoroughly researched and carefully written book that deserves a wide audience.” Political Science Quarterly
  • “A very important look at issues of unrecognized states that transcend the globe… can and should shape future research.” Nationalities Papers

My current work in this area focuses on engagement with de facto/unrecognised states and strategies for conflict resolution in conflicts involving such entities 

2. Peace Agreements: Resolving intra-state conflicts since the end of the Cold War

This project, funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, provides a systematic and comprehensive analysis of peace agreements signed in separatist conflicts since the end of the Cold War and aimed to uncover:

  1. How contentious issues – relating to territorysecuritypower and justice – have been addressed
  2. How the institutional design, and its success or failure, was affected by the context of the conflict
  3. The interaction between the conflict context, the content of the agreement and the peace process.

The main output from this project was a monograph, Peace Agreements: Finding Solutions to Intra-State Conflicts (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017)

I am currently examining the significance of ambiguity in peace settlements and how this uncertainty impacts on acceptance and implementation of negotiated settlements

3. War and Peace – the Health and Health System Consequences of Conflict in Colombia. 

Together with colleagues from the Centre for Health Economics, University of York; the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Escuela de Gobierno, Universidad de los Andes, I am working on a new interdisplinary project that investigates the health consequences of the conflict in Colombia - before and after the signing of the 2016 peace accord. This project will include an analysis of the extent of and effects of rebel governance. The project is funded by a large grant from the Joint Health Systems Research Initiative (the Department of International Development, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust). 

I would welcome PhD applications in these and related areas of study, and encourage potential supervisees to get in touch.



In the 2018/19 academic year, I am teaching the following modules: 

Second year: War and Peace (spring term lectures)
Third year:  Territory and Conflict in the former Soviet Union (convenor, lectures and seminars)

External activities


I am on the Advisory Board of the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) an Honorary Fellow at the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies (EXCEPS), and a member of the ESRC Peer Review College. 

I have worked with several non-academic partners, including the Berghof Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  

Editorial duties

I am on the Editorial Board of the journals East European Politics and Ethnopolitics, and I review articles for leading academic journals, such as International Organization, the Journal of Peace Research, and Political Geography.

Invited talks and conferences

I am frequently invited to present my work at international conferences and workshops. 

Recent invited talks include: 

  • Keynote speech: ‘De facto states and external dependence: reasons and implications’, seminar, ‘Russia and the “de facto” states in the former Soviet space’, St Petersburg, Russia, 06.-07.04.2017.
  • Keynote speech: ‘Transitional security arrangements – a comparative perspective’, conference, ‘Security Framework for a United Cyprus,’ 15.12.2016.
  • Invited remarks: ‘Reviewing the EU’s Non-recognition and Engagement Policy’, seminar organised by Carnegie Europe. Brussels, 01.12.2016.
  • Keynote speech: ‘The geopolitical importance of unrecognized states’, 5th Annual Geopolitical Conference, Prague, 13.11.2015.


Contact details

Professor Nina Caspersen
Department of Politics
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: (01904) 323555

Feedback and Guidance hours, Online appointments (Spring term) - By appointment