Laura Wise is a Research Analyst for the DFID funded Political Settlements Research Programme. Her primary responsibility is developing the the Peace Agreements Access Tool (PA-X), as part of the programme's Peace Processes project team and Negotiating Peace research theme. She is also a researcher for the UN Women project 'Enhancing Women’s Leadership for Sustainable Peace in Fragile Contexts in the MENA Region', focussing in particular on gender and territorial power-sharing.
Her research examines national and ethnic minority politics in post-conflict societies, with a particular focus on the Western Balkans. She is interested in how majority and minority communities mobilize, and the ways in which minority actors navigate political and institutional opportunity structures, especially those structures that claim to promote minority rights after conflict.
She has previously been awarded a three-year entrance scholarship and the 2011/2012 International Politics Finalists' Dissertation Prize by Aberystwyth University, an Emily Sarah Montgomery Travel Scholarship by Queen's University Belfast, a JoinEU-SEE Penta Scholarship by the Erasmus Mundus Action 2 Programme and three Early Career Researcher support grants from Edinburgh Law School.
Laura is currently a member of the interdisciplinary Cultures of Peace and Violence Network, and the Edinburgh Law School Equality and Diversity committee.
Current Research Interests
- Minority rights
- Ethnic conflict and Kin-state politics
- Peace agreements and peace processes
- Focus on Southeastern Europe (in particular Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia)
Books and Reports
Laura Wise, Territorial Power-Sharing and Inclusion in Peace Processes, (Political Settlements Research Programme, 2018)
Abstract: Territorial power-sharing is often used in peace processes, to accommodate the competing interests of conflict parties to territorial control, including competing claims to unitary statehood and to secession. Like other forms of power-sharing it can offer greater inclusion in the form of self-government for groups who have been contesting the state’s marginalization of them. However, territorial power-sharing can in turn cause other forms of inclusion and exclusion which require to be anticipated and addressed. This research report provides information and analysis on when and how peace agreements provide for territorial power-sharing, and the implications for broader projects of social inclusion.
Laura Wise, Bosnia-Herzegovina case study, (Political Settlements Research Programme, 2017)
Abstract: During the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992-1995, issues of inclusion and protection of ethno-national groups were key sticking points throughout the peace process. Over twenty years since the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in 1995, questions of equality and stability continue to challenge attempts to reform Bosnia-Herzegovina’s institutional configuration. This case study traces how ethno-national group inclusion was negotiated both during and after the peace process, and how the complex power-sharing system agreed on in 1995 continues to pose a barrier to wider participation of non-aligned or local minorities. It concludes that the fundamental contradiction between constitutional provisions for institutional discrimination based on proscribed ethno-national identities, and human rights guarantees of equality leaves potential reforms for wider social inclusion at an impasse.
Laura Wise, 'Setting aside the “others”: Exclusion amid inclusion of non-dominant minorities in peace agreements', (2018), Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Vol 24, pp 311-323
Abstract: This article analyzes the exclusion-amid-inclusion of “Others” within territorial power-sharing arrangements. While territorial power-sharing is often used to accommodate national minorities, it risks excluding non-dominant minorities at sub-state levels of governance. The article charts how negotiated settlements have addressed this dilemma by formally acknowledging the plurality of non-dominant minorities within territorial power-sharing arrangements, including de facto minorities and other “non-aligned” or less politically relevant minorities. Using the PA-X Peace Agreements Database, this article conducts a qualitative content analysis of 1518 peace agreements from 1990-2016, to shed light on the EAI dilemma within negotiated settlements in divided societies.
Laura Wise, 'Joseph R. Rudolph, Jr., and William J. Lahneman, eds., From Mediation to Nation Building: Third Parties and the Management of Communal Conflict ', (2017), Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Vol 23, pp 254-256
Laura Wise, Timofey Agarin, 'European style electoral politics in an ethnically divided society. The case of Kosovo ', (2017), Südosteuropa: Journal of Politics and Society, Vol 65, pp 99-124
Abstract: Our paper takes as its starting point the premise that elections are central moments in the life of polities: these are the times when individual citizens demonstrate support or otherwise of political institutions and regimes, assess their accountability and set agendas for the next government. In short, elections allow us to observe whether and how political regimes live up to society’s expectations. This issue has particular resonance in deeply divided societies that have experienced ethnic conflict in the past. In the deeply divided society of Kosovo, local and national elections in 2013 and 2014 presented an opportunity to analyze voter choices and elite agendas, with the presence of ethnopolitical issues under scrutiny. Our paper concludes that the normalization of electoral politics, within the context of European aspirations, has not yet taken place in Kosovo, and that the options available to the electorate continue to be dominated by identity politicking.
Laura Wise, 'Bargaining Chips: Examining the role of Economic Crisis in Serbian Minority-Majority Relations', (2015), Contemporary Southeastern Europe, Vol 2, pp 23 - 42
Abstract: Contemporary ethnic bargaining theory claims that minority ethnopolitical mobilization is best understood through the influence of a third-party actor, whose signals can determine whether a minority will radicalise against or accommodate the position of the state majority. It is a dynamic approach, which Erin Jenne argues goes beyond the limits of explaining minority actions using purely structural features of a group, including economic status. This article questions to what extent, if any, do shifts in the economic status of a minority, host-state and kin state affect the ethnic bargaining game, particularly in times of crisis. It uses a comparative case study of the Albanian and Hungarian minorities in Serbia since 2006, in order to explore whether or not the differences between their mobilization activities can be adequately explained by expanding Jenne’s ethnic bargaining model to include structural economic differences. It concludes that although inclusion of economic status as an additional piece in the ethnic bargaining puzzle does expand the levels of analysis, ultimately it does not address other limitations of using the model to understand minority mobilization.
Laura Wise, 'Constitutional Paradox: Ethno-federal Consociationalism and Refugee Return in post-Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina ', (2014), Sythesis, Vol 6, pp 19-35
Abstract: In 1995, the peace agreement for the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina became one of the latest examples of consociational theory being utilised as a method of conflict management governance in deeply divided societies. Drawing from the work of Arend Lijphart, the Dayton Peace Accord established the institutional design of the future state, which subscribed to the notion that inter-ethnic co-operation is most likely to occur within an ethno-federal power sharing arrangement. This article examines the paradox between the establishment of ethno-federal entities, as a consociational requirement of post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina,and the integral importance of refugee returns to pre-war multi-ethnic regions, as stated in Annex VII of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (GFAP). Rather than simply advocating integrative institutional design as an alternative solution, the experiences of minority refugee returnees in Bosnia-Herzegovina highlight the problematic relationship between the everyday predicaments of displaced individuals, and the implementation of high political theory. This article argues that the reality of refugee returns in Bosnia-Herzegovina has done little to challenge the ethno-federalist features of the GFAP, and thus has not met the expectations of those aiming to successfully achieve the “re-mixing” of ethnic groups.
Laura Wise, 'Shaking Hands in Dayton and Singapore: Symbolic Representations of Peace Processes' 2018
Abstract: In this post, PSRP researcher Laura Wise reflects on symbolic representations of handshake moments at high-level peace summits, and what we miss when we consistently focus on comprehensive peace agreements. This is a longer version of remarks delivered at the IICR 2nd Annual Conference ‘Networked Cultures: Translations, Symbols, and Legacies’, as part of a session convened by the IICR Cultures of Peace and Violence Network.
Laura Wise, 'Plays well with others: Dangerous women at the peace table' 2016
Abstract: Laura Wise shows how women who negotiate peace deals are dangerous–not to the resolution of conflict but to the gendered history of war and diplomacy.
Laura Wise, 'Paying for peace in Presevo ' 2016
Abstract: The recent agreement on providing Albanian-language textbooks for schools in southern Serbia suggests that lessons have been learned from previous relations between Serbia’s Albanian minority, Kosovo, and Albania, and on the role that kin-states can play in southern Serbia’s development.
Laura Wise, 'Would you trust this woman with your country? ' 2016
Laura Wise, 'Out of Serbia ' 2016
Laura Wise, 'Refugee crisis response Event I: The roots of the Syria crisis' 2015
Laura Wise, 'The Implications of Citizen-Surveillance ' 2013
Laura Wise, ''Neo-Ottomanisation' and old narratives: Representing modern Turkey in the Balkans' 2013
Laura Wise, 'Was NATO’s Intervention in Kosovo in 1999 ‘Just’? ' 2013