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Project Leads: Keith Krause, Anna Leander, Riccardo Bocco
Research Lead: Jonathan Austin (Postdoctoral researcher)
Timeline: 2017-2021
Keywords: Political Violence, Human Rights Abuses, Torture, Microsociology, Actor-Network Theory, Armed Forces, Security Sector Governance, Middle East
Funding Organization: Swiss National Science Foundation (Sinergia)
Partners: Ole Wæver (Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts, University of Copenhagen), Steffen Jensen (Danish Institute Against Torture) and Tobias Kelly (Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh)


The Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative explores novel approaches to preventing state-led political violence. It suggests that it is possible to prevent political violence in a similar way to that by which we prevent, or minimize the damage caused by, public health problems like traffic accidents, smoking, alcoholism, infectious diseases, or firearm-related deaths. Efforts to prevent these problems focus not simply on the ‘original causes’ of harm (driving while intoxicated, for example) but also on mitigating the risk of harm and/or damage inflicted once these original causes are set in motion by placing ‘intervening’ obstacles or ‘firewalls’ in front of these risks/harms (constructing crash barriers on roads or cars that beep when seatbelts are not worn, for example). The VIPRE Initiative will theorize, empirically explore, and test the possibility of constructing similar barriers or firewalls vis-à-vis political violence by drawing on interdisciplinary insights from organization studies, the micro-sociological study of violence and International Political Sociology.

The main goals of the VIPRE Initiative are to:

  • Develop a theoretical approach to preventing violence that considers the role of the ‘organization’, ‘circulation’, and micro ‘practices’ of violence across borders (the ‘OCP’ preventive model, see here).
  • Empirically ground this theory through a detailed microsociological study of military training regimes focused on interrogation, detention, and counterinsurgency practices that draws on textual, visual, and ethnographic data.
  • Programmatically synthesize the Initiative’s theoretical and empirical components in order to build insights for practitioners working in the field of violence prevention that allow them to better mitigate the risks of forms of political violence like torture, the targeting of civilians, or police violence during civil unrest, for instance.

Learn More About It


VIPRE paper
Becoming a Torturer: Towards a Global Ergonomics of Care

VIPRE's latest publication