PhD Thesis proposal

(Re)sources for Conflict and Cooperation in the Caspian - Black Sea region: the impact of energy dynamics

Supervisor/s: Maria Raquel Freire

Doctoral Programme: International Politics and Conflict Resolution

Funding: FCT

The project focuses on the conflict-cooperation dynamics in the Caspian - Black Sea region and on their interrelation with the energy resources and pipelines projects in the area.

It researches into the potential of the natural gas and oil projects to serve both as 'stability pipelines', enhancing the cooperation between the key state and non-state players on the energy scene, as well as to act as new sources of rivalry, division and conflict in the region. For this goal, it offers a more comprehensive theoretical and empirical framework in order to complement the material-based approaches on the energy dynamics in relation to conflict and cooperation, by proposing an additional interpretation, through non-material lenses.

The project addresses the epistemic communities of security studies and of post-Soviet studies, while also addressing issues of relevance to approaching conflict studies in the perspective of protracted conflicts and access to resources. It strives to provide both the academic, as well as the practitioners' communities with an enlarged perspective on the role of the energy projects in the Caspian - Black Sea region on stabilising the region and/or fuelling further rivalries and division.

It brings a new perspective on the energy dynamics in the region, by shifting the focus from the states as units of analysis, while not dismissing their role and agency, and by placing a central emphasis on the energy projects and their potential to impact on the conflict and cooperation dynamics. The natural gas and oil pipelines will thus be approached through the role played by various state and non-state actors (energy companies, political factions, transnational groups) engaging in the energy dynamics of the region and their perceptions on the impact these projects have on the interactions among them.