Maria Koinova’s research interests span international relations and comparative politics, and focus on how ethno-national diversity impacts on the political development of conflict and post-conflict societies.
In 2011 she won the highly competitive Starting Grant of the European Research Council to work on a five year project “Diasporas and Contested Sovereignty.” She directs a team of four researchers (PI, post-doc, two Ph.D. researchers) who investigate the transnational mobilization of conflict-generated diasporas in Europe and their impact on polities experiencing contested sovereignty in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. The project progresses from qualitative analysis of elite-based diaspora mobilization of six groups (Albanian, Armenian, Bosnian, Iraqi, Kurdish, and Palestinian) in five EU countries (UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and France) to a quantitative analysis through a cross-country representative survey of non-elite individuals in 25 country-groups. Within the larger ERC project, she has a sub-project to investigate diaspora mobilization vis-à-vis de facto states.
This project builds on her previous research program which studied why ethno-national conflicts reach different degrees of violence, and why they persevere even after numerous international efforts for conflict resolution. Her book “Ethnonationalist Conflict in Postcommunist States: Varieties of Governance in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Kosovo” was published by University of Pennsylvania Press (May 2013). The book argues that violence is rooted in informally institutionalized conflict dynamics established during a formative period, and sustained through specific causal mechanisms over time. Path-dependent processes incorporate not only local majorities and minorities, but international agents as well, such as major states, international organizations, and kin-states.
The book was recommended by Choice (2014) and reviewed by Foreign Affairs (2014), in addition to six academic journals. Koinova gave invited book talks at Oxford, London School of Economics, King’s College, Warwick, Uppsala, Columbia University (ASN book panel), Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C., Western Michigan, University of Toronto, and Central European University.