Organisation och personal

Ilmari Käihkö

postdoktor vid Sociologiska institutionen, Affilierade

Engelska parken
Thunbergsv. 3H
Box 624
751 26 UPPSALA

Kort presentation

I am a post-doctoral researcher associated with the Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, supported by the Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF). My research concentrates on creation, use and control of force, and the ethnographic methods which assist in the investigation of these issues. 

During spring 2018 I am a visiting scholar at the Department of Anthropology at Yale University.

Mina kurser


I joined the Department of Sociology in February 2017 as a post-doctoral researcher. Previously I defended my dissertation in June 2016 at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University (with funding from my former employer Swedish Defence University and Nordic Africa Institute). In 2014 I had a chance to become a visiting graduate student at the Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, where I also studied ethnographic methods, in general and especially in conflict settings. My PhD research concentrated on the military organizations that fought in the two Liberian civil wars (1989-1996 and 1999-2003), and focused on how force is constituted, controlled and kept together. This resulted in the dissertation Bush Generals and Small Boy Battalions: Military Cohesion in Liberia and Beyond, a doctoral title and – seven months later – a laurel wreath.

In total, I have conducted a total of fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork with Liberian former combatants during 2012-2013, 2015 and 2017. This fieldwork counts to over 28 months of field experience from the fields of development aid, military and research, in Central-, East- and West Africa. During 2017 I also began to study former combatants in Ukraine. I remain deeply interested in what I call conflict ethnography, or the ethnographic study of conflict-related issues.

Another long-term research interest concerns core concepts of war, and the ways anthropology and sociology can help us understand them. This is partially what my post-doctoral projects at the Department of Sociology investigates. One project that I am involved in investigates the Swedish and Finnish experiences in Afghanistan from a military strategic perspective. Working with me in this project is Doctor Jan Willem Honig from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. Another ongoing project investigates volunteer battalions in Ukraine as a case of paramilitary organizations, and their connection to nation-building and strategy.


Selected Publications 

On the Sociology of Organized Violence. Journal of Political Power, 10:3, 2017, pp. 395-399.

Liberia Incorporated: Military Contracting, Cohesion and Inclusion in Charles Taylor’s LiberiaConflict, Security & Development, 17:1, 2017, pp. 1-20.

All Krigföring är Hybrid i sin Natur. Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift, 2016, 118:4, pp. 623-641.

Bush Generals and Small Boy Battalions: Military Cohesion in Liberia and Beyond.2016. PhD Dissertation: Uppsala University.

"Mystical and Modern Transformations in the Liberian Civil War." 2016. In Peter Haldén and Peter Jackson (eds.). Transforming Warriors: The Ritual Organization of Military Force. London/New York: Routledge, pp. 126-143.

“‘No Die, No Rest’? Coercive Discipline in Liberian Military Organisations.” Africa Spectrum 50, 2, 2015, pp. 3–29

"'Taylor must go' - the strategy of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy". Small Wars & Insurgencies, 26:2, 2015, pp. 248-270

“The Likely Lads: The Joint Swedish-Finnish Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mazar-e Sharif”, in Chiari, Bernard (ed.). (2014). From Venus to Mars? Provincial Reconstruction Teams and the European Military Experience in Afghanistan, 2001-2014, Freiburg i.Br., Berlin, Wien: Rombach, pp. 209-220 (published together with Jan Willem Honig)

The Crisis in CAR: Navigating Myths and Interests”, in Africa Spectrum, 49, 1, 2014, pp. 69-77 (published together with Mats Utas)

“Supplementary material”, in Giles, Lionel (ed. and trans.). (2012). Sun Tzu: The Art of War, Signature Editions. Barnes and Noble.

"Big Man Bargaining in African Conflicts", in Utas, Mats (ed.). (2012). African Conflicts and Informal Regimes of Power. Zed Books: London, pp. 181-204

"Challenges of Command: The Rise of the ‘Strategic Colonel’", in Haas, Harald (ed.). (2012). Authentic Leadership in Extreme Situations, New York, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt a/M: Peter Lang, pp. 89-108 (published together with Jan Willem Honig)

"Into the Informal - the informal realities of power-sharing in Sub-Saharan Africa", Africa Programme Report – Strategy Section, Swedish National Defence College, 2011, No. 4

"The Use of Battlefield Contractors in Post-Occupation Iraq", in Kungl Krigsvetenskapsakademien Handlingar och Tidskrift, nr 5 2008, pp.8-35 (published together with Marcus Mohlin)


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