DIIS Working Paper Series Roadblocks and Revenues #01

The Politics of Passage: Roadblocks, Taxation and Control in Conflict

Published on 10 June 2024

From Afghanistan and Yemen and from Mali to Somalia, checkpoints are central to dynamics of armed conflict, funding insurgents, driving violence and shaping governance by various types of armed actors, state and non-state alike. Nonetheless, checkpoints and roadblocks are often overlooked in debates over what drives conflict and how we should understand order in areas of contested statehood. 

The new working paper series on Roadblocks and revenues sets out to address this gap, shedding lights on checkpoints in conflict contexts across the world and providing a new window into dynamics of authority and power. The series is based on a partnership between the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD), which is based at IDS, the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), and the Centre on Armed Groups (CAG).

The first paper, which introduces the working paper series, shows that checkpoints constitute a distinct claim to authority with their own logic and effects on conflict dynamics and political order-making. The authors coin the idea of the politics of passage, which refers to the struggles over movement and authority that play out at roadblocks in fragile and conflict-affected settings. In addition, the authors provide a definition of roadblocks, explore the historicity of circulation struggles in relation to state formation, and outline a new research agenda on roadblocks, offering reflections from existing research and avenues for future work.

The working paper series is generously funded by the Carlsberg Foundation under the Semper Ardens: Accelerate grant ‘TRADECRAFT’. Read more about the project here.

Read the second and third instalments of the series.


Senior Researcher, DIIS

Max Gallien

Research Fellow

PhD Candidate, Geneva Graduate Institute

Co-Director, Centre for the Study of Armed Groups, ODI

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