Monika Onken


Georg Zundel scholar
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Monika Onken is a PhD candidate at the Free University of Berlin (OSI) and writes her thesis on the role of militant violence in essentially nonviolent conflicts. She focuses on the interplay of violent and nonviolent strategies in order to explain the success and failure of primarily nonviolent movements.

With the support of Berghof’s team on Conflict Transformation Research Monika examines thirteen large-scale nonviolent movements in eleven countries in Africa from 1990 to 2006. In order to do this, she uses a mixed-method approach, which includes an initial statistical analysis of all thirteen movements and is followed by a case study comparison on one to two outstanding cases.

Her research interest in civil resistance and nonviolent movements was first sparked through the Saffron Revolution in Burma 2007, where unarmed protestors were asking for democracy and human rights. Witnessing this people power lead her to investigate the movement’s mobilization processes in her Bachelor thesis in International Development Studies. After then having worked with Burmese activists in exile, Monika was sure to continue her studies with a focus on nonviolent conflicts. As a result she obtained a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Research from the Uppsala University in Sweden, where she wrote her MA thesis on the interplay of violent and nonviolent resistance methods.

Monika’s PhD thesis thus continues to deepen her long-standing interest in nonviolent movements, its outcomes and, foremost, how militant violence influences those outcomes. She looks at different types and forms of militant violence in order to find out how they alter the mechanisms of success for nonviolent movements.­­