Throughout my career, I have researched civil wars using a sociological approach and ethnographic methods. My fieldwork in Afghanistan started in 1988. After a first trip to UNITA-Controled areas in Angola, I then undertook fieldwork in Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria. This gradual geographical enlargement allowed me to revisit and enrich recurring research questions (the role of social capital, conversion of capitals, territorialisation of politics) and has encouraged me to formulate general and comparative hypotheses regarding civil wars, of which my recent research on identity conflicts is an example.
In my various fields, I have made a significant contribution to the collective understanding of this subject, in Afghanistan through my book, and in Turkey and South Asia through the establishment of two journals. In addition, I have trained young researchers (doctoral school, seminars) by involving them directly in my fieldwork (Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Syria) and by publishing with them. The creation of two journals, EJTS and SAMAJ, published in English on the Internet, has allowed for the emergence of a generation of researchers specialised in Turkish and South Asian studies. Finally, I led a research program of twenty researchers to rethink the sectarian conflicts via the concept of identity capital.
From the beginning, I have been aware that my task involves transmission of knowledge and to provide informed expertise to the public as well as various national and international agencies. As a field-based researcher, I observed and drew attention to the pitfalls of American strategy in Afghanistan and Syria. I was also a regular speaker at the invitation NGOs, IOs and at a governmental level. I spent three years with an American think tank (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) as a Resident Scholar, which allowed me to intervene on these subjects in American and French media outlets through editorials and interviews. Based on my empirical sociological approach towards contemporary civil wars, I have consistently pointed out the fundamental flaws of US intervention in Afghanistan since 2001 in a critique that is now broadly accepted.