Wolfgang Minatti

I am a visiting fellow at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin and recently defended my dissertation at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute in Florence.

I work on legitimation and governance in international politics. 


My dissertation investigates the legitimation of governing armed actors during civil war, focusing on the Colombian conflict. 

What explains local variation in the legitimacy of armed actors during civil war? 

In my dissertation, I argue that civil wars need to be conceptualised as contexts of complex governance networks, where civilians are confronted with different armed actors' governance simultaneously over time. This is in contrast to existing scholarship, which often faces difficulties accounting for local variation in the legitimacy of armed actors during civil war as it pre-specifies "sources of legitimacy", considers beliefs about rightful rule as static and sees legitimation as isolated from network dynamics.

Combining process tracing with four months of immersive fieldwork in central Colombia, my dissertation tests this theory of legitimation with a most-similar case design of two rural communities. Local variation in the legitimacy of the rebel group FARC, it finds, cannot be explained by dynamics within the relation between the FARC and each community but by network effects, particularly the role of the state.

My dissertation pushes forward our understanding of the relationship between legitimation processes and governance networks by (a) offering a theory of congruence-finding that can capture and explain legitimation dynamics in complex governance networks; (b) specifying several mechanisms of how beliefs change endogenously to governance networks; and (c) contributing to the link between rebel governance and (self-)legitimation and its significance for the Colombian conflict.
I completed my PhD at the European University Institute in 2024. Previously, I obtained a Bachelors’ degree at the University Innsbruck (Austria) and a Masters’ degree at Leiden University (The Netherlands). I was a visiting scholar at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota (Colombia) and the Centre of Excellence SCRIPTS (Berlin). 

Research Interests


How can we theorise and operationalise legitimation in contexts of complex governance such as international politics or civil war?

Civil War

What is the role of ideation in civil war? What are the ethics of fieldwork in contexts of political violence?


How do armed actors govern in civil war? How is governance co-constructed between civilians and governance providers?



A Life Cycle of Fieldworkhttps://www.eui

PhD-Level Seminar
European University Institute, Italy
Co-organised with Ophelia Nicole-Berva and Samuel Ritholtz

Social Phenomena of Rebel Groupshttps://www.tucan

MA-Level Seminar
Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany

Conducting Qualitative Fieldwork: Interviews and Participant Observationhttps://www.eui

PhD-Level Seminar
European University Institute, Italy
Co-organised with Prof. Caitlin Procter and Mariusz Bogacki

Dr. Wolfgang Minatti

Department for Political and Administrative Science
University Potsdam

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