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Antônio  Sampaio

Antônio Sampaio

PhD Student

Research interests

  • Security
  • Conflict
  • History
  • International relations
  • Strategy


Antônio is a PhD Candidate at the War Studies Department in King’s College London. He also works as Thematic Lead for Cities & Illicit Economies at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, conducting and coordinating research on urban violence, governance and the linkage between urbanization and security. Prior to this, Antônio worked for over nine years at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), in London, most recently as a Research Fellow.

Antônio’s research has focused on drivers and implications of armed violence and non-state armed groups in cities. His work has been particularly focused on cities in Latin America (particularly Brazil and Colombia), as well as Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has authored peer-reviewed articles for Third World Thematics, the International Review of the Red Cross and the Journal of Illicit Economies and Development. Antônio has published on various topics related to urban violence in popular outlets such as The Washington Post, Financial Times, Foreign Policy and War on the Rocks. He has also advised NATO as part of a project on responses to urban warfare.

Antônio has an MA (with distinction) from the War Studies Department at King’s and a BA in Journalism from PUC in Rio de Janeiro. He has also worked as a journalist at Globo News TV in Rio.

Research Interests

  • Armed violence in the urban space
  • The roles of urban areas in armed conflicts
  • Hybrid governance and local political orders involving armed groups
  • Links between organized crime and armed conflict
  • Urbanisation and security in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America
  • Urban violence in Brazil

Antônio’s work has focused on different aspects of urban violence. He has a particular interest in the political economy of non-state armed groups and violence in urban areas of Africa and Latin America – particularly militias. His current research focuses predominantly on the role of urban areas in conflict economies.


Title: The political economy of urban conflict: the lure of urban resources for armed groups and their linkage to political violence

As dense communities concentrating people, industrial and service sectors of economic activity, cities contain very different sources of gain for armed groups in comparison to (mostly) rural-based natural resources. The expanding academic and policy attention to armed conflict in cities has shown that urban areas possess unique features that affect conflict and postconflict dynamics in ways that analyses focusing on broader national, regional or predominantly rural settings may miss. Cities have played central roles in recent armed conflicts, such as the Syrian civil war, the fighting around the key Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, and the proliferation of militias in Libyan cities.

Many of the most rapidly urbanising countries right now are also undergoing armed conflict or are transitioning from it – the cases of Nigeria, Somalia and Afghanistan.

The project examines how non-state armed groups access and utilise urban areas as sources of resources in areas of armed conflict. It examines strategies to extract economic and political benefits from communities and infrastructure located in cities or towns.


  • Dr Kieran Mitton


Policy papers:

Book chapter: