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Verena Gruber

Verena Gruber

  • PhD students

PhD Researcher

Research subject areas

  • Conflict and security

Contact details


Verena Gruber is a PhD candidate at the Defence Studies Department at King’s College in London. Graduated from the Center of Middle Eastern Studies of Lund University in Sweden and with a background in Political Science, Verena Gruber specialises on the intersection of socio-political and military aspects in post-conflict transitions, military merging processes and civil-military relations. Her current research focuses on the Kurdish territories in the north of Iraq, which she has frequently visited since 2014.

Research Interests

Military merger, Kurdish peshmerga, Iraq, militias

Thesis Title

On the construction of ‘military unity’: exploring the post-merger integration of the Unified Peshmerga Forces


Military merging theories conceive of merger and unification as a predominantly structural task. The main focus of literature and policy practice is on the different options for merger - from quota systems to the disarmament and reintegration of former combatants. Already merged units remain largely understudied. Further, by focusing on the institutional aspects of merger, social variables such as norms and values, prejudices, feelings of revenge etc. are largely ignored. The proposed research aims to fill these two gaps by focusing on the social construction of military unity in the merged units of formerly-hostile, party-based Kurdish military forces in the north of Iraq.

The main concept of the research is the idea of 'military unity'. By applying a constructivist paradigm, 'unity'; is considered to be a socio-political construct rather than an institutional-structural reality. The goal of the research is to uncover the local constructions and perceptions of unity and how it contrasts to the lived realities of Peshmerga soldiers within structurally merged units. A qualitative field-work-based approach is suggested as the corner stone for the proposed research.


William H. Park / Stuart Griffin