Pavol Kosnáč: Research & CV

Paramilitary Organizations in Central-Eastern Europe

Research Area 2: Norms & Transgressions

Main focus of my dissertation is on understanding motivations and decision-making of members of non-state paramilitary organizations (group of civilians organized in a military fashion) in selected countries of central and eastern Europe. I map their mental world and value-trees, areas of domicile and activities. At the same time I pay attention to the reactions of society, media and state, which vary tremendously across different countries, from mostly enthusiastic acceptance in Poland to basically indiscriminative suspicion in Slovakia.

The overarching method of the whole thesis is the grounded theory, which in opposition to dominant deductive approach that focuses on forming a hypothesis works with induction. In practice it means construction of hypotheses and general theory based on continuous analysis of data during the whole research work, not defining hypotheses before any raw data was available and analysed.

Interdisciplinarity is core to the whole work, combining standardized typologies of political science, worldview analysis coming from religion studies, polling methods from mathematical statistics, geoinformatic data visualisation analytical tools, anthropological fieldwork, frameworks and experiments from evolutionary and moral psychology, theories and questionnaires of cognitive sciences and body/neuro imagining techniques of neurosciences.



2012 – 2013 : MSt Religion Studies (Islam), University of Oxford, Great Britain
Focus on Islam, secondary focus on secularization/de-secularization and atheism

2007 – 2012 : BA + MA Comparative Religion Studies, Comenius University, Slovakia
Focus on Christianity and Islam, Comparative Religious Law, Sociology/Anthropology

2010 – 2012 : Collegium of Anton Neuwirth, PG Diploma equivalent, Slovakia
European Intellectual History, Political Philosophy and Jurisprudence, Just War Theory

Selected Work and Research Experience

  • I assist as an ad hoc advisor to the Department of Religion Studies (DRS) at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand. The university is building a new study programme combining religion studies and neurosciences. I am also helping founding a new cognitive studies laboratory for DRS, in partnership with HUME labs at Masaryk University and COBE Lab at Aarhus University in Denmark.
  • I serve as field coordinator for humanitarian projects of St. Elizabeth University of Health Care and Social Work and Caritas Slovakia in Iraqi Kurdistan working with Yazidi organization Shingala Azad and Kurdish governmental Department for Women.
  • I am being trained as a court authorized specialist in the areas of religious extremism.

Selected publications

  • Kosnac. P., Jihadi Marketing: Reasons for success of Islamic state propaganda and recruiting, in: Hubina, M., Religion and Advertising, Mahidol University, Bangkok, scheduled – winter 2019.
  • Kosnac, P., Combat charities, or when humanitarians go to war: Influence of non-state actors on local order of partially governed spaces, Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., 2017.
  • Cusack, C., Kosnac, P., (eds.), Fiction, Invention and Hyper-reality: From popular culture to religion, Routledge, London and New York, 2017.
  • Kosnac. P., Pop-culture Based Religions: Future of New Religious Movements?, in: Gallagher, E.(ed.), Visioning New and Minority Religions: Projecting the Future, Routledge, London and New York, 2017.

Lecturing (2019 / 2020)

  • Unintentional and natural threats
  • Security aspects of New Religiosity
  • Concepts and methods of academic research

Selected Grants and Awards

  • BEA Institute Scholarship, Kosovo Program, 2014
  • British Sociological Association´s Peter B. Clarke Memorial Prize 2013
  • AMBergh KEFOUND Essay Competition 2013
  • Slovak Society for Study of Religion´s Prize of Ján Komorovský 2012
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 (member of the awarded organization)


Slovak (native), Czech (fluent), English (fluent), Russian (active), Portugal (passive), French (passive), Ukrainian (passive), Arabic and Kurmanji Kurdish (phonetic, beginner)