My project works towards a post-colonial intervention into the ontological turn in political thought. Taking seriously the universalist frames of variously stated liberation theologies, I am operating under the suspicion that desires to do away with both the transcendental, and any frame of universality, amount to disempowerment of the metaphysical groundwork of many redemptive anti-colonial imperatives. Building upon this, I am exploring the intersections between discrete ontological uni- and multi-versalities, and thinking through what their various implications are for theorising a political ontology of emancipation.
My thesis seeks to explore how the British Intelligence Services seek to portray a particular image of themselves to the British public and how successful are they in this task? The Intelligence Services are something most people are aware of yet our understanding of them is limited due to the necessary secrecy which surrounds their work. However in a liberal democratic country, the Intelligence Services need public and governmental support for their work but public support can only occur through an understanding of them and trust that they are maintaining our national security whilst adhering to the law.
The project centres upon primary research to understand how the British Intelligence Services portray an image of themselves and the ways in which they achieve this, be it through the media, engagement with academia or fictitious portrayals.
Satellites and space systems have become integral to humanity’s modern way of life. Without satellites, modern practices of international finance, logistics, weather forecasting, emergency response, and infrastructural management would fall apart. It is no less true of how the most advanced states in the world engage in warfare and their top-level planning. In fact, the Space Age came about primarily as a result of the military necessities and advantages of developing missiles for nuclear weapons delivery and reconnaissance satellites. Space capabilities have proliferated across the world, and are becoming potentially lucrative targets in war planning involving modernised and industrialised states and economies, and not just among the nuclear powers. ‘Space warfare’ is something that is being anticipated among strategic actors across Earth. But what is space warfare? What’s it all about? Can Earth-bound theories and experiences help us approach the alien environment of Earth orbit? My thesis answers these questions through an engagement of classical strategic theory and philosophies of war in order to think critically about how humanity uses outer space for strategic functions, and how to deny those functions to perceived adversaries.
Few issues present as large a threat to humans as disease – from drug resistant strains of Tuberculosis, to highly contagious strains of Influenza and endemic levels of HIV/AIDS. Since the year 2000, Security has become an increasingly popular way to conceive of the health challenges facing political actors. My thesis examines how Global Health Security has changed since the financial crash of 2008. The project will examine the interactions between the various different actors engaged in Global Health, and assess whether states are still willing to invest in health security in an era of reduced spending. Three case studies are planned: Pandemic Influenza (a short-wave, acute event), HIV/AIDS (a long-wave, chronic event) and Tobacco related diseases (conditions that fall into a wider category of ‘lifestyle diseases’).
Memorialisation has been conceptualised as a binary of remembering some dead whilst simultaneously forgetting others. My research utilises this conceptualisation, but challenges its limited application in order to theorise sexualised violence through memory. It further interrogates the subjectivities that are produced through this memorialisation. The project focuses on the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina using a range of empirical sources such as oral testimony, films and novels. Further this work responds to call to think beyond ‘security’. It will examine the insecurities of sexualised violence, whilst distancing itself from the language of security.
Narratives revolving around migration are enjoying a great deal of attention globally. Although devolved countries such as Wales, do not enjoy legislative powers in regards to immigration, they do have the duty to create policies which seek to facilitate successful integration, but also to communicate the nation’s ethos in regards to immigration.
The multifaceted and diverse reality that is provided by the Welsh geography, but also the ideological, political and cultural aspects of Wales, and the UK in response to and as a result of globalisation trends, will provide a unique insight into the country’s perceived attitudes and ideas of migration.
The memorialisation of missing people has manifested itself in multiple ways in varying contexts. Building on the conclusions of memory and trauma studies to date, this research examines the particular experience of ‘enforced disappearance’ in the contemporary Mexican context.
Much literature on memory and memorialisation of desaparecidos has been retrospective and focussed on the politics of formalised memorials and museums, framed by the binary of remembering/forgetting. This research will focus on the informal, expressive and performative elements of memorialisation, and asks how memorialisation of disappeared people is unfolding in Mexico, how it relates to geographical space, and how it draws on or differs from the memory canon in Latin America.
British soldiers are increasingly being deployed to areas where the need to operate amongst the population is inevitable. The use of children as weapons in warfare is increasingly being resorted to by enemy forces to play on the Western concept and ideals of childhood, thus creating a significant impact both strategically and psychologically on British military personnel.
Central Research Question: How do peace simulations, as a form of peacemaking, produce and affect contemporary subjectivities of peace?
My research project concentrates on the impact of new technology, specifically the use of simulations, on peacemaking. Broadly speaking, this is an effort to come to terms with how the increased use of new technology shapes political thinking and concepts. The aim is to analyse and foster innovations in contemporary training for and practices of peacemaking.
My research looks into the role international non-governmental organisations and think-tanks play as producers of conflict-related knowledge. This thesis looks to build on a fledgling scholarly literature on the synthesis of knowledge production and the study of non-state actors, through focusing on two major Western NGOs: Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group. These research-based organisations are of particular interest due to their accumulation of an authoritative voice in the eyes of international policymakers, the media and within academic scholarship. Here, I am interested in critically analysing the methodologies they deploy in their research and reporting activities, and the political, bureaucratic, social and cultural imperatives which help structure their subsequent analyses and policy recommendations.
Tunisia is the only country involved in the so-called Arab Spring that seems to have successfully transitioned to democracy (Diamond, 2016, pp.307).
Extensive research on the securitisation of the terrorist threat and the manner in which it has been used to introduce illiberal practices within western democratic liberal regimes has been carried out (Bigo, 2004). Equally extensive research has been carried out with regards to political exploitation of security discourse by authoritarian regimes as an operative window dressing for illiberal governance practises (Hibou, 2006). However there exists little research the implications of securitisation discourse in infant democracies and it’s dynamics on the process of democratic consolidation. In my research I intend to argue that in an infant democracy, such as Tunisia, securitisation of the terrorist threat and the establishment of exceptional measures, that this discourse seeks to justify, pose far more profound questions than in Western stable democracy as it undermines the process of democratic consolidation.
In Tunisia the undermining of principles such as the inviolability of constitutional principles and rule of law with the introduction of illiberal counter terrorism policies undermines the process of democratic consolidation. It blurs the boundaries of the legal structures that shape a democratic regime and the securitisation discourse manifests itself in such a way in Tunisia that voters feel obliged to balance questions of security and freedom, as though they are mutually exclusive (Berman et al, 2014, pp.27-30). Securitisation discourse therefore acts to undermine citizen investment and valorisation of democracy and freedom by presenting it a cause of political instability, insecurity and terrorism (Berman et al 2014, pp.29). Between 2011 and 2014 the number one concern for Tunisian voters during elections went from questions concerning liberty and democracy, to questions on security and terrorism (Berman et al 2014, pp.29). Within the conceptual framework of consolidation theory, one which I intend to cautiously apply, citizen investment in democracy is perceived to be a major step between transition (an approach of institutionalism in which elites and institutions are ‘democratised’) and a consolidated democracy, ‘one in which none of the major political actors, parties or organised interests, forces or institutions consider that there is any alternative to democratic processes… to put it simply democracy must be the only game in town’ (Juan Linz, cited in: Sorensen, pp.51).
Since 2014 we have seen the emergence of anti-terror measures in Tunisia. Article 77 of the 2014 constitution gives the President the powers to introduce a state of emergency and therefore bring in exceptional measures that circumvent the normal legislative process (Guellali, 2016). A state of emergency has been in place in Tunisia since November 2015; it has been renewed several times, the last time in September 2016 (Ibid). These new anti-terrorist laws threaten human rights and provide no safeguards against human rights abuses (Denselow, 2016). These measures are being used, in particular by the security services, to circumvent normal processes established by constitutional, legal and judicial structures concerning surveillance, policing and detention of suspects (Guellali, 2016).
In my research I intend to use Securitisation theory to analyse these measures and the securitisation discourse around them. Securitisation is a sub-school of the constructivist or Copenhagen school of security studies (Malik, 2015, pp.81). Securitisation is the process by which these political issues, not normally conceived as security threats, become to be perceived as such (Buzan: 1983: Ibid). By depicting something as a security threat, the issue ceases to be perceived as one of normal politics and becomes an issue of security politics, therefore justifying extraordinary measures beyond or outside the boundaries of normal policy responses (Polat, 2011, pp.77). This realm of ‘security politics’ is characterised by exception and urgency that enables the circumvention of normal democratic processes and procedures (Bigo, 2004).
Extensive research has been carried out concerning securitisation discourse and anti-terrorism measures and the arguable threat these practices pose to liberty and democracy (Huysman; Bigo). In response to the terrorist threat we have seen the adoption of certain counterterrorism practices in many states. “Current counter-terrorism measures rest upon variously extended parallel legal frameworks that provide, namely, for the creation of terrorism-related criminal offences; for the extension of the powers of law enforcement agencies; for special procedures for the prosecution of terrorism-related offences; and for exceptional forms of detention” (Tsoukala, 2006, p.1). The state of emergency is also used to justify exceptional measures and their circumvention of traditional policy and legislative processes (Ibid). Despite the fact these emergency rules are introduced to cope with exceptional circumstances, they are paradoxically and gradually transformed into permanent aspects of the domestic legal framework (Payé, 2004, p. 62). Tsoukala argues that ‘law and security are no longer the means to guarantee the exercise of civil liberties but are turned into autonomous aims and, consequently, into internal restrictions of these freedoms’ (2006, pp.623). However Tsoukala recognises that a common characteristic of the French and British case is the extent to which democracy in these countries is both highly consolidated and stable (2006, pp.623). Therefore I will apply securitisation theory to understand how these same types of measures, being increasingly adopted in post-revolutionary Tunisia, have far greater consequences in the context of an unconsolidated and fragile democracy.
Secondly these practices represent a reversion to a discourse and to practices that where used to justify the so called ‘pacte de securité’ under the Ben Ali regime (Berman et al, 2014; Hibou, 2006). The old regime, despite its authoritarian nature, obtained the obedience of citizens through a form of social contract in which certain threats were depicted as being so potentially dangerous, such as Islamism, terrorism and economic instability, that citizens accepted their domination by the authoritarian regime based on the idea that in return the government provided security and economic stability (Hibou, 2006). For example, the Ben Ali regime used the context of the global war on terror to introduce particularly illiberal legislation, such as the 2003 security law and repression of political opponents (Berman et al, 2014). For Tunisians political discourse concerning national security is often synonymous with human rights violations and political oppression (ibid, pp.30). I will argue that the re-introduction of these types of measures, through the process of securitisation, undermines the process of democratic consolidation by creating an environment in which Tunisian’s feel that democratic freedoms undermine security, and therefore this process represents a reversion to the so called ‘pacte de sécurité’ seen in Tunisia under Ben Ali regime.
My work is concerned with the political and theoretical implications of social categorisations and self-identification in Brazilian quilombos and urban indigenous groups. The roles of blackness, indigeneity, race and ethnicity are explored in their political claims and projects, aiming to make a theoretical contribution to a better understanding of these concepts.
The fieldwork will be ethnographic, taking place mostly in the urban areas of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The aim is to combine both the contemporary empirical reality with a genealogical, historical narrative. This approach would allow for an account of the temporal and geographical continuities and discontinuities of these categories. This genealogy dates back to the beginning of discourses on Empire and difference, culminating in the reality observed today. Contextualising and historicising these categorisations in this way in combination with ethnography will allow for new insights into the lived experiences of indigenous and black peoples in Brazil. This includes how they relate to each other as well as to the wider Brazilian nation. In turn, it will enable an account of their positions not just in relation to whiteness. Instead, the aim is to expose how conceptualisations of indigeneity affect those on blackness and vice-versa.
In a period when the record of global democracy promotion has been less than optimistic, the project attempts to examine under-investigated global developments and their implications for democracy promotion. In doing so, it aims to contribute to deepening understanding and analysis of the international activism of sub-state governments thus making a particular contribution to the sub-state diplomacy literature. In evaluating the relative contribution that sub-state governments can make to democracy support vis-à-vis other actors, the research will also add to the emerging interest in new actors in democracy promotion.
My research is concerned with the politics of social space in the context of globalisation. It builds on the view that space is not simply a “container” for society, but rather it is shaped by social interaction. In particular, I investigate how social space can be conceptualised on a global scale, especially in the context of globalisation and the spatial transformations attributed to it.
I identify large international hub airports as crucial examples of these global social interactions. Understudied in International Politics despite their importance to global flows of people and commerce, airports make a crucial contribution to globalisation and they are a space where globalisation may become particularly apparent. They are also of great impact on all other spatial levels from the local to the national, and they may provide insights into the relation between those levels.
In my research, I am particularly interested in seeing how airports affect the people within them: I investigate how airports allow passengers to participate in globalisation. I ask how passengers interact with each other, and how they relate to the space of the airport. Lastly, I examine how passengers relate to the global level, to which they are admitted through the airport.
This study has three main aims. First, it seeks to investigate the nature and extent of interactions between constitutional watchdogs. Second, it intends to examine some possible factors explaining why watchdogs do, or do not, interact with one another in certain ways. Third, it explores how watchdog interactions are shaped by the administrative contexts within which the watchdogs are based, and to what extent and how the interactions transcend their boundaries.
The context for this thesis is the proliferation of so-called ‘constitutional watchdogs’ in the UK since the introduction of devolution to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Constitutional watchdogs can be understood as bodies established to ensure acceptable standards in the conduct of public business largely separate from issues of efficiency and effectiveness.
Although such bodies are by now an integral part of the UK constitutional landscape at the state and the devolved levels, there are some gaps in the research that has analyzed them to date. This includes the comparatively limited attention to how watchdogs interact with one another and why. Also, there is a scope to explore in more depth how their interactions are affected by the dynamics of devolution, including how they are shaped by specific administrative contexts, and how they unfold across them. Answer to these questions could contribute to the understandings of efficiency and effectiveness of the watchdog landscape. Furthermore, however, it could also help to evaluate and substantiate the idea of such bodies forming ‘the fourth branch of the government’, with important implications for accountability and democracy.
Drawing on literatures on implementation and policy networks, interorganizational relations and multi-level governance, the project investigates this topic through case-studies, focusing on the interactions of public sector ombudsmen and children’s commissioners in Wales, Northern Ireland and on the UK level.
My research addresses the technopolitics of nuclear weapons and infrastructure in South Africa, during and after apartheid, and the implications of nuclear technology for post-apartheid ‘transition’, domestic South African politics, and the international nuclear order at large. Via an interdisciplinary research philosophy, I propose a dialogical relationship between assumed ‘global’ and ‘local’ levels of political activity in nuclear politics, aiming to transcend the scholarly divide between accounts of ‘international’ nuclear politics on one hand, and ‘the social life of the bomb’ on the other.
Building upon the continuing archival releases from the British FCO of material relating to the negotiations for the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the UK to China, particularly between 1982-4, I plan to explore the implications of this event on the Cold War, Hong Kong and Chinese society, and the evolution of British and Chinese Foreign relations.
A particular interest of the project will be in assessing the influence of the people of Hong Kong on shaping their future settlement with China and their changing identity from British Nationals to Chinese Citizens.
This pathway reflects the sophisticated and rigorous methodologies that have developed for investigating the political world, embedded within clear disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts.
The Politics and International Relations pathway’s considerable strength derives from its composition, building collaboration between the Department of International Politics in Aberystwyth and the Department of Politics and International Relations in Cardiff. This combines complementary research strengths, including in
- international Relations and political theory,
- Welsh & UK politics and public policy,
- security (including cyber and nuclear security), strategy and intelligence,
- regional politics & security (Europe, Middle East, Russia, China, Africa, Latin America & US),
- post-colonial politics,
- gender politics,
- environmental politics,
- conflict and post-conflict challenges and
- politics and law (domestic and international).
We are distinctive in the breadth of subject and methods expertise available and the extensive interdisciplinary approaches to which our students are exposed.
Students taking a 1+3 route follow a training Masters degree which incorporates both a subject-specific and a broader social science research training. They benefit from the pathway’s vibrant research culture, including ongoing engagement with the core theoretical and methodological concerns of Politics and International Relations; the application of research methods explored through research seminars for staff and students; PhD seminar presentation to peers and to staff; visiting academic speakers; visiting practitioner speakers; exposure to interdisciplinary research in wider School and University lecture and seminar programmes; and, at Cardiff, a Postgraduate Research Skills Week in the second semester. The joint Annual Conference of doctoral work in progress is an opportunity to develop the application of research methods and capability in communicating research. Students also develop their capabilities through producing a student-led pathway blog.
Our students go on to postdoctoral research or lecturing posts throughout the UK and all over the world; or use their social science training to pursue careers beyond academia: in constitutional law, as special advisors to the Welsh Government, in departments of the UK civil service (such as the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence), in non-governmental organizations in the UK and in other countries, with the Canadian government and as parliamentary researchers in the UK and elsewhere.