My PhD thesis at the Department of International Politics in Aberystwyth focused on the intersection of development studies, statebuilding, and peacebuilding. I used multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork to examine how the end-beneficiaries of development and statebuilding efforts experience projects that seek to promote peace, democracy, and economic growth. I studied two fields of intervention in Serbia: non-formal youth education and agriculture. The thesis argues that the effort to include marginalised subjects within studies of development and statebuilding is more complicated than the recent ‘local turn’ allows for, and that it requires a fundamental rethinking of the concepts and methodologies that we as researchers use. Specifically, I show the limitations of the concept of ‘intervention’ and argue for examining these processes as politics of improvement.
My Fellowship consists of sharing my findings though multiple channels: by developing a publication record; an institutional visit to the Department of Politics at the Faculty of Media and Communications in Belgrade; and public-facing activities. I am also to undertake additional training in methods and writing and I will conduct follow-up fieldwork in Serbia. As a part of my stay in Belgrade, I am organising a workshop that will bring regional scholars together around the theme of Studying the Balkans Globally to exchange methodological and conceptual tools that can be useful in creating synergies between studying global phenomena such as international intervention, and the rich contextual material usually found in area studies. Finally, a part of my Fellowship will be spent developing one aspect of my thesis, the contestations surrounding agricultural land use, into a new project that examines land politics in South East Europe and asks what they can tell us about how international politics are made and experienced.