My doctoral thesis explored the ways in which the concepts of ‘the state’ and ‘weak states’ obfuscate our understandings of the causes of socio-political crises in Africa through an examination of how the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) deploy these concepts as part of their peace programming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC). In doing so, the thesis examined how these concepts undermine the design and implementation of effective responses to peace and security challenges in the DRC. Moreover, it examined the forms of political order and authority that are entrenched through peacebuilding and peace-making efforts in the DRC as a result of the deployment of these concepts.
As such, I developed the processual-relational account of statism (PRA) which provides a non-structuralist understanding of statism and is rooted in the ontological claim that there is no such thing as ‘the state’. Through the application of the PRA to the aforementioned case studies, I further examined the strategic functions that the deployment of structuralist conceptualisations of statism performs in configuring relations between different sets of actors in the DRC. In other words, if ‘the state’ can neither be treated as real or as if real, then what functions do the categories of ‘the state’ and ‘weak states’ perform? Through engaging with these questions, I highlighted how both MONUSCO and SADC’s commitment to statism as a logic of social organisation constituted by the norms of exclusive territoriality, oppositionality, hierarchy, coercion, and assimilation/integration undermines both organisations’ capacity to respond to and address peace and security challenges in this country.
My thesis also examined the relative strengths of both organisations’ respective approaches to peacebuilding and peace-making. Overall, it concludes that a disavowal of statist norms and the determination of alternative norms in accordance with which to organise and govern societies, including in the context of peacebuilding and peace-making, is required in order to realise positive peace and security outcomes.
My doctoral dissertation was passed without revisions - the highest classification. You can access it here: https://research-repository.uwa.edu.au/en/publications/the-state-as-a-securitising-concept-statist-norms-and-crisis-in-t
In 2017, I led the development of a research project entitled, Exploring African diasporas' impacts on Australian foreign policy towards Africa. I presented preliminary findings at the FECCA 2017 National Biennial Conference (Celebrate. Reflect. Advance: Our Multicultural Australia) in Darwin from 8-10 October 2017.
I subsequently worked as a Project Team member within the UWA Africa Research and Engagement Centre on a research and engagement project informed and underpinned by the above research. The project was entitled, Development, Diplomacy and the Diaspora: Deepening engagement between African-Australians, the diplomatic corps and the African Union's Agenda 2063. The final project report can be found here.
I also worked as a Research Officer on a follow-up project exploring the ways in which African-Australian youth navigate their identities.
In 2016, I worked as a Research Assistant for the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group (AAMEG) on a project examining the extent and impact of Australian mining companies’ outbound extractive investments in Africa. The research resulted in a report that subsequently informed the 2017 Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Foreign Policy White Paper.
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I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, and community. I pay my respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today. It always was, and it always will be, Aboriginal land.