RESEARCH TYPES | Research Agenda
| Policy and Collaborative Research

Research Agenda

My research focuses on African politics and security. I focus on poststructuralist theories of international relations to study the relationship between dynamics of political violence and post-conflict political and security landscapes. Additionally, I use the examination of narratives to investigate agency in warfare and the relationship between collective memories of violence and identity politics.

My book project, “In the Shadow of Prison: Power, Identity, and Transitional Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda” is a political ethnography of the social and political impacts of the power-laden nature of the Rwandan transitional justice (TJ) program. I used data from in-depth interviews with former prisoners accused of genocide crimes, some found guilty, and others exonerated, to analyze their journey in the legal system. The research also explores their experiences during the multiple episodes of violence in the region during the 1990s and contrasts them with the official narrative of violence. This approach exposes how the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s imperatives to legitimize its rule impact how justice is administered. Since the colonial era, power struggles between political elites in Rwanda have manifested themselves through the politicization of identity. Hence, I argue that TJ in Rwanda is one of the new battlegrounds of identity politics. This research is the first systematic investigation of the legal journey and reintegration of former prisoners of the genocide. The dissertation challenges accepted views on the linear contributions of TJ to post-conflict reconciliation and opens a new investigative window into the role TJ can play in identity politics following mass violence.

My current research project looks at women’s agency in warfare in Africa. Most at, I use the case study female combatants in Namibia’s liberation war against Apartheid South Africa to understand interactions between the norms and institutions of non-state armed groups and the deliberate decision-making of enlisted women. This research project examines three major questions in relation to the study of Namibia: 1) How and why do women chose to forgo conventional gender roles and join non-state armed groups; 2) What are the day-to-day decisions women made in the war, and how they exercise agency; and, 3) how their participation in armed conflict impacted the micro dynamics and trajectory of violence. This project relies on a combination of life history and thematic interviews, and archival and textual research and builds on seven months of field research funded by the Fulbright Scholar Grant in 2016.

In addition to my academic research, I have years of security policy experience. I worked as a researcher for the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) focusing on conflict prevention and risk analysis in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. I led early warning and conflict analysis on the ongoing Burundi crisis. I investigated the evolution of factors that have contributed to various episodes of violence in Burundi and the impact of the political violence perpetuated by both the state and non-state actors on Burundi’s social fabric and political institutions.

Policy and Collaborative Projects

2016-17 Strengthening the Leadership and Influence of Politics in Kenya. (Research Team Leader at the Rift Valley Institute; Funded by UK Department for International Development)

2016-17 Innovations in Peacebuilding: International Norms and Local Dynamics in Conflict-Affected Countries (Led Timothy S. Sisk and Astri Suhrke by Funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) – Rwanda Case Study

2015-16 Domestic and Regional Mapping of Burundi 2015 Electoral Crisis (ISS Project Commissioned by Humanity United)

2015-16 Evidence Synthesis on the Impact of Extractives on Political Settlements and Conflict in East Africa (Led by Kathryn Sturman of Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, with Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, funded by UK DFID) – Rwanda Case Study

2015 Mapping UNSC 1325 Implementation in East and Southern Africa (Funded by UN Women East and Southern Africa)

2015 Gender Mainstreaming in the Kenyan Defence Forces (ISS Project Commissioned by the Australian High Commission in South Africa)

2014-15 Mapping of the Rwandan Opposition in Exile (ISS Project)