PhD (The Australian National University)
M.Sos.Sc. (National University of Singapore)
B.A. Honours, First Class (University of Otago)
I am Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations. I research topics in critical peace/security studies including, political order and violence, international intervention, state (trans)formation, democratisation, warlord/rebel governance, and the political economy of statebuilding and peacebuilding in 'fragile' and deeply divided states and societies. My research has been funded by the European Union, UN Development Programme and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United States Institute of Peace, Australian Aid, and even Facebook. My research is applied and outcome oriented, and has contributed to significant transformative and positive change in South / Southwest Asia and beyond. For example, my research on democracy promotion informed the Independent Elections Commission of Afghanistan's election reform efforts. Similarly, my research on statebuilding informed the United Nations Development Programme's reconstruction efforts in Mosul, Iraq. To learn more about my research agenda and research projects, see the Research Activities section on this profile page.
In 2018 I joined the School of Social Sciences, UNSW. Previously, I was Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University. Prior to that I was Prime Minister's Australia-Asia Endeavour Postgraduate Award scholar at The Australian National University, where I earned my PhD in Politics and International Relations. I am a Visiting Fellow at the Department of International Relations (Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, The ANU) and the Network for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability (NERPS, Hiroshima University), and an Associate Fellow at the Australian Human Rights Institute (AHRI, UNSW). I also consult as a geopolitics, security, and NGO analyst. In my different professional capacities, I work with public-sector experts, government officials, diplomats, UN/World Bank and INGO representatives, activists, and even armed groups. Between 2014 and 2019 I was appointed international election observer by the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission, and was tasked with monitoring Afghanistan's Presidential, Parliamentary, and Provincial Council elections.
I am co-Editor of Drones and Global Order: The Implications of Remote Warfare for International Society (Routledge, 2022), Hybridity in Peacebuilding and Development: a Critical and Reflexive Approach (Routledge, 2019), Hybridity on the Ground in Peacebuilding and Development: Critical Conversations (The ANU Press, 2018), Afghanistan - Challenges and Prospects (Routledge, 2017), 'Critical Hybridity in Peacebuilding and Development' (Third World Thematics: a TWQ Journal 2:4, 2018), and 'Elections and the State: Critical Perspectives on Democracy Promotion in Afghanistan' (Conflict, Security and Development 16:6, 2016). In addition, I have published in several leading peer-reviewed journals including Australian Journal of International Affairs, Conflict, Security and Development, Critical Research on Religion, Global Policy, and Global Responsibility to Protect. I serve on the Editorial Board of the journal Global Policy and am a South Asian Studies Association of Australia (SASAA) Committee Member .
My current Research Agenda comprises two core studies: First, I am working towards publishing my first book, titled The Legitimacy Puzzle: Statebuilding in Contemporary Afghanistan. The book explores the sources of state legitimacy and impact of legitimation strategies on statebuilding in Afghanistan, and represents a comprehensive and original attempt to place Afghanistan’s post-2001 statebuilding project within an easily accessible political-sociology framework. It also explores the extent to which the internationally-assisted statebuilding project was misconceived, overlooking the critical importance of connecting international and local legitimacy principles through the newly designed institutions and structures in which the authority of state was vested. Concurrently, I have developed a follow-on study - titled, Democracy Promotion and State-Formation in Limited Access Orders: a Political Economy Study of Elections in Afghanistan - that adds to critiques of the rise of democracy promotion, and employs political economy analyses to understand the more focused research on the perverse effects of elections in Afghanistan. This study de-constructs and denaturalises the idea of the Weberian state, blurring the binary distinctions between state and non-state, legitimate and illegitimate and highlight the networks, coalitions, and material foundations that underpin or undermine the state. The thinking is, if political transitions are primarily about the restoration (or creation) of legitimate political authority, this suggests a need to focus attention on the ‘vernacular’ of local politics.
In addition to the above, I am working on several secondary projects. Below is a list of working and completed projects:
Journal Editorial Board:
Reviewer for journals:
University service / UNSW committees:
My Research Supervision
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), UNSW
Honours (B.A., Hons.), UNSW
UNSW (School of Social Sciences) Teaching: