After my undergraduate studies at Illinois College in the US followed by time spent teaching in Japan, I came to the UK to undertake my postgraduate studies. I was awarded an MA in International Relations (Distinction) from Lancaster University, and earned my PhD from the University of Bristol in 2009. Before coming to Keele, I taught at the University of Bristol, Lancaster University, the University of the West of England, and the University of East Anglia. I have also done consultancy work for the MoD, and have worked as a Research Fellow at the Somaliland Academy of Peace and Development in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Research and scholarship

My research sits within the Security/Development nexus; I understand development to be a mechanism of security. I am particularly interested in political development, statebuilding, and conceptions of what it means to be a successful or ‘acceptable’ state. I approach this through the language of state failure, and the approaches, preferences, and dictates found within policy and practice. I am interested in examining the successes of different forms of statebuilding in order to better understand statebuilding both as a concept and as a practice. My PhD work and much of my early work has centred on statebuilding in Somaliland. I focus on the role of local structures of governance and traditional governance in the processes of statebuilding and political development in this unrecognised state, as well as the impact of the quest for recognition on the statebuilding process in Somaliland. This had led to a wider interest in conceptualising statebuilding and examining unrecognised states.

I am interested in indirect or normative interventions, and in the hybrid balance between external demands and domestic necessities in political development and state stabilisation. I am currently working on a project examining the role and placement of legitimacy in statebuilding, and in a project questioning broader understandings of the state. I have a strong emphasis on state-society relations, and in this I draw on political philosophy and social anthropology. My interest here is to return to the principles of liberal democracy and how they are treated in understandings and practices surrounding political development, and to question the dominance of liberal conceptions of the state in development, and thus security, discourse and practice.


  • Introduction to International Relations (Year 1)
  • Contemporary International Relations Theory (Year 2)
  • Peace, Conflict, and Security: Theories and Practices (Year 2)
  • Global South (Year 3)
  • Dissertation in Politics and IR (Year 3)
  • Approaches to Dialogue (MA)
  • Human Rights and Global Politics (MA)


PhD Supervision

I am happy to supervise postgraduate work in the following areas:

  • Statebuilding
  • Political Development
  • Development/Security
  • African Politics
  • The State
  • Somalia/Somaliland
  • Democracy and Democratisation

Further information is available about studying in SPIRE, including funding available for pursuing a doctoral research degree.

School of Social Sciences
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Keele University
Staffordshire, ST5 5BG
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346

Undergraduate and postgraduate enquiries
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346