Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Continuing ESRC Success in POLIS

10 November 2010 |

As three ESRC funded projects draw to a close two more begin. This year, Head of School Duncan McCargo was awarded the inaugural 2009 Bernard Schwartz Book Prize from the Asia Society of New York for Tearing Apart the Land. Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand (Cornell University Press 2008).

Jason Ralph’s project, ‘Law, War and the State of the American Exception’ (RES-000-22-3252) and Graeme Davies’s (with Robert Johns) ‘Foreign policy attitudes and support for war among the British public’ (RES-062-23-1952) are now in their final stages.  Ralph recently used his research findings to comment in The Guardian on the news that the youngest Guantanamo detainee, Omar Khadr, had pleaded guilty to the controversial charge of ‘murder in violation of the laws of war’.  Ralph also convened the 5th Annual Conference of the BISA US Foreign Policy Working Group and his book on American exceptionalism and the war on terror will be published by Oxford University Press in 2011. Davies and Johns published their initial findings in the Autumn 2010 ESRC publication Society Now.  Among their main findings was the view that ‘very few citizens are flatly opposed to using force, but they need persuading of its merits, both practical and moral.’   

Alice Hills recently began the first phase of an ESRC funded project at the African Studies Centre, University of Cambridge.  The project, ‘Policing a plurality of worlds: The Nigeria Police in metropolitan Kano, northern Nigeria’ (RES-000-22-4030), will take her to northern Nigeria where she will investigate the interface between statutory, state-sponsored and traditional forms of policing in metropolitan Kano, the biggest city in both Kano state and Nigeria's Islamic north.  Alice’s project considers the manner in which a statutory security institution - in this case, the Nigeria Police - co-exists with non-statutory providers, and what this means for security governance, policing and police culture in a significant Southern city. The research is organised around the role, perspectives and activities of the Nigeria Police, and the pragmatic forms of accommodation and working relationships it must develop with the state-sponsored Islamic militia known as Hisba, and with the Emir of Kano's court. In other words, the project analyses the boundaries between the various security agencies and agents operating in Kano, the formal and informal linkages between them, their priorities, and the ways in which they resolve disagreements and manage security and justice. This should provide insight into the neglected topic of Nigerian – and Southern - police culture.

Continuing the African theme, Gabrielle Lynch has been awarded an ESRC first grant (RES -061-25-0520) to pursue her research project ‘Truth and Justice: The Search for Peace and Stability in Modern Kenya’.   Gabrielle’s project, which starts in January 2011, will critically evaluate Kenya's Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).  This was established following post-election violence of 2007/8.  The aim of the project is to evaluate the Commission’s contribution to peace and justice according to local expectations and perceptions, as well as international norms and practices; to provide critical insights into Kenyan history and politics; and to offer policy recommendations for those thinking of using a ‘truth commission’ as a ‘transitional justice’ tool in other contexts.  Gabrielle’s time in Kenya will be divided between Nairobi, Coast, Central, Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza Provinces to analyse issues raised in different geographic areas.  This fieldwork will bring a new perspective to current analysis, which is heavily reliant on theoretical discussions of justice, journalistic or socio-legal examinations of submissions and reports, or anthropological studies of effect. In contrast, this study will conduct interviews, observe political meetings, analyse proceedings, media and non-media reports, and examine the Commission’s immediate impact during the 2012 election.

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