I am a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, where I am also Research Director of the Conflict, Security & Development Research Group (CSDRG), and co-Chair of the Africa Research Group. In 2018 I co-founded the Urban Violence Research Network.
I joined War Studies as a Lecturer in 2012, after completing my MA, MRes and PhD within the department. Previously, from 2007 I worked as a Research Fellow in CSDRG, conducting extensive fieldwork in Sierra Leone for a study of reintegration. I also worked with a range of research and development organisations, including the International Policy Institute, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the United Nations Development Programme in Sierra Leone, and various risk intelligence consultancies.
My recent research has examined the causes and shaping dynamics of extreme violence during conflict and ‘situations other than war’, with a particular focus upon the role of emotions and psychology at both individual and group level. I currently research urban violence and youth marginality in Brazil, Sierra Leone, South Africa and the UK. I lead a British Academy project ‘Life in Between: Youth Street Gangs and Marginality in Contemporary Sierra Leone,‘ working closely with Professor Ibrahim Abdullah (Fourah Bay College).
During 2017-2018 I conducted nine months of fieldwork with gangs and violence-affected communities in Cape Town (Manenberg and Hanover Park), Freetown, and Rio de Janeiro (Complexo da Maré). I was also Visiting Associate at the Safety and Violence Initiative at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Visiting Fellow at the Igarapé Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I conducted further gang fieldwork in Sierra Leone throughout 2019 and 2020.
My book Rebels in a Rotten State: Understanding Atrocity in the Sierra Leonean Civil War was published with Hurst and Oxford University Press in 2015. I have also published on the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of combatants, post-conflict reconciliation processes, and fieldwork methodologies. I have specialist area knowledge of Sierra Leone and sub-Saharan Africa more broadly.
I have consulted for the UK’s Foreign Office, the UK’s Ministry of Defence, the UK’s Stabilisation Unit, London’s Metropolitan Police, and a range of risk intelligence companies, NGOs, legal organisations and research institutes across the globe.
Image: book launch, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, 1 March 2017.