I am a Reader in Conflict, Security and Development at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, where I am also Research Director of the Conflict, Security & Development Research Group (CSDRG), co-Chair of the Africa Research Group. In 2018 I co-founded the Urban Violence Research Network.
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, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and the UK.
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.
Since 2018 I have led 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). In 2020 I was awarded a British Academy grant for ‘Youth Gangs in Urban Africa: A Comparative Study of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa’, which expands this collaboration and is centred on production of a multi-authored anthology of African street gangs and urban insecurity. In 2020 I was also awarded an AHRC/UKRI GCRF grant for a collaborative project ‘Survival on the Streets: Urban Violence, Youth Gangs and Everyday Resilience in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo’. This grant was subsequently “un-awarded” due to UK Overseas Developmetn Aid (ODA) cuts.
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.
Image: book launch, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, 1 March 2017.