Hello! I am a comparative political scientist and I welcome inquiries from journalists, policy-makers, and students in the following areas:
Conflict, violence, and security: I specialize in the study of genocides and ethnic conflicts, and know a little also about other forms of political violence such as civil wars and terrorism.
Ethnic and religious integration: I am interested in strategies that promote co-existence and cooperation across group boundaries in diverse, multi-ethnic societies.
African and south-east Asian politics: I have area expertise in central Africa – primarily Rwanda, Burundi, the D.R.C., and Uganda - and developing knowledge of south-east Asia, in particular the Philippines. These are all countries of which I have many fond fieldwork memories (as the website banners are supposed to convey!)
Before I started work at the London School of Economics, I was lucky enough to spend several years as a pre-doctoral research fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. I learned much, made some good friends, and met my wife, Rachel Gisselquist, who is also a political scientist. I then took up a post-doctoral fellowship at Oxford university and spent much of it wondering if I would be able to get a permanent academic job having graduated in the year following the 2007-8 financial crisis!
Before entering academia, I worked for the World Bank in Washington DC where I was involved in modernizing the Bank's environmental and social "safeguard" policies that dealt with politically-sensitive issues such as indigenous peoples and the involuntary resettlement of communities. I was also part of the neverending struggle to "harmonize" the Byzantine policies and procedures among the many bilateral and multilateral donors, which developing countries follow at great cost.
I’ve also seen life from the other side of the donor-recipient divide. I worked for the government of the small, developing nation of Guyana, from where my parents hail. I had a job as the first Legal Officer in the country's newly-established Environmental Protection Agency where I spent much of my time developing a regulatory framework for the protection of the country's biodiversity and indigenous traditional knowledge. I also served, briefly but memorably, for the UN on its electoral mission on East Timor’s referendum in 1999. I have also consulted for the World Bank and the United Nations University.
Now a plug for my favourite NGO. During my doctoral work, I spent a year in Uganda between 2003 and 2004, the peak of the insurgency waged by the Lord's Resistance Army, and visited several camps that were home to the 1.4 million persons displaced by the conflict at the time. I then moved to Massachusetts where I co-founded a small non-profit organization called Latin Balle Pee (the Child is Innocent, in Acholi). Its mission is to identify and train the next generation of community leaders from among the many hundreds of thousands of children affected by the conflict to help rebuild the war-torn north. I no longer run the organization but I would encourage people to support its unusual and important cause. You can donate or even sponsor one of the child leadership trainees. www.thechildisinnocent.org
Finally, a little on my qualifications. I hold a PhD in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and an MA in International Development Studies from George Washington University. I am also trained in law and, although I do not practice, I maintain an interest in international criminal and human rights law. I received an LLB from Kings College London and a Maitrise en Droit from the Université de Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne. I am also an Attorney admitted at the New York Bar.