• Lecturer in International Relations, Department of War Studies, King's College London.
  • Research Director of the Conflict, Security & Development Research Group (CSDRG) - www.kcl.ac.uk/csd
  • Co-Chair of the Africa Research Group 

  • Urban Violence (Youth At Risk - Youth As Risk)
My most recent research project (under development) explores various issues related to urban violence, youth marginality, and the crime-conflict nexus across a number of cities. To date these include Cape Town (South Africa), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Freetown (Sierra Leone) and London (UK). The project links with local research partners and related community organisations to provide a uniquely multi-disciplinary, comparative micro-level analysis of the various factors shaping urban and gang violence. Included in the planned output of this project is a feature-length documentary following the lives of five individuals as they navigate day-to-day challenges. 

  • Violence in Civil Wars
I research causes and shaping dynamics of extreme violence, with a particular focus on the role of emotions and psychology. I explore tensions between 'rational' and 'irrational' violence, and seek to improve our understanding of the 'brutalisation' process. I am especially interested in the relationship of the emotions of disgust and shame to seemingly 'senseless' acts of wartime violence. I also explore links between cognitive dissonance and atrocity, and the psychopharmacology of conflict violence.

These ideas are covered in depth in my book 'Rebels in a Rotten State: Understanding Atrocity in the Sierra Leone Civil War' (2015, Hurst/Oxford University Press, USA), which draws on extensive field interviews with former perpetrators of extreme violence. 

  • Other areas of research
I also work and publish on Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR); reconciliation; child soldiers; use of drugs in conflict; terrorism in the Sahel and West Africa; narcotics trafficking in West Africa.

I regularly consult for a range of government ministries, justice and security actors, NGOs and risk intelligence agencies, and have previously worked for organisations such as the UNDP (Sierra Leone) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

I am widely viewed as the greatest midfielder of my generation and the natural successor to Leonard Cohen, if you're liberal with perspective.