Dr Gearoid Millar

Dr Gearoid Millar
MA, PhD

Senior Lecturer

Overview
Dr Gearoid Millar
Dr Gearoid Millar

Contact Details

Telephone
work +44 (0)1224 273238
Email
Address
The University of Aberdeen Edward Wright Building, F21

www.abdn.ac.uk/ictpr/

 

Biography

My work focuses on the local experiences of international interventions for peace, justice, and development in post-conflict states.

I use an ethnographic approach to examine how local individuals and communities understand, experience, and evaluate the impacts of projects planned, funded, and administered by international actors.

This form of research provides a detailed account of the often unseen and usually unpredicted effects international interventions for peace, justice, and development produce or inspire in senstive post-conflict states, as well as the responses among local actors on the ground.

My research to date has focused on the case of Sierra Leone, but many of the dynamics I have discussed for this case are clearly replicated across a diverse range of other settings. Please see my Research and Publications pages for further information.

Research

Research Interests

My research interests concern international conflict and peace, transitional justice, and processes of peacebuilding and development. I am primarily focused on studying the local experiences of international projects in transitional states and assessing how projects planned, funded and administered by international actors in post-conflict settings are experienced by local people.

I have outlined a methodology for conducting this kind of research in my first book, titled "An Ethnographic Approach to Peacebuilding: Understanding Local Experiences in Transitional States" (Routledge 2014).

Further, I am deeply involved in developing theoretical approaches to understanding and conceptualizing these interactions between 'international' and 'local' actors, and in a recent volume myself and a number of colleagues forward the notion of friction as a key conceptual tool for this exploration.

For further information see Annika Björkdahl, Kristine Höglund, Gearoid Millar, Jair Vanderlijn and Willemijn Verkoren. Peacebuilding and Friction: Global and Local Encounters in Post Conflict Societies. London: (Routledge 2016).

My research to date has focused on the case of Sierra Leone.

PhD Supervision:

I am interested in supervising PhD students with an interest in post-conflict justice, peacebuilding, and development in any region of the world or with an interest in using ethnographic methods to evaluate international intervention in transitional states. 

I am currently supervising Ruben Schneider in his ESRC funded PhD research focusing on the local impacts and experiences of securitized conservation projects in sub-Saharan Africa and the potential conflict or peace promoting dimensions of such interventions.

Current Research

AMBITION AND AMBIVALENCE: PEACE RESEARCH IN A CHANGING WORLD

I have recently been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to start this new project over the coming academic year (2018-2019).

The field of Peace Studies faces significant obstacles in responding to challenges such as climate change, demographic shifts, mass migration, and declining Western influence. These obstacles undermine the field’s traditional normative ambition to contribute to peace and generate ambivalence regarding its ability to tackle future conflict.

This project will examine the balance between ambition and ambivalence in Peace Studies. It will do so via a mixed-method approach assessing data collected from academics, students, policymakers, and practitioners and reflecting on the past, present, and future state of the field and its capacity to theorize, research, and provide solutions for future conflicts.

 

ETHNOGRAPHIC PEACE RESEARCH (EPR)

Since late 2015 I have been working to consolidate an Ethnographic Peace Research (EPR) agenda in Peace Studies.

Following a workshop funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) at the University of Aberdeen in July 2016 I recently co-edited a book titled "Ethnographic Peace Research: Approaches and Tensions" (Palgrave 2018), have just finished work on a Special Issue of International Peacekeeping on EPR as a methodology, to be published in late 2018 (see the articles available online first here), and published a further article regarding the benefits of EPR for policy engagement with Cooperation and Conflict (2018).

Along with other members of informal international research network that has been involved in this project, I am now working to develop a research agenda and submit research proposals to utilize, test, and calibrate this methodology to meet the needs of contemporary peace research challenges.

 

Research Grants

Recent Grants:

2018 - Leverhulme Research Fellowshiop, £46,848

2017 - University of Aberdeen GCRF-IPPF, £9,050

2016 - Independent Social Research Foundation, £4,999

2016 - Principal's Interdisciplinary Fund, £1,225

2015 - Principal's Interdisciplinary Fund, £1,163

2013 - The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland Research Grant, £2,420    

2013 - Principal’s Excellence Fund, £500                                 

2012 - Radboud University Nijmegen, Faculty Fieldwork Grant, €10,235

Teaching

Teaching Responsibilities

Post-Graduate Programme:

I co-ordinate the MSc programme in Post-Conflict Justice and Peacebuilding.

 

PhD Students:

I am interested in supervising PhD students with an interest in post-conflict justice, peacebuilding, and development in any region of the world or with an interest in using ethnographic methods to evaluate international intervention in transitional states. 

 

Teaching Responsibilities 

I am the Course Coordinator for:

SO1507: Introduction to Sociology II

SO5525: Post-Conflict Justice and Peacebuilding

I contribute lectures to:

TR3501: Between Conflict and Peace: Transitions in Society

Further Info

External Responsibilities

I am currently the Chair of the Peace Studies section of the International Studies Association (ISA) 

I serve on the Editorial Board of Civil Wars

I have previously peer reviewed articles for the following journals:

African Affairs; Africa Today; Alternatives; American Political Science Review; Cambridge Review of International Affairs; Civil Wars; Conflict Resolution Quarterly; Cooperation and Conflict (2); Critical Studies in Media Communications; Development and Change; Ethnic and Racial Studies (3); European Journal of International Security; Global Policy; International Journal of Transitional Justice (3); International Peacekeeping; International Studies Quarterly; Journal of Comparative Politics, Journal of Contemporary African Studies; Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding; Journal of Modern African Studies (2); Journal of Peacebuilding and Development (2); Journal of Peace Research (5); Land Use Policy; Media, War & Conflict; Memory Studies; Peace and Conflict Studies (2); Peace and Conflict: The Journal of Peace Psychology; Peacebuilding (2); Review of International Studies (2); Rural Sociology; Third World Quarterly (3); Third World Thematics (2); Transitional Justice Review (3).

Admin Responsibilities

Research Impact Lead for the Department of Sociology

Research Ethics officer for the School of Social Sciences

Member of the School of Social Science Internationalization Committee

Member of the School of Social Science Post-Graduate Committee

Administrator for the Institute for Conflict, Transition, and Peace Research website

Department of Sociology E-Learning Champion

Working Papers

Simplification vs. Complexification of Conflict and Peace: Finding a Balance in Theory, Policy, and Practice. For submission to Journal of Peace Research, February 2018.

The Expert Delusion in International Programming: The Futility of Surveillance and Control in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. For submission to Security Dialogue, March 2018.

Ambition and Ambivalence: Reconsidering Positive Peace. For presentation at the Annual ISA Convention, April 2018, San Francisco

Rethinking Intractability for Post-Identity Conflict: Considering Patrimonialism and Socio-Economic Divisions. or submission to Civil Wars, June 2018.

Papers Under Review

Displacing the Intervention Experts: Ethnographic Peace Research and Policy Engagement. For Submitted to Cooperation and Conflict, submitted December 2016.

The Messy Business of Peace: Complexity and the Unexpected in Post-Conflict Contexts. For publication in Business and Peace: Beyond the Sustainable Development Goals (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Academic and Policy Presentations

Ethnographic Peace Research: The Constructive Tension of an Interdisciplinary Endeavor. Anthropology Seminar Series, Aberdeen, 5 October 2017.

Ethnographic Peace Research for Policy Guidance. Presentation at the IAPCS Annual Conference, University of Manchester, 11 September 2017.

Ethnographic Peace Research and the Developing Peace Formation Approach. Presentation at the Everyday State Formation versus (neo)liberal Peacebuilding and Statebuilding: Dynamics and Limitations Workshop, University of Manchester, 1 September 2017. 

Ethnographic Peace Research and Our Limited Power to Influence Policy and Practice. Presentation at the Fieldwork in (Post-)Conflict Settings Workshop, Center for International Conflict Analysis and Management, Radboud University Nijmegen, 18 March 2017.

The Troubles with Truth Commissions. Invited lecture at the Center for International Conflict Analysis and Management, Radboud University Nijmegen, 17 March 2017.

Examining the Unexpected Impacts of Peace Interventions: Ethnographic Peace Research. Invited presentation at the Kroc Institute for International Peace, Notre Dame University, 20 April 2017.

Peace Research in the 21st Century: Facing Contemporary Challenges with Diverse Skills. Invited presentation at the Kroc Institute for International Peace, Notre Dame University, 19 April 2017.

Rethinking Intractability for Post-Identity Conflict: Considering Patrimonialism and Socio-Economic Divisions. Presentation at the ISA Annual Convention, Baltimore, 22-25 February 2017.

Simplification vs. Compexification of Conflict and Peace: Finding a Balance in Theory, Policy, and Practice. Presentation at the ISA Annual Convention, Baltimore, 22-25 February 2017.

Agriculture, Peace, and Justice: The Unexpected Social, Economic and Political Impacts of Agricultural Development. Invited presentation at the Agritech Workshop: Developing Legal Research Networks around Agritechnology and Agricultural Multifunctionality in Brazil and the United Kingdom, IMED, Passo Fundo, Brazil, 21-24 November 2016.

The Expert Delusion in International Programming: The Futility of Surveillance and Control in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. Sociology Seminar Series, Aberdeen, 26 October 2016.

The Expert Delusion in Complex Peacebuilding: The Futility of Surveillance and Control. Invited presentation at the Democracy Promotion as Interaction: Rethinking the External-Internal Interplay in International Relations Workshop, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, 8-9 September 2016.

Displacing the Intervention Experts: An Ethnographic and Participatory Research Agenda for Peace. Invited presentation at the Decentering International Interventions: Alternative Perspectives on Statehood and (In)Security in the Global South workshop, Freie Universität Berlin, 15-16 July 2016.

Introduction to Ethnographic Peace Research. Presentation at the Ethnographic Peace Research: Strengths, Challenges and Ethics Workshop, Aberdeen, 8-9 July 2016.

Peace Skills as Social Skills: The Value of Conflict Resolution Training for Students and Educators. Presentation at the European Trade Union Committee for Education Conference, Baku, 2-3 June 2016.

The Assumptions of Evaluation in Complex Peacebuilding: Measuring, Managing, and Misplaced Expertise. Presentation at the ISA Annual Convention, Atlanta, 16-19 March 2016.

Ethnographic Peace Research: The Strengths, Challenges, and Ethics of a New Research Agenda. Presentation at the ISA Annual Convention, Atlanta, 16-19 March 2016.

Co-opting Authority and Privatizing Force in Rural Sierra Leone: Ensuring Corporate Control over Land and People. Sociology Seminar Series, Aberdeen, 4 November 2015.

Peace through Economic Justice?  The Case of Transitional Sierra Leone. Presentation at the BSA Annual Conference, Glasgow, 15-17, April 2015.

Corporate Cooptation in Transitional Sierra Leone: Silencing Dissent and Privatizing Authority through the Liberal Peace. Presentation at ISA Annual Convention, New Orleans, 18-21 February 2015.

Local Experiences of the Liberal Peace: Marketization and Emergent Conflict Dynamics in Sierra Leone. Presentation at ISA Annual Convention, New Orleans, 18-21 February 2015

For Whom do Local Peace Processes Function?: Managing Conflict and Maintaining Control in a Post-Liberal Order. Presentation at the Local Peace Processes in the Context of Global Governance Workshop, Centre for Peace Studies, University of Tromso, Norway, 22 January 2015.

Alternatives to Post-Conflict Restoration: Foreign Direct Investment as Economic Justice in Sierra Leone. Invited lecture at Otto-von-Guericke Universitait, Magdeburg, Germany. 10 December 2014.

The Ebola Crisis: Lessons Regarding Governance. Presentation for the Politics and International Relations Society, University of Aberdeen, 18 November, 2014.

Applying Technical Solutions in Complex Societies: The Challenges of Agricultural Intervention in Rural Africa. Presentation for the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, 20 May, 2014.

Overcoming the Methodological Divide: An Inter-Methodological Research Agenda for Transitional Justice. Presentation at ISA Annual Convention, Toronto, 26-29 March 2014.

Evaluating a Complex Peace: An Ethnographic Approach to Understanding Local Experiences of Peacebuilding. Presentation at ISA Annual Convention, Toronto, 26-29 March 2014.

The Liberal Peace, Land-Grab Issues, and the Role of Gender. Invited lecture at Otto-von-Guericke Universitait, Magdeburg, Germany. 23 October 2013.

Evaluation and Local Experiences of International Intervention: Lessons from Sierra Leone. Invited lecture at Otto-von-Guericke Universitait, Magdeburg, Germany. 22 October 2013.

Power and Authority in Transitional Sierra Leone: Local Experiences of the Liberal Peace. Presentation at PSS/ISA conference, Budapest, 29 June 2013.

Ethnography as Evaluation: Understanding Local Experiences of Agricultural Land-Grabs in Transitional States. Presentation at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Saale), Germany, 21 May 2013.

Technologies of Diffusion: Making Local Land Legible and Corporate Power Applicable. Presentation at ISA Annual Convention, San Francisco, 3-6 April 2013.

Economic Development as Transitional Justice? Needs, Recovery, and Justice in Sierra Leone. Presentation at ISA Annual Convention, San Francisco, 3-6 April 2013.

Rights, Power, and Governance in West Africa: Mali in Context. Presentation for the Centre for Global Security and Governance, University of Aberdeen, 7 March 2013.

“We have no voice for that”: Power, Gender, and Land Decisions in Rural Sierra Leone. Presented at the Gender and Land Governance Conference. 14-15 January 2013, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

FDI on the Ground. Presented at the Irish Embassy to an Audience of Funding Agency and NGO staff.  26 September 2012, Freetown, Sierra Leone

“Ah Lef ma Case fo God”: Faith and Agency in Sierra Leone’s Postwar Reconciliation. Presented at the ISA Annual Convention. 1-4 April 2012, San Diego, California.

Disciplinary Divides and Postwar Transitional Justice: Tracking how we Share Ideas and Construct an Emerging Field. Presented at the ISA Annual Convention. 1-4 April 2012, San Diego, California.

Provocative Memory: The Fine Line between Healing and Humiliation, Justice and Anger. Presented at Conflict, Memory, and Reconciliation: Bridging Past, Present, and Future, An SIT Symposium. 10-13 January 2012, Kigali, Rwanda.

Dissociated Elites: Investigating the Disconnect between Elites and those they Claim to Represent. Presented at Out of the Ivory Tower: Weaving the Theories and Practice of International Relations. 22-23 October, 2011, London School of Economics and Political Science, London.

Dissociated Elites: Investigating the Disconnect between Elites and those they Claim to Represent in Sierra Leone's Peacebuilding. Presented at Global-Local Dialectics of Peace and Violence: A Critical Review of 'Sustainable Peacebuilding, 22 September, 2011, Utrecht University, Utrecht.

 

Publications

Publications 

update | about Staff Pages