Research at CAIS: An overview
CAIS-affiliated scholars publish cutting-edge research on a broad range of issues related to International Relations broadly construed. This work can be categorised in three overlapping themes:
1) Conflict, insecurity, terrorism and political violence
CAIS academics investigate the causes and dynamics of conflict (from international wars to civil conflict and terrorism), with a particular focus on the nexus between conflict, security and development. Developing novel theoretical frameworks, methods and techniques for the study of issues such as peacekeeping/peacemaking, terrorism, intractable conflicts, extremist propaganda, civilizational frictions, or the transformation of urban environments by war, researchers at CAIS lead major research projects and advise governments and international organizations.
2) Foreign policy and grand strategy
At CAIS, the conceptualization and study of foreign policy and grand strategy is a central preoccupation. This includes the historical evolution of US and UK foreign policy, the current durability of US unipolarity (and the strategies that the US can deploy to manage potential relative decline and the rise of peer competitors), and the structural and domestic influences on foreign policy responses in specific regions including but not limited to the Balkans, Central Asia and the Middle East. An evolving specialism is the UK's National Strategy in the context of changing transatlantic defence priorities; changes in transatlantic grand strategy and the implications this may have in conjunction with BREXIT, for European security and the evolving nature of British cyber security policy and defence as well as counter-insurgency and counterterrorism strategies in response with state and non-state actors.
3) Theory and practice of governance and resistance
Researchers affiliated with the Centre have a keen interest and expertise in what can be characterised as the ‘politics of governance and resistance’. Informed by a range of theoretical perspectives, CAIS members seek to empirically map the workings of contemporary global and national configurations of power (such as those expressed in the context of the European Union, North-South relations, state militarism or the permutations of the global financial market) and the multiple ways in which they are being challenged by a range of local, national and transnational actors (such as social movements, NGOs, ethnic and kinship politics and networks of academic and scientific experts), theorizing the dynamic interplay between these forces of governance and resistance.
Our work across these themes is reinforced by two transversal efforts. First, we strive to advance the lines of IR theory in original and coherent ways, adapting them to the evolution of the international system and opening them to new objects and subjects. Second, we develop a series of in-depth area specialisms, chiefly but not only on Central Asia and the Mediterranean. We work closely with colleagues in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) and other affiliated Centres in Exeter, and engage with a range of academic and non-academic partners in the UK and beyond, such as the Royal United Services Institute, RUSI).