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Research Priorities

CAIS is a research-led network of scholars at the University of Exeter and provides a base for externally funded research projects. 

CAIS has three broad research clusters that encompass the research expertise and postgraduate programmes within Politics and International Relations.

Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy

CAIS researchers are working on a number of key issues in foreign policy and grand strategy. These include the historical evolution of US foreign policy, the current durability of US unipolarity, strategies that the US can deploy to manage potential relative decline and the rise of peer competitors. In addition, our researchers explore 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 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. To this end we work closely with colleagues in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies and other affiliated Centres in Exeter as beyond such as the Royal United Services Institute. Recent books include those by Doug Stokes, Director of CAIS, (2010) (2012) and Klejda Mulaj (2010).

Conflict, Security and Development

Conflict, Security and Development is an inter-disciplinary field of inquiry which has arisen due the merger of the three fields both in practice and in theory since the late-twentieth century.  Questions of development and conflict merged into ones of security, bringing with them problems of analysis and of ethics.  As protracted social conflict has become the object of security and development assistance new conceptual tools have been required to grasp these changes in global governance and international intervention.  Researchers at CAIS lead major research projects on these conceptual questions and advise governments and international organizations working in our regions of expertise.

The 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 - including Marxism, anarchism, feminism and post-structuralism - and drawing on diverse bodies of scholarship from International Relations to sociology and from anthropology to political theory, CAIS scholars 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). In addition to offering a more complex, empirically rich and historically sensitive picture of global power, they also strive to theorize the dynamic interplay between these forces of governance and resistance. Working alongside one of the largest constellations of political theorists in the UK, CAIS researchers are generating cutting edge conceptualisations of the ways in which established institutional forms of state and inter-state power transform and are themselves being transformed by these oppositional social forces.

  • Sarah Bulmer's research sheds light on the way gender is an intricate means of structuring the state, the military and the practices of war.
  • Dario Castiglione has collaborated extensively with Richard Bellamy (UCL) to explore the possibility of transnational democracy in the EU
  • Alex Prichard's research on anarchist political theory inverts the traditional paradigm of politics, arguing that the anarchy of world politics can be rethought as a template for the political as such
  • Andrew Schaap's work on the nature of 'the political' and of human rights illuminates the ways in which representations of politics constitute political order
  • Bice Maiguashca is interested in the theory and practice of social movement activism with a particular focus on feminism and its relationship to the 'left'.
  • Claire Saunders researches social movements and protests using a range of methods, most prominently a relational (social networks) approach.
  • Claudio Radaelli works on regulatory governance in multi-level systems like the European Union, explaining their emergence, diffusion, and contested legitimacy.
  • Stephane Baele’s work seeks to unveil the role of language in political oppression and violence.
  • Alex Pritchard and Stephane Baele analyse the way International Relations has developed as a “discipline” with its codes and axioms, practices and favoured topics – but also blind spots.

Related centres:

See also:

Supervision and Taught Programmes

CAIS faculty members are happy to supervise doctoral research in any of the above areas.

Find out more about our postgraduate programmes.