Research

In my work, I examine how strategic innovation by security practitioners and policymakers propels transformations in international norms, regimes, and regulatory arrangements—encompassing evolutions in technologies, strategies, and regulatory frameworks. I focus on the ways practitioners share knowledge, contest concepts, experiment with new methods, and creatively revise or reorient their interventions. How do creative attempts to meet pressing security challenges, via often controversial methods such as through targeted killing, mass data collection, and private contracting, influence the ethical and cultural environment of international relations and conflict? This is a key question for me.

My book, scheduled to be published in 2022 by Cambridge University Press, explains the normative transformations underpinning the US’s global counter-terrorism activities in the two decades after the September 11th attacks. In addition, I am continuing a project on privatisation and contracting in the intelligence sector, initially funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Government of Canada). This project studies how the use of private, market actors to perform the intelligence and information management functions of national security apparatuses interacts with normative conceptions of sovereignty—with expectations of accountability and authority particular to states and their bureaucracies.

More broadly, my projects can be divided into two general areas. The first, as noted, is on the practices and processes of use of force by security institutions. The second is on pragmatist social theory, relational historical sociology, and the philosophy of social science. These interests come together in my book, but I have also explored them individually in a number of publications and conference papers.

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