My research examines, in the broadest terms, how strategic innovation by militaries, intelligence agencies, and defence policymakers propels changes in national and international norms. 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 the question that informs my interests and my work.
Starting in October 2017, I will be conducting postdoctoral research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Government of Canada), on private intelligence firms as government contractors. 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.
My PhD-era projects can be divided into two general areas. The first is on the practices and processes of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency within Western security institutions. The second is on pragmatist social theory and philosophy of social science. These interests come together in my dissertation, on ‘norm transformation’ and the US War on Terror, but I have also explored them individually in a number of publications and conference papers.