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.
I am currently working on a book manuscript based on my doctoral research on normative transformation and the US’s global counter-terrorism activities. In addition, I am continuing my postdoctoral project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Government of Canada), on privatisation and contracting in the intelligence sector. 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, as noted, 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 came together in my dissertation, but I have also explored them individually in a number of publications and conference papers.