The aim of this event is to share doctoral research with staff and other Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies (PoLIS) students, opening up discussions around their work.

Each presenter will have 15 minutes to present their work. This will be followed by a Q&A and discussion.

The showcase will be split into two separate panel events.


Panel 1: Foreign Policy

  • Date: Wednesday 19 April 2023
  • Time: 1:15pm – 4:05pm
  • Location: CB 5.1

Panel 2: Alternative Topics in Politics

  • Date: Wednesday 26 April 2023
  • Time: 2:15pm – 5:05pm
  • Location: 1W 2.101


Panel 1: Foreign Policy

The following papers will be presented during this session.

The British Foreign Policy Narrative of Russian Disinformation

Presenter: Sean Garrett

This paper maps British beliefs about Russian disinformation and shows how these beliefs in turn shape British foreign policy (FP) towards Russia. Indeed, it argues the narrative of Russian disinformation has played a part in shaping the UK’s threat perception of Russia. From indirectly recognizing its potential for malign information interference to framing Russia as an “acute threat” and disinformation as a “state threat”, the UK has officially come to foreground disinformation in its perception of Russia. Russian disinformation campaigns on subjects such as Brexit, chemical weapons usage, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia’s war on Ukraine since 2014 have reinforced this perception. Finally, it argues that the UK’s beliefs about Russian disinformation have shaped the perception of its own and Russia’s place in the world. In presenting the British FP narrative, the paper provides an interpretation of the disruptive FP impact of disinformation on bilateral and multilateral relations.

Unchecked Civilian Control and Undermined Democracy: Principal-Agent Analysis on the Korean Military Intervention in Politics

Presenter: Juhong Park

This paper examines how the President's civilian control power, not checked by the National Assembly, can affect military intervention in electoral politics and ultimately undermine democracy in South Korea. Since the huge democratic uprising in 1987, various indicators of democracy classified Korea as a state where democracy had been consolidated. Moreover, numerous scholars considered that Korea's civilian control over the military was established. Nonetheless, the sudden transition to democratization did not lead to the institutionalization of democratic civilian control. The extensive literature on civil-military relations illustrates that democratically noninstitutionalized civilian control can threaten democratic consolidation. The core of democratic civilian control is the balanced institutional military control by the President and the National Assembly. Analysing the strategic interactions between the President-National Assembly-Military elites through the principal-agent model provides a more detailed description of military intervention in politics. This paper investigates the case in which the Korean Cyberwarfare Command influenced the elections from 2010-2013 through comprehensive unlawful actions that supported or opposed specific political parties and politicians online through process tracing using public court rulings and trial records.

Analysing the historical context of the arms control debate from exploding bullets to killer robots

Presenter: Lincoln Sheff

In recent years there have been discussions on historical comparisons between emerging technologies of the present such as Autonomous weapons and emerging technologies from our past, ranging from exploding bullets to chemical weapons. This raises an interesting area of inquiry particularly in the normative need for International arms control and similarities between each arms control institution. In my presentation, I argue the case for a historical approach employing an English School epistemological framework. Next, I outline a theoretical model which studies how each agreement has informed on each other through a sociological process called isomorphism. I will then showcase various moments in arms control history. In which I hope to conceptualise each case and study how they relate to each other. I begin by overviewing pre industrial arms control history, followed by the first major international arms control agreement, the 1899 Hague convention. Following this will be the 1922 Washington Naval agreement and the 1925 Geneva protocol. I will then study some more contemporary cases such as the BWC, CWC and CCW. Each case will be given its historical and technological context. This in turn informs change within each individual arms control epistemic community. This position hopes to offer a more holistic view of arms control instead of analysing particular weapon systems in a vacuum.

Coordination and Cooperation among African Countries in Cyber Norm Development Processes at the UN: An Analysis of Processes and Mechanisms

Presenter: Ndidi Olibamoyo

With increased tension in cyberspace and state-sponsored attacks, the need for established and agreed-upon cyber norms has become more pressing than ever before. In the last two decades, various global and regional processes aimed at developing cybernorms and promoting international cooperation in this domain, has been ongoing. Through participation in international forums and engagements such as the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE) and Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG), the African Group has been involved in these processes together with other regional groups and also play an important role in bringing attention to the positions and priorities of African countries on cyber norms and to unique cybersecurity challenges faced by these state actors. Using a process-based approach, this paper examines the process of coordination and cooperation within the African Group. It particularly focuses on the mechanisms and processes of coordination within the African Group in relations to cybersecurity, focusing on the UNGGE and OEWG on Cyberspace. Preliminary findings suggests that the while the African Group has made considerable efforts in coordinating and collaborating on cybersecurity concerns at the UN, there are still challenges and limitations (such as divergent national priorities, limited resources, and infrastructure) that should be addressed. The paper will conclude by highlighting ways of enhancing African countries’ participation in cybernorms processes at the UN and potential areas for future research.

Panel 2: Alternative Topics in Politics

The following papers will be presented during this session.

Bodies of Disappearance

Presenter: Jess Mezo

From Jean Baudrillard to Paul Virilio and Mark Fisher, prominent thinkers of the recent past came to address the question of disappearance not as a relic of the 20th century but as an emerging theme linked to the crisis of becoming that continues to quietly unfold in contemporary societies. However, while most approaches focused on speed, acceleration, and (hyper)capitalist production as potential drivers of this phenomenon, the impact of technological and spatio-ideological factors merits more consideration. This is especially so if one is to account for the profound melancholia, disorientation, and crisis of (political) agency that has emerged over the last decade, with images of an ever-accelerating future decoupling from relentlessly rebooting moments of a horizontally expanding now - an experience of temporality Frederick Jameson called the “perpetual present”.

And while the zeitgeist is increasingly permeated by the themes of obsolescence and being left behind — finding resonances, for example, in the breakout series The Last of Us —, it must be acknowledged that it is not only the figure of the unenhanced human that is subjected to the forces of disappearance but also the built, spatio-ideological environment that he inhabits. As such, in an effort to uncover potential lines of flight, this inquiry explores how contemporary experiences of disappearance, of inhabiting ‘lost futures’ where feelings of fernweh and anemoia reign supreme, lock us into a space of apocalyptic liminality and immobility where one is either captured by the gravity of a Body of Disappearance or is forced to become one.

Can integrating environmental sustainability into the responsibility to rebuild (R2R), of the responsibility to protect (R2P) framework, achieve effective post-conflict sustainable peacebuilding with Sierra Leone as case study?

Presenter: Samuel Babia

The United Nations (UN) Charter provides the Security Council (UNSC) with the authorisation to maintain international peace and security. This study examines the success factors for UNSC/ unilateral peacebuilding operations and how they might be used to establish sustainable positive peace. In addition, it discusses peacekeeping, its legal basis, and critically analyses the functions of mandates regarding the impact of PKO activities on the environment and local communities. It specifically focuses on the UNSC peacekeeping/peacebuilding mandates' failure to include environmental sustainability to address the environmental impact of the PKO activities and as such exacerbates the already poor environmental conditions. It presents that to be successful the peacebuilding must address the issues that led to conflict, ensure that the peace processes is environmentally sustainable, and the peace can be sustained inter/intra-generationally. As a case study, the study examines the international peacebuilding programme (UNAMSIL) for Sierra Leone (SL). The research further argues that it is within the competences and determinative powers of the UNSC to integrate environmental sustainability into peacekeeping/peacebuilding mandates for sustainable peace. It also provides that the 2002 New Delhi declaration of the principles of sustainable development could serve as the implementation guidelines of the steps to achieving environmental sustainability. This study makes recommendations for a future UNSC and unilateral PKO mandates that would achieve sustainable peacebuilding and environmental sustainability. This research contributes to a better understanding of an effective peacekeeping/peacebuilding mandate for the future and peace studies, to avoid conflict relapse.

The meme wave of political streams in the Romanian context

Presenter: Mimi Mihailescu

Memes became a prominent feature of Internet culture, serving as the narrative formation and commentary, contributing to the discourse around political phenomena through their unique feature of rapid diffusion, remix, iteration and satire. This paper delves into the narratives embedded within the memes, looking at how memes construct a worldview, where they can be used as a means of political affiliation identification and fulfilling political functions. Using a mixed methodological approach of content analysis, descriptive analysis and social network analysis, this research provides an overview of the collective stories contained within the memes during the 2020 Parliamentary election in Romania. This study demonstrates that political memes contribute to the discourse around political events, echoing existing ideological and preconceived beliefs and confrontations. It aims not only to understand the relevance of studying political memes but also to provide context and a manner of researching memes that can be further used in comparison with other countries or electoral contexts.

Approaching sustainable wellbeing with environmental citizenship

Presenter: Jeremy Halsey

Arguably the defining problem of our generation, the transition to sustainability requires exerted effort upon each of the four pillars of sustainable development: economy, environment, society and culture. Where previous attempts to shore up support for change have focused on knowledge of the problem to influence behaviour, a novel approach presents wellbeing as the driving force for change. The objective of this project is to uncover the links between sustainable-wellbeing and environmental citizenship and bring them into practice. Where the former provides context and solutions drawn from ecological economics, the latter addresses prerequisite behavioural change and the impact that citizens can make as agents of change, both as individuals and in a collective. Positioned between an introduction to the project and its later primary research, this chapter focuses on the cross-disciplinary scholarship of environmental citizenship which explains the rationale for operationalisation in Bristol using a people’s assembly.