About Me

Who I am

Exploring the Dynamics of Political Violence & Insurgency

I am an Irish political sociologist based in Cologne, Germany. My expertise is on civil wars and insurgency, radicalisation and terrorism, and social movements and protest. My research addresses the grey area between violent and non-violent mobilisation, it focuses on the individual and collective factors which lead movements and individuals to engage in varying forms of political violence.

I have gathered decades of international experience; I began my studies at home in Ireland in NUI Galway, before going to London for my Masters at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). I continued to Italy to complete my doctorate at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. Since then, my professional career has taken me to the Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies at the EUI, the University of Aarhus in Denmark, the Peace Research Institute in Frankfurt and currently to Wageningen University in the Netherlands. I have a diverse and accomplished publication record, I authored the book, Understanding Insurgency: Popular Support for the PKK in Turkey with Cambridge University Press and co-authored two books on anti-austerity protest in Europe and secessionist referendums in Catalonia and Scotland. I have published articles in many highly regarded inter-disciplinary academic journals, including Perspectives on Politics, Political Geography, and Terrorism & Political Violence.

What I do

Navigating Complex Conflict Landscapes
Conflict Analysis

My current project Routinised Insurgent Space looks at support for armed groups in Colombia and Turkey/Kurdistan. The project analyses spatial variation in conflict, why violence clusters in specific neighbourhoods or regions and not in others? By focusing on the micro-level, I have been able to analyse people’s rationale and willingness to support and join armed movements, at extreme personal and collective risk. Its findings are of broad policy relevance and enhance understanding of current armed conflicts and geo-political crises.

Radicalisation Expertise

I have co-developed one of the largest available datasets on lone-actor radicalisation, the Lone Actor Radicalisation and Terrorism (LART) dataset. Since 2016, I have systematically gathered and coded secondary and primary source data, identifying not only patterns of individual behaviour but also the social and political contextual factors which encourage political extremism. My work on LART highlights my ability to bridge the academic and policy worlds, transforming fine grained data into actionable policy recommendations at local and national levels.

Policy Advice & Training

Throughout my career, I have been convinced that the best way to understand political violence is to engage with the people directly affected by it. I have conducted more than one hundred interviews with victims and perpetrators of violence and with people involved in radical politics, in often challenging environments. I have facilitated workshops and focus groups with professionals and experts working on political extremism, radicalisation and conflict. These thirteen years of experience have helped me to sensitively work with vulnerable communities to better understand their social and political decision making. I am available to work on projects, provide training and facilitate workshops related to developing community resilience, conflict mitigation and pre-empting political extremism.

Get in touch

Questions and feedback are always welcome.

I feel very privileged to have been able to dedicate much of my working life to addressing what I believe are questions of profound importance to us all. I am therefore always pleased to hear back from readers and engage with their feedback. The back and forth, between myself and readers, critics and interested parties is key to improving my work. Accordingly, please feel free to get in touch via email.