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Our research

More than a decade of researching peacebuilding and state-building in Africa shows that the nature of the state is invariably at the core of the challenge of conflict relapse. We need to re-examine the evolution and role of the state in building and sustaining peace. The liberal peacebuilding approach has not managed to devlier stable peace. However, state-building remains a factor that cannot be easily jettisoned. So, the questions remain:

  • what is the role of the state in the path to stable peace?
  • how is society impacted by the state and visa versa?

Our research interrogates the challenges of peacebuilding, conflict and insecurity in Africa. We examine the 'state' in Africa through our six research groups.

Our research groups

This research group interrogates the perspectives, visions and expectations of current future types of peace amongst a critical social group in Africa, namely young people. This includes questioning the predominant vision of peace among Africa’s youth and future leaders, and exploring what they see as greatest sources of insecurity for African youth and Africa in general. The group engages the core ideas and most viable strategies for sustaining peace as proposed or envisaged by young Africans.

This research group critically interrogates extant and dominant theories on statehood (across the ideological spectrum) and their utility for the African context across time. It explores the key questions such as:

* What notions and models of statehood exist in Africa?
* Who is the state, who identifies with the state, with whom does the state identify?
* Whom are state policies and ‘development’ meant to benefit?
* And what are the implications of these models for peace, security and socio-economic outcomes?

This research group explores the historical conceptualisation and interpretation of empirical realities of statehood in Africa across a range of periods. The re-visitation of the ideas and realities of statehood in Africa is guided by an appraisal of how evolution in conceptualisation and interpretation of statehood over specific periods has shaped approaches to peace, security and development.

This also raises the question of what factors differentiate the experiences of statehood in Africa from other places? Some of the periods to be examined might include, the pre-colonial; colonial; second industrial revolution; the Second World War and post-colonial and post-independence periods.

This research group focuses on the dynamics within societal contexts with emphasis on how various entities and actors are influencing the construct of African states and notions of statehood. The group interrogates the extent to which the internal dynamics in African societal responses to security and development challenges are compelling a change in the state and manifestations of statehood.

In particular it explores the following questions:

* How are evolutions in technology and new media altering societal responses to security and development challenges?
* How are these dynamics and evolutions influencing notions of statehood in Africa?
* And what justice and peace issues (puzzles) are brought to the fore by these dynamics and evolutions.

This research group considers how regionalism and regionalisation, including the pivotal role of nodal entities (individuals, groups and states) and processes, have evolved across time and how these dynamics have impacted on African statehood. It is guided by questions such as:

* To what extent are notions of regionalism and regions changing in Africa?
* To what extent are the changes signposting the evolution of the ‘regions’ and ‘regionalism’ of the future, and what are the implications for statehood in Africa?
* How are evolutions and changes in regionalism shaping or altering notions of nodality and nodal states and regions in Africa?
* And what peace, security, socio-economic and political outcomes are emerging from these evolutions and changes?

This research group focuses on the interface between international political-economy contexts and the notions and realities of African statehood across times. It is underlined by the assumption that Africa and Africa states exist in a global context where the policies, actions or inactions, and practices of major political-economy actors shape the identities, character, functions and ideological orientations of statehood.

This group is guided by questions such as:

* How have changes in the international environment influenced notions of statehood in Africa over time?
* How are global economic, security and political events impinging on the African states and shaping development and security outcomes on the continent?


Selected publications


More publications

The African Fashion Futures podcast

Co-hosted by Dr Eka Ekpe, the 'Africa Fashion Futures' podcast provides an opportunity to hear from academics and industry experts about the fascinating world of African fashion.

In partnership with the the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, the series explores fashion as not only a sector of the world economy, but also as a lens to explore cultural expression, memory politics and the making of traditions, as well as broader economic and social impact of the creative economy.

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Our COVID-19 research

Our Africa-focused op-ed series tracks, analyses and reflects on COVID-19 in and for Africa. The global pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of different political systems, state structures and state-society dynamics across rich and poor, developed and developing, and so-called ‘strong’ and ‘fragile’ states.

Our series explores the marginality of Africa, as well as its circumstances and experiences of COVID-19 in scholarly and policy debates and discussions.

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Our research events

Africa Week

Africa Week

Africa Week is an annual celebration of research, education and outreach activities on Africa.



Our events explore the latest thinking on peacebuilding, leadership, security and development.

Journal of Leadership and Developing Societies

We established the Journal of Leadership and Developing Societies in 2016 to motivate original thinking and high-quality analysis on the interaction between leadership and the security-development nexus, with a global focus on the developing world.

The academic peer-reviewed journal fills an important gap by examining leadership as a distinctive aspect of security and development processes and not simply as a by-product of institution building. It provides empirically grounded analysis of the interactions between security and development; and bridges the theory and practice of leadership in developing societies.


African perspectives on peacebuilding and leadership

This series interrogates issues at the intersection of security, conflict and development in Africa, focussing in particular on the relationship between the state and the wider society from which it emerges. Guided by the promotion of Africa-led ideas and respect for independent thinking, it presents exemplary research, fieldwork and theoretical insights into the society-based changes impacting the continent today.

Authors include Dr Barney Walsh, Visiting Professor Youssef Mahmoud and alumnus Mbiatem Albert.

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Digital Outreach and Knowledge Management

The ALC Data Lab is a platform dedicated to providing open data analyses, scalable data explorations, and robust data visualizations for security, peacebuilding and development related-themes across the African continent.

It is a project borne out of the need for a veritable and reliable data warehouse, with great ease of access for policymakers, researchers and interested scholars across the African continent. We are harnessing the tools of big data and other cutting-edge digital technologies to provide this access.

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Explore the African Leadership Centre

Research across the Global Institutes

Our cross-cutting thematic research groups, which bring together members from across the five institutes, bring a diverse approach to some of the most pressing issues facing the world today.


News and events from the King's Global Institutes