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Chair: Dr Geraint Hughes, Reader in Diplomatic and Military History, Defence Studies Department

Speaker: Dr Chris Tripodi, Senior Lecturer, Defence Studies Department


Western counterinsurgency doctrine proposes that cultural intelligence is a vital requirement for forces operating amidst the unfamiliar socio-political structures often found in distant conflict zones. Yet Christian Tripodi argues that the determination to understand the often intricate nature of alien societies in the face of the frictions of war and the complex human, cultural and political ‘terrain’ of the operating environment render such efforts highly problematic.

Moreover, in their attempts to generate and instrumentalize local knowledge for the purpose of exerting influence and control, western military actors have often been drawn into the unwelcome realm of counterinsurgency as a form of political warfare. As such, their operating environment becomes a space charged with phenomena that they rarely comprehend, rarely even see, which they struggle to exert any meaningful control over. All in pursuit of a victory that might literally mean nothing.



Dr Christian Tripodi is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Defence Studies. He is previously the author of Edge of Empire: The British Political Officer on Northwest Frontier of India 1877-1947 and has published widely in the fields of strategic studies, and imperial and military history.


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Christian Tripodi

Reader in Irregular Warfare

Geraint Hughes

Reader in Diplomatic and Military History

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