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New Voices in Global Security Lunchtime Seminar: Methods and Methodologies in Knowing Security

King's Building, Strand Campus, London

15 Jan globalsecurity2

Speakers: Benham Soodavar and Miranda Melcher

Discussant: Amanda Chisholm

Seminar Abstract:

Methods and methodologies are key, and yet often under-discussed, as fundamental to how knowledge is created and sustained. This first new voices seminar with engage with the vibrant and diverse research methods, how they link to theory and have underpinned new knowledge for both presenters. Taking two very diverse research project, this seminar will detail how methods informed choice of the research question, concepts used and underpinned the ways in which knowledge is produced. Miranda will detail her methodology and method choices in archival, secondary sources and elite interviewing to produce new knowledge on how we think about post-conflict military integration, with focus on Mozambique and Angola. Ben will talk about how he’s drawn upon particular methods to explore how rhetoric is practiced and performed with voting behaviour in the UN Security Council. For this event we particularly encourage students to attend to learn how research evolves and works in practice.


Miranda Melcher is a PhD candidate at King’s College London in the Department of Defense Studies and an Auditeur Libres at the Ecole de Guerre in Paris for the 2019-20 academic year.She took her Master of War degree, with Distinction, in Intelligence and International Security at the War Studies Department of King’s College. Her MA thesis was “The Devil is in the Details: Analysing Angola’s Four Peace Treaties for Success Factors in Post-Conflict Military Reintegration.” She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Yale University, where she began her ongoing research into post-conflict military reintegration. Her senior thesis “Examining Post-Conflict Military Reconstruction and Civil War Recurrence: The Case of Lebanon,” received the highest mark awarded. Miranda has conducted military-focused research into various civil wars at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC. She has also served as a research analyst at the US-Asia Law Institute for Jerome Cohen. Miranda grew up in Beijing, China, has advanced Mandarin skills and maintains an active interest in China’s security and initiatives in Africa and the Middle East.

Miranda Melcher

Ben Soodavar is a PhD candidate at King’s College London in War Studies Department. His research explores the impact of rhetoric on United Nations Security Council voting behaviour and seeks to understand which rhetorical strategy is employed by diplomats to persuade others to vote in line with their interests, during periods of security crisis management? More precisely, it investigates the relationship between the strategic framing of language associated with loss and the voting behaviour of UNSC member states within specific case studies (Libya, 2011 and Syria, 2013). It draws on a rich literature within political psychology as a way of bridging this causal gap. Ben’s research leverages prospect theory and incorporates it into a developed theoretical framework which takes into account the interaction between cognitive biases (loss aversion) and emotions (fear). In doing so, this study situates itself at the intersection between political psychology and international relations and aims to contribute to this literature, by conducting an original psychological study of rhetoric and its tactical use to influence the attitudes of U.N diplomats. It moves beyond the current debate surrounding soft power, public diplomacy and strategic narratives as the primary causal mechanisms which influence political outcomes. It demonstrates the utility of rhetorical strategies that manipulate facts and strategically use emotive language associated with loss, as a way of exploiting the cognitive biases of elite decision-makers. Overall, Ben’s work aims to bring this micro-level approach to studying UN voting behaviour within the remit of International Relations (IR) and to further strengthen the case for prospect theory

Benham Soodavar2
Ben Soodavar

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