Research Students

Professor Sidel is the current supervisor of these LSE research students:

Maha Aziz
Jacqui Baker
Mariana Escobar Arango
Alex Grainger
Kanokrat Lertchoosakul
Marie-Elisabeth Maigre-Branco
Henry Newman
Emmanuelle Poncin
Nai Rui Chng
Justine Zheng Ren

Maha Aziz

TITLE: "How Foreign Aid Has Destroyed Chances of Democracy"

Maha Aziz is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Government and the C&J Modi/Narayanan Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Her research interests include democratization, foreign aid, foreign policy, separatist movements. She won awards for teaching GV101: Introduction to Political Science at the LSE in 2007-08 and previously worked in investment banking and media.

Jacqui Baker

TITLE: "An Ethnography of the Reorganisation of the Coercive Apparatus in Indonesia's Democratic Consolidation"

Post-authoritarian Indonesia has been widely congratulated for its effective "civilianization" of the state's coercive apparatus through a reorganization of the police and military institutions and ongoing programs for their internal reform. Of all political demilitarizations within the states of Southeast Asia, Indonesia's appears to be the most "neat", having achieved an apparently smooth transition from "military" to "civilian", "green" to "blue" (Jauregui, in press), "coercive" to "persuasive" and indeed, from political "darkness" to democratic "light". A political anthropology of the great trope of "security sector reform" reveals this process as heavily scored by ambivalence and incongruity across multiple spaces and moments, from the everyday urban neighbourhood to those explicitly political and performative sites of parliament and bureaucracy.

Jacqui Baker completed her undergraduate degrees at the Australian National University where she specialised in Indonesian studies. In 2004, Jacqui was awarded the Sir General John Monash award to fund her postgraduate studies in anthropology and political science at the London School of Economics. Jacqui has worked and consulted throughout Indonesia and East Timor for the Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, The Asia Foundation, European Commission and Amnesty International on themes of Islamic education, law and security sector reform.

Mariana Escobar Arango

TITLE: "Seize the State, Seize the Way: An Approach to State Capture as a Form of Warlord Politics in Colombia"

Mariana Escobar Arango is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The phenomenon of corruption in the context of civil wars is of increasing interest in scholarly literature, but large-scale forms such as state capture have been hardly addressed. Colombia exhibits a particular case in which in many regions paramilitary warlords have succeeded in capturing the local state and have created specific frameworks of rule within formal state institutions, backed by subnational political elites and authorities, and pivoted on patron-client ties.

Unlike the latest generation of armed conflicts, Colombian warlords do not seek to deconstruct the state but to lever their strategic interests in the local status quo, and through public and private contracting of violence and protection of illegal and electoral enterprises warlords obtain benefits that feed their political, judicial and economic domains.

By addressing the question of why (conditions), how (mechanisms) and to what purpose (ultimate goal) does state capture as a form of warlord politics emerge in Colombia, I intend to elucidate and substantiate variations in the processes and outcomes of state capture in the provinces of Sucre and Norte de Santander by using a subnational comparative analysis approach. I also aim to identify causal paths for state capture, construct a typology of the most significant processes to be found within the variations identified, and introduce a model that allows tracing this particular type of process of warlord politics. The cases do not represent the whole universe of cases, yet constitute a representative important sample that allows scaling down in order to build up state capture trends for testing the generated hypotheses.

Alex Grainger

TITLE: "The role of religion in East Timorese Society Since the Indonesian Invasion"

Alex Grainger's Phd researches the role of religion in East Timor's society during its transition from Indonesian rule (1975-99) to the present, and up to the present. It examines first the influence of the Portuguese era, especially how culture and religious institutions mediated East Timorese experiences of colonialism.

Identities that subsequently emerged during Indonesian rule led to the formation of resistance groups that held religious belief as a 'last line of defence' against 'dispositional' or explicit domination. The extent to which these group's practices continue to exert influence on contemporary political discourse is often underplayed. Alex Grainger's work addresses this through a number of themes including language, education, and democratisation that shed light on how interactions between religious and cultural practices and beliefs have effected social change following the Indonesian departure in 1999.

Alex Grainger received a BA in Modern History and Politics from Royal Holloway College and an MSc in Asian Politics from SOAS. He has lived and worked in East Timor since 2004. In 2008-9 he is conducting fieldwork as a Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Scholar affiliated with the National University of Timor Lorosa'e (UNTL) in Dili. He speaks Indonesian, Tetum and conducts documentary research in Portuguese.

Kanokrat Lertchoosakul

TITLE: The Transformation of the Left Movement in Contemporary Politics: The 70s Leftist Student Activists in the Democratisation in Thailand."

This thesis aims at conceptualising the transformation of ex-Leftist activists in the process of democratisation through the case of Thai's Ex-Left Student Activists (ex-LSAs) who joined the Anti-military regime movement between 1973-1976 and the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) in the arm struggle. This attempts to answer the question of why these ex-LSAs became politically active in the contemporary democratic era, despite the decline of the Left in Thai politics. Through the three major approaches of social movement theory: framing processes, political network analysis, and political opportunity structures, this thesis examines the transformation of the ex-LSAs in the four democratic developments and transitions: the democratic mass movement overthrowing the military government in 1992; the development of the participatory in the rise of the 1990-2000 social movement; the political reform process in 1997; and the rise of the Thaksin capitalist democratic regime.

Kanokrat Lertchoosakul used to work in several NGOs promoting political rights for grassroots people, particularly those who were affected by big development projects like dams, electric plants, etc. Before starting her PhD, she was a lecturer at the Department of Government, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn Univerisy, Bangkok, Thailand. She carried on teaching and conducting research on roles of non-state actors in political process and comparative democracy.

Marie-Elisabeth Maigre-Branco

TITLE: "Islamic Cultural Reshaping in Turkey: How an Emerging Elite Captured Turkish Socio-Cultural Institutions (1990-2008)"

This thesis looks at elite life in Turkey and its transformation since the 1990s as a new Islamic upper class rises into positions of power within institutions that have been traditionally dominated by the secular establishment. The thesis argues that through participation in institutions such as education, the media and business, as well professional associations, Islamic elites have not only influenced public and cultural life in Turkey, they have also been reshaped by those social bodies in a process of osmosis.

Marie-Elisabeth Maigre-Branco is a busy part-time student with the self-set mission of combining a career in business consulting with her interest for academic research and contemporary Turkish issues. After spending her first twenty years in France, she lived and studied for long periods of time in Madrid, Barcelona, Istanbul, and Boston before settling down in London in 2006.

Henry Newman

TITLE: "An Analysis of Arab and Persian Shia Ecumenical Movements from the Persian Constitutional Revolution to the Outbreak of World War One"

Henry Newman read Persian with Islamic Studies/History at Christ Church, Oxford; he then studied for a Masters in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard as a Frank Knox Fellow. He has served as a Teaching Fellow for a course on "Political Islam" at Harvard's Government Department. For the last two years he has been Professor Charles Tripp's tutor at SOAS for his course in the "Government and Politics of the Middle East". Last year he worked as an external tutor in politics for Lincoln College, Oxford; and this spring, he taught a seminar class in Nineteenth Century Iranian History at the University of York. His research has been supported by scholarships from the Wingate Foundation, Houtan Foundation, Spalding Trust, Council for British Research on the Levant, British Institute of Persian Studies, Sir Richard Stapley Fund as well as by funds from LSE's Government department. In January of this year he passed his upgrade from MPhil to PhD status.

Henry's thesis examines early Twentieth Century Sunni/Shia ecumenical thought, and particularly analyses why Shia, both Persian and Arab, switch towards conceptualizing Sunnis as fellow Muslims rather than as heretical infidels. As such his project informs us about the construction (both by laity and religious scholars) of Muslim doctrine and the relationship between the content of this doctrine and the more secular context of social, political and economic phenomena of the time. He has an advanced command of both Arabic and Persian and his thesis is based on detailed reading of source materials in these languages.

Emmanuelle Poncin

TITLE: "Community Driven Development and Local Politics: Kalahi-CIDSS in the Philippines"

Despite the increasing popularity of community-driven development (CDD), an explicitly political participatory approach aiming at improving local governance and empowering citizens, its effects on local politics are not well understood. Through the in-depth study of four barangays (villages) of the Central Visayas at a time of political campaigning, I seek to account for the diversity of evolutions undergone in local political fields after CDD. To track such evolutionary processes, I will compare barangays' political trajectories and ask whether and how political practices have evolved after CDD's implementation.

Before joining the LSE to conduct my PhD, I earned a licence (1st) in social sciences and languages, for which I studied at Grenoble University, France, and Nagoya University, Japan. There, I developed a long-lasting interest for East and South-East Asian politics and development, which I have pursued during my MA (Merit) in International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS. I spent the two subsequent years between Bangkok and London in research and policy positions for the UNDP and NGOs (Global Witness, National Autistic Society).

Nai Rui Chng

TITLE: "Even Flow: Privatising Water and Mobilising Power in the Philippines"

Nai Rui Chng will complete his PhD in Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 2009. At the LSE, he has also earned an MRes (merit) in Political Science (2006) and an MSc (merit) in Political Sociology (2003). He received his BA (first class honours with distinction) in Politics from the University of York in 2000.

His research interests are contentious politics (social movements and civil society) and politics of regulation and development. He has published articles and book chapters on water privatisation, citizenship, development, social movements, and civil society. At the LSE he has taught classes on democracy and democratisation.

Nai Rui Chng also has a background in advocacy and consultancy. He has worked for MPs in the Singapore Parliament and the British House of Commons. Previously active in Singaporean civil society on migrant worker issues and human rights, he has also conducted research for international development agencies and local NGOs in Indonesia, the Philippines and the United Kingdom.

His thesis investigates the politics of privatisation and contentious collective action in the water sector in the Philippines. It examines the complex interplay of diverse forces in the everyday politics of water in metropolitan Manila. The thesis illustrates how multilateral institutions like the World Bank, transnational corporations, progressive social movements, and local machine politicians have converged to play key roles in shaping the regulation of water provision in the developing world. Thus, it is argued that to understand the material realities and lived experiences of the urban poor in cities like Metro Manila, close attention must be paid to patterns of contestation, competition, and collaboration among a diverse array of actors, across local, national, and international levels of analysis.

Justine Zheng Ren

TITLE: "Nationalists as Emerging Citizens: Protecting the Diaoyu Islands Movement in China's Transforming Society"

While the rise of nationalism in contemporary China has received wide coverage, most empirical work has focused on transitory mass demonstration occurring in direct response to some international stimuli and its passivity under the assumed or real state manipulation. By brining new empirical sources into research, this thesis aims to unfold an enduring nationalism social movement in China, looking at how the negotiation of political boundaries and the reshaping of political space become possible in an authoritarian state through the case of China.

Zheng Ren's research interests are politics, namely politics of China, citizenship, clientelism, nationalism, social movements, China-US-Japan relations. She's also interested in policy, and more specifically, EU-China interdependencies on climate change, implementation of low carbon zone in China and its social effects.