Author profile: Adam Groves

Adam Groves

Adam Groves has an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy from Oxford University and a BSc in International Relations from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Adam co-founded the website in November 2007.

In Defence of the Freakshow: Critical Approaches to International Relations and the Social Sciences

As thinkers such as Steve Smith have noted, whilst the positivist mainstream approaches continues to dominate the social sciences—and in particular Americanised disciplines such as International Relations—there have been gradual moves in Europe towards more reflectivist alternatives (2000). In light of this, it’s pertinent to ask whether approaches such as genealogy, dialectics and critical theory represent a useful diversion, or whether they are merely a distraction from what we should be doing.

Compare and Contrast Contemporary Citizenship on the Left in Venezuela and Brazil

The resurgence of ‘the left’ in Latin America has received a great deal of attention from policy makers, academics and journalists alike. The November 2006 victory of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua is merely the most recent in a string of electoral triumphs which has seen Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia come under the control of leftist governments. Following five decades in which civil, political and socio-economic rights have been damaged variously by authoritarianism, neo-liberalism and clientelism, many hope that a new era may be on the horizon.

Discuss and Evaluate the Relationship between Poverty and Terrorism

Following the September 2001 attack on America’s ‘World Trade Centre’, the ‘causes of terrorism’ has been a subject of intense investigation and speculation. Despite the educated and generally wealthy backgrounds of the 9/11 hijackers, poverty has been cited by numerous world leaders and respected academics as a central and direct cause of terrorism in the twenty first century. However, recent studies have suggested that there is little or no direct causal link between poverty and insurgent terrorism.

How Useful are ‘national’ and/or ‘nationalist’ Frames when Analysing the ‘Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People’ in the Niger Delta?

The epic struggle between the Ogoni, an African tribe with deep roots in the environment of the Niger Delta, and Royal Dutch/Shell, one of the world’s most powerful multinational oil companies, is a story which has caught the imagination of ‘Western’ publics. However, whilst there is little doubt over Shell’s devastating role in the Delta, the understanding of the Ogoni ‘nation’ as natural guardians of the Delta’s Eden-like environment deserves our critical analysis. Is this anything more than simply a story?

Discuss the Significance of Aid and Peace Dividends for the Prospects of Post Conflict Stability

This essay will discuss the significance of aid and peace dividends in the context of positive and negative outcomes and consequences of its existence. Mid-conflict aid will be discussed in addition to follow-up aid programs, as a pointer to its legacy in post conflict stability. It would not be possible to discuss such a large topic without focussing on particular examples and therefore this essay will draw on examples of aid in the conflicts between Israel and Palestine and in Northern Ireland.

The Cause of Positivism’s Dominance

This essay will critically analyse the notion that there is a fundamental difference between the tasks of ‘explaining’ (comprehending ‘causes’) and ‘understanding’ (comprehending ‘reasons’). First, the essay will examine the emergence of the sharp division, which has come to be accepted as existent between ‘explaining’ (which is advocated by positivists) and ‘understanding’ (which is advocated by post-positivists). Second, one important consequence of the division will be demonstrated by showing how the intellectual battles between positivists and post-positivists, as well as the occasional attempts at reconciliation between them, have been instrumental in positivism’s dominance. Finally, the work of Milja Kurki will be drawn upon to argue that the concept of causation should be broadened, thereby exposing the interrelated nature of ‘explaining’ and ‘understanding’ without reducing one to the other. This will allow for positivism’s dominance to be effectively challenged.

The Politics of Aid: Helping Darfur?

The Politics of Aid: Helping Darfur?

In Darfur aid keeps over 2 million people alive amidst huge insecurity and the mobilisation of extremist politics. However, the humanitarian effort appears to be having unintended political consequences. There is some evidence that humanitarian access is being manipulated to suit government interests; IDP camps have become integrated into the conflict dynamic through the manipulation of population movements; aid is being diverted by military factions; and inter-tribal tensions are being exacerbated. Further research is required to determine the extent of these processes and exactly how they are affecting the course of the conflict.

The Construction of a ‘Liberation’: Gender and the ‘National Liberation Movement’ in Zimbabwe

Working within a constructivist framework, this essay will show that the process of ‘imagining communities’ (Anderson, 1993) and ‘inventing traditions’ (Hobsbawm and Ranger, 1983) had very different consequences for the men and women of Zimbabwe’s national liberation movement.

Are Sanctions an Appropriate Tool for Coercion in International Politics? Why?

The increasing use of sanctions as an instrument of coercion in the international system has been noted with alarm by academics and humanitarian agencies alike. Despite observations that they ‘do not work’ (Pape, 1997) and cause intolerable human suffering (Gordon, 1999) sanctions have become the ‘standard reaction to a crisis’ (Mayall, 1984: 631). It appears that policymakers continue to view them as an appropriate tool for coercion in international politics despite their highlighted deficiencies.

What Strategy would you Pursue when Dealing with Iran in 2007? Why?

Since the turn of the century, Iran has emerged as an increasingly powerful actor in the Middle East. However, Tehran’s Islamist regime is seen to pose a number of political and security challenges to both neighbouring and ‘western’ states. The question of how to respond to the assertive and confrontational policies of the hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has therefore proved to be a hot topic for the media, academics and politicians alike. This essay will consider what strategy western states should pursue with regards to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, an issue of central importance for regional and global stability. Whilst this is merely one of many Iranian policies that needs ‘dealing with’ from a western perspective, it is widely considered to be the most significant threat and, thus, is a useful case study through which to consider relations between the West and Iran more generally.

What have been the Central Objectives of British Foreign Policy since the end of the Cold War?

With the end of the Cold War, Britain’s position in world politics was ambiguous and the future direction of its foreign policy uncertain. Torn between the increasingly divergent interests of Europe and America, the familiar charge that Britain had lost an empire and was struggling to find a role seemed difficult to dismiss. In this essay, I will critically assess Labour’s attempts to define a new role for Britain in the post Cold War era.

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