Defence & Diplomacy

‘Cyberwar’, ‘populism’, ‘Trump’, ‘China’s rise’… terms that have become charged with political meaning and some fear in recent years. The topics they refer to may now be overwhelmingly pedestrian but are still worthy of our attention. Their inherent limitations in scope, however, also forces us to look beyond these buzz words and towards the broader themes they suggest.

During our first term, we will be focusing on the issue ‘Cooperation in an Isolated World?’ This implies two important questions: are international actors isolated from one another, and how can or should they cooperate? Right-leaning populist trends have emerged throughout the world, from Brazil to Germany, overwhelmingly calling to close their countries’ borders. Is international interaction bound to end as countries continue to vote in a spirit of constructed nostalgia and wall themselves off from the rest of the world? The equally growing trend of cooperation among, for instance, China and Japan, or surprisingly North and South Korea, suggests not. If cooperation continues, however, will its means change? Will it occur in all areas, including the vague cyberspace? These are questions we aim to tackle throughout the term

Term Two will be on ‘Identities in Conflict’. This seeks to explore how identities are shaped by conflict, and alternatively how conflicts politicize and construct identities. Since the French Revolution, national identities have played a crucial role in most regions of the world, shaping both the domestic but also foreign politics of countries (some newly-formed). They have been built, used, and abused throughout recent history, mobilising entire populations for better or worse, sometimes pitting man against man. But what elements constitute these identities? How are they sustained or changed over time as a country’s policy aims evolve? Most importantly, how are they used? We will particularly examine the use of national memory narratives and explore country-specific case studies.

We welcome debate and a broad range of work. If you are interested in our vision and want to contribute to our work through devising policy or research papers, please do not hesitate to contact us at

We look forward to hearing from you!

Emma Shleifer
Director, Defence & Diplomacy Policy Centre