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Dr Claire Smith
Senior Lecturer



Claire Smith is a comparative political scientist whose research focuses on conflict and peace studies, especially in Southeast Asia. Her research interests include democratisation, war-to-peace transitions, humanitarian interventions, ethno-religious violence, mass atrocities, civil war and the politics of development in contested states. She has a special interest in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. She teaches in the areas of development politics, Southeast Asian politics, conflict, peace and state building. Her secondary research interests include horizontal inequalities, gender politics and political Islam.

Claire co-founded the ‘Peacebuilding in Asia Scholars Forum’, an international network between LSE, ANU, Tufts, Turin, NUS, Leeds, Melbourne, Yangon and Colombo conducting comparative work on illiberal peacebuilding in Asia. The network launched at the University of Yangon, Myanmar, with a workshop on “States of Peace in Asia”, in June 2015. She recently completed a two-year research project on the comparative politics of mass atrocity endings in modern Indonesia and Timor-Leste, with funding from the World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. 

Claire holds a PhD in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2009). Before joining the Department as a Lecturer in Politics in 2011, she was a Teaching Fellow at the LSE and at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She also held a Visiting Fellowship at the Crisis States Research Centre at the LSE in 2010. Claire holds an MA in International Affairs from Columbia University (2001) and a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Balliol College, Oxford University (1997).



Claire's research interests are in the comparative politics of democratic transition, regime change and political transformation. She has a broad interest in the politics of development and "governance", and is particularly interested in the politics of ethno-religious violence, mass atrocities and civil war. Recently her work has concentrated on the politics of peacebuilding and statebuilding in post-conflict states. Her empirical research focuses on Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia and Timor-Leste. 


I am currently writing a book manuscript on the comparative politics of endings to mass atrocities in the context of civil war in modern Indonesia and Timor-Leste, Anatomy of a contested state: Mass atrocities, civil war and political transition in Indonesia.  I have three current research projects on the governance of endings to violence and peacebuilding in Southeast Asia:-

Co-Convenor, “States of Peace in Asia”, International Network project on the comparative politics of illiberal peacebuilding in Asia, with Rajesh Venugopal (LSE) and Nicholas Farrelly (ANU). Seed-corn funded by the University of York, ANU and LSE (2014-2015). Launch workshop: University of Yangon, Myanmar, June 2015. Media link:

Principle investigator, "How Mass Atrocities End: Theory and Evidence from Indonesia and Timor-Leste", funded by the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School, Tufts University (2012-2014). Project website:

Senior Research Fellow, "Closing the Governance Gap: Rebuilding State-Society relations in Post-war Timor-Leste", funded by The Asia Foundation and the Justice and Security Research Programme at the London School of Economics (2013-2014). Research report website:


I supervise in the areas of development politics, conflict and peace studies broadly, and Southeast Asian politics in particular. I currently have PhD students working on topics related to corruption in Indonesian politics, militant Islamism in Southeast Asia, illegal migration and citizenship in Cambodia and the comparative politics of defence budgets in developing countries. I have also supervised a PhD on gender politics in the US military to completion. I am keen to supervise projects in any of my research areas.

Contact details

Dr Claire Smith
Department of Politics
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 322643

Feedback and guidance hours, Online appointments (Spring term): Research leave