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Student Profiles

Nijmeh Ali

NijmehI grew up in Haifa, in an internal refugee family originally from Mia’ar, a small village that was destroyed during the 1948 war, in the Galilee of Palestine.

I finished my B.A degree at Haifa University, studying Political Science, Sociology & Anthropology. I completed my MA research in the Political Science Department at the Hebrew University, specializing in “Democracy and Citizenship Theories”. I am interested in civic education, and its impact on forming and framing a diverse citizenship contexts, while asking the question of, “who and what” is a “good citizen”. I believe in promoting citizenship education through citizenship engagement; because of that I affiliated myself with practical activism.

My MA research is based on social and political movement theory, emphasizing the diverse aspects of resistance in the Palestinian struggle, through investigating the popular culture and the particularity of local activism as resisting tools for statehood in front of the Israeli occupation. Also, as a trigger for political and social behavior change among Palestinians, in the internal Palestinian society during liberation process. My case study is the first Intifada, and “traditional music” as a political active player in reshaping the Palestinian struggle, politically and socially.

For my Ph.D. in the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies I will concentrate on the Palestinian citizens of Israel as an indigenous people, emphasizing the tension between citizenship and nationality in sustainable conflict.

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Monica Carrer

Monica CarrerMy PhD research project focuses on the Maoist conflict in India, more precisely in rural areas of West Bengal. My study places the local civilian groups at the core of the analytical framework, and seeks to understand their role in shaping the dynamics of conflict at a local level and in building a discourse of peace. Through this study I seek to go beyond predominant myths and narratives on tribal and poor peasants, and achieve a deep understanding of the experience, perceptions and attitudes of these people.
My Indian origins and my experience in India gave me the inspiration and motivation to study human rights and peace and conflict studies. I graduated with full marks in Political Science, International Relations and Human Rights from the University of Padua (Italy) in 2010 and achieved a MA in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College London with Distinction.
Since I joined National Centre for Peace and Conflict at the University of Otago I found myself surrounded by people genuinely committed to give a contribution to peace. As a result, the Centre is not only in a very rich and stimulating environment from an academic point of view, but it is also also very friendly, open and welcoming. Coming to the other corner of the world for this adventure was definitely worthwhile!

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Marie Nissanka

Marie_standingMarie’s background in commerce, development studies, and knowledge management are complemented by her work experience in the areas of strategy development, policy and business analysis in the public and non-profit sectors. Marie has over seven years of work experience in the New Zealand public sector, as a policy, reporting and business analyst. Her work predominantly involved qualitative and quantitative data analysis, results-based monitoring, as well as output and outcome evaluation.

Marie has also worked extensively in the non-profit sector, by conducting research, measuring outcomes and strategic planning. Marie's main research interests are reducing educational inequalities, multicultural education, action research, organisational learning, knowledge management and evaluation methodologies. Marie’s Masters thesis investigated organisational learning in humanitarian organisations, while her PhD researches multiculturalism in the Citizenship Education curriculum in Sri Lanka.

Hafiza Yazdani

Hafiza YazdanyI recently joined the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies to learn more about peace and start a new journey towards a PhD in peace education.

I would like to investigate ethnic groups conflict in Afghanistan and its effect on the progress of the state peace and development processes. Ethnicity preference perception which has been challenging Afghanistan for decades, remains an obstacle to peace and an integrated society. The conflict among the ethnic groups is one of the critical reasons affecting the peace position and development progress in Afghanistan.

I would like to focus on common interests among the youth of different ethnic groups and attitudes to peace and an integrated society in Afghanistan future. I am eager to know how the youth of Afghanistan can contribute to peace and development.

I studied the Peace and Conflict Resolution Program MA Program in Austria, and graduated from Social Science, Sociology Department BA Program, Kabul Educational University, Afghanistan. Besides that I have worked in peace programs and projects since 2005 focusing on Gender and Women's Rights.

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Robbie Francis

Robbie 1Robbie Francis is a 26-year-old kiwi who lives with phocomelia syndrome, which means she was born without most of the bones in her lower legs. After major reconstructive surgery she now wears a prosthetic limb called Lucy Leg and lives knowing that her other leg may also need to be amputated one day.

Despite living with a disability, Robbie’s achievements have been recognised with prestigious awards, including a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution and Mediation at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel. 

More recently, Robbie returned from living in Mexico where she interned as a human rights monitor for Disability Rights International. Having witnessed first hand the appalling conditions that people with disabilities live in, Robbie decided she wanted to be an active part of the solution. In 2014 Robbie established The Lucy Foundation – an organisation that connects the dots between business, trade, employment, poverty and disability. The first Lucy project is based in southern Mexico and addresses the training, employment and human rights of indigenous persons with disabilities through organic coffee production.

Robbie is a part-time long-distance student at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago. She is in the first year of her PhD, focusing on human rights and the protection of people with disabilities during armed conflict.

Aidan Gnoth

AidanI’m a second year PhD student at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict studies. My research interests are on humanitarian intervention and peace operations and my doctoral project focuses on the ways in which academics seek to transform practice and theory in pursuit of a more positive and durable peace. I am particularly interested in how academics attempt to contest orthodox and mainstream approaches to peacebuilding which typically reify conflict promoting structural factors.

I finished my undergraduate studies (Politics with Honours) at Otago University in 2010 where my research dissertation focused on the interaction between regional organisations and the United Nations during peace operations in South Sudan and the Solomon Islands. In 2013 I completed my Masters thesis at Victoria University in Wellington (NZ) where I sought to understand how regional organisations (ASEAN, AU, and OAS) had interpreted the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ norm. During this time I worked as a course and tutor co-ordinator for several papers on security and International Relations and interned at the New Zealand Council for International Development. After completing my degree I worked as a political advisor in local government before moving back to Dunedin to undertake my Doctoral studies.

Joe Llewellyn


I started my PhD at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) in February 2015 after recieving a scholarship from the Rei Foundation. Previously, I completed an MA and a PGDip at NCPACS.

My research up to this point has focused on nonviolence and nonviolent resistance movements. My most recent project looked at the effects of different types of nonviolent revolutions on democratisation. Before this I explored the role of Gene Sharp’s work on the successful ‘Otpor’ movement in Serbia. Prior to my work in peace and conflict studies, I completed an undergraduate degree in occupational therapy and I am currently registered as a non-practicing occupational therapist. I also have a background in peace activism.

My current research is exploring anarcho-pacifist nonviolence, which explicitly rejects all forms of direct, structural and cultural violence as a means and as an end. I am exploring how anarcho-pacifism can be utilised in order to create peaceful societies. As part of this research I am conducting interviews with anarcho-pacifists and proponents of Gandhian nonviolence in Aotearoa New Zealand, India, and the United States.

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Kieran Ford

Kieran FordI began my PhD here in March 2016, focussing my research on an examination of the impact of UK counter-radicalisation programmes, laws and strategies on schools and school students. By law, schools must teach what have been termed ‘Fundamental British Values’ in order to prevent young people from being at risk of so-called radicalisation – being at risk of joining extremist or terrorist organisations. I’m interested in exploring the implications of this normative values-based education for students, when such values are caught in a web of fighting extremism and terrorism.

For many years I have been passionate about education, and have worked in both formal and informal educational contexts. For a number of years I worked with the socialist and co-operative youth education movement, The Woodcraft Folk, engaging with young people and children on issues including peace, violence and war. The commitments to engaging with young people on these issues led us at times to be chastised as ‘indoctrinating’ young people. I think it is this tension between a commitment to a set of values and a commitment to facilitating democratic platforms for young people to become empowered to envision and enact the future they desire for themselves, that has driven my fascination with the UK Government’s current commitment to so-called Fundamental British Values. Is the UK government displaying a mode of indoctrination for a peaceful future? Can education escape indoctrination? Is indoctrination violent? Is education violent?

I grew up in the UK, completing a BSc in International Politics at Aberystwyth University in 2012 before completing an MPhil in Education at the University of Cambridge in 2015.

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Natasha Jolly

NatashaI began my stint as a PhD Candidate at the NCPACS in April 2016. My research project involves looking into reconciliation in post conflict communities, through the use of restorative processes to deal with the aftermath of sexual and gender based violence. My interest in transitional justice, interpersonal relational repair and gender issues in conflict was born out of a work placement as a pro bono legal assistant at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague. I have trained as a lawyer, having joined the Bar in India in 2012. I also have Masters Degree specialisations in Public International Law and International Peace and Security from University College London and King’s College London specifically. I have had the opportunity to hone my skills in the human rights and humanitarian fields through internships at various domestic and international institutions. Currently, I am continuing my training as a conflict mediator and negotiator under the auspices of the NCPACS.

I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of this inspiring cohort of academics and especially to be supervised by Dr. Heather Devere and Prof. Kevin Clements. I look forward to seeing my academic and professional endeavours come to fruition, while contributing to the growth of NCPACS as a doctoral candidate.

Jolly, N.T. (2016). Review of Umbreit, M. & Armour, M. P. (2011), Restorative Justice Dialogue: An Essential Guide for Research and Practice. New York: Springer Publishing. In Internet Journal of Restorative Justice, November 2016, ISSN (online): 2056-2985.

Michael Fusi Ligaliga

M Ligaliga 2I started by PhD in February 2015. My research examines whether there are aspects within Faa Samoa that influence domestic violence in Samoa. Numerous researches have examined Samoa’s protective and preventative mechanisms against Domestic violence that are specific to Faa Samoa, but little is known whether or not there are other aspect(s) within Faa Samoa that contribute(s) or influence(s) domestic violence in Samoa. My research employs Galtung’s Typology of Violence to understand Samoa’s domestic violence issues. Galtung suggests there are three types of violence—direct, structural and cultural and that direct violence is reinforced by structural and cultural violence. The aim of the research is to examine whether or not there are example(s) of structural and cultural violence in Faa Samoa and if they (structure and cultural violence) reinforce direct violence (domestic violence) as suggested by Galtung’s Typology of Violence.

I received my BA in Political Science and International Peacebuilding from Brigham Young University Hawaii (BYUH) in 2010. In 2012, I completed my PGDip and MA from the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. I then returned to BYU Hawaii as a lecturer where I taught peace and conflict theory, indigenous peacebuilding and mediation classes. During my time at BYU Hawaii I became the Acting Director of the David. O McKay Centre for Intercultural Understanding which is the Peace Centre for BYU Hawaii. In 2015, I returned to NCPACS to pursue my PhD.

Ligaliga, M.F., & Devere, H. (2013). Covenant or Contract? The Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa 1962. The Journal of Pacific Studies, 33 (2), 116-130.
Ligaliga, M.F (2017, May 22) Indigenous Peacebuilding methods: Understanding Va: A Samoan Perspective. Lecture presented at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Ligaliga, M. F (2015) Faa Samoa? Peacebuilder or Peacebreaker? Proceedings of the Pacific Postgraduate Symposium: Pacific Voices VIII. Dunedin, New Zealand: Pacific Island Centre, University of Otago.

Tonga Karena

TongaHe pūāwai au no runga i te tikanga, he rau rengarenga au no roto i te raukura ko taku raukura rā he manawanui ki te ao! (Te Whiti o Rongomai)

For the most part of my academic career I’ve been involved in teaching Te Reo Maori at various levels from developing honors papers in Te Reo as well as being part of community revitalisation of their own tribal dialect. The creative field of contemporary and traditional Maori music and composition of Maori forms of music has also been a passionate interest. Participating in the role of the maintenance of language, cultural norms, epistimologies and its literary expressions revealed the extent to which bridging the cultural divide is fraught with challenges. Moreover as an active tribal member of Taranaki Iwi, and my own papa kāinga at Parihaka the home of the peace movement established in 1866 revealed a legacy of peace and culture that has yet to be analysed witihin a peace studies framework.

The central foci of my doctoral thesis aims to draw upon the cultural legacies of Parihaka and to posit the ontological perspectives of the past and present within the social and academic context of peace studies. Unravelling these threads will generate the discursive formations that will be part of a normative and philosphical framework that can allow the Parihaka experience to be relived and potentially instutionalised in the current political settings of Aotearoa/NewZealand.

Hyukmin Kang

HyukminAs one of the blessed early-stage academics, I embarked on my PhD journey at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) on September, 2017. At the Centre, I focus on the dynamics between religious narrative and forgiveness in reconciliation processes. Borrowing theological discourses, as well as Dialogical Self Theory, I explore how religious individuals who are victimised by political or collective violence cope with their deep trauma and desires for vengeance when they meet religious calls for forgiveness.

Prior to my PhD research at NCPACS, I studied theology in South Korea and ecumenical studies in University of Bonn, Germany. After conducting my first masters degree, I switched my academic field from theological studies to peace and conflict studies, pursuing my second masters at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. My two masters theses are entitled “The Religious Factors in the Balkan Conflict since the 1990s" and “Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland.”

Apart from my academic journey, I have experienced a variety of religious education and worked for various NGOs in different countries. Recently, I have been involved in a genocide research group and a legislation network for the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in South Korea.

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Jeremy Simons

Jeremy Simons is a trainer, consultant, and researcher with expertise in Conflict Transformation (CT), Restorative Justice (RJ), Appreciative Inquiry (AI), and accompanying Indigenous Peoples (IP) in peacebuilding advocacy.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Jeremy earned a BA in International Affairs (1997, Gordon College USA) and MA in Conflict Transformation (2002) from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. Afterward completing his graduate studies, Jeremy, along with his family, lived in Denver (USA) for 7 years in an urban poor community, accompanying various organizations as a community organizer and restorative justice coordinator. Between 2004-08, in partnership with the local Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Denver Public Schools, and the advocacy organization Padres Unidos, he helped develop and implement the first large scale, urban, public school district restorative justice program in the United States.

In 2008 Jeremy returned to the Philippines as a development consultant and trainer, where he co-developed the Community-Based Restorative Justice Course at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute while working in monitoring and evaluation of the institute's resource-based conflict transformation program. Jeremy has supported asset-based community development programs among Lumad (IP) and Moro (Muslim) communities of Mindanao and has conducted RJ, CT, and AI training and workshops in various academic, organizational, religious, and community organizations across the Philippines. From 2014-16 he taught as adjunct faculty of conflict transformation at the Asian Theological Seminary in Quezon City, Philippines. Jeremy helped edit the publication "Moving Beyond: Towards Transitional Justice in the Bangsamoro" and has been published in various print and on-line media, in particular for the information service. He has presented at conferences in Japan (2014), Bangladesh (2015), and Otago (2017), and his doctoral research revolves around the elucidation of restorative leadership for transformative justice in the Asian and Mindanao context.

Nick Tobia

Nick TobiaMy professional background is broadly in the field of human rights, and with specific engagements in peace issues related to insurgency, impunity crimes in counter-insurgency, armed conflict, internal displacement, and political settlements in the context of mediated intrastate peace processes. I have worked on these issues in the government, inter-government and non-government sectors, with recent posts in the ASEAN Secretariat and The Asia Foundation.

Prior to the PhD program in Otago, I earned my master's degrees in human rights at the University of Sydney (MA Human Rights and Democratisation) and Mahidol University (MA in Human Rights), through the European Union-USyd MHRD Asia-Pacific Scholarship. I also earned an MSc in Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala Universitet through the Rotary Peace Fellowship. I am a grantee under the Global Peace Index 2016 Ambassadorial Program of the Institute of Economics and Peace and Rotary International.

I am conducting my PhD research at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies through the REI Foundation scholarship. The subject of the research is on multiple non-state armed groups and intrastate peace processes, specifically on the challenges to broad inclusiveness in formal track negotiations.

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Jonathan Sutton


I received my Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the NCPACS in 2012. After living and working overseas for a short period I returned in 2015 to begin my Ph.D. research thanks to a Rei Foundation scholarship.

My research is on the outcome of mass nonviolent protests in authoritarian regimes, and focuses on the question of how opposition movements are able to work with political elites to build a broad coalition that is capable of both mobilising supporters and negotiating a transfer of power. Using a mixed-methods approach which combines global statistical analysis with case studies of large nonviolent protests in Cambodia and the Philippines, my thesis links high-level power dynamics in authoritarian governments to the success or failure of civil resistance campaigns.

My other research interests include the effects of repression in authoritarian regimes, nonviolent resistance in support of land and indigenous rights, and the politics of mainland Southeast Asia. My work has appeared in the Journal of Peace Research (

Adan Suazo

Adan SuazoAfter finishing my graduate studies at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University,Sweden, I returned to my hometown of Montreal to explore issues related to inclusion patterns in peace processes. During the last three years, my research has somewhat departed from the inclusion question, and has mainly focused on how environmental variables may be harnessed to increase the likelihood of peace in a conflict zone. This topic has led me to present my work in venues such as the Canadian Peace Research Association and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's Conference of Youth. I hold membership in the Canadian Peace Research Association, the Otago Energy Research Centre and the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre. For my doctoral degree at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, I am exploring how qualitative and quantitative asymmetries in freshwater access may result in the emergence of structural violence.

Here is a selected list of my publications:

Suazo, Adan E. et al., Avoiding catastrophes: seeking synergies among the public health, environmental protection, and human security sectors, The Lancet Global Health, Vol.4, October 2016, pp. 680-681.

Suazo, Adan E., An Exploration of Water Cooperation and Intra-State Violence, Insight on Conflict, June 2015.

Suazo, Adan E., Demystifying the Wars of the Future: The Past and Current State of Water Conflicts, Insight on Conflict, March 2015.

Suazo, Adan E., Revisiting Resource Redistribution in Conflicts over Water, ReliefWeb, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, October 2014.

Suazo, Adan E., Tools of Change: Long-Term Inclusion in Peace Processes, Fletcher Journal of Human Security, Boston (United States), May 2013, pp. 5-27.

Suazo, Adan E., Political Deadlock in Libya and Syria, Conflict Trends, African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, Durban (South Africa), April 2013."

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Dody Wibowo

DodyDody Wibowo comes from Indonesia and holds a Master's Degree in Peace Education from the University for Peace, Costa Rica. He has worked in several institutions, namely Peace Brigades International, Save the Children, Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, did consultancy work for UNICEF on peace education project in Aceh, and Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Cambodia.

Prior to the PhD programme at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Dody was working in Indonesia as a researcher at the Center for Security and Peace Studies, Gadjah Mada University, and as a teaching assistant at the Master’s Programme for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Gadjah Mada University, teaching Conflict Management and the Philosophy of Conflict Resolution.

Dody is conducting his PhD research through the Rei Foundation scholarship. The subject of his research is on the factors contributing to the school teachers' capacity in delivering peace education.

Anita Clarke

AnitaI grew up on Te Motu Kairangi/Miramar Peninsula, the baby of a large family of Irish, Lebanese and English descent. After proceeding through the local Catholic school system, I studied International Relations and Media Studies at Victoria University of Welllington, where I completed a Bachelor of Arts with Honours.

I was working for a media monitoring company in Melbourne when I applied for the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies degree at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Originally, I had wanted to write my Masters dissertation about colonialism in Palestine, where I had recently travelled for the olive harvest, but I felt uncomfortable and suspicious about the way I was writing. I ended up exploring epistemology itself, specifically the violent functions of the distancing techniques that characterise traditional academic research and the nonviolent potential of autoethnography and literary narrative.

My current doctoral research focusses on the everyday culture of settler society in Aotearoa