The department is a lively community that is recognised internationally as one of the top centres for research and teaching in development studies.
James Simpson’s DPhil research at the Oxford Department of International Development examines the Kimberley Process (KP), an international organisation of governments, industry, and international NGOs, which monitors the global rough diamond trade to limit the sale of ‘conflict diamonds’.
The KP’s policy definition for ‘conflict diamond’ continues to ignore state and corporate human rights violations, and only addresses rebel movement violence in civil wars. However, James’ DPhil thesis focusses on the KP’s involvement in the contentious politics that arose around Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields from 2006, and shows that while Zimbabwean state violence in Marange did not lead to human rights policy reform at the KP, an alignment of western government, industry, international and Zimbabwean civil society actors harnessed the organisation’s extensive monitoring capacities to bring widespread visibility to state violence in Marange, and this visibility had a disciplinary effect.
James’ masters research in Historical Studies at the University of Cape Town investigated political violence during the South African transition. His MA thesis focused on the 1992 Boipatong massacre, and the ways in which the massacre’s forensics were overshadowed by overlying political contestations linked to the country’s negotiations towards a democratic transition. An abridged version of this research appeared in the Journal of Southern African Studies.