Dr Suda Perera

Dr Suda Perera

International Development Department
Research Fellow

Contact details

International Development Department
School of Government and Society
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Suda Perera is a Research Fellow at the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP), based at IDD. She is interested in the role that non-state actors play in leadership processes in conflict-affected states. Currently she is working on a DLP project examining armed groups and political inclusion in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which centres around the following key research questions:

  • How do local civilians interact with armed groups operating in the region? Do they believe these groups serve any political functions, and are these functions positive or negative?
  • What are the aims and self-perceptions of these armed groups? How do they justify their formation and activities?
  • Are there any circumstances in which national and international actors could enter into a productive dialogue with militant groups, despite the fraught political context and the various human rights abuses that they have committed?
  • What are the key security and political interests driving militant belligerency, and how can those interests be met in non-violent ways?

She is also working on a related British Academy-funded project examining the extent to which crowdsourcing techniques can effectively gather information from difficult to access populations in the DRC.

Suda is interested in supervising undergraduate or postgraduate research projects which relate to conflict and security in sub-Saharan Africa (particularly the African Great Lakes region), rebel governance, and alternatives to traditional state authority.


Research Fellow at the Developmental Leadership Program:

  • PhD International Conflict Analysis, University of Kent, 2013.
  • Postgraduate Certificate of Higher Education, University of Kent, 2013.
  • MA (Distinction) Post-War Recovery Studies, University of York, 2008.
  • BA (Hons) Politics, Durham University, 2007.


Suda joined the department in 2013, and previously worked as a part-time visiting lecturer before becoming a full-time Research Fellow with the Developmental Leadership Program. Prior to working at the University of Birmingham, Suda was a Research Fellow at the Post-War Reconstruction and Development Unit at the University of York, and a part-time Lecturer in Conflict and Security in Africa at the University of Kent.

Suda completed received her PhD in International Conflict Analysis the University of Kent, where she worked under Dr Anne Hammerstad and Professor Hugh Miall. Her thesis, entitled "Displacement, Identity and Conflict in the African Great Lakes," was fully-funded as part of the ESRC’s Global Uncertainties Project, and part of her doctoral research was awarded the 2011 Cedric Smith Prize for Peace and Conflict Research by the British Conflict Research Society.

Suda has previously conducted research in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Sri Lanka, Jordan, and Rwanda. She is currently conducting research with numerous stakeholders in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


Research interests

Suda is currently examining the role that armed groups can potentially play in both hindering and aiding development in the eastern DRC. She is also exploring the extent to which crowdsourcing techniques can be used to gather data in conflict environments with poor security and infrastructure provisions. She is generally interested the public authority roles of non-state actors and rebel governance and African agency. Her PhD research studied the alternative agency exerted by "refugee warrior" communities in the African Great Lakes. 

 Current projects

Other activities

  • Council Member of the British Conflict Research Society
  • Member of the British International Studies Association (BISA) Africa Working Group
  • I am available to review journal articles on conflict and security in the African Great Lakes Region, and have previously reviewed articles for Third World Quarterly and Ethnopolitics


Perera, S. (forthcoming) "Method in the Chaos: Non-Linearity, Ephemerality, and Refugee Identity" In: Nair, P. and Bloom, R.T. Migration Across Boundaries: Why Migration Research Needs and Interdisciplinary Approach. London, Ashgate.

Perera, S. (forthcoming, 2014) "Opportunities and Challenges for Political Engagement with Non-State Actors in Areas of Limited Statehood", Developmental Leadership Program State of the Art Paper Series. Birmingham, DLP

Perera, S. (2013) "Alternative Agency: Rwandan Refugee Warriors in Exclusionary States" Conflict, Security and Development Vol 13(5) pp. 569-588.  DOI:10.1080/14678802.2013.849472

Perera, S. (2011) "Oil and Insurgency in the Niger Delta: Managing the Complex Politics of Petro-Violence" review article in International Affairs  pp. 1552-1553

Perera, S. (2011) "The Curse of Berlin" review article Millennium Journal of International Relations

Perera, S. (2010) "Striking the Balance: Deterrence and Assurance in International Relations" review article in Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 4(2) pp. 248-254