Summary

I am the Assistant Academic Director for the University of Portsmouth team at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell where I am based. I’m also a Principal Lecturer of International Relations and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. At RAF College Cranwell I am responsible for the course management and the quality of teaching for the team at Cranwell along with the Director of Academic Support Services Steve Paget. We currently provide professional military education for over 500 students a year on curriculum that covers International Relations, Security, Military Theory, Air Power and counterinsurgency.

I have experience in international conflict and security with specific focus on Southeast and East Asia. This initially began as professional post-conflict consultancy research before my doctorate thesis moved me into terrorism in Thailand and the Philippines. I now find myself moving more and more into Human Rights related issues in the same regions and have become a vocal critic of President Duterte and his policies.

Biography

Following an honours degree in Law I graduated from the London School of Economics with an MSc in Global Politics specialising in Conflict and Peace Studies and Islam in International Relation. I was one of Fred Halliday's last students and Fred encouraged me to complete a fieldwork orientated doctorate and his teachings have fuelled much of my work ever since. 

Prior to my employment with Portsmouth University at RAF Cranwell in August 2015 I worked in Higher Education in the UK and overseas in both teaching and research roles. I completed much of my doctoral fieldwork research whilst employed as a Visiting Lecturer at De La Salle University in Manila.

 

Research Interests

I specialise in terrorism, political violence and insurgencies with a focus on Southeast Asia but more broadly on jihadist (al Qaeda, ISIS, etc.) and political violence related to transnational Islam. My work dissects the meaning of 'radicalisation' and the social and cultural factors driving political violence in Southeast Asia.  I have closely monitored the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines for over a decade. I utilise ethnographic fieldwork and social media research in much of my work. I have fieldwork experience in the conflict areas of Mindanao in the Philippines and Southern Thailand.

Issues:

  • Terrorism
  • 'Radicalisation'
  • Abu Sayyaf Group
  • Jihadist propaganda and Social Media
  • Jungle Insurgents
  • Human Rights

Geographies:

  • Philippines 
  • Thailand's Southern Insurgency
  • Southeast Asian Security
  • Asia-Pacific Security

Teaching Responsibilities

My teaching is focused on modules on Insurgencies, Terrorism and International Security.

Current PhD Students:

  • Alexander Hasenstab - Pre-Deployment Security Trainings (PDST) in the Aid Sector
  • Sorina ToticaUnderstanding the Confusion between Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism in West Africa
  • Olivia Caskey - Analysing and challenging representations of female jihadi radicalization

I am happy to receive informal enquiries relating to research in any of the above-indicated areas and assist in working up proposals for doctoral study.

Media Availability

I am a regular contributor to international media outlets on issues relating to Filipino politics and terrorism – see media. I am happy to take calls and emails from the media on my research, and am aware of the need to respond to journalists in a timely manner. Please contact me directly on either tom.smith@port.ac.uk or 07939660906

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