Caroline Hughes

Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Chair in Peace Studies; Director of Doctoral Studies

Caroline  Hughes

313 Hesburgh Center For International Studies
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Phone: (574) 631-5653

Areas of expertise: Political economy of aid and development in post-conflict and authoritarian contexts, with regional expertise in Southeast Asia

Caroline Hughes is the Director of Doctoral Studies and the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, an integral part of the Keough School of Global Affairs. Her work conceptualizes peace and development as political relationships constructed to legitimize unequal distributions of resources and subject to ongoing contestation by different social groups, which is contrary to liberal understandings of peace and development as public goods achieved through collaboration.

Hughes employs a political economy framework to understand contestation among social forces at local, national and international levels over political and economic settlements established in response to political crisis. She is particularly interested in how actors at different levels or ‘scales’ construct ideas not only of peace and development but also of ‘locality’ and ‘authenticity,’ the ‘international’ and ‘North’ and ‘South’ as a means to bolster their position in forging competitive political alliances and (de)legitimizing particular claims to authority.

Hughes has conducted field research in Cambodia; Timor-Leste, Indonesia; Thailand; and Vietnam. She has spent two decades studying the post-conflict reconstruction of Cambodia following its civil war in the 1990s. She also has published several studies of post-conflict statebuilding in Timor-Leste and post-authoritarian governance reform in Indonesia, and has completed several comparative projects that examine the ways in which a range of actors “on the ground” contest international peacebuilding and statebuilding interventions. She is the author/co-author of six books, most recently International Intervention and Local Politics: Fragmented States and the Politics of Scale (with Shahar Hameiri and Fabio Scarpello, Cambridge University Press, 2017) and the co-editor of one edited collection. She also is the author of more than 30 journal articles and book chapters, and her articles have appeared in International Studies Quarterly; the Review of International Studies; Development and Change; Democratization; the Journal of Contemporary Asia; and Third World Quarterly.

Hughes is currently working on three projects. The first examines the changing political economy of the university globally, in the context of two decades of rapid expansion of both tertiary education and university-based research, and the incorporation of goals for further expansion in the Sustainable Development Goals. Hughes is currently completing two co-authored papers examining this: a bibliometric study investigating patterns of North-South research relationships in peace studies and a political economy analysis of the relationship between neoliberalization and academic freedom in universities in authoritarian contexts. 

The second project, conducted in collaboration with Dr Eng Netra at the Cambodia Development Research Institute in Phnom Penh, investigates the contested role of youth as peacebuilders in Cambodia. Hughes and Eng recently published an article in Journal of Contemporary Asia on this topic: Caroline Hughes & Netra Eng (2019) Facebook, Contestation and Poor People’s Politics: Spanning the Urban–Rural Divide in Cambodia?, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 49:3, 365-388, DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2018.1520910. They are continuing to work on a new paper on the politics of the Cambodian government's youth policies.

The third project is a book project examining the relationship between peace, violence and development in the context of a "structural turn" in global peace policies. The project examines the recent concern amongst multilateral development agencies that structural change in the global economy is prompting potentially violent political challenges to the SDGs as a template for a future liberal global trading order. The project investigates strategies of "paradigm maintenance" by multilateral agencies in the contemporary peace and development policy-making and institution-building at the global level. 

Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Hughes was the head of the Division of Peace Studies and International Development at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom. She also is the former director of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University in Australia. She is an external advisor to the Cambodia Development Resource Institute in Phnom Penh, and has consulted for the World Bank, the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency,and Australian Aid.

Recent Work

  • Journal Article: Caroline Hughes. (2018), South–South Cooperation and Neoliberal Hegemony in a Post‐aid World. Development and Change, 49: 867-892. (Co-authored with Behrooz Morvaridi).

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