Jethro Norman

Jethro Norman


Current Research Project: Transnational Security Practitioners and the Evolution of the Global Security Industry in East Africa


About Me & My Research
I am a fourth-year PhD candidate who will be defending his thesis in December 2019. This research is primarily a rich ethnography of transnational ‘security experts’, broadly defined and including PMC contractors and humanitarian security professionals, achieved through intensive multi-sited fieldwork across three East African countries: Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia. The thesis moves beyond the narrow post-Cold War focus and recent preoccupation with military outsourcing in Iraq and Afghanistan in much of the literature and instead, reflecting on histories of settler-colonialism and decolonisation in the region, stresses continuity over the longue durée. Squarely at the heart of this research are the voices of the security professionals themselves, which contradict established notions of so-called private security. These transnational actors are not the ancillaries of, proxies for, or subordinate to state power or realist geopolitics. Nor can they be dismissed as peripheral actors pushed to the margins of the international system. Rather, they are at the forefront of important global trends, including the securitisation of development and the global expansion of ‘no-go zones’. Notably, ‘security’ is also spatially produced in distinctive ways, as contractors shape the built environment through processes of enclavisation and securitisation.

My research is strongly interdisciplinary in its focus, and in addition to historical research I also draw extensively on social science research methodologies, particularly ethnography, theories of IR and political economy.

I have been at the University of Leeds since 2011, receiving a first class degree in International History and Politics (IHP) at undergraduate, and passing my MA by Research with distinction for the year 2014/2015. 

I have experience teaching across disciplines, including International Relations, Politics and History. 


Prizes and Awards
Drummond-Wolff Prize for Distinguished Work in International Relations and Politics
School of History Full Scholarship Award (MA by Research)
University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Scholarship for Doctoral Study


Research groups and institutes

  • Politics