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Introducing: Alies Jansen

Alies Jansen recently joined the Institute for History as a PhD candidate. Below she introduces herself and shares her experience of starting a new job in the middle of a pandemic.

It does not need to be re-stated that beginning a new job under the current circumstances has been somewhat of a surreal experience. Though I have met most of you only two-dimensionally, it must be said that I have not felt any less welcome. While finding my way around the university, I have been supported by colleagues, fellow PhD candidates and, certainly not least, by my two supervisors. I hope that 2021 will bring new, non-virtual opportunities to meet each other over lunch or a cup of coffee. But for now, I am happy to make use of this newsletter to introduce myself a little more.

As of September 2020, I started my journey as a PhD candidate here at Leiden University. Leiden is, however, not entirely new to me. Although originally from the northern hinterlands (Groningen and Drenthe) and trained at Utrecht University as a contemporary historian in peace and conflict studies, I completed the master programme in international relations at Leiden University just this year. I was and still am drawn by the fact that the institute promotes an approach to IR that is more inclusive than I had encountered up until then. Inclusive, not only in that it draws from other disciplines but also in the range of actors that it looks at in the international context.

Broadly speaking, my research interests relate to changes in the international order and what this means for how security is perceived and power is exercised. I first started working on this three years ago at PAX, a non-governmental organization. Here I did research on the ways in which new weapon technologies are shaping modern warfare and the implications this has on the ground. During the master programme, I became particularly interested in understanding the role of non-state and non-Western actors in the governing of security. For my MA thesis, for example, I looked at the Battle for Mosul in Iraq and Operation Inherent Resolve. How did a global coalition try to counter the Islamic State through the strategy of working by, with and through Iraqi state and non-state militias? Under the supervision of Isabelle Duyvesteyn and Jan Aart Scholte, and as a part of the interdisciplinary ‘stimuleringsgebied’ Global Transformations and Governance Challenges, I will continue to pursue these research interests in the coming years.

I am very much looking forward to turning this monologue into a dialogue in the hopefully not too distant future, as I am eager to learn more about you and your research. For now, I wish you a well-deserved and hopefully relaxing lock-down holiday!

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