Dr Alex Waterman

Dr Alex Waterman


I joined Leeds as an undergraduate in 2010, before going on to complete Masters (2013-2014) and then PhD study (2014-2018) in the School of Politics and International Studies. I have been teaching in the department since 2015. 

I am interested in the study of insurgency and counterinsurgency (COIN), developing novel and non-traditional analytical frameworks for understanding the complex politics of how insurgents and counterinsurgents grapple with the environments in which they operate. I am regionally focused on India/South Asia, but hold a broader interest in exploring the continuum of practice between Western and non-Western forms of COIN. I have disseminated my research to a range of academic and practitioner audiences, and formerly held visiting fellowships at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Guwahati, India.

Research interests

As a postdoctoral Research Fellow, I work with Dr James Worrall on a research project, supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, titled Dancing with Devils: How do Militaries Integrate Understandings of Militias and Rebel Groups into Counterinsurgency Doctrine? The project explores the factors shaping whether and how militias and rebel groups are integrated into a range of Western and non-Western counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrines. In doing so, the project contributes to a gap in the literature on the influences shaping doctrine as well as in comparisons between Western and non-Western COIN more broadly.

I recently completed my doctorate in November 2018. The thesis, titled 'Managing Insurgency:' Counterinsurgency and Order Negotiation in Northeast India utilises the concept of 'order' to open up the nuanced politics of COIN and insurgency that are frequently missed out in conventional theoretical approaches. The theoretical framework explores the politics of order across three spatial levels of analysis - macro, meso and micro - and applied these to both existing debates in the COIN literature (such as the problem of unity of effort) and emergent themes. It draws upon novel empirical data from the Assam and Naga case studies in Northeast India, based on five months of fieldwork in India whilst affiliated with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi and Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS), Guwahati. In November 2018, the thesis was examined and passed without correction, and was awarded POLIS Research Excellence Recognition.

I am Associate Reviews Editor for Civil Wars journal, while I am also a research consultant for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Armed Conflict Database (ACD) programme, covering conflicts in Northeast India (2015-present) and Kashmir (2018-2019). Duties involve geocoding incidents, writing weekly, quarterly/half-year and annual reports, compiling detailed conflict party profiles and delivering conflict briefings to IISS stakeholders. 


Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • 2019. ‘Managing War Amongst Peoples.’ In: Brown, D., Murray, D, Riemann, M. Rossi, N. and Smith, M. War Amongst the People: Critical Assessments. Foreword by Gen. Sir Rupert Smith. Havant: Howgate. ISBN: 9781912440023.
  • International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2016-2019. Armed Conflict Survey, India: Assam, Manipur, Nagaland chapters.2019.


  • Waterman, A. 2017. Review: Managing Conflicts in India: Politics of Coercion and Accommodation. Civil Wars. 5 (1). 
  • Waterman, A. 2016. Review: Unheeded Hinterland: Identity and Sovereignty in Northeast India. Strategic Analysis. 41 (1), pp. 118-120. 
  • Waterman, A. 2015. Review: India and Counterinsurgency: Lessons Learned. Civil Wars [Online]. 15 (3) [Accessed 19/01/17], pp. 369-372. 

Select Contributions & Commentaries

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Politics & International Studies
  • Associate Fellow, Higher Education Academy

Professional memberships

  • Rebel Governance Network
  • International Studies Association
  • International Institute of Strategic Studies
  • Defence Research Network

Student education

I have taught across a range of modules in Security, Terrorism & Insurgency, as well as IR and Global Development more broadly.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Global Security Challenges