Dr. Nicki Kindersley is a contemporary historian, and currently the Harry F. Guggenheim Research Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. Her work centres on postcolonial African political education and popular intellectual cultures. She is a specialist on the modern history of South Sudan and its north-east and central African borderlands and migrant paths. Nicki teaches on modern Global South history, transnational and migration studies, and African politics.
Based on research in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan, over 2013-2015, Nicki completed her PhD thesis on the political activity of Southern Sudanese residents in Khartoum, 1969-2013, at Durham University in 2016. The thesis – now a book project – is a history of South Sudanese political thought, debate, resistance and rebel activity in Khartoum during the second civil war. It focuses on the work of self-taught educators and community organisers, running nationalist civic education programmes, youth work and cultural activities – without NGO intervention – in the face of Sudan state violence and community displacement; the project is based on personal histories and private archives of refugee and displaced persons’ political writings.
Nicki’s academic and policy research career spans displacement and migration studies, African political history, contemporary justice systems and conflict studies. Her research currently focuses on peace building and conflict dynamics in South Sudan and the wider region; the history of colonial and post-colonial counter-insurgency practices; and on hybrid military / customary authority justice systems on the edges of South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Uganda. Her most recent publications can be found here.
Nicki is currently the European fellow on a Volkswagen Stiftung and University of Khartoum project ‘Identity, Nationality and Citizenship for South Sudanese communities’, with Dr. Mohamed A. G. Bakhit: her sub-project focuses on ideas of good governance, borders and civic rights on the South Sudan-Uganda borderlands over the long twentieth century to present.
Nicki has worked on several projects with Dr Øystein H. Rolandsen and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) since 2012, including the project Dynamics of State Failure and Violence. With Dr Rolandsen, she was lead author on the African Affairs briefing paper ‘Prospects for Peace and the UN Regional Protection Force in South Sudan, with other journal articles under review. With PRIO, Nicki is a researcher on the project ‘Enhancing South-South Cooperation: Promoting African responses to peacebuilding in Africa,’ a partnership project with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Center on International Cooperation (CIC), funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As an independent researcher with PRIO, she co-convened the conference ‘The Diversity of Violence in Eastern Africa’ in Nairobi, and presented at a project workshop on military interventions in Africa. With Dr Rolandsen, she is currently completing a political economy analysis of South Sudan for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to be published by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.
Since 2017, Nicki has acted as a director for the Rift Valley Institute Sudan and South Sudan Field Course. The course provides critical grounding for newly-posted diplomatic and humanitarian heads of mission in the Sudans; it examines the political economy behind patterns of violence, macro- and micro- economic logics informing rulers and ruled, and their respective means of survival, with a team of leading international and regional experts. Nicki has also worked on a variety of research projects with the International Law and Policy Institute, the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, and the British Council for the European Union.
Over 2012-2013, Nicki was the co-ordinator of the South Sudan National Archives project for the Rift Valley Institute (RVI) and South Sudan Ministry of Culture. She led emergency reclamation and the establishment of on-going digitization work with government staff, on a rotting and termite-ridden repository of unique material from 1901 to 1985. With the RVI, she organised and ran a public lecture series on constitutionalism and political culture in Juba, South Sudan, 2012. A podcast and publication of the debate are available here.
Before starting her PhD research, Nicki was a legal representative for asylum seekers in the UK Immigration and Asylum Tribunal system, representing international refugees in torture, rape and human rights cases.