Stéphanie Perazzone completed her PhD in International Relations and Political Science at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva (IHEID). As a post-doctoral researcher, she was based at the University of Geneva, where she worked on research project entitled “Civil Wars and State Formation” under the lead of Dr. Péclard, and co-lectured a course for the Masters of Innovation, Human Development and Sustainability, part of the Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative. She is now working on an on-going project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and hosted at the University of Antwerp, that takes interest in crafting a micro-sociology of police work in Kinshasa, DR Congo, in the wake of recent international attempts at implementing Security Sector Reform in the country. In parallel, she serves as the Communications Officer of the International Studies Association’s Science, Technology and Art in IR (STAIR) section, is affiliated with the Global Governance Center and the Centre on Conflict, Development, and Peacebuilding, both based at the IHEID.
Stéphanie is an expert on African politics and, in particular, the Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Her PhD work focuses on ethnographic explorations of the postcolonial ‘failed state’ and their broader implications for state theory, but her expertise extends further into security sector reform, peacebuilding, international intervention, critical theory and urban studies. She has conducted extended periods of fieldwork across Africa and maintains deep roots with the DRC, where she was raised. In so doing, she has carried out an extensive series of ethnographic observations of urban “street-level” state agents including petty bureaucrats, police officers, transport operatives, local leaders, and beyond in the three cities of Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Goma. On the basis of this work she has completed her PhD monograph “Congo: A State Ecosystem”, which theorizes the contours of supposedly ‘failed states’ from the perspectives of local Congolese actors describing – in fact – the complexities and ‘aliveness’ of the Congolese state from below. Overall, the state ecosystem, it is hoped, may be a framework applicable to myriad other contexts, and provides an innovative theoretical and methodological tool to reflect critically on the global yet subtle, violent patterns through which “the state form” not only re-produces itself, but continues to maintain itself as a vital and inescapable “totalizing” system of world domination.
In addition to her current project dealing with police work in Kinshasa, she is involved in various collaborative endeavors which seek to elaborate on three inter-related research agendas that blend the tenets of international political sociology, urban and African studies, anthropology and IR in general. First, she is interested in lecturing and co-convening scientific events and collaborative publication projects that seek to explore the challenges, ethics and potential of original and creative methods in international political inquiry from both a critical and inter-disciplinary standpoint. This includes for instance, debating and addressing the issues of visuality and technologies as methods in IR, and how to examine ways to “disrupt” fieldwork in the field of political science and IR. A second developing agenda look at the notions of “composite” and “the ordinary” in researching and theorizing the state, governance and global politics. Finally, inspired by the classical works of Fanon or Ouologuem, and the contemporary academic and artistic takes of Baloji, Stoler and Hunt, she has been working on the issues of decolonizing minds, attitudes and disciplines, with a particular focus on the dynamic resurgence of “coloniality” – or, simply put “colonial durabilities” – in the practices and systems of significance of the institutions, individuals and objects that make and remake organizations like “the state” or the market and conflictual dynamics like armed and societal conflict the active residues of colonial and imperialist discursive and material violence.
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Kinshasa, during field research with the Police Sous-Commissariat of Quartier Djalo.