Ms Lyn Johnstone

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My doctoral research, supervised by Dr Julia Gallagher, builds on a long-standing interest and engagement in Africa, postcolonial studies and normative international relations theory with a focus on understanding African ideas of the Commonwealth. Drawing on empirical research, which was based on the findings and analysis of qualitative data collection from fieldwork in Rwanda and Zimbabwe, my thesis combined empirical data collection with a close reading of theory in order to trouble the theoretical dichotomy between cosmopolitan and communitarian understandings of international relationships. In particular, I pursued the notion of the Commonwealth as a ‘family’ to interrogate colonial legacies and the continuing and often fraught relationships between Commonwealth member states to reach innovative conclusions about both the Commonwealth and the wider theoretical debate.


My thesis is unique in that it offers, for the first time in the literature, African perspectives on the Commonwealth through the voices of African interviewees. Additionally, the research is the first to apply a critical and theoretical lens to an organisation which is largely misunderstood and frequently plagued by questions about its relevance.





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