Research

Lara's current and recent projects have been in the following areas:

Human rights and the ethics of political solidarity:  Lara is currently completing a book which draws on more than fifteen years of ethnographic engagement with peasant and worker struggles in Colombia to make a broader statement about the ethics and politics of human rights. Human rights have been an important thread binding together grassroots’ movements in the Global South and activists elsewhere campaigning on their behalf.  By tracing the international trajectories of struggles against transnational corporations, the book examines how rights are translated from contexts of struggle and reduced to fit with neoliberal and neo-colonial norms that result in the settling of relations of oppression, exploitation and dispossession.  Rather than arguing that we should abandon human rights, the book aims to sensitize understandings of solidarity by arguing that we should take struggle as a starting point for ethical and political reason.  Aspects of this argument have been published in International Political Sociology, Third World Quarterly and Le Monde Diplomatique.

Philosophy and method:  Lara’s research is rooted in philosophical debates encompassing post-structuralist, decolonial, Marxist, feminist and queer theory.  A driving concern has been to interrogate these debates through engagement with (actual and historical) political struggles. She was part of the International Collaboratory on Critical Methods, for which she co-authored a chapter with Hannah Hughes on how the practice of fieldwork can help us gain distance concepts, categories and structuring academic fields.  Since then, she has published on ethnography, critique and problems of scholar-activism.  Lara is working with Doerthe Rosenow on a more substantive project putting forward the idea of struggle as an analytic, initially through a critique of post-structuralist International Relations drawing on the wider philosophical tradition from which Foucault’s work emerged.  Much of the research for this project has been funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation.

Feminist theory and gender politics: Lara’s co-authored paper with Serena Bassi on gendered hierarchies on the British left (2011) was the topic of a special section of International Feminist Journal of Politics.  She was an additional participant in BA-Leverhulme funded project on Gendering Protest.  Lara’s early work examined how gendered narratives of violence and peace-building legitimized neoliberal development policy and armed repression of the population in Colombia.

Dissent and resistance: An interest in dissent and resistance cuts across all areas of Lara’s work.  She previously co-organized an international collaborative project on Disciplining Dissent.  This resulted in a journal special issue and book, Situating Global Resistance: Between Discipline and Dissent.  A further event, Disciplines, Dissent and Dispossession was held at Sussex in 2013.   Lara co-convenes the Resistance Studies Network with colleagues at Sussex, Gothenburg and UMass Amherst.

PhD supervision

Lara welcomes PhD proposals in the above and related areas.  She currently supervises:

  • Frances Thomson, Land Commodification and Forced Displacement in Colombia (ESRC-funded, co-supervised with Ben Selwyn.
  • Nadia Mosquera, Mobilising Ethnicity and Citizenship: The African Descendent Movement in Venezuela. (co-supervised with Peter Leutchford)
  • Morgan Williams, Governing Transition: Civil Society in EU Approaches to Democracy Promotion Post-Arab Spring (ESRC-funded, co-supervised with Patricia Owens).
  • Marysol Valle, Everyday Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (co-supervised with Lyndsay McLean Hilkner)
  • Franco Gonzalez, The Politics of Green Transformations to Decentralised Energy Systems in the UK and Latin America (co-supervised with Peter Newell)
  • Augusto Torregroza, The Peace Agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP: Political Rights as Human Rights? (co-supervised with David Karp).