Natasja Rupesinghe

Research Topic:

Community Responses to Jihadist Mobilisation in Central Mali
International Relations Network
Nuffield College
DPhil International Relations

I am a DPhil Candidate in International Relations at the University of Oxford, in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Nuffield College. I am also currently a Fellow at the Centre on Armed Groups, based in Geneva.

My research interests include civil war and political violence, civilian agency in war and international stabilisation and peace-building operations. My main regional focus is the Sahel, particularly Mali. I have conducted fieldwork in diverse settings, including in Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Somalia and Mali.

My doctoral thesis examines how communities respond to jihadist mobilisation in central Mali. In the thesis, I look at the following puzzle: why do jihadist insurgents mobilise and become socially embedded in some localities, as opposed to others? Under what conditions do communities ally with or oppose insurgents? How does community decision-making evolve over time? The doctoral thesis draws on almost six months of fieldwork conducted in Bamako between September 2021 - April 2022. My research is funded by the Norwegian Research Council, as part of the NUPI-led international project “Jihadist Insurgent Governance in the Sahel”.

Prior to starting my PhD at Oxford, I have been a Research Fellow at NUPI, conducting research on insurgencies in the Sahel and peace operations in conflict affected contexts mainly in Africa. While at NUPI, I was seconded to the African Union, in the Peace Operations Division as a Policy Officer between 2016-2017. Prior to joining NUPI, I have interned in various non-governmental organisations, such as Human Rights Watch in London and Relief International in Colombo. I have a bachelor's degree in European Social and Political Studies, specialising in International Relations and French from University College London and an MSc in Conflict Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Rupesinghe, Natasja (2023) 'Resist, negotiate, submit? Civilian agency and jihadism in Central Mali'. ODI: London.

'Reviewing Jihadist Governance in the Sahel' (2021). NUPI Working Paper 894. NUPI: Oslo (with Mikael Naghizadeh and Corentin Cohen).

'Women, Peace, Security and Female Peacekeeping Personnel' (2019) In The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace, and Security, Oxford University Press (with Eli Stamnes and John Karlsrud).

'Tangled up in Glue: Multilateral Crisis Response in Mali', in Karlsrud, J. and Reykers, Y. (eds.) Rapid Response Mechanisms: High Investments, Low Dividends? Abingdon, Oxford: Routledge, 2018 (with John Karlsrud and Dennis Tull)