Rita Abrahamsen
Rita Abrahamsen
Full Professor
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Faculty of Social Sciences

613 - 562 - 5800 ext. 3222


Rita Abrahamsen is Professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Her research interests are in African politics, security and development, security privatization and postcolonial theory. She is the author (with M.C. Williams) of Security Beyond the State: Private Security in International Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and Disciplining Democracy: Development Discourse and the Good Governance Agenda in Africa (Zed Books, 2000). Her articles have appeared in leading journals including African Affairs, Alternatives, International Political Sociology, Journal of Modern African Studies, Political Studies, Third World Quarterly and Review of African Political Economy. She was joint-editor of African Affairs, the highest ranked journal in African studies, from 2009 to 2014. Prior to joining the University of Ottawa, she was in the Department of International Politics at the University of Aberystwyth, and she has been visiting fellow at the University of Cape Town, the European University Institute in Florence, the University of Queensland in Brisbane, the International Peace Research Institute (PRIO) in Oslo, and the Centre for Advanced Security Theory (CAST) at the Univeristy of Copenhagen.


Rita works at the intersection of African politics and International Relations, and her research focuses on politics, security and global governance. Her research is empirically grounded and theoretically informed by postructuralism and international political sociology. She has done extensive research on processes of democratization, on the securitization of underdevelopment, on the merger of development and security, the privatization of security, and on conflict and security. She's currently writing a book about the merger of development and security, drawing on Bourdieusian field theory.

Type of Student Support She Seeks

She is happiest working with students who are taking a theoretically informed approach to global politics and security.

Possible Research Question Examples a Student She Supervises Could Work On

She believes students should follow their heart and define their own research interests. Once that is done, she is happy to help with refining and fine-tuning the research question.