CSD undertakes research that engages critically with the challenges and developments in the Global South and how shifting dynamics in non-Western regions are changing the structures and processes of international politics. CSD has particular specialisms in China, India, Iran, Central Asia, South Asia and West Africa.

How do emerging powers act within their own regions and internationally? How are they affected by internal politics as well as global geopolitics? Research topics range from the role of factions and the political economy in shaping Iran as a regional actor to the politics and political economy of migration in Western Africa, from the rightwing majoritarian nationalism in India to the politics of development in Bangladesh.

CSD has a particular research strength in the politics of resources: oil, gas and minerals. Such resources create a number of opportunities and challenges for states and peoples in the Global South, not least whether they can enhance development opportunities rather than being a source of conflict.

Many of the emerging powers are large multi-ethnic countries with conflicts driven by competing nationalisms and differing conceptions of territory and sovereignty. Conflicts in Tibet, Kashmir and Chechnya, for example, remain unresolved and contribute to significant domestic and international tensions. Research at CSD investigates how religion, history, territoriality, political economy, militarization, democratisation and resistance have contributed to a volatile politics that disconnects states and people. There is an explicit focus on engagement with communities and impacting upon public debates around these contentious subjects.

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