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Staff Profile

Doctor Amy Niang

QualificationsBA, MA, PhD
Phone 0117174372
Organisational Unit International Relations

I am a political scientist with an interest in three broad areas, namely (1) the history of state formation and related ideas of sovereignty, statehood, community and order (2) the notion of “the international” in theory and practice and (3)Africa in/and International Relations. My current project examines the history of “the international” as a concept and a normative field. I’m particularly keen to understand how ‘Africa’ as an idea and place has featured into it. I joined the Department of International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2011 after completing an MA in Political Economy at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and a PhD in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, UK. My dissertation examined state and social processes in the Voltaic region of West Africa between the 16th and 19th Centuries.

Research interests and areas of supervision

International Relations Theories
State Formation
Africa’s international relations
West African Politics
The Geopolitics of the Sahel


Awards and grants

  • Fung Global Fellow, University of Princeton (2015-2016)
  • Mercator Fellowship, Martin Luther University, Germany (2015/2016)
  • African Humanities Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (2014/2015)
  • African Presidential Scholarship, University of Michigan (2014/2015)
  • Promotion Grant, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand (2014/2015)
  • African Peace Network Research Grant, Social Science Research Council (2012/2013)
  • Ad-hoc Grant, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand (2011/2012)


INTR3012 Transnational Issues in Global Politics
INTR3029 Theory and Methods
INTR3021 Africa’s International Relations
INTR7067 Advanced Theory in International Relations




(2017) “Rehistoricizing the sovereignty principle with reference to Africa: stature, decline, and anxieties of a foundational norm” In Zubairu Wai and Martha Iniguez De Heredia (eds.). Bringing Africa ‘back-in’: World Politics and Theories of Africa’s Nonfulfillment. London: Routledge (in press).


(2017) “Mediations and Interventions in Cote d’Ivoire” in Abu Bakkr Bah (ed,).International Security and Peace-Building: Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press pp.154-93. ISBN: 978-0-253-02384-1.

(2016)”Speaking Up, from Capacity to Right: African Self-determination Debates in Post-Bandung Perspective” In Quỳnh Phạm  & Robbie Shilliam (eds.) Meanings of Bandung: Decolonization and International Relations. London: Rowan& Littlefield, pp. 165-174.ISBN978-1-78348-565-9. 

(2016) “The Imperative of an African Perspective in International Relations” Politics, Vol. 36(4) 453–466 doi: 10.1177/0263395716637092

(2016)”Deferred Reciprocity: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on Ransoming and the Ethics of Compensatory Justice.” In Jennifer Lofkrantz and Ojo Olatunji (eds.) Ransoming, Captivity and Piracy in Africa and the Mediterranean.Trenton: Africa Word Press, pp. 229-258.ISBN978-1-5690249-2-8 

(2016) “Blaise Compaoré in the Resolution of the Ivoirian Conflict: from Belligerent to Mediator-in-Chief,” APN Working Paper Series N6

(2015) “La donne chinoise, facteur de modification de dynamiques entrepreneuriales

et de restructuration socio-économique, ” In Karsten Giese and Laurence Marfaing (eds.) La Rencontre des Petits Entrepreneurs Africains et Chinois Transnationaux Est-elle Porteuse de Transformations Sociales ? Paris: Karthala.

(2015) “Dialectics of Subversion: Protest Art and Political Activism in West Africa” In Paul Ugor and Lord Yevugah (eds.). African Youth Cultures in a Globalised World: Challenges, Agency and Resistance. London: Ashgate, pp.149-164.ISBN978-1-4724-2975-9.

(2014) “The Political Economy of Ransoming in the Sahel: the History, the Ethics and the Practice,” African Economic History, vol. 42, pp.157-183

(2014)”Reviving the Dormant Divine: Rituals as Political Reference in Pre-colonial Moogo” Journal of Ritual Studies, Vol.28 (1): 77-89.

(2014) “Ransoming, Compensatory Violence, and Humanitarianism in the Sahel,” Alternatives, Global, Local, Political, 39(4): 231-251. DOI: 10.1177/0304375415574451.

(2013) “The (In)Commodities of Laissez-faire Integration: Trade and Mobility in a Cross-border Market”, African Studies, Vol. 72(1): 41-63.

(2013) “Seasons in boom: Proto-revolutions, disintegrations and socio-political reconfigurations in the Sahelo-Saharian space” Afrique Contemporaine, 245: 53-69.

(2012) "In the Beginning was Naam: Political History and the Dis-order of Discourse" In Dominique Casajus and Fabio Viti (eds.) La Terre et le Pouvoir. Festschrift for Michel Izard. Paris: CNRS Editions, pp. 67-82.

(2012) “Aspects of Mossi Political History: A Bibliographical Overview” Electronic Journal of Africana Bibliography, 13: 1-51.

(2012) “Entrapped in textuality: African Renaissance between Rhetoric and the Aesthetics of Extravagance” African Theatre, 11: 30-39.

(2012) "Idéologie d’une Quête : Le Panafricanisme dans la Pensée de Ki-Zerbo," Patrimoine et Histoire en Afrique : Recherches et Expériences, Numéro 8.

(2010) "Discordances and Dissonances in Oral History: Reflections on Historicity and Legitimacy in West Africa," African Renaissance, 7(1): 80-87.