Dr Erin McFee is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, leading the project “Trust after Betrayal: Global development interventions in the shadow of organised violence”. She completed her PhD in Human Development at The University of Chicago, an MA in the same, and obtained an MBA from Simmons University in Boston.
Her major new project addresses the issue of interpersonal trust in the domain of global development interventions that unfold against the backdrop of organised violence. It aims to tackle the near absence of academic and practitioner attention to this topic by weaving together expertise in organisational and behavioural studies with ethnographic knowledge of war, post-war, and non-war violent contexts.
Erin’s research focuses on individuals who decide to take up and lay down arms with non-state armed groups, the interventions that target these individuals, and the topic of trust in societies and communities that have experienced mass atrocities. She draws from theoretical work in philosophy, anthropology, and social psychology, and her work speaks to both the academic and public policy domains.
Erin’s research comprises three strands: the first looks at the performativity of (mis)trust in communities of former combatants and conflict victims living together in transitioning societies. The second examines the way in which the practices of interventions as organisations (e.g., measurement, training, accounting) can inadvertently undermine the stated goals of the intervention. And the third looks at the intersection of gender, family, and youth decisions to join and leave non-state armed groups.
She has conducted extensive field work in Colombia since 2010 both in an informal housing settlement of conflict victims and former combatants, as well as in the non-governmental, religious, and international organisations that design interventions for such communities. She has recently extended her fieldwork into Sinaloa, Mexico.
Erin continues to consult for the UN Agency for Migration (International Organization for Migration). Currently, she is working on her book manuscript, Trust After Betrayal: Society-Building After Mass Atrocity, which draws on her extensive fieldwork in Colombia.
Her research has been funded by Fulbright-Hays DDRA, the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence, the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, and the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts.