Maria Pereira da Costa

costa  dpir photo

International Relations (2022 cohort)

My research intends to shed light on the different tactics and narratives used by Lusophone Africa’s main national liberation movements in establishing a diplomatic offensive against Portuguese colonialism within the UN, and how this can change our perspective on late colonial politics. Drawing on social constructivist approaches and post-colonial theory, I intend to contribute towards international governance, diplomatic and decolonisation studies, by analysing the varying successes of these non-state actors – whose agency is often overlooked – in wielding soft power to achieve their ultimate aim: national independence. In particular, I will be looking at the MPLA (Angola), FRELIMO (Mozambique) and PAIGC (Guinea-Bissau) as together they created the Conference for Portuguese Colonies’ Nationalist Organisations (CONCP), challenging Portuguese rule through a coordinated diplomatic front and going beyond armed struggle to achieve their political goals. I will focus on the earlier stages of the movements (from late-1950s until early-1970s) and comparatively research the strategies they used within the UN to gain international credibility.

I am an International Relations MPhil candidate at Balliol College. Previously, I obtained my undergraduate degree at St Anne’s College, Oxford, in History & Politics. I have worked as a Research Assistant for Professor Jane Gingrich’s SCHOOLPOL project, which aims to create the first systematic database on educational policy in selected democracies since 1945. I have also interned for the International Crisis Group, as part of their Development team.