Maria Pereira da Costa
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.