SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Dr Diana Felix da Costa


Diana Felix da Costa
Department of Development Studies

Research Associate

Dr Diana Felix da Costa
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Diana Felix da Costa is a social anthropologist with over 15 years of combined professional experience in academia, think-tanks, international organisations and NGOs. She has worked primarily in South Sudan and its neighbouring countries researching situations of latent and violent conflict and their aftermath and particularly the unseen factors that influence individual and collective behaviour and relations, social and political narratives, and how people understand and experience notions such as identity, violence, the state and authority, peace and security. Specifically, this has taken her to engage in the complex dynamics of violent state-building, the interplay between violence and ethnicity, conflict management and public authority, forced displacement, mixed migration and durable solutions. Her professional practice connects directly to her academic research experience and interests. Previous work experience includes research positions with the Danish Refugee Council, Oxfam, the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution, the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, the Rift Valley Institute, the Overseas Development Institute (Humanitarian Policy Group), Veterinaires Sans Frontieres, the World Bank and the Delegation of Portugal to the UN, among others. Her relevant country experience in East Africa includes South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. She has also carried out research assignments in Mozambique, Chad, Cape Verde, Timor-Leste and Haiti. Diana has a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, an MA in Humanitarian Action from the University of Groningen/University of Uppsala and a BA in Social Anthropology and Development Studies also from SOAS.


Peer reviewed articles, book chapters and reports
  • 2018, Changing power among Murle chiefs: negotiating political, military and spiritual authority, Rift Valley Institute research report, Rift Valley Institute: London
  • 2017, ‘South Sudan’ chapter 4, in (eds.) International Institute for Strategic Studies, Armed Conflict Survey 2017, London: Routledge
  • 2017, ‘Sudan’ chapter 4, in (eds.) International Institute for Strategic Studies, Armed Conflict Survey 2017, London: Routledge
  • w/ M. Peter, 2017. ‘UN support in the formation of new states: South Sudan, Kosovo and Timor-Leste’, in (ed.) C. de Coning, et al., UN Peacekeeping Doctrine in a New Era, Routledge
  • 2016. ‘The ethics of researching in conflict: personal reflections from Greater Pibor and South Sudan’ Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford Vol. VIII no. 1, special issue The Ethics of Anthropology in Emergencies, University of Oxford
  • w/ C. de Coning, 2015. ‘United Nations Mission in South Sudan’, in (eds.) Koops, Oxford Handbook of UN Peacekeeping Operations, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2013. ‘Bending the Rules’: The Space Between HQ Policy and Local Action in UN Civilian Peacekeeping, Journal of International Peacekeeping 17: 293-312
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2013. ‘Invitation Withdrawn: Humanitarian Action, UN Peacekeeping and State Sovereignty in Chad’, special issue on ‘state sovereignty and humanitarian actors’, Disasters 37: S171-S187
  • w/ S. Collinson, M. Duffield et al. 2013. Paradoxes of Presence: risk management and aid culture in challenging environments, Humanitarian Policy Group, London: Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2012. ‘Contextualising liberal peacebuilding to local circumstances?: UNMISS and local peacebuilding in South Sudan’, Journal of Peacebuilding and Development 7:2 
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2012. ‘The elusive concept of protection of civilians: A case-study of the United Nations Mission to the Central African Republic and Chad’ in (ed.) de Carvalho, B. & Sending, O.J., The Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping, Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2011. ‘Navigating hybrid political orders: balancing peacebuilding in Chad’, Conflict Trends Issue 2011/3

Selected policy papers and reports 
  • 2018. “To have peaceful coexistence, people need to have full stomachs”: Rapid Conflict Assessment in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement, Uganda, Danish Refugee Council Uganda
  • 2017. “If you miss food, it’s like a weapon, it’s like a war”: refugee relations in Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps, western Tanzania, Danish Refugee Council Tanzania
  • 2017. “You may think he is not a human being”: Refugee and host community relations in and around Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps, western Tanzania, Danish Refugee Council Tanzania
  • 2017. Letter From Pibor, South Sudan Customary Authorities Project, 30 November 2017 Rift Valley Institute 
  • 2017. Dynamics of youth and violence: findings from Rubkona county Unity state, Danish Demining Group: Juba
  • 2015. ‘Cattle and Pastoralism in Greater Pibor – fieldwork report’, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Germany – South Sudan (internal report)
  • 2014. ‘Mandates and Risk Aversion’, in R. Gowan and A.C. Smith (eds.) What Needs to Change in UN Peace Operations? An expert briefing book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, New York: Centre on International Cooperation, NYU and International Peace Institute
  • w/ E. Browne, 2013. Governance, security and livelihoods in Jonglei, South Sudan, Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham
  • 2013. ‘‘We are one, but we are different’: Murle identity and local peacebuilding in Jonglei, South Sudan’, June Policy Brief, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, Oslo: NOREF
  • et al. 2013. ‘With a little help from my friends: cultural affinity in regional support for capacity development in South Sudan’. Policy Brief No. 8, Oslo: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)
  • et al. 2013. Friends in need are friends indeed: Triangular co-operation and twinning for capacity development in South Sudan, NOREF Report, Oslo: NOREF
  • et al. 2013. Civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict: A case study of OPEN, Danish Institute of International Studies (DIIS) Policy Brief, Copenhagen: DIIS
  • w/ C. de Coning, 2013. ‘UNMISS County Support Bases: Peacekeeping–Peacebuilding Nexus at Work?’, Policy Brief 4 Oslo: NUPI
  • 2013. Working in Challenging Environments: Risk Management and Aid Culture in South Sudan – field report, Humanitarian Policy Group (ODI) and University of Bristol research project, ESRC-DFID grant
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2012. ‘Offering the diagnosis, but lacking the medicine: UN local peacebuilding-peacekeeping nexus in Haiti’, Policy Brief Oslo: NUPI
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2012. ‘Casting the net too deep and too wide? UN local peacebuilding-peacekeeping nexus in South Sudan’, Policy Brief Oslo: NUPI
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2012. ‘Moving towards local level peacebuilding? Contextualizing early peacebuilding activities to local circumstances: South Sudan case-study field report’, Security in Practice 5 Oslo: NUPI
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2012. ‘UN local peacebuilding and transition in Haiti: case-study field report’, Security in Practice 4, Oslo: NUPI
  • 2011. Equity in investment – the challenge of making women’s voices heard:  Examples from agribusiness engagements in Timor-Leste, Justice for the Poor, World Bank (internal report)
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2011. ‘The elusive concept of the protection of civilians – a case-study of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT)’, Security in Practice 7, Oslo: NUPI
  • et al. 2011. Environmental and socio-economic study of Liquiça District, Timor-Leste, Dili: Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y Desarrollo (AECID)
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2010. ‘A role for Civil Affairs in community conflict resolution? MINURCAT’s Inter-community Dialogue Strategy in eastern Chad’, Humanitarian Exchange Magazine no. 48 London: ODI
  • w/ J. Karlsrud, 2009. ‘Protection and humanitarian space: a case study of MINURCAT’, Humanitarian Exchange Magazine no. 44 London: ODI