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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Katherine Mann is a PhD candidate and Cambridge Trust Scholar at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). Her dissertation research examines the relationship between armed group ideology, socialization practices, and perpetration of conflict-related sexual and reproductive violence with a focus on the FARC in Colombia. Her analysis leverages data from archival material and more than 95 semi-structured interviews with former FARC combatants, civilians and victims/survivors in areas under FARC occupation or armed confrontation between the FARC and other armed actors, experts from Colombia’s transitional justice institutions, and representatives from women’s rights organizations and associations of victims/survivors. 

In a second line of research, Katherine focuses on issues related to gender and democratic politics. Her forthcoming book Aiding Empowerment: Democracy Promotion and Gender Equality in Politics, co-authored with Saskia Brechenmacher and contracted with Oxford University Press (March 2024), documents how international democracy support for gender equality in politics has evolved over the last thirty years and how effective these programs have been. Drawing on research in Kenya, Nepal, Morocco, and Myanmar, the book examines the varied methods aid providers use to challenge patriarchal political structures and support local reformers, identifies persisting challenges and promising innovations, and makes practical recommendations for reform.

Alongside these research projects, Katherine serves as a Junior Fellow at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute and teaches undergraduate courses related to peace and conflict, as well as politics and gender. She was previously a Visiting Researcher at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá and a Managing Editor for the Cambridge Review of International Affairs (CRIA).

Prior to joining Cambridge, Katherine was a policy researcher in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She has also worked with non-governmental organizations to reduce group-targeted political violence and promote civic activism, as well as served in various other research and editorial positions. She holds an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford and a dual-BA in Political Science and International Affairs with a minor in French from the University of Georgia.

College: Churchill College


  • Violence, security, and armed conflict
  • Armed group ideology and institutions
  • Socialization and group identity
  • Conflict-related sexual violence
  • Social theory and performativity
  • Gender and democratic politics


Key publications: 


Mann, Katherine. Forthcoming March 2024. Aiding Empowerment: Democracy Promotion and Gender Equality in Politic, with Saskia Brechenmacher. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.


Mann, Katherine. Forthcoming February 2024. “Strengthening Responses to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Ideological Considerations for Intervention,” Conference of Defence Associations Institute.


Mann, Katherine. May 11, 2022. “Re-thinking the Agents of Change,” with Saskia Brechenmacher. VISION Magazine


Mann, Katherine. February 2, 2022. “Renewing U.S. Investments in Women’s Political Leadership,” with Saskia Brechenmacher. Just Security


Mann, Katherine. March 2, 2021. “Representation Isn’t Enough,” with Saskia Brechenmacher and Lauren Meadows. Foreign Policy


Thesis Title: Ideas in Action: How armed group ideology shapes conflict-related sexual violence
Supervisor: Dr Holly Porter

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