Professor Spears teaches courses in international relations and the politics of developing areas (specifically Africa), however, his research interests have focused largely on problems and prospects for conflict and conflict resolution in African states. His earlier research concerned the difficulties in negotiating and implementing power-sharing agreements in the aftermath of civil wars. More recently, he has been considering the opposite approach, the possibility that secession or, more radically, the redrawing of Africa’s borders, might provide an alternative to conflict resolution. Both of these issues have been informed by an approach to politics which borrows from political realism. His most recent publication, an edited book, is a collection of papers which considers the emergence of political entities in different parts of the world which have many of the attributes of statehood but do not yet enjoy recognition from the international community. They are in effect ‘states-within-states’.
I am currently working on a project which integrates these themes of political realism, power-sharing, and secession. I am considering recent civil wars in three African states - Angola, Ethiopia, and Somalia - and the way in which rebel movements and governments consider one or more strategies of integration, secession, or domination as means for dealing with insecurity in the midst of state collapse and anarchy.
States-Within-States: Incipient Political Entities in the Post-Cold War Era. Co-edited with Paul Kingston. (New York: Palgrave: 2004).
“Reflections on Somaliland and Africa’s Territorial Order”, Review of African Political Economy, No. 95 (Winter 2003), pp. 89-98.
“The Limits of Power-Sharing”, Journal of Democracy. Vol. 13. No. 3 (July 2002), pp.123-136.
“Building Confidence Amidst Africa’s Civil Wars: The Opportunities and Constraints”, Civil Wars. Vol. 3. No. 2. (Summer 2000), pp. 23-50
“Angola’s Elusive Peace: The Collapse of the Lusaka Accord”, International Journal. Vol LIV. No. 4 (Autumn 1999), pp. 562-581.