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Dr Karen Smith


BA (Hons), MA, DPhil (Stellenbosch)

Teaching specialisation:

International Relations; International Relations Theory; International Organisation; Foreign Policy Analysis; South Africa's Political History

Research interests:

International Relations theory; the developing world (Africa in particular) as an object of IR study and an agent of IR knowledge; South Africa and India as regional powers in the global South, South Africa's foreign policy.

Recent publications:

(2012) “Soft Power: the Essence of South Africa’s Foreign Policy” in South African Foreign Policy Review, vol.1. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa.

(2012) “India’s Identity and its Global Aspirations” in Global Society, vol.26, no.3 : 369-385.

(2012) "Contrived boundaries, kinship and ubuntu: a (South) African view of the 'international”, in  Tickner, A. & Blaney, D. (eds) Thinking the International Differently. London: Routledge.

(2012) “Africa as an agent of International Relations knowledge: a preliminary investigation” in Fantu, C., Shaw, T.M. and Cornelissen, S. (eds) Africa and International Relations in the Twenty-First Century: Still Challenging Theory? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

(2011) "South Africa and India as Regional Leaders: Gaining Acceptance and Legitimacy Through the Use of Soft Power" in Modi, R. (ed.) Redefining South-South Cooperation: Africa on the Centre Stage. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

(2010) “Obstacles to the Development of IR Theory in the Developing World: the Case of South Africa” in Africa Review, vol.2, no.1: 65-80.

(2010) “What has happened to the Bandung spirit?” in The Thinker, volume 14: 32-33.


Research associate, Institute for Global Dialogue, South Africa

Associate editor, International Political Sociology

Board member: Africana, Journal of African Union Studies (JOAUS), and Journal of International Relations Research (JIRR)

Committee member, International Sociology (IPS) Section, International Studies Association (ISA)

Contact details:

  • Physical Address: 5.21, Robert Leslie Building, Upper Campus)
  • Postal Address: Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7700.
  • Tel.: +27 21 650 3350, 6503799 (fax)
  • Email:





Physical address:  Robert Leslie Building,  Room 5.32 (Main office),  University Avenue,  Upper Campus,  University of Cape Town

Mailing address: Dept of Political Studies,  University of Cape Town,  Private Bag X3,  Rondebosch,  7701,  South Africa