Edward Burke

Dr Edward Burke is an Associate Professor in International Relations specialising in the study of insurgency, terrorism and political violence.

In May 2020, Edward commenced a two-year early career fellowship funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council investigating “The Greatest Weight? Paramilitaries, Deterrent Violence and Feud in Ulster’s Borderlands since 1920.” This follows his 2018 book An Army of Tribes: British Army Cohesion, Deviancy and Murder in Northern Ireland, about the experiences of the British Army in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, which was published by Liverpool University Press.

Edward’s most recent research has appeared in Terrorism and Political Violence, the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, PRISM, and the RUSI Journal. His work has been reported on by the Financial Times and the Economist, amongst other media.

His media contributions include opinion articles for The GuardianThe Irish TimesEl País and The New York Times. He has also appeared as an expert witness at the UK Houses of Parliament and the European Parliament, and he has lectured at the Royal United Services Institute and at Chatham House.

Prior to joining the University of Nottingham in September 2017, Edward was Lecturer in Strategic Studies at the University of Portsmouth, prioer to which he completed his PhD at the Centre for Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in 2016.

From 2010 to 2011 he was Deputy Head of the International Police Coordination Board in Kabul, Afghanistan, having previously served as Strategy, Planning, Analysis and Reporting Officer at the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan. Edward has also worked as a Foreign Policy Fellow at FRIDE (Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior) in Madrid, and at the Centre for European Reform in London.


An Army of Tribes

Edward Burke

An Army of Tribes is the first study of Operation Banner, the British Army’s campaign in Northern Ireland.

Drawing upon extensive interviews with former soldiers, primary archival sources including unpublished diaries and unit log-books, this book closely examines soldiers’ behaviour at the small infantry-unit level (battalion downwards), including the leadership, cohesion and training that sustained, restrained and occasionally misdirected soldiers during the most violent period of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

It contends that there are aspects of wider scholarly literatures – including from sociology, anthropology, criminology and psychology – that can throw new light on our understanding of the British Army in Northern Ireland. It also offers fresh insights and analysis of incidents involving the British Army during the early years of Operation Banner, including the 1972 ‘Pitchfork murders’ of Michael Naan and Andrew Murray in County Fermanagh, and the killing of Warrenpoint hotel owner Edmund Woolsey in South Armagh.

‘An excellent, engaging and provocative study that addresses a crucial period during ‘the Troubles’ and examines patterns of behaviour within the British army as well as wider issues within Northern Ireland during this time. Dr David Murphy, Maynooth University ‘Based on rich and original research, this is a well-researched and sophisticated study on the British Army in Northern Ireland.’

— Professor Richard English, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation and Engagement, Queen's University Belfast