Each year, the Trudeau Centre for Peace Conflict and Justice offers three fellowships to exceptional doctoral students from Uof T’s Department of Political Science, whose research relates to issues of peace, conflict and justice.

Aden Dur-e-Aden

This year, Aden Dur-e-Aden is one of the three recipients of the Trudeau Centre Fellowship in Peace, Conflict and Justice. Initially motivated to study religious extremism as a post-graduate student, Aden has found her research focus studying right-wing extremism in Canada.

After closely examining US drone policy as a Master’s student at the University of British Columbia, she became intrigued by civil wars and the causes of violence. Some of the questions driving Aden’s research include: Why do people fight? Why do people fight when they are in the same country? The same family? These questions led to her current research into right-wing extremism.

Aden attributes her interest in conflict and terrorism studies to her childhood. “I grew up in a 9/11 world. I was 11 years old when that happened. I remember how brown skinned people specifically were treated afterwards. For me, it was more a question of understanding why.”

When exploring the prevalent theories about causes of these acts, she found explanations of inherent violence, poverty, or anti-US sentiment. As a researcher, these led her to ask: “Why aren’t more people fighting? Somebody could be against US foreign policy, and yet not be engaging in violence themselves.” These questions came to a head at the time Aden applied for PhD studies as we saw the election of Trump in the US and the rise of far-right parties in Europe. “It just became a more interesting question. Even within Canada, the Quebec mass shooting had happened by that time in 2017.”

On October 22, Aden delivered a seminar based on her research to PCJ students. Aden’s goal was “to not just tell students about my research, but also tell them how to do research.” She spoke about the unique challenges of field work, dealing with issues of personal safety, sensitive politics, and in some cases, law enforcement. She states, “With PCJ, the students have these specific interests, which are related to what the focus of the Trudeau Centre] is, so I’m hoping students will be interested in what I have to say.”

When asked what advice she would give undergraduate students, Aden emphasized work experience. She points to her time as a co-op student and then as an intelligence analyst, working in the government on national security files , as a key factor as to her current graduate school path. “It’s a long commitment. This is the time in your 20s, where you can have a bit of freedom to experiment and figure out if grad school or a PhD is what you actually want to do yourself, not because you think this is the path that will get me to a fancier job.”