Craig won 1st place and People's Choice at the UBC Three Minute Thesis competition in 2016.
My research examines the relationship between law and war, especially as it relates to lethal targeting operations carried out by the US and Israel in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. For my PhD I interviewed senior military lawyers (JAGs) in the US and Israeli military about their role in targeting operations. Historically, the role of military lawyers was tied to administrative law and military justice among other things, but from the early 1990s - in the First Gulf War - they began to give advice to commanders on lethal targeting decisions. Since 9/11 they have become evermore integrated into what the US military calls the "kill chain", and commanders rely on them for legal advice on life and death decisions on the modern battlefield. We typically think of war and law as separate and even oppositional. But my research exposes a whole system of military law - a system that remains relatively unknown to the public and has been designed to sanction killing and violence. By exposing the secret world of military lawyers, my research is a vital first step toward understanding how law has become a potent weapon of modern war.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
Conducting research for the PhD is fascinating and is totally what you make of it. The real world is full of surprises that don't conform to our theories and its nice to be wrong about things that we thought we knew about. What makes me most curious though is what readers will make of my book, The War Lawyers (currently under construction).
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
It's less expensive than San Francisco, but more expensive than just about everywhere else.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
One day in 2007 I picked up a book and read it back-to-back, something that undergraduates rarely do. It was written by an amazing man who, at the time, I had never heard of. The book was called The Colonial Present and the author was the one and only Derek Gregory. As soon as I put the book down I made it my mission to study with him. He happened to be tenured at UBC and for a long time I had wanted to go to Vancouver so it was a match made in heaven. It remains one of the best decisions I have ever made, not only from a professional standpoint but from a personal one too. A scholarship from UBC sweetened the deal and made the whole thing possible: the rest is history.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
It's one of the best Geography departments in the world but one person in particular brought me to UBC Geography: Derek Gregory.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
Getting a tenure track job won't be easy...
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
A PhD is what you make of it and while this is an embarrassingly liberal reading I do believe that it is up to the individual to make the most of the PhD, be that learning a language, publishing, conferencing or whatever. Your supervisor and the institute can help, but it is the long and solitary hours that will produce the good work that is necessary to academic life.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Hard work, extreme focus, exercise and coffee but most importantly a supportive family, the best friends one could wish for and a remarkable loving partner. It is the things we take for granted and not the 'big achievements' that matter most.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I cycle uphill as fast as possible. It puts the PhD into perspective and being deprived of oxygen reminds me that both the mind and body have limits that are neither objective or fixed.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Publish. The thesis and the dissertation matter far less than publications: it's the latter that will get you a job and besides, hardly anybody reads the thesis/dissertation. And while we're on the subject of publishing: publish things that people will read, don't be pretentious and try to sound smart. Blogging is a good idea and you'd be surprised at how many people from all around the world end up being interested in your work - far more than will ever be interested in those journal articles or your dissertation...
Blogging is a good idea and you'd be surprised at how many people from all around the world end up being interested in your work.