Teaching and Research Staff

Dr Oliver Villar

BA (Hons) PhD, UWS

Lecturer in History, Politics and Sociology
Building 1400, Office 1.13

Oliver was born in Mendoza, Argentina and has lived in Sydney for most of his life. In 2008 he completed his PhD on the political economy of contemporary Columbia in the context of the cocaine drug trade at the University of Western Sydney (UWS), offering a radical critique of the ‘war on drugs’, the ‘war on terrorism’ and the global drug trade. Ten years of research culminated in his and Drew Cottle's 2011 book, 'Cocaine, Death Squads and the War on Terror: US Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia', published in the prestigious Monthly Review (Albert Einstein wrote its first lead article, 'Why Socialism?', in 1949). 'Cocaine, Death Squads and the War on Terror' details the complex nature of Colombian society and fostered recognition that the drug trade was a driver in global politics, and of the US's foreign policy with respect to drug-producing zones. 'Cocaine, Death Squads and the War on Terror' has impacted politics, culture and society, bringing the link between the global drug trade and the legitimate global economy to light. Following the book's release, it has been used by experts, journalists and community groups to critique the financial system, the war on drugs, the war on terror and US policy towards Colombia

Oliver has been a lecturer since 2002, teaching politics, history, and sociology on a range of humanities and social science undergraduate programs at UWS, Macquarie University and Charles Sturt University (CSU). His published scholarly work focuses on international relations concerns, such as the exploitation of labour and natural resources for profit, security and conflict between the Global North and Global South, and the socio-political and environmental impacts of global capitalism.

At CSU, Oliver's academic interests continue to revolve around the vast and dynamic reservoir of political economy and the study of class analysis and class relations. This abiding interest extends across critical security studies, American foreign policy, and contemporary imperialism. His current research project investigates the subject of growing great power rivalries of the twenty-first century, with special attention on the globalisation of production and its shift to low-wage countries – particularly China – and US efforts to maintain its position as the leading hegemonic power in the Americas and in the world.

Current Subject Offering

  • HSS403 Political Theory and Method (Honours)
  • HST301 International History From 1945
  • HST308 Australia and Asia
  • POL111 International Relations
  • POL213 Understanding Australian Political Life: Actors, Institutions and Policy
  • POL305 Power, Politics and Propaganda in the Media
  • SOC101 Introductory Sociology
  • SPE211 Foundations in Social Policy


  • Current PhD co-supervisor for Mukesh Chander History/Politics student, Charles Sturt University, thesis topic: Australian citizenship and national identity in the context of terror warnings.
  • Current PhD co-supervisor for Jennifer O'Dempsey History/Politics student, Charles Sturt University, thesis topic: An evaluation of women's social roles, and representations of women in the Brisbane social protests (1967-1982).
  • PhD co-supervisor, Jennifer Watkins, History/Politics student, Charles Sturt University, thesis topic: Rural Rites: Women's Experience of Funerals and Remembrance on Lower Eyre Peninsula in the post 1960s era. 2020. Thesis completed.
  • Honours supervisor, Alexander Crampton, History/Politics student, Charles Sturt University, thesis topic: The political economy of the video games industry. 2020. Thesis completed with High Distinction.
  • Honours supervisor for Peter Hanes History/Politics student, Charles Sturt University, thesis topic: The Politics of Adam Smith in Local Government Procurement. 2019. Thesis completed.
  • Masters external supervisor, Paul Antonopoulos, Politics student, University of Western Sydney, thesis topic: Origins of the Syrian Conflict, 2016. Thesis published as a book (2017),https://www.amazon.com/Syria-Hegemonic-Flashpoint-between-Arabia/dp/9386457091
  • Honours supervisor for Jordan McSwiney History/Politics student, Charles Sturt University, thesis topic: The Far-Right in Australia. 2016. Thesis completed with High Distinction, see also http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/b629ee_f057ce2a6a1b45dfa9ad173977ca17bb.pdf
  • Honours co-supervisor for Claudio Dionigi History/Politics student, Charles Sturt University, thesis topic: The works and influence of Karl Polanyi. 2015. Thesis completed with High Distinction.
  • Interdisciplinary Honours thesis co-supervisor for Marina Clayton, Criminal Justice student, Charles Sturt University, Thesis topic: Why are drugs still coming into Australia? 2013. Thesis completed with High Distinction.

Current and Abiding Research Interests

  • Global rivalries of the twenty-first century: the US, China, and Russia in the Americas and the world; contemporary imperialism, inter-imperial rivalry, and resistance.
  • Critical security studies: international security and great powers; economic and resource security; territorial conflicts and cross-border security; grand strategy; intra-state conflicts, insurgencies and guerrilla movements.
  • American foreign policy: counterinsurgency and counterterrorism strategy; state violence; civil wars and proxy wars.
  • International political economy: capitalism, corporatism, neoliberalism, globalisation, class analysis and class relations between and within the First World and Third World (or Global North and Global South), and the West and East.

Research Impact Samples


Book Reviews in Media

Book Chapters

  • Villar, O. and Cottle D. 2021 FARC in Colombia: 21st Century US Imperialism and Class Warfare, 2nd Edition. In Ness, I. and Cope, Z. (eds.). The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-imperialism. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
  • Villar, O. and Cottle D. 2015 FARC in Colombia: 21st Century US Imperialism and Class Warfare, 1st Edition. In Ness, I. and Cope, Z. (eds.). The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-imperialism. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
  • Villar, O. 2012 Untouchable Compradores? Colombian State Narco-Terrorism and the People's Struggle for National Liberation. In Poynting, S. and Whyte, D. (eds.). Counter-Terrorism and State Political Violence: The 'War on Terror' as Terror. Routledge, New York.

Journal Articles

  • Villar, O. 2021 From the War on FARC to the War on Dissidents: a Critique of Imperial Peace in a Post-Agreement Theatre of War. Journal of Labor and Society. Vol. 24, Issue 2 (New York) 282-303.
  • Villar, O. 2020 A pandemic in an era of U.S.-China rivalry and neoliberalism. Independent Australia. May 10, (Brisbane) 1-6.
  • Antonopoulos, P; Villar, O; Cottle, D; Ahmed, A 2017 Somalia: Turkey's Pivot to Africa in the Context of Growing Inter-imperialist Rivalries. The Journal of Comparative Politics. July, (Ljubljana) 1-35.
  • Villar, O. and Cottle, D. 2013 One-Hundred Years of Solitude or Solidarity? Colombia's Forgotten Revolution. A Contracorriente: Journal on Social History and Literature in Latin America. Vol. 10, No. 2 (North Carolina) 167-202.
  • Villar, O. and Cottle, D. 2011 From La Violencia to the War on Terror: A Re-examination of Colombia's FARC-EP Inside Bolivar's 'Gran Colombia'. Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal. November, (Sydney) 1-33.
  • Villar, O. 2009 Inside the Crystal Triangle: The US 'War on Narcoterrorism' in Colombia. International Review of Business Research. Vol. 5, No. 4 (Melbourne) 1-10.
  • Villar, O. 2007 US Narcocolonialism? Colombian Cocaine and Twenty-First Century Imperialism. Research in Political Economy. Vol. 24, Spring, (New York) 97-128.

Conference Papers

  • "On the matter of 21st century imperialism in Latin America," paper presented at the Fourth Annual Historical Materialism Australasia conference, Sydney University, 17-18 July, 2015.
  • "US imperialism?" paper presented at the Third Annual Historical Materialism Australasia conference, Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 5-6 September, 2014.
  • "The Black Hole, Colombia and the Class War," paper presented at the Violence Studies Conference 2012, University of Newcastle, August 23, 2012.
  • "FARC-EP: La Insurgencia Del Siglo XXI," paper presented at the Association of Iberian & Latin American Studies of Australasia (AILASA) Conference. The Australian National University, Canberra, July 7-9, 2010, http://politicsir.cass.anu.edu.au/centres/australian-national-centre-for-latin-american-studies/content/Independence-audio-recordings
  • Cottle, D; Villar, O; Keys, A. 2009 The Global Financial Crisis: System Failure, Great Power Rivalry and Prospects for Structural Change. The Australasian Political Studies Association (APSA) Annual Conference.Macquarie University, Sydney, 28-30 September.
  • Villar, O and Cottle, D. 2009 'Great Disorder Under Heaven': The Global Crisis of Capital, Great Power Rivalry and Prospects for Structural Change. International Gramsci Society. Political Economy Conference - Capital in Crisis: Implications for Labour and Society. University of Wollongong, Wollongong, 9-10 July.
  • "Colombia, a political economy of drugs," paper presented at the Latin American Studies Council of Asia and Oceania (CELAO) I Conference – La Trobe University, Melbourne, July 14–16, 2005.
  • Villar, O; Cottle, D; Keys, A. 2003 The Kill for Drugs Policy? Ecocide in Rural Colombia. Greening Sustainability - XIV Ecopolitics Conference of the Ecopolitics Association of Australasia. RMIT University, Melbourne, 27-29 November.
  • Cottle, D; Keys, A; Villar, O. 2003 Beyond Sustainability? Ecocide in South Australia's Desert Landscapes. Greening Sustainability - XIV Ecopolitics Conference of the Ecopolitics Association of Australasia.RMIT University, Melbourne, 27-29 November.
  • "Rumble in the Jungle: FARC vs US imperialism," paper presented at the War, Society and Culture Conference – University of Newcastle, Newcastle, September 29–October 1, 2002.

Australian and International Media

International Media

Australian Media


  • Institute for Land, Water and Society, CSU
  • Latin America Social Forum, Sydney, Australia
  • Latin American House Inc. Melbourne, Australia


  • ERA discipline expert, Charles Sturt University’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2018

Selected Talks and Guest Lectures

  • Expert forum participant, "Imperialism, Globalisation and the Challenges of 2017", Federation of Italian Migrant Workers and Their Families, Granville Public Library, July 8, 2017.
  • Guest speaker, "The left in crisis?: problems of strategy and ideology in the age of 21st century imperialism", Latin American House Inc. Sydney Australia, October 29, 2016. (presented in Spanish).
  • Expert panel participant, "Voting yes or no to peace: Implications for upcoming Plebiscite on ending the Colombian civil war," United for Colombia, Sydney, September 24, 2016.
  • "In Whose Hands is Colombia's Future?" Guest speaker, "Colombia" Prospects and challenges in the context of the Peace Process," Latin America Social Forum/United for Colombia, Sydney, April 9, 2016.
  • Invitation as expert to "Colombia: inside out," Debate hosted by LATITUDES / Latin American Research Group Australia, University of New South Wales (UNSW), August 8, 2014.
  • Talk on the current situation in Colombia and neighbouring countries – Guest   speaker for postgraduate students, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), May 31, 2014.
  • Talk on "Analysis of the Situation of Colombian Farmers" – Guest speaker for United for Colombia committee, Newtown community centre, November 30, 2013.
  • Guest lecture on the Latin American drug trade, Centre for Transnational Crime Prevention, University of Wollongong, August 24, 2012.
  • "The Great Struggle in Latin America," guest speaker, Latin America Social Forum (LASF) Conference, Sydney, August 18-19, 2012.
  • "Critiques of international political economy," Chair for the Annual Historical Materialism Australasia conference, Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 20-21 July, 2012.
  • Talk on Colombia for International Solidarity Conference for Latin America, Trades Hall, Melbourne, August 28–29, 2009.
  • Talk on US counterinsurgency operations in Central and South America since the Cold War – Guest speaker for Committee for Human Rights in Guatemala, January 24, 2009.
  • Talk on "Parapolitica" scandal and International Criminal Court investigation (ICC) of the Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe Velez – Guest speaker for Peace and Justice for Colombia (PJFC),Sydney, November 29, 2008.
  • Talk on Colombian conflict for Latin America Conference, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), October 10, 2006.
  • Guest lecture on US Policy Towards Colombia, University of Western Sydney (UWS), September 3, 2004.

Other Professional Activities

  • Master of Research thesis examiner, The Balkans Unplugged (1991-2008): Serbia, Geopolitics, and the Ideal of a Russian “New Byzantium”. By Branko Tanaskovic, Western Sydney University, September 4, 2021.
  • Reviewer, academic journal The International Journal of Community and Social Development, “Demands and Expectations by Young Residents of Impoverished Neighbourhoods in Central America,” July 31, 2021.
  • Reviewer, academic journal Social Sciences, “The Rise of Fascist Formations in Chile and in the World,” November 30, 2020.
  • ERA discipline expert, Charles Sturt University’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2018.
  • Reviewer, PhD examiners reports meeting, Charles Sturt University, April 9, 2018. Thesis topic: Exploring the Limit to Neutrality in Political Liberalism, Paul Griffiths.
  • Reviewer, PhD Candidature confirmation, Charles Sturt University, March 9, 2018. Thesis topic: Media and Democracy in the Third Space: Defining the spatial location of the Turkish media in the Euro-Muslim World, Fulya Vatansever.
  • Reviewer, academic journal Rural Society, “The Trump Administration & Efficiency: The proposed border ‘wall’ and its possible geopolitical implications", January 6, 2018.
  • Reviewer, academic Journal of Labor and Society (LANDS), “Jose Carlos Mariategui: Welding Marxism and Indigenism in Latin America”, November 11, 2017.
  • Forum participant, Faculty of Arts & Education Research & Research Supervision Forum, Charles Sturt University – Bathurst campus, August 24-26, 2016.
  • Reviewer, PhD Candidature confirmation, Charles Sturt University, May 26, 2016. Thesis topic: Political Scandals in Australian Politics, Liam Lander.
  • Politics Honours research course launch (HSS401 Research/Dissertation, HSS402 Reading Subject, HSS403 Political Theory and Method), March 17, 2016,
  • Workshop participant, “Refreshed University Values,” Charles Sturt University – Bathurst campus, 30 March, 2016.
  • Workshop participant, “In the Beginning” Rejuvenating the First Year Curriculum in Political Science/Politics” Conference, Australian Catholic University (ACU), November 1, 2013,
  • Reviewer, Master’s Candidature confirmation, University of Western Sydney, October 28, 2013. Thesis topic: The Syrian Crisis, Paul Antonopoulos.
  • Honours thesis examiner, The Origins of the Cambodian-Vietnamese War. By Paul Antonopoulos, University of Western Sydney, November 5, 2012.
  • Book launches, Sydney, Bathurst, and Melbourne, March 15, 19, and 21, 2012.
  • Open Letter in Solidarity with Hunger Strikes at La Tramacúa Prison, Valledupar, Colombia (among 136 academics, public intellectuals, and Human Rights groups), July 2, 2011, https://anncolprov.blogspot.com/2011/07/organizaciones-internacionales-piden-el.html
  • Open Letter to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias in opposition to extradition policy with Colombia (among 100 leading Latin Americanists, NGOs, and community groups), April 27, 2011, http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=127260 
  • Reviewer, PhD Candidature confirmation, University of Western Sydney, April 15, 2011. Thesis topic: The Cold War in Latin America, James Trapani.
  • Registration for Research Higher Degree (HDR) Supervisor, Charles Sturt University, April 12, 2011.
  • Honours thesis examiner, An Imperial Legacy: American Foreign Policy in Post War Latin America. By James Trapani, University of Western Sydney, November 17, 2010.
  • Honours thesis examiner, A Delicate Alliance: Hegemony and the Political Economic Genesis of Neoliberalism in Australia. By Joe Collins, Charles Sturt University, August 27, 2010.
  • Graduate Certificate in University Learning and Teaching (GCULT) – EEL409, June 10, 2010.
  • Foundations of University Learning and Teaching (FULT), December 8, 2009.
  • Reviewer for conference proceedings, The Australasian Political Studies Association (APSA) Annual Conference. Macquarie University, Sydney, September 28-30, 2009.
  • Research Grant Writing, professional workshop, UWS, April 10, 2007.
  • Talk on PhD preparation and issues for postgraduate students, UWS Student Representative Council workshop, April 7, 2007.
  • Developing a philosophy of teaching statement, professional workshop, UWS, April 19, 2006.
  • Starting your portfolio: gathering evidence, professional workshop, UWS, August 12, 2005.

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