Pinaud is an expert on South Sudan, African civil wars and genocide. Her research concerns the history of South Sudan's second and third civil wars. She explores wartime processes of social class formation, state-building and violence, including genocide. Trained as a political scientist and a historian, her approach is inter-disciplinary and her findings are based on extensive field research in South Sudan, where she has worked for international aid agencies since 2009. Her doctoral dissertation delved into the relationship between women and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) during the second civil war in South Sudan (1983-2005). Her publications have focused on various aspects of South Sudan’s history, including the making of a national history, women’s military history, the SPLA's predatory behaviors and marital practices, sexual violence, and genocide.
Pinaud's book, War and Genocide in South Sudan (Cornell University Press, 2021) explores the relationship between predatory wealth accumulation, state formation, and a form of racism—extreme ethnic group entitlement—that has the potential to result in genocide. It offers a new political history of South Sudan’s two civil wars that includes a reflection on socio-economic and demographic processes that involve women. This book illustrates her broader interest in the relationship between violence, predation, military allegiance and gendered processes of social class and state formation from 1983 to the present.