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General research interests

Critical appoaches to security

(Critical) geopolitics

Politics of identity

Ongoing Projects

1. Civilisational Analysis. I am presently coordinating a project exploring how the idea of civilization(s) continues to resonate as a marker of identification and legitimacy in world politics. This builds on an earlier project that explored the extent to which the West should be understood as an essentially contested concept by analysing contending representations and legacies of the West, from both within its core and beyond. This project was supported by a NORFACE seminar series grant, for which I was the PI, and resulted in an edited volume: The Struggle for the West: A Divided and Contested Legacy (Routledge 2010). Details of the NORFACE project can be found at

2. Ontological Security, Security Communities and Conflict (Resolution). I am particularly interested in the relationship between physical security (security as violence) and ontological security (security as being) in two particular contexts. The first concerns an ongoing project that utilises the case of the enduring peace between the Nordic Countries to provide a revisionist theoretical corrective to established accounts explaining the emergence and endurance of security communities. Second, I am interested in how an emphasis on ontological security can open up alternative approaches to conflict resolution. Beyond this I have worked extensively on critical approaches to security, with a more particular interest in expounding more clearly their various ethical and normative agendas.

3. Performing Nationhood: (Self)-Esteem, Good Citizenship and the Politics of Identity. I have a long running interest and research profile in the construction of national and regional identities, with a particular focus on Northern Europe, the European Union and the so-called Anglosphere. More specifically, I am interested in how states seek a sense of national (self)-esteem in international politics and how claims to identity are both deployed and reinforced as part of that process and how in turn this can come to have particular implications for understandings of what constitutes good citizenship. In this context I am presently researching the performative and constitutive effects of nation branding strategies on how states understand themselves, the nature of the international environment and their prospective roles within it.

4. Borders, margins and hybrid spaces in international relations. This research theme draws upon elements of all the above and where I am in particular interested in two sets of cases, primarily in relation to the development of Europe. First, I am interested in how marginal spaces can attain subjectivity and influence in processes of Europe-making, precisely through playing on or rejecting marginality as an identity and security policy. To this end, I have undertaken analyses of marginality as a anchor that is either embraced or rejected in the political projects constructing Finnish national identity, while I have also analysed the specific identity politics played out in Kaliningrad and Gibraltar. Second, I am interested in the construction of European identity and the nature of the European security environment that emerges from how the EU conducts its relations with its near abroad and beyond. In this regard, I have analysed the constitutive politics of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the nature of the EU's particular relations with Russia in northern Europe.



I would encourage prospective postgraduate research students to contact me if they are interested in working on a project dealing with any of my research interests listed above.

Current Research Students:

  • Joseph Haigh - 'A State of Mind? The Militarised Self and the Ontological (In)security of British Militarism'.
  • Lisa Soares - 'Recasting Rights in the Caribbean: The Formation of a Regional Fisheries Policy'.

Completed Research Students:

  • Johanna Vuorelma (PhD) - 'Losing Turkey? Narrative Traditions in Western Foreign Policy Analysis'.
  • Ilke Dagli (PhD) - 'Securitization of ethnic communities in contested states and its implications for reconciliation processes: Can desecuritization facilitate peace processes?'
  • Atsuko Watanabe (PhD) - 'Geopolitics as Traveling Theory: The Evolution of Geopolitical Imagination in Japan, 1925-1945'.
  • Jakub Eberle (PhD) - 'Logics of Foreign Policy: Discourse, Fantasy and Germany's Policies in the Iraq Crisis'. (Winner of BISA Michael Nicholson Prize 2017)
  • Oguzhan Yanarisik (PhD) - 'The Role of Ideas, Perceptions and Emotions in Foreign Policy Change: The Turkish Case'.
  • Elisa Lopez Lucia (PhD) - 'Discourses and Practices of the Regionalisation of Foreign and Security Policies: The Cases of West Africa and South America'.
  • Domenico Ferrara (PhD) - 'EU-Russia Energy Relations: A Discursive Approach'.
  • Caroline Kuzemko (PhD) - 'Energy and Power: An analysis of energy relations between Russia and the UK'.
  • Eun-Jeong Cho (PhD) - 'EURATOM: Nuclear Norm Competition between Allies, 1955-1957'.
  • Jonathan Heath (MRes) - 'Articulating Security: A Linguistic Analysis of the Issues Posed by Employing Language as a Means of Conceptualising Security'