- Critical approaches to security (identity, ontological security, anxiety)
- (Critical) geopolitics
- Borders, margins and hybrid spaces in international politics
- Nation Branding, Humour and Public Diplomacy
- Nordic/Baltic regionalisation, European Neighbourhood, Civilizational Politics, the identity politics of Brexit
1. Civilisational Analysis. I am interested in how the idea of civilization(s) continues to resonate as a marker of identification and legitimacy in world politics. Previous work has 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 and resulted in the following edited volume: The Struggle for the West: A Divided and Contested Legacy (Routledge 2010). Details of the NORFACE funded project can be found at http://www.norface.org/seminar1.html.
2. Ontological Security, International Politics and the Everyday. I am interested in the role of anxiety in international politics broadly conceived and in doing so am influenced by scholars like Giddens, Tillich and Lacan. At a collective level I am interested in how issues connected to ontological (in)security dynamics are central to understanding how states orient themselves in the world, how ontological security may offer alternative explanations for the emergence and endurance of security communities (e.g. the Nordic region, EU), and in how ontological security can open up alternative approaches to conflict resolution. However, ontological security also provides an interesting inroad into the international politics of the everyday, as evident, for instance, in people's responses to terrorist violence (e.g. the Paris attacks) and political crises (e..g. Brexit). My current ongoing work on ontological security includes a co-authored book on Vicarious Identity in International Politics which I am writing with Brent Steele and Pertti Joenniemi, and a set of papers with James Brassett exploring the constitutive and affective role of humour in the context of political crises.
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 (international) 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, as well as coordinating (with James Brassett) a British Academy funded project on the increasing use of humour by states as a form of 'new diplomacy' and nation branding.
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.