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Johanna Vuorelma


I have always been interested in how our common sense is constructed. The question is particularly important in world politics because interpretations that seem natural to us have the most impact on our lives. At the core of my intellectual thinking is that interpretation is never value-free or neutral, and that this aesthetic insight should be recognised and embraced in the social sciences. My research interest in how morality and values are represented and rendered meaningful in the international system has led me to narrative and interpretative approaches, which I employed already in my MA dissertation at University College London in 2008. The dissertation was turned into a journal article in Slovo, which you can access here.

I spent the academic year of 2006–2007 at Istanbul Bilgi University, which was in many ways a formative year for me. Turkish politics and culture began to fascinate me to such an extent that my subsequent research has been formed around it. Since then I have returned to Istanbul and Ankara several times: first as a Turkish language student and later as a visiting researcher at the department of Political Science and International Relations at Boğaziçi University (2011). You can read some of my thoughts on Turkish politics here (and here and here).

Before joining the Department of Politics and International Studies (PAIS) at the University of Warwick, I worked as a research assistant in the European Union research programme of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (2009–2010). Currently based in my native Finland, I am the editor-in-chief of, a popular science online journal of the Finnish Political Science Association. If you read Finnish, you can access my articles here. More opinion pieces published in Finnish can be found here and here.

If you are more interested in hearing my thoughts on topical issues, here, here, here, here and here are some TV and radio interviews in Finnish.

Current research

By 2011 my two research interests – Turkey and narratives – were so much intertwined that I needed to embark on a more ambitious project to channel them out in a coherent way. In my PhD (2017) I examined how foreign policy analysis concerning Turkey not only assesses Turkey and its international actions but also produces morality related to the international system in general and the role of the West in particular. I approach the topic using narrative tools, especially Hayden White's tropology. My PhD research was funded by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.

My thinking concerning Western narratives of Turkey in foreign policy analysis is well captured in White's notion that 'sequences of real events possess the formal attributes of the stories we tell about imaginary events could only have its origin in wishes, daydreams, reveries. Does the world really present itself to perception in the form of well-made stories, with central subjects, proper beginnings, middles, and ends, and a coherence that permits us to see "the end" in every beginning?' (White 1987, 24–25)

I am currently Postdoctoral Researcher in the Network for European Studies at the University of Helsinki. My postdoc research is funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Selected publications


"A Narrative Battle: Debating Finland’s EU policy during the Economic Crisis", National Identities, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2017.

"Hannu Raittilan Canal Grande ja suomalainen eurokriisikeskustelu", Kosmopolis, Vol. 45, No. 4, 2015, pp. 7–23.

"Introduction", with Hiski Haukkala and Carina van de Wetering (eds), "Trust in International Relations: A Useful Tool?", Special Issue, Journal of Trust Resarch, Vol. 5, Issue 1, 2015, pp. 3–7.

"A Bakhtinian approach to EU-Turkey relations" in Chris Rumford (ed.), New Perspectives on Turkey–EU Relations (London & New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 43–52.

"Identity, Narrative and Frames: Assessing Turkey's Kurdish Initiatives", Insight Turkey, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2013, pp. 85–101.

"A Bakhtinian approach to EU-Turkey relations", Journal of Contemporary European Studies, Vol. 19, No. 4, December 2011, pp. 501–509.

Turkey’s Kurdish question and the EU’s dialogue-less approach", Perspectives: Review of International Affairs, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2011, pp. 73–84.

Western Focalisation of the Ilinden: Representing an Uprising in the Late Ottoman Balkans”, University College London: Slovo, Vol. 22 No. 2, Autumn, 2010, pp. 89–103.


"Ulkopolitiikalla rakennetaan omakuvaa", Ulkopolitiikka, 4/2016.

"Ihmisoikeusloukkaukset kavensivat empatiavajetta", Amnesty-lehti, 3/2016.

"Turkey's trampling of freedoms is Europe's problem too", University World News, 14 October 2016.

"Kahtiajako voi yhä kaataa Turkin rauhanprosessin", Helsingin Sanomat, 5 May 2013.

"Turkissakin vahva konsensuspolitiikan perinne", Turun Sanomat, 29 May 2011.

“Vaalit vahvistivat Turkin konsensusta”, Finnish Journal of Foreign Affairs, 3/2011.

"EU:n pitää edistää Turkin kurdikysymyksen ratkaisua", Helsingin Sanomat, 28 February 2011.

Turkey’s Middle East Policy” in Timo Behr (ed.), Hard Choices: The EU’s options in a changing Middle East, FIIA Report 28, 2011.

“Valtio muistaa puolestasi”, Finnish Journal of Foreign Affairs, 1/2011.

“One question, any answers? The EU’s role in solving the Kurdish question in Turkey”, FIIA Briefing Paper 74, January 2011.

"Euroopan unionilla ja Turkilla paljon yhteistä", Turun Sanomat, 17 September 2010.

”Lähi-itä katsoo nyt Turkkiin”, Finnish Journal of Foreign Affairs, 3/2010.

”EU-27 Watch No. 9 Finland”, with Tuulia Nieminen and Aaretti Siitonen, Institut für Europäische Politik, July 2010.

"Turkki pelaa kovilla panoksilla Lähi-idässä", Turun Sanomat, 20 June 2010.

"Rewriting the Ground Rules of European Diplomacy: The European External Action Service in the Making", with Timo Behr and Aaretti Siitonen, FIIA Briefing Paper 57, March 2010.


"Britain, Europe and national identity. Self and other in international relations", National Identities, forthcoming.

”Väärä maa, väärä vieras”, Finnish Journal of Foreign Affairs, 2/2010.

”Uudet alamaiset”, Finnish Journal of Foreign Affairs, 1/2010.


– The West – Concept, Narrative, and Politics, Jyväskylä, Finland, December 2016

Paper title: "The West and the global politics of empathy"

– The Annual Conference of the Finnish Political Science Association, Jyväskylä, Finland, March 2017.

Panel Chair: "100-vuotias Suomi politiikan tutkijan näkökulmasta"

- The Finnish Conference for Media and Communication Research, Helsinki, April 2016.

Paper title: "Luotettavaa ja kiinnostavaa tiedettä verkossa: ketä kiinnostaa?"

- The Annual Conference of the International Studies Association, Atlanta, March 2016.

Panel Chair: Trust in International Relations

- The Annual Conference of the Finnish Political Science Association, Helsinki, Finland, March 2016.

Panel Chair: Panel Chair: Narratives in Politics

- The Annual Conference of the Finnish Political Science Association, Åbo Akademi, Finland, March 2015.

Panel Chair: Narratives in Politics

- The Annual Conference of the International Studies Association, Toronto, March 2014.

Paper title: "Ontology of events in foreign policy analysis"

- ECPR General Conference, Bordeaux, September 2013.

Paper title: "Between Romantics and Tragedians: Finland's EU policy during the financial crisis"

- BISA-PGN Annual Conference, Birmingham, June 2013.

Conference Organiser

- The Annual Conference of the International Studies Association, San Francisco, April 2013.

Paper title: "Foreign Policy Analysis and Narratives: The Case of Turkey"

- The Gregynog Ideas Lab, Postinternational Politics, Wales, June 2012.

- The Annual Conference of the Finnish Political Science Association, University of Turku, Finland, March 2012.

Paper title: "Identity, narrative and frames: Renegotiating 'firmness' in Turkey's democratic initiative"

- Alternative Approaches to International Relations: Turkey and Beyond, MURCIR, Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey, November 2011.

Paper title: "Turkish Network State and its Limits"

- The Annual Conference of the Finnish Political Science Association, University of Jyväskylä, Finland, January 2011.

Paper title: "Western Narratives of losing Turkey"

- The Annual Finnish Colloquium of Southeast European Studies, Turku, Finland, October 2010.

Paper title: "Commemorating Omarska: Significations of a War Memorial"

- The European Standing Group on International Relations, Stockholm, Sweden, September 2010.

Paper title: "A Bakhtinian Approach to EU-Turkey relations"

- World Conference on Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES), Barcelona, Spain, July 2010.

Paper title: "Focalising Ilinden: Western Representations on an Uprising"

- European Union Institute for Security Studies: EU as a Normative Power, Natolin, Poland, July 2010.

Paper title: "Finland in an Integrated Europe: Between a "Melian Syndrome and Nordic Cosmopolitanism"


Finnish Political Science Association

Finnish Association of Political Scientists

British International Studies Association

Speaking in a panel on popularising science at the Helsinki Book Fair in October 2015.

Johanna Vuorelma

Johanna Vuorelma

j dot t dot vuorelma at warwick dot ac dot uk