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Uncertainty, Outsiders, and Crisis in International Security

I am working in the field of international security, with an emphasis on multidisciplinarity and a country focus on the United States. My research interests are three-fold and bound together by an emphasis on how events must have a narrated purpose before they can impact upon security policies, and how security discourses and security practices are both interlinked and co-constitutive.

1. The Political Economy of Security: The Uncertainty Doctrine

This project involved research fellowships at Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, and the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, and I am now finalizing the research monograph. The Uncertainty Doctrine shows how a security narrative centred on uncertainty has emerged as the framework that interlinks US security policy traditions with strategic planning efforts after the Cold War. By exploring the gradual reconstruction of US national security interests after the threat posed by the ‘Evil Empire’ receded, it sheds new light on the intense political bargaining process that took place behind the scenes within the US defence establishment from the late 1980s onwards. It thereby contributes more widely to a new wave of scholarship within International Relations that aims to blend political economy and security studies. Please see the related articles 'How to Last Alone at the Top: US Strategic Planning for the Unipolar Era' in the Journal of Strategic Studies and 'Rebels without a conscience: The evolution of the rogue states narrative in US security policy' in the European Journal of International Relations.

2. Constructing Threat Narratives: Outsiders in International Society

Any rationale for waging and preparing for wars relies on locating enmity and threat, and this 42-months research funded by an ESRC Future Research Leaders grant (ES/K008684/1; £238,640; 2013-17) focused on examining the ‘outsider’ threat scenario in US post-Cold War security discourse and on how this has locked the US into perpetuating expensive security practices even in times of severe economic crisis. In particular, the project investigated through a novel multidisciplinary framework how, when, and why policy language is co-constitutive of security practices. A key output of this grant is my article 'A Call to Arms: Hero-Villain Narratives in US Security Discourse' in Security Dialogue.

3. Global Security Governance: Crisis Leadership and Benchmarks

This research strand takes my research focus beyond a specific country or regional focus by investigating the global dimension of how security is governed, and how particular policies, measurements, and interpretations of danger are diffused internationally. From 09/2012 - 07/2013 I was part of a multidisciplinary pilot project funded by a University of Warwick Strategic Award on Crisis Leadership in Global Governance (CLiGG) (with Malcolm MacDonald and Stephanie Schnurr from the Centre for Applied Linguistics and Lena Rethel from PAIS). Please see the related article 'Multilateralism in Crisis? The Character of US International Engagement under Obama' in Global Society. Taking this research focus towards investigating 'number games' in international politics, I participated at the Benchmarking in Global Governance (BiGG) workshop held at the University of Warwick in March 2014.