Professor Jan Selby
Department of Politics and International Relations
Professor of Politics and International Relations
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Department of Politics and International Relations
Jan Selby joined the University of Sheffield in June 2020 as Professor of Politics and International Relations.
After completing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Lancaster (2002), Jan's first post was as a lecturer in Lancaster's Department of Politics and IR. After a short stint at Aberystwyth, he then moved to the Department of IR, University of Sussex, where he worked for 15 years (2005-20). He held several leadership positions at Sussex, including Head of Department (2007-09), Director of Research (2011-20), and Director of the cross-disciplinary Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research (2012-18).
Professor Selby’s research and teaching focus on climate change, water and energy politics, though he also works periodically on themes in IR theory, and conflict, peacebuilding and development.
- Research interests
My research focuses principally on climate change, water and energy issues, and their intersections with politics and power. I have worked extensively on West Asian and especially Israeli-Palestinian water politics (the subject of a 2003 monograph); on the conflict and security implications of climate change; and more recently on the impacts of ‘non-energy policies’ on energy demand. Across this work, I use a political ecology lens informed by the historical materialist and post-colonial traditions, examining both the political consequences of, and responses to, environmental conflicts and crises, and their political (and political-economic) contexts and causes. I am currently working on a monograph ‘Divided Environments: A Political Ecology of Climate Change, Water and Security’, together with Clemens Hoffmann (Stirling) and Gabrielle Daoust (Sussex).
In the past I have also worked on various aspects of IR theory, and conflict, peacebuilding and development. This has included work on global governance (the subject of a 2003 co-edited volume); on the use and misuse of the work of Michel Foucault within IR; on the work of Edward Said; on militarism and International Relations (the subject of a 2012 book co-edited with Anna Stavrianakis); and on the ‘myth of liberal peace-building’ within peacebuilding research. My most recent book is ‘What’s the Point of International Relations?’, co-edited with Synne Dyvik and Rorden Wilkinson.
I have written on (and undertaken or overseen fieldwork in) Israel-Palestine, Syria, Cyprus, India-Pakistan, Cambodia, Sudan and South Sudan, the Lake Chad region, and the UK and US. I do not really have an area specialism but have worked most extensively on Israel-Palestine.
- What’s the point of International Relations?. London: Routledge.
- Militarism and International Relations: Political economy, security, theory. London: Routledge.
- Water, power and politics in the Middle East: The other Israeli-Palestinian conflict. London: IB Tauris.
- rethinking climate change, conflict and security. London: Routledge.
- Global Governance, Conflict and Resistance. Routledge.
- From exports to exercise: How non-energy policies affect energy systems. Energy Research and Social Science, 55, 179-188.
- The Trump presidency, climate change, and the prospect of a disorderly energy transition. Review of International Studies, 45(3), 471-490.
- Climate change and the Syrian civil war, Part II : the Jazira’s agrarian crisis. Geoforum, 101, 260-274. View this article in WRRO
- Modelling energy demand from higher education institutions: A case study of the UK. Applied Energy, 233-234, 816-826.
- Invisible energy policies: A new agenda for energy demand reduction. Energy Policy, 123, 127-135.
- Critical international relations and the impact agenda. British Politics, 13(3), 332-347.
- Climate change and the Syrian civil war revisited. Political Geography, 60, 232-244.
- Climate change and the Syrian civil war revisited: A rejoinder. Political Geography, 60, 253-255.
- Introduction: Eight myths of conflict and development in the middle east. IDS Bulletin, 47(3), 1-18.
- Misrepresenting the Jordan river basin. Water Alternatives, 8(2), 258-279.
- Beyond scarcity: Rethinking water, climate change and conflict in the Sudans. Global Environmental Change, 29, 360-370. View this article in WRRO
- Positivist Climate Conflict Research: A Critique. Geopolitics, 19(4), 829-856.
- Rethinking Climate Change, Conflict and Security. Geopolitics, 19(4), 747-756.
- The myth of liberal peace-building. Conflict, Security and Development, 13(1), 57-86.
- Cooperation, domination and colonisation: The Israeli-Palestinian joint water committee. Water Alternatives, 6(1), 1-24.
- Water scarcity, conflict, and migration: A comparative analysis and reappraisal. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 30(6), 997-1014.
- Engaging Foucault: Discourse, liberal governance and the limits of Foucauldian IR. International Relations, 21(3), 324-345.
- Edward Said: Truth, justice and nationalism. Interventions, 8(1), 40-55.
- The geopolitics of water in the Middle East: Fantasies and realities. Third World Quarterly, 26(2), 329-349.
- Post-Zionist perspectives on contemporary Israel. New Political Economy, 10(1), 107-120.
- Oil and water: The contrasting anatomies of resource conflicts. Government and Opposition, 40(2), 200-224.
- Dressing up domination as 'cooperation': The case of Israeli-Palestinian water relations. Review of International Studies, 29(1), 121-138+1.
- The Palestinian water crisis: Status, projections and potential for resolution. Natural Resources Forum, 20(1), 17-26.
- Non-energy policy, Energy Fables: Challenging Ideas in the Energy Sector (pp. 112-118).
- War becomes academic: Human Terrain, virtuous war and contemporary militarism. An interview with James Der Derian, Militarism and International Relations: Political Economy, Security, Theory (pp. 59-74).
- Militarism and international relations in the twenty-first century, Militarism and International Relations: Political Economy, Security, Theory (pp. 3-18).
- Joint mismanagement: Reappraising the Oslo water regime, Water Resources in the Middle East: Israel-Palestinian Water Issues - From Conflict to Cooperation (pp. 203-212).
- Research group
I have supervised around 20 PhD projects, and currently supervise 3 PhD students, all finishing at Sussex:
- Fazilda Nabeel, The political ecology of groundwater in Pakistan
- Bontle Masilo, The politics of indigeneity in Botswana
- Wassim Naboulsi, Rural-urban relations and the Syrian civil war
I particularly welcome PhD proposals on topics related toclimate change, water and energy politics, and in the broad areas of political ecology and environmental security.
- Co-Investigator on Research Councils UK Research Centre,‘The Dynamics of Energy, Mobilityand Demand’ (DEMAND), leading £300K project on ‘invisible energy policies’ in the UK higher education and health sectors (2015-19).
- Principal Investigator, Leverhulme Visiting Professorship with Yoav Peled, Tel Aviv University, £78K (2016-17).
- Co-Investigator on European Commission Framework 7 collaborative project ‘Climate Change, Hydro-Conflicts and Human Security’ (CLICO), leading £260K project on Sudan, Cyprus and Israel-Palestine (2010-12).
- Principal Investigator, ESRC New Security Challenges programme grant on ‘The Political Economy of the Israeli-Palestinian and Indo-Pak Peace Processes’, £45K (2005-06).
- Teaching activities
I teach three modules:
- International Relations Theory – level 2 core module.
- Water, Climate, Energy – level 3 optional module.
- Global Politics of Climate Change – MA optional module.
- Professional activities
I have done extensive policy, public and media engagement work, including research and/or evaluation work for UNICEF, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, the UK Government Office of Science, the UK Energy Research Centre, and the PLO. I regularly brief policy audiences on water and climate security issues, and my research has been extensively covered in the national and international media.
My 2013 analysis of Israeli-Palestinian water negotiation files provided the first documented evidenceof the Palestinian Authority formally consenting, under pressure, to an element of Israel’s illegal settlement-building programme in the West Bank, and informed changes in Palestinian and international policy on the Israeli-Palestinian water conflict.