Dr Lisa Stampnitzky (she/her)

Department of Politics and International Relations

Lecturer in Politics

Profile image for academic staff member Lisa Stampnitzky
Profile picture of Profile image for academic staff member Lisa Stampnitzky
+44 114 222 1701

Full contact details

Dr Lisa Stampnitzky
Department of Politics and International Relations
Modular Teaching Village
Northumberland Road
S10 1AJ

Dr Stampnitzky joined the department as Lecturer in Politics in 2015. Her principal research interests lie at the intersection of knowledge, violence, and power, with a particular focus on the production of popular and expert knowledge about war, terrorism, and human rights. She currently serves as the department’s director for postgraduate research.


I earned my BA in sociology at New College of Florida, and an MA and PhD in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. I subsequently held research fellowships at Stanford, Oxford, Harvard, Ohio State, and the European University Institute, and was Lecturer on Social Studies at Harvard University from 2012-2015.

Research interests

My research analyses how understandings of state and non-state violence are politically, socially, and historically constructed, drawing together theories and methods from politics and international relations, sociology, and science and technology studies. I also have interests in the role of ‘expertise’ in society, the politics of secrecy/denial/ignorance, the sociology of knowledge, and historical sociology.

My current book project, How Torture Became Speakable, aims to explain the puzzle of why the post-9/11 war on terror has been characterized by the open justification of practices that violate human rights norms, such as torture and assassination. While the literature on human rights predicts that states will sometimes fail to abide by the norms they rhetorically affirm, it is expected that this will manifest as hypocrisy, rather than open defiance of such norms. The puzzle, then, is why the US has chosen to openly justify the practices of "harsh interrogation" and "targeted killing," rather than rely on a strategy of denial.

My first book*, Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented “Terrorism” (Cambridge University Press, 2013), addressed the question of how the contemporary concept of "terrorism" took shape. Through a multi-method study, drawing on historical research, network analysis, and interviews with experts in the field, it establishes how both "terrorism" and terrorism expertise were socially and historically constructed. *Disciplining Terror has been awarded the 2015 Francesco Guicciardini Prize for Best Book in Historical International Relations from the International Studies Association; the 2015 International Political Sociology Book Award from the International Studies Association; and the 2012 President's Book Award from the Social Science History Association.



  • Stampnitzky L (2013) Disciplining Terror How Experts Invented 'Terrorism'. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Stampnitzky L (2023) Accessing the “field” of terrorism studies, Research Methods in Critical Security Studies (pp. 50-58). Routledge RIS download Bibtex download
  • Stampnitzky L (2022) Making Sense of Terrorism, Making Sense of Radicalization and Violent Extremism (pp. 142-149). Routledge RIS download Bibtex download
  • Stampnitzky L (2019) 1. Can Terrorism Be Defined?, Constructions of Terrorism (pp. 11-20). University of California Press RIS download Bibtex download
  • Stampnitzky L (2017) Can Terrorism Be Defined?, CONSTRUCTIONS OF TERRORISM: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO RESEARCH AND POLICY (pp. 11-20). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Stampnitzky LR (2016) The emergence of terrorism studies as a field In Jackson R (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies Routledge RIS download Bibtex download
  • Stampnitzky LR & Mattson G (2015) Sociology: Security and Insecurities In Bourbeau P (Ed.), Security Dialogue across Disciplines Cambridge University Press RIS download Bibtex download
  • Stampnitzky LR (2015) Problematic knowledge: How “terrorism” resists expertise In Berling TV & Bueger C (Ed.), Security Expertise Practices, Power and Responsibility Routledge RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

Research group

International Relations


My work has been funded by a Leverhulme Research Grant.

Teaching interests

I have also taught in the areas of terrorism and political violence, human rights, and research methods.

Teaching activities

I currently teach POL 3033, Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence.

Professional activities and memberships

Dr Stampnitzky has provided commentary for a number of media outlets, including Sky News, BBC Radio 5 and Democracy Now!

PhD Supervision

I am able to supervise PhD research in areas including the politics of knowledge/science/expertise, and social/cultural/discursive/historical approaches to the study of violence, human rights, and the war on terror.