Joe Turner

Dr Joe Turner

Research Fellow in International Migration

Contact Details
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1693
Room: 2.20
Feedback and consultation hours: Please email for appointment


Joe joined the department in October 2014 and became a Research Fellow in International Migration in 2016. He previously undertook doctoral research in the department (PhD awarded 2014). Joe received an MA in Political Research from Newcastle University in 2009 and previously worked as an Associate Lecturer at the Aston Centre for Europe, Aston University, Birmingham (2013-2014).

Joe’s research sits at the cross-section of international politics, history and sociology. His work examines the relationship between citizenship, borders and violence. He primarily focusses on how inclusion/exclusion is made possible in liberal states such as the UK. Joe is particularly interested in the historical and transnational emergence of border practices; the relationship between liberalism and violence; the everyday cultural politics of ‘belonging’ (particular the links between nation and empire in Britain); and the relationship between citizenship and intimacy.

Joe is currently finishing his first monograph called Making Love, Making Empire.

In 2018 he will act as co-convenor for the cross-cutting seminar series ‘At the Border’. He also co-organisers the department’s new Equality and Diversity reading group and the IR reading group.

Professional membership:

  • ECPR Citizenship steering group
  • Faculty Migration Research Network
  • The Europe, Migration and the New Politics of (In)Security White Rose Network

My teaching philosophy rests on treating students as engaged learners and encouraging them to think critically about the ideas and forms of knowledge they are exposed to and use. I strive to create an environment in which students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas and can experiment by developing new lines of argument and exploring new concepts. This is because I consider teaching and learning to be a collective activity which asserts our interdependence. I always pursue a student focussed approach to teaching, thus my seminars are structured around student-led discussion and problem-solving activities. Whilst I believe that teaching through academic literature is a key way for students to develop scholarly engagement, I always ground abstract concepts and theory in empirical examples. I also consider the best way to teach complex theory is through application. I’m interested in exploring new pedagogical approaches, especially teaching politics through popular culture.

In 2018/2019 I will teach the level 3 module The Politics of Asylum (POL3147) and contribute to the sociology module Families and Migration.

In 2018 Joe taught at the Sheffield International College Summer School, Thessaloniki, Greece.

He has previously taught across the curriculum:

Module Leader (2015-2016)

  • Wars, New Wars and the Liberal State (PGT)
  • Terrorism, Violence and the State (UG)(Co-Taught)
  • Contemporary Security Challenges (UG)(Co-Taught)

Module Leader (2014-2015)

  • Introduction to the Philosophy of Social Science and Research Methods (PGT)
  • The Political Economy of Globalisation (PGT)

Joe’s research is currently organised into three strands:

Family and Borders (2016- Present)
His postdoctoral research project aims to explore the increasing surveillance that is placed on certain people under the moral and cultural economy of ‘family life’ in late liberalism. It examines those who are marginalised, excluded and made insecure through transforming ideas about who is deserving of, who can have access to, and equally who threatens normative forms of ‘family life’. As an empirical focus, it investigates how claims to ‘family life’ shape, and are shaped by, border regimes and the politics of contemporary citizenship in the UK.
To unpack these points of interest the project explores the entanglement of mobility, heteronormativity and social control under Empire before turning to an investigation of three contemporary border sites: ‘sham marriages’; deprivation of citizenship and ‘grooming’/sex scandals. Contributing to postcolonial, Foucauldian and feminist scholarship, the project asks how intimacy has been central to the operation of liberal power? In particular how this expression of liberal power is wrapped up with orientalist and colonial histories of demarcating between worthy/unworthy forms of life? Alongside examining how ‘migrant families’ are intervened upon and policed in contemporary border practices, the project asks how shifting ideas around the ‘family’ and proper ‘domesticity’ work to racialize and sexualise certain bodies and, in doing so, coordinate modern politics more generally.
Alongside recent publications, the main output from this project will be a research monograph called Making Love, Making Empire.

Decolonising Migration Studies (2019-)
In 2019 Joe will begin a project called ‘Decolonising Migration Studies’ with Dr Lucy Mayblin (Sociology, University of Sheffield). The collaborative book project responds to the way that the field of migration studies has failed to properly deal with European colonial histories and structural racism that both underpins modern scholarship and the politics of mobility. The book offers a vital intervention into the field and provides tools for scholars to incorporate the insights of decolonial and postcolonial studies into their work.

Methods at the Museum (2018-)
This project asks how museums are spaces of international politics? And how they are best studied as spaces of international politics? Undertaken with Dr Joanne Tidy (Politics, University of Sheffield) the research aims to develop a political methodology for studying museums. This project responds to the increasing interest in IR/international politics in museums, memorialisation and the everyday. It draws on the ongoing fieldwork that both Dr Tidy and Joe have completed in their separate research projects, on Museums and war (Dr Tidy) and Museums, violence and borders (Joe). The project draws from innovations in social science research methods and cutting edge theoretical work in feminism, queer theory and postcolonial studies. The initial findings of the project were presented in a joint paper at the EISA annual conference 2018 called: ‘The Intimate Geopolitics of Museums - a Method’.

Publications and Papers

View full list of publications

Key Publications

  • Turner, J (2018) ‘Internal colonisation: The intimate circulations of empire, race and liberal
    government', European Journal of International Relations OnlineFirst. Impact Factor 2.545
  • Turner, J (2017) 'Domesticating the ‘troubled family’: Racialised sexuality and the postcolonial governance of family life in the UK', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 35(5), 933–950.
    Impact Factor 2.466
  • Turner, J (2016) ‘Engendering the political: Citizenship from marginal spaces’, Citizenship Studies, 20 (2): 144-155 (special issue). Impact Factor 1.240
  • Turner, J. (2016) 'Governing the domestic space of the Traveller in the UK: Family, home and the struggle over Dale Farm,’ Citizenship Studies, 20 (2): 208-227. Impact Factor 1.240
  • Turner, J. (2014) ‘The Family Migration Visa in the history of marriage restrictions: Postcolonial relations and the UK Border’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 17 (4): 623-643. Impact Factor: 1.543
  • Turner, J. (2014) ‘Testing the liberal subject: (In)security, responsibility and “self-improvement” in the UK Citizenship Test’, Citizenship Studies 18 (3-4): 332-348. Impact Factor 1.240


  • Turner, J ed. (2017) (En)Gendering the political: Citizenship From marginal spaces (Abingdon: Routledge).

Media and Impact

Books Reviews

  • Turner, J (2016) ‘Hagar Kotef: Movement and the Ordering of Freedom: On Liberal Governances of Mobility. (Durham: Duke University Press 2015. Pp vii, 234.)’, The Review of Politics, 78 (2): 339-342.

Examples of Recent Invited Papers and Keynote Lectures

  • ‘The Family Migration Visa in the History of Marriage Restrictions’ Postcolonial Governmentality Workshop, Bristol, 25-26th September 2014.
  • ‘Post-Colonial Marriage Restriction and the UK Border’, BISA Annual Conference, Dublin, 17-19th June 2014.
  • ‘The Government of Moral Community: The Problem of ‘Moral Aliens’ in Both UK Border Practices and Welfare Reform’, ECPR General Conference, Bordeaux, 5-7th September 2013.
  • ‘Governing Community as a “Moral Space”: Rethinking the Non-Citizen/Citizen Divide within Liberal Citizenship’, British Sociology Association: Race, Migration and Citizenship: Postcolonial and Decolonial Perspectives, Birmingham, 5-6th July 2013.
  • ‘Testing the Liberal Subject: Examination, Responsibility and (In)Security in the UK Citizenship Test,’ ECPR Post-Graduate Conference, Jacobs University, Bremen, 4-5th July 2012.
  • ‘Enacting Citizenship in the Governing of Riots: London 2011,’ White Rose Symposium on Violence, University of Sheffield, 12th February 2012.

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