International relations

The International Relations Research Group is interested in a wide variety of cutting edge, topical issues, theories and approaches and focusses on developing new and creative research methods. Much of what we do is 'critical' and intersects the disciplines of International Relations and Sociology.

Globe lights Europe


Our research areas

We are particularly interested in reflecting on the identity of the discipline and identity-issues that inform world politics. Many of us focus on social practices and the constiution of subjectivity and identity, in additon to interrogating the assumptions and framings that have traditionally defined the discipline and led to the exclusion of important issues surrounding gender, race and class. Overall we seek to apply all of this to understanding and explaining the wider 'real' world in all its complexity.

The International Politics Research Group has expertise in the following areas:

  • Borders/bordering and empire
  • Creative research methods
  • Critical security and military studies
  • Decolonial thought and post-colonial critique of Eurocentrism
  • Everyday practices and norms in the international system
  • Global governance and resilience
  • Global governmentality and hegemony
  • Global politics of health and new security challenges
  • Governmentality
  • Human rights
  • International intervention and peace building
  • Knowledge production and war
  • Law and war/violence
  • Marxist and non-Eurocentric approaches to the Middle East
  • Non-Eurocentric historical sociology
  • Political ecology and global environmental governance
  • Politics of intimacy
  • Postcolonial, feminist and Queer theory
  • Sexual and gendered violence
  • Sociology of knowledge and expertise
  • Surveillance and the ethics of intelligence
  • The War on Terror
  • Torture
  • Violence and the liberal state


Biodiversity and Security: (BIOSEC) Understanding Crime, Illegal Wildlife Trade and Threat Finance

Funding: European Research Council Advanced Investigator Grant, £1.8 million

The BIOSEC project will examine claims by national governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that wildlife poaching and trafficking are increasingly being used to fund organised crime and terrorist groups. This three-year project will look into what constitutes an environmental crime, the responses by the European Union to the illegal wildlife trade, and how new technology is being used to tackle poaching and trafficking.

Rosaleen Duffy

BIOSEC website

Resilience policymaking in Nepal: giving voice to communities

Funding: ESRC-DFID Development Frontiers Research Scheme,  £300k

An intensive policy-making process is currently underway in Nepal, with significant input from international donors and advisors. Using a participatory video approach, this project aims to address the gap that exists in Nepal between national-level resilience and policy making - undertaken with the support of the international community - and community-level perceptions and expectations. The project will seek to give those most affected by the overlapping challenges of policy, conflict and environmental change a powerful way to engage with, and potentially influence, high-level policymakers.

Simon Rushton

Project launch

Watch the project videos

Improbable Dialogues: Participatory Research as a Strategy for Reconciliation

Improbable Dialogues is a research project developed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, the University of Sheffield and the Centre for Popular Research and Education, together with local researchers and organisations. The project is working in three municipalities of Colombia: Tibú, Norte de Santander; Vista Hermosa, Meta; and Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca. From the Department of Politics and International Relations it involves Dr Matthew Bishop, Dr Juan Mario Diaz, Dr Simon Rushton, Dr Helen Turton, and Dr Anastasia Shesterinina

Based on a multidimensional approach to conflict and reconciliation, Improbable Dialogues seeks to understand the diversity of ongoing conflicts in these communities (conflicts over land, environmental demands, gender claims, demands related to the lack of governance and political participation ) and, through participatory research and the creation of spaces of dialogue, support and strengthen the capacities of local communities and organizations to move towards peace. The research methods used by the team are inspired by Orlando Flas-Borda's work on Participatory Action Research (PAR).

The project is financed by the Newton Fund via the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant Ref. ES / R01096X / 1) and Minciencias (Call 791-2017, Contract 276-2018).

You can find out more on the project website (in Spanish) here 

Exploring the longterm consequences of sexual violence in armed conflict

Little is known about the various long-term consequences of sexual violence that occur in conflict settings and therefore what services should be available and what support is needed. This project aims to reveal the multiple intersecting consequences and practices of violence during ‘peace’ so that they can be addressed. Focussing on Colombia, the question this research will ask is how we can gather such knowledge in a way that does no further harm or reduce survivors of sexual violence, or those born as a consequence, to the status of ‘objects to be studied’?

Helen Turton

Centres of excellence

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