Dr Jack Holland

Lecturer at University of Surrey


Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Surrey

My research is on US, British and Australian foreign and security policy. I am interested in critical (primarily constructivist) approaches in IR. My work explores the role of language, identity, popular culture, domestic politics and strategic agency in the foreign policy process. At present, my research falls into five related themes: foreign policy, the ‘War on Terror’, ‘9/11’, popular culture, and intervention.

A) Theorising Foreign Policy: Cultural Embeddedness and Political Possibility

My research attempts two analytical moves, conceptualising foreign policy as culturally embedded discourse and theorising the relationship between foreign policy and political possibility.

B) American, British and Australian Foreign Policy during the ‘War on Terror’.

Understanding the ‘War on Terror’ and the Coalition of the Willing has been at the heart of my research since completing my doctorate. I argue that the heterogeneity in the coalition has been frequently and incorrectly overlooked. This is important because distinct and divergent foreign policy discourse helped to make the ‘War on Terror’ possible in different contexts.

C) The Events of September 11th, 2001, and the Construction of ‘9/11’

My research into the events of September 11th and ‘9/11’ has attempted three things. First, to better understand the experience of the events for ordinary Americans. Second, to understand and contest dominant framings of ‘9/11’ by politicians and practitioners. And third, to understand the continued resonance of dominant framings through their relationship to the lived experience of the day.

D) Popular Culture and the Construction of Politics, Terrorism and Intervention

Having started my research on the ‘War on Terror’ by focusing on the language of elected representatives and the experiences of ordinary Americans, I have more recently turned to consider the role of the media and popular culture. I have commenced this area of research by focusing on the role of television’s The West Wing in the construction of politics, terrorism and intervention.

E) Theorising intervention(ism)

My work attempting to theorise intervention(ism) adopts a critical approach. These efforts are tied to the new Centre for international intervention (Cii), directed by Sir Michael Aaronson and Professor Marie Breen-Smyth at the University of Surrey, and will lead to two new research projects exploring: foreign policy traditions in the United States and Australia; and framings of the Arab Spring.