Dr Jack Holland
Lecturer in International Relations
Qualifications: PhD Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick; MA Political Science, University of Birmingham; BA Geography, University of Cambridge
Phone: Work: 01483 68 3169
Room no: 07 AC 05
I joined the Department in September 2010, after working as Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Leeds and completing my PhD at the University of Warwick. My research has previously been funded by the ESRC and EU, and in 2008 I worked as a British Research Council Fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.
For more information please visit my website: drjackholland.com
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.
Outputs and findings:
- In ‘Foreign Policy and Political Possibility’, published in the European Journal of International Relations, I argue that the political possibility of foreign policy is contingent upon its construction in thinkable, resonant and ultimately dominant terms. This article revisits, and weaves together, the work of Roxanne Doty, Michael Barnett and Ronald Krebs.
- In my monograph, Selling the War on Terror, I argue that foreign policy can be conceptualised as culturally embedded discourse. Analysing foreign policy as discourse enables two important things. First, it enables foreign policy to be denaturalised and contested. And second, it enables heterogeneity to be revealed within a coalition. Recognising that foreign policy is also culturally embedded enables these differences to be understood relative to distinct domestic contexts.
- Increasingly, I am drawing these two strands together to reveal the relationship of political (im)possibility to the cultural (dis)embeddedness of foreign policy discourse.
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.
Outputs and Findings:
- In ‘Blair’s War on Terror’, published in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, I argue that narratives of rationality, leadership and international community were central to selling the British case for intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- In ‘Howard’s War on Terror’, published in the Australian Journal of Political Science, I argue that narratives of mateship, sacrifice and shared values were central to selling the Australian case for intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Our forthcoming edited book, Obama’s Foreign Policy; Ending the War on Terror, explores the reasons for continuity in American foreign policy, from Bush to Obama, through a range of competing theoretical approaches.
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.
Outputs and findings:
- In ‘From September 11th, 2001, to 9/11: From Void to Crisis’, published in International Political Sociology, I retrace the experience of events for ordinary Americans. I argue that an immediate sense of shock and rupture must be understood against a unique American context and that this experience was incorporated within the subsequent framings of the Bush Administration.
- In a forthcoming article, I explore the role of affect and emotion in the experience and construction of 9/11. I argue that, in moments of crisis and trauma, the state retains an important ability to articulate affect as emotion through foreign policy discourse.
- In a forthcoming article with Lee Jarvis, we explore the issue of time and 9/11, analysing the continued resonance and dominance of official framings of 9/11. We attempt to connect the experience, construction and memory of 9/11, considering the political implications of an enduring official framing.
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.
Outputs and findings:
- In ‘Teaching Americans 9/11’, published in Millennium Journal of International Studies, I argue that The West Wing actively taught Americans how to think about September 11th, the nature of the terrorist threat and the appropriate foreign policy response. In all of these areas, the television show reinforced the message of the Bush Administration, further narrowing the space for debate.
- In ‘Screening Terror on the West Wing’, published in Screening the War on Terror (edited by Phil Hammond), I extend the findings of my earlier paper to consider the role The West Wing played in framing terrorism and counter-terrorism before, during and after 9/11. The chapter illustrates that the show closely followed and contributed to the political context in which it was written, produced and aired.
- In two forthcoming articles, I analyse the ability of students to develop (critical evaluative) visual literacy skills through exposure to and discussion of film and fictional television, such as the West Wing.
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.
- The Centre for international intervention at Surrey attempts to reclaim the term ‘international intervention’ from dominant, militaristic connotations. This project involves the critique of intervention(ism) to open space for the possibility of alternative forms of intervention and non-intervention.
- In order to place more recent military interventions in their historical and cultural context, my next major research project will consider particular and enabling foreign policy traditions in the United States and Australia. By focusing on key historical moments of (inter)national crisis and trauma, this project will explore how American Jacksonianism and Australian Traditionalism have helped to enable intervention in the past, in order to better understand the ongoing possibility of coalition cooperation in the future.
- A second future research project will explore elite British and American framings of the Arab Spring. This project will help us to understand the interventions and non-interventions of the Arab Spring. The project will consider: transatlantic convergence and divergence; the discursive framing of selectivity of response (e.g. differences in the framing of Libya and Syria); and the political implications of particular frames.
Many of the works discussed above are linked and/or available on my Publications page.
- '‘We (For)got Him': Remembering and Forgetting in the Narration of bin Laden’s Death'. Millennium Journal of International Studies,
[ Status: Accepted ]
- 'Dominance through Coercion: Strategic Rhetorical Balancing and the Tactics of Justification in Afghanistan and Libya'. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding,
[ Status: Accepted ]
- '“Night Fell on a Different World”: Experiencing, Constructing and Remembering 9/11'. Critical Studies on Terrorism,
[ Status: Accepted ]
- 'Video Use and the Student Learning Experience in Politics and International Relations'. Politics, . (2013)
- 'Foreign Policy and Political Possibility'. Sage Publications European Journal of International Relations, Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/27645/
This article explores the relationship between foreign policy and political possibility in two parts. First, the relationship between foreign policy and political possibility is theorized around three analytical moments: political possibility is linked to the framing of conceivable, communicable and coercive foreign policy. Second, this framework is developed and demonstrated through a brief analysis of Coalition foreign policy in the War on Terror, considering American, British and Australian foreign policy between 2001 and 2003. This analysis dissects distinct and divergent Coalition foreign policies through a linked three-part conceptualization of political possibility. It enables an understanding of how the War on Terror was rendered possible through the construction of foreign policy in thinkable, resonant and ultimately dominant terms. The article concludes by looking to the wider analytical applicability of this particular theorization of the relationship between foreign policy and political possibility.
- 'Blair's War on Terror: Selling Intervention to Middle England'. Blackwell Publishing British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14 (1), pp. 74-95.Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/27643/
In December 2009 Tony Blair indicated that he would have pursued a policy of intervention in Iraq regardless of Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction. In this situation he would merely have had to employ alternative arguments. Such a statement should come as little surprise. Blair's language throughout his prime ministership was highly strategic; it was framed to achieve support from his primary target audience, ‘Middle England’. Two key tropes—rationality and leadership—were repeatedly deployed in order to sell Blair's wars to the British public. This article demonstrates how Blair's strategically framed language was politically enabling in three analytical moments, helping to craft a conceivable, coercive and communicable British foreign policy discourse.
- ''When you think of the Taleban, think of the Nazis': Teaching Americans '9-11' in NBC's the West Wing'. Sage Publications Millennium Journal of International Studies, 40 (1), pp. 85-106.Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/27644/
Only three weeks after the events of 11 September 2001 (hereafter 9/11), Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing delivered a special one-off episode, outside of usual storylines. The episode, titled ‘Isaac and Ishmael’, is interesting because it adopts an explicitly pedagogical theme to teach viewers how to think about the events of 9/11. The episode can thus be read as an instance in the wider construction of the meaning of those events. In this respect, this article argues that the production of the episode contributed to notions of rupture and exceptionalism. In addition, despite the potentially ‘liberal’ and ‘academic’ lessons given by the show’s stars, the extensive contextualisation of the previously incomprehensible events for a dominantly American audience actually relayed, amplified and reinforced the emerging dominant discourses of the Bush Administration. Accepting and repeating official tropes, The West Wing ultimately served to further limit space for debate in the wake of 9/11.
- 'Review of "Shocked and awed: How the war on terror and Jihad have changed the English
language" by Fred Halliday, I.B. Tauris, 2010, 360 pp. ISBN 978-1-84-8850316'. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group Critical Studies on Terrorism, 4 (2), pp. 293-306.Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/239126/
- 'Howard's War on Terror: A Conceivable, Communicable and Coercive Foreign Policy Discourse'. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Australian Journal of Political Science, 45 (4) Article number PII 929443380 , pp. 643-661.Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/235576/
This article explores the relationship between language and political possibility. It is argued that John Howard’s language from 11 September 2001 to mid 2003 helped to enable the ‘War on Terror’ in an Australian context in three principal ways. Firstly, through contingent and contestable constructions of Australia, the world and their relationship, Howard’s language made interventionism conceivable. Secondly, emphasising shared values, mateship and mutual sacrifice in war, Howard embedded his foreign policy discourse in the cultural terrain of ‘mainstream Australia’, specifically framing a foreign policy discourse that was communicable to ‘battlers’ and disillusioned ‘Hansonites’. Thirdly, positioning alternatives as ‘un-Australian’, Howard’s language was particularly coercive, silencing potential oppositional voices.
- 'From September 11th 2001 to 9-11: From Void to Crisis'. International Political Sociology, 3 (3), pp. 275-292. . (2009)
- 'Constructing Crises and Articulating Affect after 9/11'. in Ahall L, Gregory T (eds.) Emotions, Politics and War
[ Status: Submitted ]
- 'The Elusive Essence of Evil: Constructing Otherness in the Coalition of the Willing'. in Pisoiu D (ed.) Arguing Counter-Terrorism. New Perspectives.
Routledge, Taylor & Francis Article number 9 Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/738749/
This chapter considers the construction of the terrorist Other, in relation to the fractured Self of the Coalition of the Willing. Despite mutual appeals to the essential evil-ness of enemies during the War on Terror, analyzing the discursive construction of threat and Otherness reveals that divergent understandings of Self-identity inevitably impacted upon a heterogeneous construction of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and Mullah Omar’s Taliban, as well as Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party. In making this argument the chapter analyzes speeches from political leaders in the United States, Britain and Australia shortly after the events of September 11th, 2001.
- 'Conclusion: Conceptualising Change and Continuity in US Foreign Policy'. in Bentley M, Holland J (eds.) Obama's Foreign Policy: Ending the War on Terror Routledge, Taylor & Francis . (2013)
- 'Introduction: Continuity in American foreign policy from Bush to Obama'. in Bentley M, Holland J (eds.) Obama's Foreign Policy: Ending the War on Terror Routledge, Taylor & Francis . (2013)
- 'Screening Terror on the West Wing'. in Hammond P (ed.) Screens of Terror: Representations of War and Terrorism in Film and Television after 9/11
Bury : Arima Publishing Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/239128/
This chapter situates a special stand-alone episode of The West Wing ‘Isaac and Ishmael’, within the broader context of the emerging ‘War on Terror’, arguing that the show played an important role in communicating terrorism for the American public and in narrowing the space for debate in the wake of 9/11. To make this argument, the episode is analysed through a discourse analysis as part of the evolving approach to the screening of terror adopted in The West Wing. It is argued that The West Wing’s approach to screening terror responded to the context of the moment before during and after the events of September 11th. This response equated to a worrying reinforcement of dominant discourses. To demonstrate this reinforcement and its impact, the chapter is organised in three sections. First, the changing context of terror and American politics, in which The West Wing aired and evolved, is set out. Second, the chapter pivots around the date of September 11th 2001 to examine the portrayal of terrorism in The West Wing before, during and after the tumultuous moment of September 11th 2001. And third, the chapter reflects on the narrowing of debates performed by screenings of terror in The West Wing through a consideration of the role of television in the production of political (im)possibility.
- 'Australian Identity, Interventionism and the War on Terror'. in Siniver A (ed.) International terrorism post-9/11. Comparative Dynamics and Responses
Abingdon : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Article number 11 , pp. 184-206.Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/235577/
I currently teach and lead a variety of modules for first, second and third year undergraduate, as well as postgraduate students:
- ‘Introduction to International Relations’ (first year)
- ‘Security Studies’ (second year)
- ‘American Foreign Policy’ (third year)
- ‘Applied Political Skills’ (all years)
- ‘American Foreign Policy’ (postgraduate)
I am also currently supervising 6 BA, 1 MA and 3 PhD students (one of whom, Ciaran Gillespie, has his research details here). And, at the start of 2013, I examined Dr John Turner‘s excellent thesis and viva.
For 2013-14 and 2014-15, I have two new modules in development:
- ‘Narratives of Terror’ (second year), which will be a new interdisciplinary module, co-taught with a colleague in the School of English
- ‘Security Studies’ (postgraduate), which will be based around the questions posed in my new co-authored textbook (see publications). This will be a core module for a new MSc in Terrorism and Security.
Previously, at Surrey, I have taught:
- ‘Introduction to Politics and International Relations’ (first year)
- ‘Contemporary International History’ (first year)
- ‘Ideas and Identity in the War on Terror’ (second year)
- ‘Negotiating Politics’ (third year)
- ‘Key Issues in International Politics’ (postgraduate)
- ‘International Relations Theories’ (postgraduate)
- … as well as continuing to contribute lectures to other modules such as Research Skills.
I have also previously taught at the Universities of Leeds and Warwick, covering topics such as IR Theory, US Foreign Policy and Foreign Policy Analysis, amongst many others.
My administrative duties include:
- Student Advisor in the Politics Department, responsible for student advice on academic and pastoral issues.
- Faculty International Officer
- Newsletter Editor in Politics
- From September 2013 I will be Director of External Relations
- I regularly review for numerous top-ranking journals, publishers, and research councils, and am a member of the editorial board for the journal Critical Studies on Terrorism