Dr Jack Holland

Senior 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

Further information


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, AHRC and EU. This funding has enabled me to work as a British Research Council Fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington DC and to conduct research at the University of Queensland. 

For more information please visit my website: drjackholland.com

Research Interests

My research is on US, UK and Australian foreign and security policy. I am interested in critical (primarily constructivist) approaches.  My work explores the role of language, identity, culture, politics and agency in foreign and security policy. I frequently work on issues surrounding the War on Terror and military intervention.


Journal articles

  • Holland J. (2014) '‘Video Use and the Student Learning Experience in Politics and International Relations’'. POLITICS, 34 (3), pp. 263-274.


    This article explores video use and the student learning experience in Politics and International Relations (IR). The study brings together and builds on two extant literatures - on deep learning and visual literacy - in order to explore how students make use of three types of video: lecture summaries, current affairs clips and fictional television. Questionnaire and focus group data generate a nuanced picture, with distinct implications for the learning experience. The article shows how different types of video can be linked to the development of different skills for different students.

  • Holland J, Solomon T. (2014) '‘Affect is what states make of it: Articulating everyday experiences of 9/11′'. Critical Studies on Security,


    This article considers the politics of affect and official discourses of ‘9/11’. Drawing on the work of William Connolly and others, it is argued that to understand the resonance of dominant constructions of ‘9/11’ it is necessary to revisit their successful incorporation of prevalent American affective experiences of September 11th. To date, this relationship between affect, resonance, and discourse has been underexplored in International Relations. Its investigation offers important empirical insights on resonance, as well as theoretical innovation in connecting established work on narrative and discourse with emerging work on bioculture and affect. To this end, the article introduces a framework for the future analysis of affect, culture and discourse within International Relations. The article concludes, however, that, notwithstanding its importance to resonance, in ‘crisis’ situations such as ‘9/11’, affect is what states make of it.

  • Wright KAM, Holland J. (2014) 'Leadership and the media: Gendered framings of Julia Gillard's 'sexism and misogyny' speech'. Australian Journal of Political Science, 49 (3), pp. 455-468.


    This article analyses Australian media portrayals of former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's 'sexism and misogyny' speech to parliament in October 2012. Our analysis reveals that coverage of the speech comprised three principal gendered framings: strategic attack, uncontrolled emotional outpouring and hypocrisy. We argue that these framings demonstrate the role the media plays as a gendered mediator, perpetuating the gender double bind that constrains female political leaders, as they negotiate the demand to demonstrate masculine leadership attributes without tarnishing the feminine qualities expected of them. In this instance, gendered media framings limited the saliency of Gillard's speech, curtailed calls for wider introspection on Australian political culture and further disassociated women from political leadership. © 2014 Australian Political Studies Association.

  • Holland J, Aaronson M. (2014) 'Dominance through Coercion: Strategic Rhetorical Balancing and the Tactics of Justification in Afghanistan and Libya'. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 8 (1), pp. 1-20.


    This article analyses British and American justifications for military intervention in the decade following 9/11. Taking Afghanistan in 2001 and Libya in 2011 as the main case studies, the article explores the ways in which political elites attempt to achieve policy dominance through rhetorical coercion, whereby potential opponents are left unable to formulate a socially sustainable rebuttal. Specifically, in these case studies, the article explores the use of strategic rhetorical balancing, whereby secondary rationales for intervention are emphasized as part of a tactic of justification designed to secure doubters' acquiescence by narrowing the discursive space in which an alternative counter-narrative could be successfully and sustainably formulated.

  • Holland J, Jarvis L. (2014) '“Night Fell on a Different World”: Experiencing, Constructing and Remembering 9/11'. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 7 (2), pp. 187-204.


    This article explores the endurance of the pervasive framing of ‘9/11’ as a moment of temporal rupture. It argues this has persisted despite the existence of plausible competitor narratives for two reasons. First, because it resonated with public experiences of the events predating this construction’s discursive sedimentation. And, second, because of its vigorous defence by successive US administrations. In making these arguments this article seeks to extend relevant contemporary research in three ways. First, by reflecting on new empirical material drawn from the Library of Congress Witness and Response Collection, thus offering additional insight into public understandings of 11 September 2011 in the immediacy of the events. Second, by drawing on insights from social memory studies to explore the persistence of specific constructions of 9/11. And, third, by outlining the importance of categories of experience and endurance for constructivist International Relations more broadly.

  • Jarvis L, Holland J. (2014) ''We [for]got him': Remembering and Forgetting in the Narration of bin Laden's Death'. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 42 (2), pp. 425-447.


    This article explores how the death of Osama bin Laden was narrated by the Obama administration between the night of his killing and the 2012 State of the Union address. Three aspects of this unfolding story, in particular, are explored: i) descriptions of the operation itself; ii) constructions of bin Laden's life and character; iii) accounts of the significance and likely consequences of his killing. The article argues that the narration of these events was characterised, first, by considerable discursive continuity with the war on terrorism discourse of George W. Bush, and, second, by a gradual removal or 'forgetting' of bin Laden and the circumstances of his death. Each of these dynamics, we argue, contributed to the legitimisation of his killing, demonstrating the importance of narrative remembrance and forgetting alike for the conduct and justification of liberal violence. © The Author(s) 2014.

  • Holland J. (2013) 'Foreign Policy and Political Possibility'. European Journal of International Relations,


    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.

  • Holland J. (2013) 'Introduction: Why is change so hard?: Understanding continuity in Barack Obama’s foreign policy'. Obama's Foreign Policy: Ending the War on Terror, , pp. 1-16.
  • Holland J. (2012) 'Blair's War on Terror: Selling Intervention to Middle England'. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14 (1), pp. 74-95.


    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.

  • Holland J. (2011) ''When you think of the Taleban, think of the Nazis': Teaching Americans '9-11' in NBC's the West Wing'. Millennium Journal of International Studies, 40 (1), pp. 85-106.


    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.

  • Holland J. (2011) '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'. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 4 (2), pp. 293-306.
  • Holland J. (2010) 'Howard's War on Terror: A Conceivable, Communicable and Coercive Foreign Policy Discourse'. Australian Journal of Political Science, 45 (4) Article number PII 929443380 , pp. 643-661.


    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.

  • Holland J. (2009) 'From September 11th 2001 to 9-11: From Void to Crisis'. International Political Sociology, 3 (3), pp. 275-292.


    This paper draws on interviews conducted in the days and weeks after the events of September 11th, 2001, analyzing the transition from “September 11th, 2001” to “9-11.” That is, from the discursive void that immediately followed the acts of terrorism in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania to the apparently self-evident crisis that the events came to represent in the following days and weeks. First, the paper redresses persistent oversights of discourse-oriented work by recognizing and investigating both the agency of the US general public and the context that official responses were articulated in. Second, the paper serves to denaturalize the construction of 9-11 as crisis, questioning the first and pre-requisite stage of the emerging discourse of the “War on Terror.” Theorizing void, crisis and their relationship enables an understanding of how the War on Terror was possible and opens a critical space for its contestation.


  • Bentley M, Holland J. (2016) The Obama Doctrine: Legacy and Continuity in US Foreign Policy.
  • Holland J, Jarvis L. (2015) Security: A Critical Introduction. Palgrave


    This book offers a new introduction to the major philosophical and contemporary debates within Security Studies. It is targeted at upper-level undergraduate and postgraduate students, and at academic readers seeking to take stock of existing knowledge in the field. The book will be of value as a core text for modules on International Security and Security Studies, and as a supplementary text for modules on topics including International Relations, political violence, and the philosophy of social science. The book aims both to survey and critically engage with contemporary developments in the field of Security Studies.

  • Bentley M, Holland J. (2014) Obama's Foreign Policy: Ending the War on Terror. Routledge, Taylor and Francis


    This edited volume is an innovative analysis of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, security and counter-terrorism policy, specifically within the context of ending the now infamous War on Terror. The book adopts a comparative approach, analysing change and continuity in US foreign policy during Obama’s first term in office vis-à-vis the foreign policy of the War on Terror, initiated by George W. Bush following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Despite being heralded as an agent of change, since his election in 2008 Obama has faced criticism that his foreign policy is effectively the same as what went before and that the War on Terror is still alive and well. Far from delivering wholesale change, Obama has been accused of replicating and even reinforcing the approach, language and policies that many anticipated he would reject. With contributions from a range of US foreign policy experts, this volume analyses the extent to which these criticisms of continuity are correct, identifying how the failure to end the War on Terror is manifest and explaining the reasons that have made enacting change in foreign policy so difficult. In addressing these issues, contributions to this volume will discuss continuity and change from a range of perspectives in International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis. This work will be of great interest to students and scholars of US foreign policy, security studies and American politics.

  • Holland J. (2013) Selling the War on Terror: Foreign Policy Discourses after 9/11. Routledge, Taylor & Francis


    This book uses a comparative analysis to examine foreign policy discourses and the dynamics of the ‘War on Terror'. The book considers the three principal members of the Coalition of the Willing in Afghanistan and Iraq: the United States, Britain and Australia. Despite significant cultural, historical and political overlap, the War on Terror was nevertheless rendered possible in these contexts in distinct ways, drawing on different discourses and narratives of foreign policy and identity. This volume explores these differences and their origins, arguing that they have important implications for the way we understand foreign policy and political possibility. The author rejects prevalent interpretations of a War on Terror foreign policy discourse, in the singular, highlighting that coalition states both demonstrated and relied upon divergent policy framings to make the War on Terror possible. The book thus contributes to our understanding of political possibility, in the process correcting a tendency to view the War on Terror as a universal and monolithic political discourse. This book will be of much interest to students of foreign policy, critical security studies, terrorism studies, discourse analysis, and IR in general.

Book chapters

  • Holland J. (2015) 'The Language of Counter-Terrorism'. in (ed.) The Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies
    [ Status: Accepted ]
  • Holland J. (2014) 'Constructing Crises and Articulating Affect after 9/11'. in Ahall L, Gregory T (eds.) Emotions, Politics and War
    [ Status: Submitted ]
  • Holland J. (2014) '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


    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.

  • Holland J. (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


    This book addresses a pressing, contemporary puzzle, which reflects enduring debates in the discipline of International Relations and the social sciences more generally. Why has a president elected on a platform of change pursued such a high degree of continuity in his foreign and security policy? The answer is neither simple nor clear-cut. To understand continuity in American foreign policy after 2008, it is necessary to consider Obama’s role as a strategic agent and the challenging nature of the strategically selective context in which he operates. How should we conceptualise this context? Does it include relative American decline within the international system, an institutionalised ‘War on Terror’, and culturally deep-rooted discourses, established in the aftermath of September 11th 2001? How should we conceptualise Obama’s ability to act within such a context, however understood? Has Obama, at times, actually opted for continuity, of his own volition? This book grapples directly with fundamental questions of change and continuity such as these, in its exploration of US foreign policy during Barack Obama’s first term in office, from January 2009 to January 2013.

  • Holland J, Bentley M. (2013) '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


    Barack Obama’s foreign policy is characterised by both change and continuity. He has not ended the War on Terror, but he has reshaped the conflict, in ways that fit with his personal views on war, the use of force and the American national interest. At times, his values have run up against the realities of occupying the Oval Office (e.g. the failure to close Guantanamo) and, at others, he has adapted his thinking on seeing firsthand the threats the American nation continues to face (e.g. after the Christmas Day bomb plot). The interplay of choice and constraint has featured in many of the chapters in this book. Here, we begin by laying out some of the considerable areas of agreement that they share, despite competing theoretical approaches. Second, we consider how appeals to volition and structural limitation might be reconciled through a structural-relational understanding of structure and agency. Third, we outline one, potentially fruitful, way of conceptualising change and continuity in American foreign policy, which helps to account for Obama’s apparently prolonged period of stasis. Fourth, and finally, we turn to consider where Obama’s foreign policy will head during his second term in office, based both on the contributions to this volume and the issues his presidency is likely to face in the next four years.

  • Holland J. (2011) '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


    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.

  • Holland J, McDonald M. (2010) '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.


In 2013-14 I won faculty and national teaching awards: 

  • The Vice-Chancellor's Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence 
  • and the British International Studies Association - Higher Education Academy Award for Excellence in Teaching International Studies 

I currently teach:

  • ‘Introduction to International Relations’ (first year)
  • ‘Security Studies’ (second year)
  • ‘American Foreign Policy’ (third year)
  • ‘Critical Terrorism and Security Studies’ (postgraduate)

I supervise 3 PhD students: 

  • Ciaran Gillespie - critical human security and military aid
  • Will Mace - political theory (liberalism)
  • Ben Fermor - Obama's foreign policy and constructivism
My current admin role is Subject Leader.

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