Category Archives: International Relations

International Institutions as the Battlefields: The EU-US Rivalry over a WTO’s Agreement on Competition Policy


Hammed Roohani // International Relations // Wednesday 3rd May 2017 // 1-3pm // Arts C133

Hammed’s study examines the capacity of the WTO for fostering cooperation between the EU and the US for the Agreement on Competition Policy. Given the successful cooperation of the two in other international arrangements, the research sets out to assess the WTO’s impact – as the immediate underlying institution on which the interactions unfolded – over terms of cooperation in 1997-2004.

The study accommodates its inquiry by questioning the WTO’s ability in curbing enforcement risks.  Using the negotiation’s documents as the main sources of data, the empirical findings of the study suggest that the WTO had a substantial impact on the quality of the interactions. As expected from an international institution, the WTO did provide a workable solution for cheating concerns, nevertheless, that solution in its own right failed to ensure cooperation between the two sides. The findings indicate that to remain relevant to intentional economic cooperation, the WTO must compete with other fora by improvising a wider space for possible enforcement solutions. The study also suggests that a future research agenda over the international arrangements for competition policy must be informed by a revised understanding of the two rational theories of interstate cooperation, i.e. Neoliberal Institutionalism and Neorealism so much so that the two are not substitutes but the former is subordinated to the latter.


Hammed is a research student and AT in SPRU. His research interests lie at the wider intersection of international institutions/organizations, states and enterprises where they meet to create, develop and revise the global governing infrastructures of international production, trade and investment. His current study addresses international cooperation for the institutions of competition policy in multilateral, regional and bilateral arrangements.

Before starting a PhD, Hammed had done an MA in Politics and International Relations in University of Warwick, an MBA on International Marketing and an Advanced Degree in Multilateral Trade (WTO) Negotiations.

He currently teaches the PG Research Methods in BMEC.


Brazilian State-Formation: Rethinking Geopolitical Agency

Pedro Salgado // International Relations // Wednesday 15th March 2017 // 1-2pm // Arts C 133


Latin American historical trajectory normally falls in a gap in the fields of International Relations and Historical Sociology. The political transformation it sees in the nineteenth century is rarely contemplated by studies of state-formation, or by those who focus on the post-colonial moment after 1945. When it is addressed, it is normally explained through the expansion of the European international society, or through the colonial difference itself. Using the particular case of Brazil up until the nineteenth century, I argue that a better account of state-formation can be achieved by focusing on the connection between social conflict and the strategies of territorialisation of given polities, through a radically historicist framework based on the notion of geopolitical agency.


Pedro is in the final year of his PhD in International Relations. He has previous degrees on Law (UFRJ) and Social Sciences (UERJ), and a Masters in International Relations (Sussex). His worked is focused on applying historical materialism in the field of International Relations, aiming to develop a framework that can integrate social relations and forms of territoriality through a focus on radical historicism and contextualised agencies.

Understandings of life at the molecular level in the emergence of U.S. civilian biodefence

Christopher Long//International Relations// Wednesday 24th February 2016//1-2pm//Arts C133

Human DNA

How do advances in our understanding of biological life processes shape and influence contemporary security practices?

This presentation analyses the U.S. government’s response to the threat of bioterrorism in conjunction with the fact that it is now at the molecular level at which life is understood and can be manipulated.  It argues that particular understandings of life at the molecular level played a central role in shaping the way this threat came to be understood and acted upon.  Specifically, an understanding of the nature of bacterial resistance was used to frame the threat of bioterrorism as something that cannot be prevented and so must be prepared for.  This political approach, developed in the late 1990s coupled with the terrorist attacks of 2001 – 9/11 and the anthrax mailings – would result in the Bush administration becoming the first in U.S. history to implement a national defence strategy against biological threats.  This strategy, focused on protecting the civilian population would set aside $5.6 billion for the purchase and stockpiling of vaccines and drugs against bioterrorist threats.  Crucially, the development of these new medicines, termed medical countermeasures would capitalise on recent advances in the life sciences, advances which allow us to shape life at the molecular level.  Through the use of tools such as x-ray crystallography, the molecular components and workings of threats such as the anthrax bacteria have been understood.  This has made possible the rational design and synthesis of new drugs and molecules such as the anthrax antitoxin Raxibacumab.  Our ability to understand and manipulate life at the molecular level has become such that, in this instance, they have directly shaped political understandings of security and insecurity.


Chris is currently completing a PhD investigating public-private collaborations in the creation of Medical Countermeasures against bioterrorist threats.  This research forms part of a larger project funded by a grant from the European Research Council (2013-2017) looking at the role of pharmaceutical companies as core actors in health security policy.

Citizen-peasants: Tanzanian modernity, international relations and the role of China

Darius A’Zami//International Relations//1sth of April 2015//3-4pm//Arts C133



Where, and when, is Tanzania? In conventional terms, economically it is in desperate need of modernisation – for many the epitome of ‘backwardness’ –in short, anything but modern. Politically meanwhile, affairs are comfortably but inexplicably modern, characterised by an embrace of nationalistic democratic politics and the rejection of religious, racial and ethnic politics. Indeed these latter qualities of Tanzanian politics have long inspired what Ali Mazrui diagnosed as ‘Tanzaphilia’ whilst the former provide ample material for ‘Afro-pessimism’. This puzzle increasingly attracts attention, recently from no less a figure than Francis Fukuyama (2014; cf Mamdani 2012). So is Tanzania modern, with all the analytical abilities that classical social theory supposedly confers on us? Or rather is it high time to reject modernity as a Eurocentric parlour game?

Integrating international relations into a historical sociology of Tanzania I seek a ‘third-way’. Emphasising the diversity of its international relations (alongside ‘the west’, was African liberation and relations with China from Mao to Xi) this re-reading explains the emergence of what I call “Citizen-peasants” that analytically and politically recombine the economic and political spheres, providing a much better basis for understanding Tanzania. This emphasises the need for recasting modernity as flexible (fissile,) and a reading that takes Tanzania seriously in theoretical and historical terms, rejecting the self-imposed limitations of narratives of ‘success’ and ‘failure’.


Darius A’Zami is a PhD Candidate in the Department of International Relations, University of Sussex.

Strike Debt: We Owe It To Each Other!

Sahil Dutta//International Relations//25th of March 2015//3-4pm//Arts C133


This is the story of one of America’s great radicals. A revolutionary, a geek and one of the most important anti-establishment heroes in post-war capitalism. His name is Michael Milken. He’s also financial criminal, Republican and at one time the most sought-after investment banker in the world. The reason I want to tell you Milken’s story is that I think he has given us a blueprint for how we should think about resistance in financialised capitalism.


Sahil Dutta is writing a thesis on the financialisation of the British economy. It’s more fun than it sounds.

The radical politics of British counter-radicalisation policy

Thomas Martin//International Relations//20th of March 2015//1-2 pm//Arts C133

tavistock bus

The war on terror has been a catalyst for a series of transformations in how security comes to be understood and governed in the UK. Central to this has been the development of a new counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. Prevent, one of the four pillars of CONTEST, has proved the most controversial aspect of the strategy. It asks a very particular question: how can we stop people becoming terrorists? In seeking to answer this problematic, processes of ‘radicalisation’ have attained a centrality. Yet this is a dubious response. Crucially, threat is seen to emerge within spaces and subjects deemed to be disassociated from a normalised ‘Britishness’.

I wish to therefore demonstrate two central mechanisms through which particular identities, values and politics become understood as signifiers of potential future danger, informing a series of interventions at the level of both the individual, through the Channel project, and the community, through the broader ideals of community cohesion. In so doing, we can make explicit an economy of visibility that illuminates particular subjects and spaces as requiring mediation in the present and we can highlight how Prevent has become an important site through which the British inside is (re)constituted and domestic order is secured.


Thomas Martin is a 3rd year PhD candidate in the Department of International Relations.

Pandemic influenza in China. An analysis of securitizing and desecuritizing discourses at the national level in online media (2009-2010)

Abraham Navarro Garcia//International Relations//11th of February 2015//3-4pm//Arts C133

Influenza masks

The pandemic of influenza A (H1N1) in 2009-2010 tested pandemic preparedness at different levels of governance. Countries had the challenge to adapt international mechanisms of response to their specific epidemic situation. China is strategic for the question of influenza because of environmental and social conditions that are propitious for the surge of influenza viruses that may become pandemic. The reaction of the country to the pandemic involved extraordinary measures of inter-sectoral co-ordination that were supposed to counter the perceived existential threat of the disease. This research focuses on the analysis of discourses in online media in the country where this framing of the disease as a security question occurred. The suggested focus is inspired by securitization, an approach that pays attention to those who claim the existence of security issues, the perceived threats, the social groups or elements that are allegedly threatened and the audiences of these discourses. The main argument to develop is that discourses that emphasise or temper the level of emergency of the referred threat coexist. Being aware of this coexistence helps understand securitization as a process where simultaneous issues gain or lose relevance as the health crisis evolves. Identifying continuities and variations in the extremity of the emergency contributes to a comprehensive analysis of the framing and “de-framing” of the pandemic as a health security crisis.


Abraham Navarro García does research on global health in China. His interest in that country started with his M.A. on Chinese Studies in El Colegio de México, an institution of advanced research in the social sciences. His professional experience includes lecturing in the National University of Mexico and research activities for The Center of Asian and African Studies in El Colegio de México (2010-2) and the Department of Political Science in the National Chengchi University in Taiwan (2012).