Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Contact Details

Dr Jack Holland

Associate Professor in International Security

I returned to Leeds in 2016, after working as Senior Lecturer at the University of Surrey, where I was also Subject Leader for Politics.

I studied at Cambridge, Birmingham, Warwick and Queensland. The ESRC, AHRC, Leverhulme Trust, and EU have funded my research. Amongst other things, this enabled me to spend several months working as a British Research Council Fellow at the Library of Congress, in Washington DC. 

Outside of academia, I am a keen runner and Arsenal fan.

Research Interests

I research US, UK 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. I have previously had the pleasure of co-authoring with friends and colleagues, such as Matt McDonald, Lee Jarvis, Ty Solomon, Katherine Wright and Sir Mike Aaronson. I’m currently researching and writing about Obama, Syria, Gillard, TV, and a range of other international security issues.


I thoroughly enjoy teaching and have been lucky enough to win two teaching awards. In 2013-14, I received a national teaching award: The British International Studies Association-Higher Education Academy Award for Excellence in Teaching International Studies. And, in the same year, I won The Vice-Chancellor’s Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence at the University of Surrey. I conduct, present and publish pedagogical research e.g. on visual literacy. I have previously taught on or led 18 different modules, including US Foreign Policy, Security Studies, and Introduction to International Relations. I currently teach IR Theory. 

PhD Supervision

I am happy to supervise top students in the areas of: US, UK or Australian foreign policy; constructivism; Critical Terrorism Studies; or Critical Security Studies. I have previously supervised two excellent PhD students to completion – Ciaran Gillespie and Samantha Cooke. They both secured academic jobs shortly after submitting their theses. I currently supervise two fully funded PhD students: Ben Fermor (Leeds, ESRC funded) who works on US Foreign Policy; and Will Mace (Surrey, University funded) who is a political theorist. 

Key Publications


  • Bentley M, Holland J, The Obama Doctrine Legacy and Continuity in US Foreign Policy ([n.pub.], 2016) (Accepted)

    Within this context, this volume also addresses the idea of legacy and whether Obama has succeeded in establishing his own distinct foreign policy doctrine.

  • Jarvis L, Holland J, Security A Critical Introduction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

    This major new text provides an accessible yet intellectually rigorous introduction to contemporary Security Studies.

  • Holland J, Selling the War on Terror Foreign Policy Discourses After 9/11 ([n.pub.], 2014)

    This book uses a comparative analysis to examine foreign policy discourses and the dynamics of the 'War on Terror'.

  • Bentley M, Holland J, Obama's Foreign Policy Ending the War on Terror ([n.pub.], 2013)

    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.

Journal articles

  • Holland J, Solomon T, ‘Affect is what states make of it: articulating everyday experiences of 9/11’, Critical Studies on Security, 2.3 (2014), 262-277
    DOI: 10.1080/21624887.2014.921454, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/93330/

    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.

  • Jarvis L, Holland J, ‘We [for]got him’: Remembering and Forgetting in the Narration of bin Laden’s Death’, Millennium, 42.2 (2014), 425-447
    DOI: 10.1177/0305829813516527, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/93327/

    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.

  • Holland J, Aaronson M, ‘Dominance through Coercion: Strategic Rhetorical Balancing and the Tactics of Justification in Afghanistan and Libya’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 8.1 (2014), 1-20
    DOI: 10.1080/17502977.2013.856126, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/93329/

    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, ‘Foreign policy and political possibility’, European Journal of International Relations, 19.1 (2013), 49-68
    DOI: 10.1177/1354066111413310, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/93325/

    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, ‘Blair's War on Terror: Selling Intervention to Middle England’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14.1 (2012), 74-95
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-856X.2011.00469.x

    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, ‘When You Think of the Taliban, Think of the Nazis’: Teaching Americans ‘9/11’ in NBC’s The West Wing’, Millennium, 40.1 (2011), 85-106

  • Holland J, ‘From September 11th 2001 to 9-11: From Void to Crisis’, International Political Sociology, 3.3 (2009), 275-292

Media Contact Areas

  • US foreign policy
  • UK foreign policy
  • Australian foreign policy
  • International security
  • Terrorism
  • Counter-terrorism

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