Jenny Edkins

Photograph of Jenny Edkins.

Professor of International Politics

MA (Oxon) St Anne’s College, University of Oxford
MSc The City University, London
BA (Hons) The Open University
PhD University of Wales, Aberystwyth


Phone: +44 (0)1970 621765
Fax: +44 (0)1970 622709
Office: 3.05


Jenny Edkins is Professor of International Politics. She examines personhood, politics and aesthetics through studies of face politics, missing persons, and trauma time. Her interests in creative practice in international politics span performance, contemporary art, image, story and memory, and her work draws on postcolonial, poststructural, feminist and psychoanalytic methods among others. She has recently completed a monograph entitled Face Politics, to be published by Routledge in April 2015. She co-edits the successful textbook Global Politics: A New Introduction, now in its second edition, and has published nine other books, the most recent monographs being Missing: Persons and Politics Cornell, 2011 (reviewed here) and Trauma and the Memory of Politics Cambridge, 2003.  She is currently working on a Handbook of Critical International Relations for Routledge.

Her focus, aside from her own research, is on collaborative ventures that make space for innovative approaches and bring together those engaged in developing them, and she has established a number of ventures of different types. She co-organises the Gregynog Ideas Lab, a summer school for graduate students and early career faculty working on critical, poststructural, postcolonial, feminist and psychoanalytic approaches to international politics, inaugurated in 2012, and co-edits the highly regarded Routledge book series Interventions, which since 2009 has published over sixty cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. She is co-director of Performance and Politics international (PPi), a transdisciplinary University Research Centre launched in 2013 and based on a research grouping established in 2007.

In addition, she co-founded the BISA Poststructural Politics Group, the Aberystwyth—Lancaster Graduate Colloquium (ALGC),  and three research groupings based in Aberystwyth: the Performance and Politics Group, the Critical and Cultural Politics Group and the Aberystwyth PostInternational Group. The 12th ALGC was held in Warwick in 2014, and the next will take place in Aberystwyth in May 2015. She ran an ESRC Seminar Series on The Politics of Emergency from 1998-2001 and regularly organises and contributes to international conferences.

She has supervised 20 doctorates to successful completion and examined a further 24; her former PhD students hold academic posts in Asia, North America, and Europe. She has contributed to NGO and UK government policy discussions on famine, emergency and missing people.

Prior to joining the Department with a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellowship and ESRC Research Award on ‘Security, Subjectivity and Trauma’ in 1997, she taught at the University of Manchester and the Open University. She was appointed Professor in 2004. Her original first degree was in Natural Sciences (Physics).



Jenny Edkins' research focuses on personhood and political community. She has examined the workings of sovereign power, the instrumentalisation of life, and existing alternatives through detailed studies of famine, security, humanitarian crises, traumatic memory, missing persons, the photograph and the face.  Her aim is to illuminate subaltern imaginaries currently rendered invisible by dominant ways of thinking.

She is currently working on several new and continuing research projects:

1.     Landscapes of detention

A new project, currently in its preliminary stages, will explore detention practices in the UK, examining contemporary and historical sites of detention from internment camps for enemy aliens in war-time to contemporary asylum detention centres. It aims to map, photograph and describe such sites.

2.     Face politics

The project explores Deleuze and Guattari’s notion that “If the face is a politics, dismantling the face is also a politics.” While contemporary politics could be said to insist on the face and pin us to our faces, the book asks whether there might be another politics, that of the face blind or the faceless, and what that might be like. The monograph arising from this project covers: Faces in Photographs; Moving Faces; From Face Capture to Face Blindness; and Facelessness: Another Politics?

3.     Performance and politics

The interface between aesthetic politics and political aesthetics and the complex relationship between performance and politics is explored in the Performance and Politics International (PPi) Research Centre.  PPi has links with Warwick Performance and Politics Network, the University of Queensland Visual Politics Research Cluster, and the BISA Art and Politics group. A particular aspect of PPi’s work explores reanimating collaboration and decolonising the academy.

4.     Telling Stories

The Telling Stories project involves opening space for narrative accounts in international politics and exploring the implications of this new approach. For the fourth year in a row, there will be an ISA roundtable on ‘Telling Stories’, in New Orleans in 2015; these events and other workshops provide an opportunity for participants and audience to experience and share stories. A new forum for such work has been established: the Journal of Narrative Politics.

5.     Missing persons

Missing: Persons and Politics explored the contradictions between relatives’ demands for the return of the irreplaceable person and the response of officials and political authorities, for whom persons appear as objectified and instrumentalised. Current work includes examining practices of identifying and naming missing migrants and what these reveal about politics. Another strand of research concerns memorialising missing persons, and an ESRC funded doctoral student is working on this area in collaboration with the International Commission on Missing Persons.

6.     Trauma and memory

Trauma and the Memory of Politics showed how and when events we call traumatic may provide an opening to challenge state- and nation-based politics. The current focus of work is twofold: memorialising missing people; and questions of temporality. A narrative account of the site of the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan is in preparation.

She talks about her recent work and her method of working in an interview with Stuart Elden for Society and Space that can be found here.

Teaching Areas

IP12420 Exploring the International
IP36820 Questions of International Politics

IPM1320 Postcolonial Politics
TPM1720 Making Connections [MA Politics, Media and Performance core]


Jenny Edkins welcomes applications from students wishing to pursue doctoral studies in her areas of interest and cognate areas. The variety of interests her past students have covered (with links to their current web sites) can be seen in the list below.

PhD Supervision completed
Catherine Charrett: A Performance in Politics: Hamas and the EU through the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Elections (Submitted 2014)

Dr Gillian McFadyen: Language and silence within the refugee regime. (2014)

Dr Reiko Shindo: The politics of categories: re-thinking boundaries in translation (2013)

Dr Megan Daigle: Sexuality, the discourse of 'prostitution' and governance of bodies in post-Soviet Cuba (2012)

Dr Charlotte Heath-Kelly: Killing in the name: searching for 'the political' in political violence (2012)

Dr Madeleine Fagan: Responsibility at the limit: the line between ethics and politics (2009)

Dr Laura Guillaume: War on the body: dramatising the space of the unknown (2009)

Dr Owain Llyr ap Gareth: Welshing on postcolonialism: complicity and resistance in the construction of Welsh identities. (2009)

Dr Tom Lundborg: Encountering the "event" in international politics: Gilles Deleuze, "9/11", and the politics of the virtual. (2008)

Dr Yih-Jye (Jay) Hwang: “The birth of the "Taiwanese": a discursive constitution of the Taiwanese as a national identity. (2008)

Dr Marie Suetsugu: Dividing practices and the subject of development  (2007)

Dr Nick Vaughan-Williams: Borders and international relations: the politics of framing

Dr Stig Jarle Hansen: Organisational culture at war: Ethiopian decision-making and the war with Eritrea (1998-2000)

Dr Garen Karapetyan: The state of the spectacle: a post-anarchist investigation of the problem of state reification (2005)

Dr Priscilla A. Netto: Politics of vision: towards an understanding of the practices of the visible and invisible (2004)

Dr David Smith: Lacan at war: psychoanalysis and combat motivation (2004)

Professor Annick Wibben: Security narratives in international relations and the events of September 11, 2001: a feminist study (2003)

Dr Huw Evans: The production of Mexican space: Henri Lefebvre, globalization and state (2002)

Dr Nicholas Dennis: Widening community: Racism and the constitution of British humanitarian discourse (2003)

Dr Richard Morton: NATO reconstituted: a discursive reading of the possibility of NATO enlargement (2001)

Professor Maja Zehfuss: Constructivist theories in international relations and German military involvement abroad. (1999)



Edkins, J. 2014. Introduction. In J. Edkins (ed), Critical International Relations. Critical Concepts in International Relations Taylor & Francis

Edkins, J. 2014. Temporality, Politics and Performance: Missing, Displaced, Disappeared. In S. Rai, J. Reinelt (eds), The Grammar of Politics and Performance. Interventions Taylor & Francis, London pp. 134-147.


Edkins, J. 2013. Dismantling the face: landscape for another politics? Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31 (3) pp. 538–553. 10.1068/d16312

Edkins, J. 2013. Facing and Defacing. In J. Edkins, A. Kear (eds), International Politics and Performance: Critical Aesthetics and Creative Practice. Interventions Taylor & Francis, London pp. 40-59.

Edkins, J., Zehfuss, M. (eds) 2013. Global Politics: A New Introduction: Second Edition. Secondth edn, Taylor & Francis, London Other

Edkins, J., Kear, A.. (eds) 2013. International Politics and Performance: Critical Aesthetics and Creative Practice. Interventions Taylor & Francis, Abingdon

Edkins, J. 2013. Novel Writing in International Relations: Openings for a Creative Practice. Security Dialogue 44 (4) pp. 281 - 297. 10.1177/0967010613491304

Edkins, J. 2013. Politics and Personhood: Reflections on the Portrait Photograph. Alternatives 38 (2) pp. 139-154. 10.1177/0304375413488030

Edkins, J. 2013. Still Face, moving face. Journal for Cultural Research 17 (4) pp. 414-429. 10.1080/14797585.2013.792657

Edkins, J. 2013. Time, Personhood, Politics. In S. Durrant, R. Eaglestone, G. Buelens (eds), The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary Criticism. Taylor & Francis, London pp. 127-140. Other


Edkins, J.A. 2011. Missing: Persons and Politics. Cornell University Press, Ithaca Other Other


Edkins, J.A. 2010. Missing Persons: London, July 2005. In A. Stephens, N. Vaughan-Williams (eds), Terrorism and the Politics of Response. Routledge Critical Terrorism Studies Taylor & Francis, London pp. 19-43. Other

Edkins, J.A. 2010. Objects among Objects. In N. Inayatullah (ed), Autobiographical International Relations: I, IR. Interventions Taylor & Francis, London pp. 19-30.

Edkins, J. 2010. Remembering Relationality: Trauma Time and Politics. In D. Bell (ed), Memory, Trauma and World Politics: Reflections on the Relationship Between Past and Present . Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke pp. 99-115.


Edkins, J. 2009. Biopolitics, communication and global governance: London, July 2005. In A. Closs Stephens, N. Vaughan-Williams (eds), Terrorism and the Politics of Response. Artificial Intelligence Taylor & Francis, Abingdon pp. 19-43.

Edkins, J., Vaughan-Williams, N. (eds) 2009. Critical Theorists in International Relations. Interventions Taylor & Francis, London

Edkins, J., Vaughan-Williams, N. 2009. Introduction to Critical Theorists and International Relations. In J. Edkins, N. Vaughan-Williams (eds), Critical Theorists and International Relations. Taylor & Francis, London pp. 1-6.


Edkins, J. 2008. Biopolitics, communication and global governance. Review of International Studies 34 (S1) pp. 211-232. 10.1017/S0260210508007870

Edkins, J.A. 2008. Biopolitics, communication and global governance. In C. Constantinou, O. Richmond, A. Watson (eds), Cultures and Politics of Global Communication. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge pp. 211-232.

Edkins, J., Zehfuss, M. 2008. Global Politics: A New Introduction. Taylor & Francis, London Other Other

Edkins, J. 2008. Whose Hunger?: Concepts of Famine, Practices of Aid. Borderlines, vol. 17 University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis


Edkins, J. 2007. Missing Persons: Manhattan, September 2001. In E. Dauphinee, C. Masters (eds), The logics of biopower and the war on terror: Living, Dying, Surviving. Palgrave Macmillan, London pp. 25-42.

Edkins, J. 2007. Poststructuralism. In M. Griffiths (ed), International Relations Theory for the Twenty-First Century: An Introduction. Taylor & Francis, Abingdon pp. 88-98.

Edkins, J. 2007. The Criminalization of Mass Starvations: From Natural Disaster to Crime Against Humanity. In S. Devereux (ed), The New Famines: Why Famines Persist in an Era of Globalisation. Routledge Studies in Development Economics Taylor & Francis, Abingdon pp. 50-65. Cadair Other

Edkins, J. 2007. What It Is To Be Many: Subjecthood, Responsibility and Sacrifice in Derrida and Nancy. In M. Fagan, L. Glorieux, I. Hašimbegović, M. Suetsugu (eds), Derrida: Negotiating the Legacy. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh pp. 172-192.

Edkins, J. 2007. Whatever Politics. In M. Calarco, S. DeCaroli (eds), Giorgio Agamben: Sovereignty and Life. Stanford University Press, Stanford pp. 70-91.

Edkins, J. 2007. “Deconstruction”; “Genealogy”; “Poststructuralism”. In M. Griffiths (ed), Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics . Taylor & Francis, Abingdon


Edkins, J. 2006. The Local, the Global and the Troubling. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 9 (4) pp. 499-511. 10.1080/13698230600941937 Other


Edkins, J. 2005. Ethics and Practices of Engagement: Intellectuals as Experts. International Relations 19 (1) pp. 64-69. 10.1177/0047117805050062 Other

Edkins, J. 2005. Exposed singularity. Journal for Cultural Research 9 (4) pp. 359 - 386. 10.1080/14797580500252548 Cadair

Edkins, J. 2005. Forum: Ethics and Practices of Engagement: Intellectuals in World Politics. International Relations 19 (1) pp. 63-63. 10.1177/0047117805052465 Other

Edkins, J., Zehfuss, M. 2005. Generalising the international. Review of International Studies 31 (03) pp. 451-472. 10.1017/S0260210505006583 Other

Pin-Fat, V., Edkins, J. 2005. Through the Wire: Relations of Power and Relations of Violence. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 34 (1) pp. 1-24. 10.1177/03058298050340010101 Cadair


Edkins, J. 2004. Ground Zero: reflections on trauma, in/distinction and response. Journal for Cultural Research 8 (3) pp. 247-270. 10.1080/1479758042000264939 Other

Edkins, J., Pin-Fat, V. 2004. Introduction: Life, Power, Resistance. In J. Edkins, M. Shapiro, V. Pin-Fat (eds), Sovereign Lives: Power in Global Politics. Taylor & Francis, Abingdon pp. 1-22.

Edkins, J., Shapiro, M.J., Pin-Fat, V. (eds) 2004. Sovereign Lives: Power in Global Politics. Taylor & Francis, New York

Edkins, J. 2004. ‘Famines’ or ‘mass starvations’: victims, beneficiaries and perpetrators. Humanitarian Exchange pp. 6-8. Other


Edkins, J. 2003. Humanitarianism, humanity, human. Journal of Human Rights 2 (2) pp. 253-258. 10.1080/1475483032000078224 Other

Edkins, J. 2003. Security, cosmology, Copenhagen?? Contemporary Politics 9 (4) pp. 361-370. 10.1080/1356977032000172863 Other

Edkins, J. 2003. The Rush to Memory and the Rhetoric of War. Journal of Political and Military Sociology 31 (2) pp. 231-251.

Edkins, J. 2003. Trauma and the Memory of Politics. Cambridge University Press Cadair Other


Edkins, J. 2002. After the Subject of International Security. In A. Finlayson, J. Valentine (eds), Politics and Post-structuralism: An Introduction. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh pp. 66-80.

Edkins, J. 2002. Forget Trauma? Responses to September 11. International Relations 16 (2) pp. 243-256. 10.1177/0047117802016002005 Other

Edkins, J. 2002. Mass Starvations and the Limitations of Famine Theorising. IDS Bulletin 33 (4) pp. 12-18. 10.1111/idsb.2002.33.issue-4 Other

Edkins, J. 2002. Mass Starvations and the Limitations of Famine Theorising. Ending Famine in the 21st Century, Falmer, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 27/02/2002 - 28/02/2002.


Edkins, J. 2001. Authenticity and memory at Dachau. Cultural Values 5 (4) pp. 405-420. 10.1080/14797580109367241 Other

Edkins, J. 2001. If No Story is Possible: Trauma, Testimony and Biopolitics after Auschwitz. 2001 Hong Kong Convention of International Studies: Globalization and Its Challenges in the 21st Century, Hong Kong, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 26/07/2001 - 28/07/2001.

2001. The Absence of Meaning: Trauma and the Events of 11 September. Other

Edkins, J. 2001. Trauma and Responses to September 11. In C. McInnes (ed), The global political economy of security. Prifysgol Aberystwyth | Aberystwyth University Other

Edkins, J. 2001. Trauma, Memory and Sovereign Power. International Studies Association 42nd Annual Convention, Chicago, United States of America, 20/02/2001 - 24/02/2001.


Edkins, J. 2000. Legality with a Vengeance: Famines and Humanitarian Relief in ‘Complex Emergencies’. In S. Owen Vandersluis, P. Yeros (eds), Poverty in World Politics: Whose Global Era? Palgrave Macmillan, London pp. 59-90.

Edkins, J. 2000. Sovereign Power, Zones of Indistinction, and the Camp. Alternatives 25 (1) pp. 3-25. 10.1177/030437540002500102

Edkins, J. 2000. Whose Hunger?: Concepts of Famine, Practices of Aid. Borderlines, vol. 17 University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis


Edkins, J. 1999. Poststructuralism and International Relations: Bringing the Political Back in. Critical Perspectives on World Politics Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder


Edkins, J., Persram, N., Pin-Fat, V. (eds) 1998. Sovereignty and Subjectivity. Critical Perspectives on World Politics Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder

Edkins, J., Pin-Fat, V. 1998. The Subject of the Political. In J. Edkins, N. Persram, V. Pin-Fat (eds), Sovereignty and Subjectivity. Critical Perspectives on World Politics Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder pp. 1-18.


Edkins, J., Pin-Fat, V. 1997. Jean Bethke Elshtain: Traversing the Terrain Between. In I. Neumann, O. Wæver (eds), The Future of International Relations: Masters in the Making? Taylor & Francis, London pp. 312-338.

Edkins, J. 1997. The politics of emergency intervention, peacekeeping, humanitarianism and development: Manchester, UK, May 1997. Refugee Participation Network pp. 36.

1997. The politics of emergency: Intervention, Peacekeeping, Humanitarianism, Development: Report of an Interdisciplinary Research Workshop. Manchester Papers in Politics


Edkins, J. 1996. Legality with a Vengeance: Famines and Humanitarian Relief in 'Complex Emergencies'. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 25 (3) pp. 547-575. 10.1177/03058298960250030501 Other


Edkins, J. 1995. Book Review: Patrick Webb and Joachim von Braun, Famine and Food Security in Ethiopia: Lessons for Africa (Chichester; John Wiley and Sons, 1994, 158 pp., £34.95 hbk., £14.95 pbk.). Millennium: Journal of International Studies 24 (1) pp. 184-185. 10.1177/03058298950240010841 Other

Edkins, J. 1995. David Keen, “The Benefits of Famine: A Political Economy of Famine and Relief in Southwestern Sudan, 1983-1989”. Political Studies 43 (3) pp. 561. 10.1111/j.1467-9248.1995.tb00322.x

Edkins, J., Pin-Fat, V. 1995. Post International Politics: An Emerging Dissident Literature. In R. Lekhi (ed), The State of the Academy: New Reflections on Political Studies. NetworkPress, London pp. 97-103.