Milja Kurki

Photograph of Milja Kurki.

Professor in International Relations Theory

BA University of Hull
MscEcon University of Wales, Aberystwyth
PhD University of Wales, Aberystwyth


Phone: +44 (0)1970 628639
Fax: +44 (0)1970 622709
Office: 2.07


Milja Kurki joined the department in September 2006 from the University of Exeter. Her areas of interest encompass international relations theory, philosophy of science, causation, democracy promotion, democratic theory and political economy. Between 2008 and 2012 she acted as the Principal Investigator of a major research project 'Political Economies of Democratisation' funded by the European Research Council. She edits the journal International Relations and is a member of the editorial board of the Review of International Studies. 


Milja Kurki’s current work is focused on the analysis of the conceptual underpinnings of democracy promotion as well as on interrogation of the 'knowledge practices' of development donors and global governance actors. The research project which she led between 2008 and 2012 (‘Political Economies of Democratisation’, European Research Council) analysed the politico-economic models of democracy advocated by democracy promotion agencies and the consequences of democracy promoters’ conceptual frameworks for the practices and power relations involved in democracy promotion. Her PhD research was focused on reinterpreting the meaning and nature of causal analysis in International Relations theory, and she continues to be interested in the interrogation of the role of philosophy of science in social science research.

Teaching Areas


IP33020 Critical Theories

IP31220 Gender Politics: Perspectives and Debates

IP36620 Democracy Promotion in World Politics

IP30120 International Political Theory Today



IPM0530 International Politics 1: Theories and Concepts

PhD Supervision

International Relations Theory

Democratisation, Democracy Promotion and Good Governance

Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences

Critical Social Theory



Kurki, M. 2016. Causality, Democracy Support and the Cult of the Factish Gods. Journal of International Relations and Development 10.1057/jird.2016.12

Dunne, T., Smith, S., Kurki, M. (eds) 2016. International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. 4th editionth edn, Oxford University Press


Bridoux, J., Kurki, M. 2015. Cosmetic agreements and the cracks beneath: Ideological convergences and divergences in US and EU democracy promotion in civil society. Cambridge Review of International Affairs 28 (1) pp. 55-74. 10.1080/09557571.2014.902653

Kurki, M. 2015. Political Economy Perspective: Fuzzy Liberalism and EU Democracy Promotion: Why Concepts Matter. In A. Wetzel, J. Orbie (eds), The Substance of EU Democracy Promotion: Concepts and Cases. Governance and Limited Statehood Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke pp. 35-46.

Kurki, M. 2015. Stretching Situated Knowledge: From Standpoint Epistemology to Cosmology and Back Again. Millennium: Journal of International Studies Millennium: Critical Journal of International Relations 43 (3) pp. 779. 10.1177/0305829815583322 Other


Bridoux, J., Kurki, M.H. 2014. Democracy Promotion: A Critical Introduction. Intervention Taylor & Francis, Abingdon

Kurki, M. 2014. Politico-Economic Models of Democracy in Democracy Promotion. International Studies Perspectives 15 (2) pp. 121-141. 10.1111/j.1528-3585.2012.00512.x


Kurki, M. 2013. Democracy and world order: reflections on critical scholarship today. International Relations 27 (2) pp. 253-257. 10.1177/0047117813489655e Other

Kurki, M. 2013. Democratic Futures: Revisioning democracy promotion. Interventions Taylor & Francis

Dunne, T., Kurki, M., Smith, S., Dunne, T., Kurki, M., Smith, S. (eds) 2013. International Relations Theories. 3rdth edn, Oxford University Press

Kurki, M., Wight, C. 2013. International Relations and Social Science. In T. Dunne, M. Kurki, S. Smith (eds), International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. 3rdth edn, Oxford University Press, Oxford pp. 14-35.

Kurki, M. 2013. Introductory notes. International Relations 27 (2) pp. 226-227. 10.1177/0047117813489655 Other

Bridoux, J., Kurki, M. 2013. Liberal democracy: its multiple meanings in United States democracy promotion. In M. Kurki (ed), Democratic Futures: Re-Visioning Democracy Promotion. Interventions Taylor & Francis, Abingdon pp. 121-145.

Kurki, M. 2013. Locating the normative within economic science: towards the analysis of hidden discourses of democracy in international politics. Journal of International Relations and Development 16 (1) pp. 55-81. 10.1057/jird.2012.8 Cadair


Kurki, M. 2012. Democracy promotion and crisis of democracy in the West. Other

Kurki, M. 2012. How the EU can adopt a new type of democracy support. Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior, Madrid Other

Hobson, C.E., Kurki, M., Bridoux, J. 2012. Rethinking Democracy Support. Cadair Other

Kurki, M. 2012. The Limitations of the Critical Edge: Reflections on Critical and Philosophical IR Scholarship Today. Millennium: Journal of International Studies Millennium: Critical Journal of International Relations 40 (1) pp. 129-146. 10.1177/0305829811411997 Cadair

Kurki, M., Suganami, H. 2012. Towards the politics of causal explanation: a reply to the critics of causal inquiries. International Theory: A Journal of International Politics, Law and Philosophy International Theory 4 (3) pp. 400-429. 10.1017/S1752971912000127


Kurki, M., Hobson, C., Whitehead, L., Jahn, B., Ish-Shalom, P., Patomaki, H., Youngs, R., Wolff, J., Crawford, C., Abdulai, A., Bunce, V., Wolchik, S., Sadiki, L., Charlesworth, H., Smith, T., Hobson, C., Kurki, M. (eds) 2011. Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion. Democratization Studies Taylor & Francis

Hobson, C., Kurki, M. 2011. Conclusion: Reflections on a New Approach in a New Era of Democracy Promotion. In C. Hobson, M. Kurki (eds), The Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion. Taylor & Francis

Kurki, M. 2011. Democracy through technocracy? Reflections on technocratic assumptions in EU democracy promotion discourse. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 5 (2) pp. 211-234. 10.1080/17502977.2011.566482 Cadair Cadair

Kurki, M. 2011. Governmentality and EU Democracy Promotion: The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Construction of Democratic Civil Societies. International Political Sociology 5 (4) pp. 349-366. 10.1111/j.1749-5687.2011.00139.x Cadair

Kurki, M. 2011. Human rights and democracy promotion: reflections on the contestation in, and the politico-economic dynamics of, rights promotion. Third World Quarterly 32 (9) pp. 1573-1587. 10.1080/01436597.2011.619848 Cadair

Hobson, C., Kurki, M. 2011. Introduction: Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion. The Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion. Taylor & Francis


Kurki, M.H. 2010. Critical realism and analysis of democratisation: does philosophy of science matter. In J. Joseph, C. Wight (eds), Scientific Realism and International Relations. pp. 129-146.

Kurki, M. 2010. Democracy and Conceptual Contestability: Reconsidering Conceptions of Democracy in Democracy Promotion. International Studies Review 12 (3) pp. 362-386. 10.1111/j.1468-2486.2010.00943.x Cadair

Kurki, M.H., Sicnlair, A. 2010. Hidden in plain sight: Constructivist treatment of social context and its limitations. International Politics 47 (1) pp. 1-25. 10.1057/ip.2009.29

Kurki, M. 2010. Kansainvaliset suhteet, maailmankuvat ja tieteenalakohtaiset kontekstit: ajatuksia teorianvalinnoista. Kosmopolis 40 (2) pp. 55-65. Cadair


Kurki, M., Hobson, C. 2009. Democracy and Democracy Support: a New Era. Other

Kurki, M., Stavrianakis, A. 2009. Introduction to the annual convention on "Bridging Multiple Divides". International Relations 23 (1) pp. 117-118. 10.1177/0047117808104307

Kurki, M. 2009. Karl Marx. In J. Edkins, N. Vaughan-Williams (eds), Critical Theorists and International Relations. 1st edn, Taylor & Francis pp. 246-250.

Kurki, M. 2009. Revitalising Causality: Realism about Causality in Philosophy and Social Science. Edited by Ruth Groff. Journal of Critical Realism 8 (3) pp. 367-369. 10.1558/jocr.v8i3.367 Other

Kurki, M. 2009. Roy Bhaskar. In J. Edkins, N. Vaughan-Williams (eds), Critical Theorists and International Relations. Interventions Taylor & Francis pp. 89-101.

Kurki, M. 2009. The Politics of the Philosophy of Science. International Theory: A Journal of International Politics, Law and Philosophy International Theory 1 (3) pp. 440-454. 10.1017/S1752971909990157


Kurki, M.H. 2008. Causation in International Relations: Reclaiming Causal Analysis. Cambridge Studies in International Relations 1st edn, Cambridge University Press


Kurki, M. 2007. Critical realism and causal analysis in international relations. Millennium: Journal of International Studies Millennium: Critical Journal of International Relations 35 pp. 361-378. 10.1177/03058298070350021501 Cadair Other


Kurki, M. 2006. Causes of a Divided Discipline: Rethinking the Concept of Cause in International Relations theory. Review of International Studies 32 (2) pp. 189-216. 10.1017/S026021050600698x Cadair


Kurki, M. 2005. Steve Fuller, Kuhn vs. Popper: The Struggle for the Soul of Science (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 160 pp., $24.50, ISBN 0 231 13428 2 (boards). History of Political Thought 26 (3) pp. 556-557.