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Dr Lee Jones, BA (Warwick), MPhil, DPhil (Oxford)


Reader in International Politics

Telephone: 020 7882 8585
Room Number: Arts One, 2.34


Office Hours: Thursdays 3:15-5:15pm, and Wednesdays 11am-12pm (by appointment only)

Lee did his graduate studies at Oxford and was Rose Research Fellow in International Relations before moving to Queen Mary in 2009. He is also a fellow of the UK’s Higher Education Academy. Lee sits on the editorial board of Palgrave’s book series, Studies in the Political Economy of Public Policy, and is a member of the ESRC’s peer review college.

Lee has advised government agencies and civil society groups from a wide range of countries including Australia, Britain, Denmark, France, Myanmar and Timor-Leste. He regularly appears in national and international media. Outlets have included Al-Jazeera, BBC News, the Financial Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, the BBC World Service and Monocle 24 radio. He tweets @DrLeeJones and his homepage is

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Sovereignty and Intervention in International Politics


Research Interests:

My research interests revolve around questions of state-society relations, governance, political economy, sovereignty and intervention, particularly in postcolonial countries.  My particular area of expertise is the Asia-Pacific, especially Southeast Asia.

Working in the tradition of critical, historical-sociological approaches in International Relations, my work draws out the importance of domestic and transnational social conflict and political economy for international politics. I focus on the ways in which conflict between social classes and other societal groups generates different forms of state, regime, and foreign policy, including different forms of intervention. I also study how intervention impacts on social conflict, creating new contradictions and alliances that change political outcomes in target states. My work has been particularly influenced by the critical political economy approach pioneered at the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University in Australia, and the state theory of Antonio Gramsci, Nicos Poulantzas and Bob Jessop. I am also becoming increasingly interested in the insights offered by political geography and the politics involved in rescaling governance.

My recent research investigates the interventions of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indochina, East Timor and Burma from the 1960s onwards. Attacking the overwhelming scholarly and journalistic consensus on ASEAN as a group of states that never interferes in any other states' internal affairs, I argue that ASEAN has indeed intervened, both within ASEAN and without, often very seriously and with sometimes devastating consequences. I have recently finished a book manuscript on this topic.

I have also produced a study of democratisation and foreign policy making in Southeast Asia which tried to account for the limits of liberal-democratic influences on foreign policy, despite the formally democratic nature of many of the region’s regimes. I have also completed an article on state-building in East Timor which tries to introduce the notion of social conflict as a normal part of the development of states and understands UN-led state-building efforts through its impact on this conflict.

My current research activities are:

  • a joint project on ‘Securitisation and the Governance of Non-Traditional Security in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific’ with Dr Shahar Hameiri of Murdoch University, Australia
  • a major project on the ways in which international economic sanctions work (or do not work) to effect regime change.

PhD Supervision

I would be delighted to supervise doctoral theses in the following areas:

  • the international politics of Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific
  • the politics of sovereignty and intervention
  • international economic sanctions
  • historical sociology, historical materialism, and international relations
  • state-society relations and international politics.

I am happy to discuss ideas with prospective students - please email me with a short (say, 6-page) research proposal and your CV.


Monographs and Edited Volumes

ASEAN, Sovereignty and Intervention in Southeast Asia, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

Political Economy, State Transformation and the New Security Agenda, International Politics special issue, co-edited with Shahar Hameiri (forthcoming, 2015)

Journal Articles

‘Political Economy, State Transformation and the New Security Agenda: Themes and Theories’ (co-authored with Shahar Hameiri), International Politics (forthcoming, 2015)

‘Non-Traditional Security, Political Economy and State Transformation: The Case of Avian Influenza in Indonesia’ (co-authored with Shahar Hameiri), International Politics (forthcoming, 2015)

‘Explaining Myanmar’s Transition: The Periphery is Central’, Democratization (forthcoming, 2014)

‘The Political Economy of Myanmar’s Transition’, Journal of Contemporary Asia 44:1 (2014), 144-170

‘Sovereignty, Intervention, and Social Order in Revolutionary Times’, Review of International Studies 39:5 (2013), 1149-1167

‘The Politics and Governance of Non-Traditional Security’ (co-authored with Shahar Hameiri), International Studies Quarterly 57:3 (2013), 462-473

‘Beyond Securitisation: Explaining the Scope of Security Policy in Southeast Asia’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 11:3 (2011), 403-432

ASEAN's Unchanged Melody? The Theory and Practice of Non-Intervention in Southeast Asia, Pacific Review 23:3 (2010), 479-502

(Post-)Colonial Statebuilding in East Timor: Bringing Social Conflict Back In, Conflict, Security and Development 10:4 (2010), 547-575

‘Democratisation and Foreign Policy: The Case of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs 27:3 (2009), 387-406

‘“The Others”: Gender and Conscientious Objection in the First World War’, Nordic Review of Masculinity Studies 3:2 (2008), 99-113

‘ASEAN’s Albatross: ASEAN’s Burma Policy, from Constructive Engagement to Critical Disengagement, Asian Security 4:3 (2008), 271-93

‘ASEAN Intervention in Cambodia: From Cold War to Conditionality’, Pacific Review 20:4 (2007), 523-50

Chapters in Books

‘State Theory and State Building: Towards a Gramscian Approach’, in Robert Egnell and Peter Haldén (eds.) New Agendas in State Building: Hybridity, Contingency and History (London: Routledge, 2013), 70-91

‘State-building versus State Formation in East Timor’, in Berit Bliesemann de Guevara (ed.) Statebuilding and State-Formation: The Political Sociology of Intervention (London: Routledge, 2012), 95-113 [peer reviewed]

‘State Power, Social Conflicts and Security Policy in Southeast Asia’, in Richard Robison (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Politics (Routledge: London, 2011), 346-360

Book Reviews

‘Critical Interventions on Statebuilding’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 5:2 (2011), 235-239

Reviews of D.K. Emmerson (ed.), Hard Choices: Security, Democracy and Regionalism in Southeast Asia and H.E.S. Nesadurai and J.S. Djiwandono (eds.), Southeast Asia in the Global Economy: Security, Competitiveness and Social Protection in ASEASUK News no. 46 (Autumn 2009), 40-42, 45-46

‘Liberalism and Democratization in East Asia’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 3:2(2009), 277-283

‘World Systems Theory for the Twenty-First Century’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 3:1 (2009), 130-132

‘The Dragon and the Elephant’, China Review 44 (2008), 14

‘Absent Sovereigns?’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 1:3 (2007), 383-88

Other Scholarly Publications

‘Still in the “Driver’s Seat”, But for How Long? ASEAN’s Capacity for Leadership in East-Asian International Relations’, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 29:3 (2010), 95-113

‘International Relations Scholarship and the Tyranny of Policy Relevance’, Journal of Critical Globalization Studies 1:1 (2009), 125-131

‘ASEAN and the Norm of Non-Interference in Southeast Asia: A Quest for Social Order’, Nuffield College Politics Group Working Paper 2009-02 (2009)

PhD Supervision

Lan Schippers, Internalisation of External Interests and the Strategic Dimensions of Statehood: The impact of trade-related technical assistance on the Lao and Vietnamese forms of state

Boonwara Sumano, Explaining the Liberalisation of Professional Migration in ASEAN

Thi Tran, Nationalism and Regional Integration in Southeast Asia: The ASEAN Political – Security Community Building Process

Public Engagement

Associate of the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Perth

Lee Kong Chian Distinguished Fellow on Southeast Asia, the National University of Singapore and Stanford University (2014/15)

(a) Policy Engagement

  • ‘Teach-in’ for Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, pending
    Invited to brief Hugo Swire, minister responsible for the Asia-Pacific.
  • ASEAN Reinforcement and Regional Governance, Dili, 11 December 2013
    International seminar provided for East Timorese government officials and civil society groups, EU and World Bank officials, and foreign diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Briefing for Deputy Head of ASEAN Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 15 October 2013

Expert briefing for new deputy head of Southeast Asia desk.

  • Consultation on UK/EU Burma Policy, 15 October 2013
    Consulted by UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on British and EU policy towards Burma in the run-up to its elections in 2015.
  • Roundtable on the Asia-Pacific Regional Security Architecture, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 13 September 2013
    Participant in discussions on regional security institutions with officials from the FCO, Ministry of Defence, other UK government departments and the EU.
  • Briefing for Malaysian High Commission, London, 2 August 2013
    Briefing on Myanmar’s transition and Cambodian elections.
  • Briefing for British Ambassador to Myanmar, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 24 July 2013
    One of two external experts invited to brief the new British ambassador-designate prior to him taking up his posting.
  • Seminar on Regional Security Architecture in Southeast Asia and Beyond, Paris, 15 May 2013
    Presented research findings and policy recommendations on regional security cooperation and governance to senior officials of the French Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs.
  • Myanmar: A New Future Through Higher Education? A Myanmar-UK Policy Dialogue, London, 9 May 2013
    Provided political and economic analysis and policy advice to a delegation of senior Myanmar politicians and officials on the reform of higher education as part of a British Council-led study tour and dialogue.
  • Roundtable on the Future of Burma, Oxford, 9 March 2013
    Co-organised and chaired this panel debate, which included representatives from business, UK and Burmese NGOs, diplomats and academics and an audience including senior Foreign and Commonwealth Officials, the chair of the UK Parliament’s All-Party Group on ASEAN, senior UK-based diplomats from Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, businesspeople, academics and students.
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office Brainstorming Session on EU-ASEAN Relations, 14 August 2012
    Briefed UK diplomats in London and Jakarta and participated in an internal planning session.
  • ‘Rethinking Economic Sanctions’, British Council, Yangon, 25 July 2012
    Disseminated research and facilitated discussion on international economic sanctions among Myanmar civil society activists and NGOs.
  • ‘EU Sanctions Against Myanmar: Proposals for Change’, 7 March 2012
    Briefing paper submitted to the UK Foreign Office.
  • Burma: Long-Term Challenges and International Responses, 5-6 March 2012 (Wilton Park, UK)
    Participation in discussions with UK Foreign Office, Department for International Development and British Council officials on future UK and EU policy towards Burma.
  • UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Diplomatic Excellence and Knowledge Enhancement, 19 January 2012
    Lectured to the Foreign Office multilateral team on ASEAN, to improve knowledge base used to inform and execute British foreign policy in East Asia.
  • UK Parliament Research Report, Southeast Asia: A Political and Economic Introduction, December 2011
    Academic consultant for this report to Members of Parliament, used to inform debate and legislation in the House of Commons.
  • ‘Avoid Austerity Arguments’, 21 November 2011
    Briefing paper submitted to the Republic campaign.
  • ESRC Seminar Series on Intervention in the Modern World, 12 and 18 January 2011 (House of Lords, London)
    Member of core group for this seminar series, which culminated in two sessions engaging with UK policymakers via the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Global Security and Non-Proliferation.
  • The Elephant in the Room: Development Policy and the Problem of Politics, 13-14 December 2010 (Murdoch University, Perth, Australia)
    Invited to participate in a workshop of policymakers, NGO leaders and academics to discuss and finalise the outputs of an AusAID-funded research project on ‘Sustainable Demand for Governance – Political Dimensions of Change’.
  • Expert seminar on ASEAN’s Potential as a Stabilising Factor in Great Power Relations with Asia, The Hague, 18 June 2010 (Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael), The Hague)
    Invited to present on ‘ASEAN’s Capacity to Play a Regional Role’ to a group of international scholars and EU policymakers convened to help formulate European policy towards ASEAN and the wider East Asian region. Paper later published in Journal of Current Southeast Asian Studies 29:3 (2010), 95-113. Also served as academic consultant on Clingendael’s final report, ASEAN, China’s Rise and Geopolitical Stability in Asia (April 2011).
  • The Southeast Asia Observatory, 4 May 2010 (Sciences Po, Paris)
    Invited to present a paper on ‘ASEAN and Burma: Explaining Twenty Years of “Constructive Engagement”’ to a group of French academics and government officials.
  • International Expert Workshop on ASEAN, Asia-Pacific Multilateralism and the Evolving Regional Security Architecture, 15-16 October 2009 (Institute for International and Strategy Studies and Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore)
    Presented a paper entitled ‘ASEAN’s Security Role and its Future: The Case for Modesty’ to policymakers, journalists and academics from Southeast Asia.

(b) Wider Public Engagement

  • The Borderworlds of Burma, SOAS, 12 October 2013
    Participant in public conference with ethnic-minority activists on internal conflicts in Myanmar.
  • Sanctioning Apartheid: Comparing the South African and Palestinian BDS Campaigns, 10 July 2013 (Perth, Western Australia)
    Presented and discussed research findings with Palestinian BDS activists and its implications for activist strategies.
  • The Future of Burma, St Antony’s College, Oxford, 9 March 2013
    Co-organised and chaired a roundtable expert discussion on Myanmar’s transition.
  • Is BDS Working? Exploring the Impact of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 30 January 2012 (School of Oriental and African Studies, London)
    Participant in public panel discussion.
  • Schools Outreach, 2011-
    Participation in outreach/ widening participation activities in schools in two London boroughs.
  • Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy, 2 July 2010 (LSE, London)
    Convenor and chair, public book launch and debate.
  • Understanding Thailand’s Political Turmoil, 27 May 2010 (University College, London)
    Participant in public panel discussion.
  • RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme, 10 March 2010 (Bristol)
    Participation in day-long programme of seminars and debates which brought academics into schools to engage pupils on contemporary political and security issues.
  • UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, May 2009
    Presented expert testimony to an asylum hearing for a Thai political activist. The claim was successful.
  • Debating Matters National Sixth-Form Debating Competition, 2007-
    I have judged this competition at every level including the national final.
  • The Battle of Ideas, 2006-2009
    Speaker and chair at the Institute of Ideas’ annual festival of ideas and public debates.

(c) Media Appearances

  • Media experience: contributed articles to and/or interviewed by: spiked-online (2007-9); Newstalk Radio (Ireland) (2007); The First Post (2008-9); BBC World Service (2010); The Nation (Thailand) (2009); The Bangkok Post (2009); The Daily Telegraph (2009); Associated Press (2010); (2010); Colourful Radio (London) (2010); Le Monde Diplomatique (2010); The Australian (2010); The Jakarta Post (2010); The Irrawaddy (2010); The Brunei Times (2010); The Financial Times (2011); Cambodia Daily (2012); BBC World TV (2012); Cape Talk 567 (Cape Town, South Africa) (2012); Voice of Russia (2012); regular contributor to Monocle 24 (2012-)
  • Contributor to non-academic publications, including: Warwick Boar (news editor, 2001-2002), Cherwell (2004-08), Oxford Magazine (2005), (2005-), Battles in Print (2007-8), The Oxonian Review (2009)
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