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Karin Fierke


Room: 240

Office Hours

Tel: 1937



Karin Fierke received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1995. She has held a research fellowship at the Amsterdam School of Social Science Research and was a Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University. She was a reader in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen's University Belfast prior to her arrival in St. Andrews as a Professor in the School of International Relations in 2006. She was a member of the executive committee of the British International Studies Association from 2000-2004 and is presently on the steering committee of the Standing Group on International Relations of the European Consortium for Political Research and a non-North American representative on the ISA Governing Council.


IR3026 Diplomacy and Conflict Intervention

IR4522 Critical Approaches to International Security

IR5601 Research in International Relations


The development and application of constructivist methodology, building in particular on post-Wittgensteinian themes

The analysis of change relating to security and conflict

The role of emotion and trauma in international politics

The relationship between memory and violence in international politics

Political self sacrifice


2013, Political Self Sacrifice: Agency, Body and Emotion in International Relations

Winner of the Sussex International Theory Prize 2014.

From the Reviews:

K. M. Fierke offers an important and timely account of the political strategies, cultural meanings, and normative aspirations associated with those participants in international affairs who, as she puts it, “play with a weak hand” Andrews Ross, Ethics and International Affairs. See full review at:

2007; Critical Approaches to International Security. Polity.

 From the Reviews:

A must read."
Journal of Peace Research

“A thorough, accessible, distinct and refreshingly new account of how we should understand the field of Critical Security Studies.”
International Studies Review

"A very readable and brilliant introduction to international security in a narrow sense, and to ideational IR theories in a wider context."
Political Studies Review

"A stimulating and refreshing examination of different dimensions of contemporary debates about security and security studies."
Keith Krause, Graduate Institute of International Studies

"A remarkable achievement, broader, yet more theoretically integrated than most of the leading works on critical security studies. The worked examples of the gendering of war, the War on Terrorism, the securitization of Hurricane Katrina, the end of the Cold War, the outbreak of war in Bosnia, and the trauma–induced reproduction of insecurities more generally will attract students and researchers on both sides of the Atlantic."
Hayward R. Alker, University of Southern California and Brown University


2005; Diplomatic Interventions: Conflict and Change in a Globalizing World. Palgrave.

From the Reviews:

'Diplomatic Interventions is an important contribution to the constructivist literature, offering a compelling argument for the social construction of war. With a breadth that spans the just war doctrine, humanitarian intervention, war crimes, pre-emptive self-defence, arms sales, cultural propaganda, and much more, Fierke persuasively argues that, in effect, war is what we make of it. Essential reading for all who study war and conflict resolution.' Brian Frederking, McKendree College, USA


2001; and Knud Erik Jorgensen, eds., Constructing International Relations: The Next Generation. M.E. Sharpe.

From the Reviews: 

[This book] successfully redirects us towards finding ways to handle the sudden success of constructivism, tackling fields intrinsically perhaps more difficult for constructivism and improving our insights and skills on all research levels. Stefano Guzzini, Millennium:Journal of International Studies,Volume 31,No 2

1998; Changing Games, Changing Strategies: Critical Investigations in Security. Manchester University Press.

From the Reviews:

This book is a challenging and thought-provoking contribution both to substantive post-positivist International Relations (IR) and to the debate about the end of the Cold War. Journal of International Studies




2013; 'Who is my Neighbour? Memories of the Holocaust/Al Nakba and a Global Ethic of Care,' European Journal of International Relations, online.

2012; The Warden's Dilemma: Self-Sacrifice and Compromise in Asymmetric Interactions, Government and Opposition, 47, 3, pp. 321-341.

2009; Trust and Terrorism in Northern Ireland, Critical Studies on Terrorism, November.

2009; Critical Theory, Security and Emancipation, ISA Compendium Project.

2009; Agents of Death: The Structural Logic of Suicide Terrorism and Martyrdom. International Theory 1, 1.

2009; A Clash of Emotions: The Politics of Humiliation and Political Violence in the Middle East, with Khaled Fattah. European Journal of International Relations, 1.

2009; Alexander Wendt's Social Theory of International Politics, Journal Politik, 1, 1.

2008; "Memory and Violence in Israel/Palestine"; Human Rights and Human Welfare; 8; More info

2005; The War on Terrorism: A Critical Perspective, Irish Studies in International Affairs 16.

2004; Whereof We Can Speak, Thereof We Must Not Be Silent: Trauma, Political Solipsism and War, Review of International Studies 30, 4, pp. 471-492.

World or Worlds? The Analysis of Content and Discourse. Qualitative Methodologies Newsletter, American Political Science Association (2004)

 2002; Links Across the Abyss: Language and Logic in International Relations, International Studies Quarterly, 46, 3, pp. 331-354.

2002; The Liberation of Kosovo: Emotion and the Ritual Re-Enactment of War, Special Issue on Politics and Emotion, Focaal: European Journal of Anthropology, 39, pp. 93-116.

2001; Divided by a Common Language: Formal and Constructivist Approaches to Games. With Michael Nicholson, Global Society, 1, pp. 7-25.

2000; Logics of Force and Dialogue: The Iraq/UNSCOM Crisis as Social Interaction,European Journal of International Relations, 6, 3, pp. 335-371. Re-published in Theo Farrell, ed. (2010) Security Studies, Routledge.

1999; Besting the West:  Russia’s Machiavella Strategy, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 1, 3, pp. 403-434.

1999; Constructing Institutional Interests: EU and NATO Enlargement. With Antje Wiener, Journal of European Public Policy, 5, pp. 721-742.

1999; Dialogues of Manoeuvre and Entanglement: NATO, Russia and the CEECs,Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 28: 1, pp. 27-52.

1996; Multiple Identities, Interfacing Games: The Social Construction of Western Action in Bosnia, European Journal of International Relations, 2: 4, pp. 467-498.

Book Chapters

Wittgenstein and International Relations, in: Cerwyn Moore, ed., Interpretive Dialogues: Continental Philosophy and International Relations Theory. Routledge (2010).

Constructivism, in: Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steve Smith, eds., International Relations Theories. Oxford University Press, 2nd edition (2009).

Commentary, Nisha Shah,, eds.. Metaphors of Globalization. Routledge (2008).

Bewitched by the Past: Social Memory, Trauma and International Relations, in Duncan Bell, ed., Memory, Trauma and World Politics. Palgrave (2006).

Constructivism, in: Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steve Smith, eds., International Relations Theories. Oxford University Press (2006).

Constructing Institutional Interests: EU and NATO Enlargement. With Antje Wiener, in: Frank Schimmelfennig and Ulrich Sedelmeier, eds., The Politics of European Union Enlargement: Theoretical Approaches. Routledge (2005). 

Breaking the Silence: Language and Method in International Relations, in Francois Debrix, ed. Language, Agency and Politics. M.E. Sharpe (2003).

Forward, Michael Nicholson, International Relations: A Concise Introduction, 2nd edition, Palgrave Press (2002).

Critical Methodology and Constructivism, in: K.M. Fierke and K.E. Jorgensen,  Constructing International Relations: The Next Generation. M.E. Sharpe (2001).

Constructing Institutional Interests: EU and NATO Enlargement, with Antje Wiener, in T. Christianson, K.E. Jorgensen and A. Wiener, The Social Construction of Europe. Sage (2001).

Meaning, Method and Practice: Assessing the Changing Security Agenda Ten Years On,’ in Stephanie Lawson, ed. The New Agenda for International Relations. Polity Press (2001).

Constructing an Ethical Foreign Policy: Analysis and Practice from Below, in: Margot Light and Karen E. Smith, eds. Ethics and Foreign Policy. Cambridge University Press (2001).

 Changing Worlds of Security, in: Keith Krause and Michael Williams, eds., Critical Security Studies.University ofMinnesota Press (1997).          

At the Boundary: Language, Rules and Social Construction, in Knud Erik Jorgensen, ed., The Aarhus-Norsminde Papers: Constructivism, International Relations and European Studies, Institut for Statskundskab (1997).




Director of Research

Member of Management Committee

Member of Research Committee


British International Studies Association

Standing Group on IR, European Consortium of Political Research (steering committee)

Non-North American Representative to the International Studies Association Governing Council


Professor K.M. Fierke, School of International Relations, and Professor Antje Wiener, University of Hamburg, have been awarded 26,000 euro from the Volkswagen Foundation to hold a symposium at the University of Hamburg, 3-5 June 2010, on the topic of 'Unclenching Fists: Dialogue and Diversity in Diplomatic Interactions.' More information

Editorial Positions

Editorial Board, Global Society

Editorial Board, Critical Studies in Security

Advisory Board, International Relations in a Constructed World, book series, M.E. Sharpe

Invited Talks, Lectures and Seminars


Self-Immolation as Speech Act and Interaction: The Case of Vietnam, London School of Economic, 7 November 2011.

Unclenching Fists: Dialogue and Diversity in Diplomatic Interactions, with Antje Wiener, Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, November 2010.

The Warden’s Dilemma: Self-Sacrifice, Agency and Emotion in Global Politics, Seminar at the University of Birmingham, November 2010 and at the Politics of Talk in Global Politics, a workshop at the University of Bremen, June 2010.

Agents of Death: The Structural Logic of Suicide Terrorism and Martyrdom, a workshop in honour of Professor Raymond Duvall, University of Minnesota, April 2008  and a seminar at the University of Warwick, January 2009. 

The War on Terrorism: A Critical Perspective, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, Ireland, November 2004 and the keynote, PSA Graduate Student conference, Edinburgh, June 2008.

Crossing over the Abyss: Mourning and Memorialization in the Aftermath of War, Conference on The Culture of Reconstruction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Aftermath of Crisis, Cambridge University, June 2008 

Therapeutic Interventions in War and The War Paradox: The Social Construction of Destruction, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI (USA), April 2005.


'Who is my Neighbour? Memories of the Holocaust/Al Nakba and a Global Ethic of Care,' European Journal of International Relations.

Current Research Students

First Supervisor

Francisco Antonio-Alfonso

Clara Eroukhmanoff

Janina Skryzpek

Diogo Dario

Philippe Beaulieu-Brossard

Second Supervisor

Hans Lindenlaub

Ahmed Shahin

Nicole Allison

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