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I am currently Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading. Previously I was a Stanton Fellow in MIT's Security Studies Program.

My primary research agenda is international norm dynamics, including norms surrounding war, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the criminalization of homosexuality. I am also interested in how we can establish motives, intentions, or reasons for action in international relations.


My book Denying the Spoils of War: The Politics of Invasion and Nonrecognition (Edinburgh University Press, 2018) asks why states refuse to recognize the spoils of war. I conducted archival research into US and UK decision-makers’ reasoning behind their policy towards the validity of the results of the use of force in four cases; the Japanese conquest of Manchuria in 1931-33, the Italian conquest of Ethiopia in 1935, the Indian invasion of East Pakistan in 1971, and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The cases reveal that nonrecognition was aimed at maintaining the rule against aggression by re-establishing the joint commitment of all states to the rule. I elucidate a model of rule-maintenance that combines insights from rationalist scholarship on common knowledge and coordination games with constructivist ideas about norm dynamics. The model is then applied to the broader universe of nonrecognition debates, explaining variation in nonrecognition and specifying mechanisms though which cases exit the model.

British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality (Routledge Focus, 2018) examines whether colonial rule is responsible for the historical, and continuing, criminalization of same-sex sexual relations in many parts of the world. Enze Han and I gather and assess historical evidence to demonstrate the different ways in which the British empire spread laws criminalizing homosexual conduct amongst its colonies. Evidence includes case studies of former British colonies and the common law and criminal codes like the Indian Penal Code of 1860 and the Queensland Criminal Code of 1899. A dataset comprised of 185 countries is used for systematic data analysis to test the book’s claims. Whilst the book’s findings suggest that ex-British colonies are much more likely to have laws that criminalize homosexual conduct than other ex-colonies or other states in general, they also indicate that evidence in favor of the claim that British imperialism uniquely ‘poisoned’ societies against homosexuality is inconclusive at best.

The book is summarized in this piece in the Conversation.


2017. ""Proclaiming Principles: The Logic of the Nonrecognition of the Spoils of War", Journal of Global Security Studies, 2(3): 204-219.

2017. "Making The Real: Rhetorical Adduction and the Bangladesh Liberation War'', International Organization, 71(2): 317-348.

A post on this paper appeared on the Duck of Minerva blog: Making the Real: The Interplay of Reasons, Rhetoric, Evidence, and Action.

Selected for and featured on the Qualitative Data Repository's Annotation for Transparent Inquiry.

2015. "Why Did They Do That?: The Methodology of Reasons for Action", International Theory, 7(2): 231-262.

2014. "Rule Tensions and the Dynamics of Institutional Change: From `To the Victor Go the Spoils' to the Stimson Doctrine", European Journal of International Relations, 20(3): 834-857.

Op-ed on the nonrecognition of Russia's annexation of Crimea, in The Hill, "Lost in Limbo"

2014. "External Kin, Economic Disparity, and Minority Ethnic Group Mobilization," Conflict Management & Peace Science, 31(1): 49-69. (with Enze Han and Christopher Paik)

2014. "British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality," Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 27(2): 268-288. (With Enze Han)

A summary of this paper appeared in the Washington Post Monkey Cage blog. and on the CRIA blog. It was cited in the Times of India.

2010. "The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations: The View From Graduate School," Qualitative & Multi-Method Research, 8 (Spring), (with David E. Banks).


2017. "Trump says that spoils belong to the victor. That’s an invitation to more war", Monkey Cage at The Washington Post, 1 February 2017.

2016. "A Liar in the Oval Office Could Threaten the World's Order", Time, (with David Banks) 17 November 2016.

2016. "After Brexit, Britain is free – but it will never be a global power again'', The Independent, (with David Banks) 22 July 2016.

2014. "The British Colonial Origins of Anti-Gay Laws", Monkey Cage at The Washington Post, (With Enze Han) 30 October 2014.

2014. "China's 1989 Choice: The Paradox of Seeking Wealth and Democracy," Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2014. (With Zheng Wang)