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Dr Owen Thomas

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Lecturer in Politics and International Relations

Office: A159, Peter Lanyon Building (First Floor)

My primary research interests lie in International Relations, British Foreign Policy and Security Studies.

My current research agenda covers two projects. You can read more by clicking on the 'research' tab.

  • Violence, Crisis and Accountability

Global politics is rife with crises and scandals: that is, events where something has happened, or is alleged to have happened that is widely agreed to be wrong. Such scandals often result in lengthy investigations, inquiries, and court cases – promising to establish facts and lessons so that future transgressions can be avoided, demonstrating that the failure has been dealt with or that there has been no failure at all. The Iraq War, the global financial crisis, sexual violence, and the abuse of detainees have all been addressed in this way in recent years. This research examines crises and scandalous events concerning different forms of violence, asks what function crisis and scandal play in politics, and asks how these events are understood retrospectively by society. In other words, how do we understand scandals and crises retrospectively? How does that influence decisions about what is accountable and what lessons should be learnt? What other ways of understanding and learning are possible?

  • Secrecy, Revelation and Security

The paradox faced by liberal democracy is that security requires both transparency and secrecy. One promises to govern and secure the uncertainty and insecurity made possible by the other. This research examines questions such as: what is a secret; what role do secrets play in politics; is secrecy always bad for democracy; how do we decide what to reveal and what to keep hidden?

I am also interested in the development of research methods in International Relations and Critical Security Studies.

I convene research-led modules on the role of secrecy and deception in International Relations (Secrets, Spies and Lies) and the changing nature of security and strategy in Western liberal democracies (Security and Liberty).