Research Interests My research interests revolve around questions of state-society relations, state transformation, governance, political economy, sovereignty and intervention. I have written extensively on Southeast Asia, China and the Asia-Pacific more generally. However, I always approach these countries as case studies of much broader international phenomena, and I have also worked on parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, applying the same analytical framework. 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. From an ‘outside-in’, perspective, I examine how conflict between social classes and other groups generates different forms of state, regime, and foreign policy, including different forms of intervention and international governance arrangements. From an ‘inside-out’ perspective, I explore how external interventions - such as sanctions, state-building interventions and other attempts to transform domestic governance - are mediated through social conflicts and 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, the state theory of Bob Jessop and Nicos Poulantzas, and critical political geography, particularly its emphasis on scale and rescaling socio-political conflicts and state apparatuses. My first book, ASEAN, Sovereignty and Intervention in Southeast Asia, investigated the interventions of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Cambodia, 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. My second book, Governing Borderless Threats, co-authored with my long-term collaborator Prof Shahar Hameiri, investigates how non-traditional security issues are governed. Drawing on state theory, political economy and political geography, it builds a new analytical framework - the State Transformation Approach - that draws attention to efforts to transform domestic state apparatuses managing particular security issues, networking them across state borders and encouraging them to impose international discipline on other parts of their state and society. This state transformation process is, we show, profoundly shaped by social conflict rooted in the political economy of specific issue areas. We present case studies of environmental degradation, pandemic disease and transnational crime in the Asia-Pacific. Many scholarly articles also arose from this Australian Research Council-funded project. My third book, Societies Under Siege: Exploring How International Economic Sanctions (Do Not) Work, does exactly what the title suggests. Moving past the debate on whether sanctions work, it explores how they work, or fail to work. Via a new framework, Social Conflict Analysis, it suggests that sanctions condition the power, resources and strategies of societal groups in target states, thereby conditioning processes of socio-political conflict and the transformation (or otherwise) of states and regimes. Tracing this societal “transmission belt” helps reveal the reasons why most sanctions regimes fail. Case studies include South Africa, Iraq and Myanmar. This research was funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council. For more details click here. My fourth book, Fractured China: How State Transformation is Shaping China’s Rise, co-authored with Shahar Hameiri, explores how the state transformation processes identified in Governing Borderless Threats - the fragmentation, decentralisation and internationalisation of state apparatuses - are conditioning China’s rise. Against mainstream IR approaches that depict China as a classically “Westphalian” state pursuing a coherent “grand strategy”, we investigated how state transformation is generating fragmented, incoherent and sometimes contradictory policy outputs, with serious consequences for China’s foreign and security policies and their effects overseas. This project was funded by the Australian Research Council. My other work has show how social conflict and political economy relations condition various outcomes in domestic and international politics, including: the making of foreign and security policy in Southeast Asia; state-building interventions in East Timor; the failure of the ASEAN Economic Community; and the evolution of Myanmar’s economy and regime.   My current research focuses on how China’s Belt and Road Initiative is being implemented in many different countries across the world. I have assembled a large international research team to provide the first truly global account of the BRI, using a common analytical framework, and we are now seeking funding to support this major research initiative. For a flavour of what this work involves, see my Chatham House report from 2020, Debunking the Myth of Debt-Trap Diplomacy. Research Income Total of £880,708 in external research income since 2009, including: - £101,743 from the British Academy for an Innovation Fellowship at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (March 2022) - €195,454 (c.£171,570) from the European Commission for a Marie Curie Skłodowska Fellowship on the Security-Religion-Nationalism Nexus in Southeast Asia, with Dr Michael Magcamit - AU$284,000 (c.£177,740) from the Australian Research Council for a project on Rising Powers and State Transformation, with Dr Shahar Hameiri (January 2017) - £70,500 from the British Academy Newton Fund for a project on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, with Dr Cheng- Chwee Kuik (February 2016) - US$26,000 (c.£17,600) from the National University of Singapore/ Stanford University for the Lee Kong Chian Distinguished Fellowship on Southeast Asia (Spring 2015) - £127,557 from the ESRC for a project on international economic sanctions (12/2010) - AU$305,000 (c.£192,000; with Shahar Hameiri) from the Australian Research Council for The Governance of Non-Traditional Security in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific (11/2010) PhD Supervision I would be delighted to supervise doctoral theses in the following areas: - the international politics of Southeast Asia, China and the Asia-Pacific - the politics of sovereignty and intervention - international economic sanctions - historical sociology/ historical materialism/ political economy/ state-society relations and international relations - global or regional governance - non-traditional security Please note I am not qualified to supervise theses that deal predominantly with South Asia. Otherwise, I am happy to discuss ideas with prospective students - please email me with a short (2,000 word) research proposal and your CV. However, for procedural information on how to apply for doctoral studies at Queen Mary, please see the School’s webpage.
Lee Jones                                     Research