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School of Politics and International Relations

Professor Jef Huysmans, PhD (Leuven), MA (Hull) BA (Leuven)


Professor of International Politics

Telephone: 020 7882 8601
Room Number: Arts One, 2.28A


Jef Huysmans is Professor of International Politics. After finishing his PhD at the University of Leuven (Belgium), he took up a lectureship in International Relations and European studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Later he moved to the Open University where he taught politics and international relations and was Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance. He joined Queen Mary University of London in January 2016.

He is best known for his work on the politics of insecurity, the securitization of migration, critical methods in security studies and IR, and an International Political Sociology of fracturing worlds. Currently he is working on security and democracy, the impact of giving conceptual primacy to movement in social sciences, and a post-critical international political sociology of fracturing worlds.

He is Co-Convenor of the research group Doing International Political Sociology: 

Office hour joining link 


Director of Distance Learning programmes in SPIR.

Undergraduate Teaching

POL258 The International Politics of Security

POL389 The Political Life of Security Methods



Research Interests:

My research focuses on the politics of insecurity. I am particularly interested in social and political processes that securitise issues and their consequences. Much of this research has been on the securitisation of migration, asylum and refuge in Europe. More recently, I have worked on the relation between citizenship and security and the diffusion of insecurities and its implications for democratic politics. Currently I have extended this work into the politics of surveillance and the question what a democratic politics can mean in relation to highly dispersed surveillance upon which institutional democratic repertoires have only limited grip. My most recent publications in this area are the book Security Unbound. Enacting Democratic Limits. (Routledge 2014) and the article Democratic curiosity in times of surveillance published in ‘European Journal of International Security’ (Vol. 1, No. 1, 2016)

With Claudia Aradau, a colleague based in King’s College London, and others, I also engage in discussions on methods in critical security studies and IR. We are particularly interested in the social and political life of methods. Methods are not simply scholarly research tools; governments, companies, activists and so on also use them. This raises political questions about how methods circulate in society and what they do.

With Joao Nogueira from the Pontifical Catholic University Rio de Janeiro, I am developing conceptual and theoretical interventions in debates in International Political Sociology. Under the heading ‘fracturing IR’ we explore how International Political Sociology can renew critical lineages in International Studies with the aim of understanding politics as an irrevocably open and unbounded practice of transversality and multiplicity, intent on the constant creation of heterogeneity. Our most recent contribution in this area is: “Ten years of IPS: fracturing IR.” International Political Sociology. Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 299-319.

Finally, I retain a research interest in acts of citizenship and international political sociologies of mobility, and in particular, how they allow us to conceptualise politics as de-territorialised, fractured and transversal.

Examples of research funding:

2019-2021: PI MSCA Fellowship held by Marie Beauchamps -- AFFECTS (H2020-MSCA-IF-2018-839538)

2009-2011: Principal Investigator ‘International Collaboratory on Critical Methods in Security Studies’
Funder: ESRC International Networking and Training Opportunities Scheme– RES-810- 21-0072 (£39327)

2008-2010: Senior Researcher leading Work Package 3 ’Enacting Mobility: Making a more Democratic European Citizenship’
Funder: European Commission Framework Programme 7 (FP7-SSH) project ENACT – Enacting European Citizenship (217504).  (€139,839)

2005-2008: Chair of COST Action A24 – The evolving social construction of threats.
Funder: European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST), European Council.
Partners: institutions from 17 European states.
Budget: €222500

2005: KC fellowship for Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance

2004-2009: Researcher in Framework VI Project ‘The Changing Landscape of Liberty and Security in Europe (CHALLENGE)

2004-2006: Co-Investigator in ‘Migration, Democracy and Security: The Socio-Political Effects of Securitising Free Movement: the Case of 9/11’
Joint Research Grant with Dr Thomas Diez (PI, University of Birmingham). (50%) Funder: ESRC – New Security Challenges Programme (RES-223-2000-0137) [£110,150]

1998-2000: The Mediteranean Sea, Refugees and Questions of Security Funder: NATO – NATO Research Fellowship [£3000]



Jef Huysmans (2014) Security Unbound. Enacting Democratic Limits. Abingdon: Routledge, 214 pp.

Jef Huysmans (2006) The Politics of Insecurity. Fear, Migration and Asylum in the EU. London: Routledge, 191 pp.

Jef Huysmans (2005) What is Politics? Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Jef Huysmans (1996) Making/Unmaking European Disorder. Meta-theoretical, Theoretical and Empirical Questions of Military Stability after the Cold War. Leuven: Department of Political Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 250 pp.

Edited books, journal special issues and symposia

Jef Huysmans and Joao Nogueira (eds) (2016) “Anniversary issue: celebrating 10 years of IPS” International Political Sociology. Vol.10, No. 4

Claudia Aradau, Jef Huysmans, Andrew Neal & Nadine Voelkner (eds) (2014). Critical Security Methods. New Frameworks for Analysis. Abingdon: Routledge.

Xavier Guillaume & Jef Huysmans (eds) (2013) Citizenship and Security. The constitution of Political Being. Abingdon: Routledge

Jef Huysmans (ed.) (2010) ‘IPS Forum: Cynthia Weber’s multi-media project, “I am an American”.’ International Political Sociology Vol. 4, Issue 1, pp. 80-103.

Jef Huysmans & Ole Wæver (eds) (2009) ‘IPS Forum: International political sociology beyond European and North American traditions of social and political thought’ International Political Sociology Vol. 3, Issue 3, pp. 327-350.

Jef Huysmans (ed.) (2009) ‘IPS Forum: Global Society’ International Political Sociology Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 109-136.

Patricia Noxolo and Jef Huysmans (eds) (2009) Community, citizenship, and the ‘war on terror’: Security and insecurity. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Jef Huysmans and Anastassia Tsoukala (eds) (2008) ‘Special Issue: The Social Construction and Control of Danger in Counterterrorism.’ Alternatives Vol. 33, No. 2.

Jef Huysmans, Andrew Dobson, and Raia Prokhovnik (eds) (2006) The Politics of Protection. Sites of Insecurity and Political Agency. Routledge.

Journal Articles

Aradau, C. & Huysmans, J. (2019) “Assembling credibility: knowledge, method and critique in times of ‘post-truth’.” Security Dialogue. Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 40-58

Guillaume, Xavier & Huysmans, Jef (2019) “The concept of ‘the everyday’: ephemeral politics and the abundance of life.” Cooperation & Conflict. Vol. 54, No. 2, pp. 278-296

Jef Huysmans. & Joao Nogueira (2016) “Ten years of IPS: fracturing IR.” International Political Sociology. Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 299-319a

Huysmans, J. (2016) Democratic curiosity in times of surveillance. European Journal of Security Studies Vol. 1, No. 1

Aradau, C. and Huysmans, J. (2014) Critical Methods in International Relations: The Politics of Techniques, Devices and Acts. European Journal of International Relations. Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 571-595

Andrijasevic, R., Aradau, C., Huysmans, J., & Squire, V. (2012)“European citizenship unbound. Sex work, mobility, mobilisation.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 497-514.

Aradau, C., Huysmans, J. & Squire, V. (2011) ‘Atos de cidadania europeia : uma sociologia política da mobilidade’ Contexto Internacional. Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 179-208. [Portuguese translation of ‘Acts of European citizenship. A political sociology of mobility’.]

Huysmans, J. (2011) ‘What’s in an Act? On security speech acts and little security nothings.’ Security Dialogue Vol. 42, No. 4-5, pp. 371-383.

Aradau, C., Huysmans, J. & Squire, V.(2010) ‘Acts of European Citizenship. A Political Sociology of Mobility.’ Journal of Common Market Studies Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 945-965

Aradau, C. & Huysmans, J. (2009) ‘Mobilising (global) democracy: a political reading of mobility between universal rights and the mob.’ Millennium – Journal of International Studies vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 583-604.

Huysmans, J. & Buonfino, A. (2008) ‘Politics of exception and unease: immigration, asylum and terrorism in parliamentary debates in the UK’ Political Studies Vol. 56, No. 4, pp. 766-788

Huysmans, J. (2008) ‘The jargon of exception – on Schmitt, Agamben and the absence of political society.’ International Political Sociology Vol. 2, No.2, pp. 165-183

C.a.s.e. Collective (2007) ‘Europe, knowledge, politics—Engaging with the Limits: The c.a.s.e Collective responds.’ Security Dialogue Vol. 38, No. 4, pp. 559-576. (This article was written by 16 members, including me, of the network Critical Approaches to Security in Europe)

C.a.s.e. collective (2006) ‘Critical approaches to security in Europe. A network manifesto.’ Security Dialogue, Vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 443-487. (This article was written by 25 members, including me, of the network Critical Approaches to Security in Europe.)

Huysmans, J. (2006) ‘”International politics of exception.” Competing visions of international political order at the interstice between law and politics.’ Alternatives. Global, Local, Political Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 135-165

Huysmans, J. (2006) ‘International politics of insecurity. Normativity, inwardness and the exception.’ Security Dialogue Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 11-29

Huysmans, J. (2006) ‘Efekt spill-over z perspektywy Foucaultowskiej.’ Nova Europa Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 27-60 [Polish translation of ‘A Foucaultian view on spill-over’ first published in Journal of International Relations and Development, vol. 7, no. 3, 2004.]

Huysmans, J. (2004) ‘A Foucaultian view on spill-over. Freedom and security in the EU.’ Journal of International Relations and Development. Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 294-318

Huysmans, J. (2004) ‘Minding exceptions. Politics of insecurity and liberal democracy.’ Contemporary Political Theory. Vol. 3, No. 3, 2004, pp. 321-341

Huysmans, J. (2002) ‘Shape-shifting NATO: humanitarian action and the Kosovo refugee crisis.’ Review of International Studies Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 599-618

Huysmans, J. (2002) ‘Defining social constructivism in security studies. The normative dilemma of writing security.’ Alternatives. Global, Local, Political Vol. 27 (special issue), pp. 41-62

Huysmans, J. (2000) ‘The European Union and the securitization of migration.’ Journal of Common Market Studies Vol. 38, No. 5, pp. 751-777

Huysmans, J. (1999) ‘Know your Schmitt. A godfather of truth and the spectre of Nazism.’ Review of International Studies. Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 323-328.

Huysmans, J. (1998) ‘The question of the limit: Desecuritisation and the aesthetics of horror in political realism.’ Millennium: Journal of International Studies Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 569-589

Huysmans, J. (1998) ‘Dire et écrire la sécurité: le dilemme normatif des études de sécurité.’ Cultures et Conflits. No. 31-32, pp. 177-202

Huysmans, J. (1998) ‘Revisiting Copenhagen; or, on the creative development of a security studies agenda in Europe.’ European Journal of International Relations. Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 513-539.

Huysmans, J. (1998) ‘Security! What do you mean? From concept to thick signifier.’ European Journal of International Relations. Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 226-255.

Huysmans, J. (1995) ‘Post-Cold War implosion and globalisation: Liberalism running past itself?’ Millennium Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 471-487.

Huysmans, J. (1994) Reading and writing non-offensive defence: closing the debate?' Cooperation and Conflict, vol. 29, pp. 185-204

Book chapters

Aradau, Claudia and Jef Huysmans (2017) ‘Performing methods: practice and politics.’ In: Tugba Basaran, Didier Bigo, Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet and R.B.J. Walker eds. International political sociology. Transversal lines. Abingdon: Routledge, 2016, pp. 126-144.

Huysmans, Jef and Squire, Vicki (2016) ‘Migration and security’ in Thierry Balzacq and Myriam Dunn Cavelty (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies, 2nd edition, Routledge

Huysmans, Jef and Guillaume, Xavier (2013). ‘Citizenship and securitizing: interstitial politics.’ In: Guillaume, Xavier and Huysmans, Jef eds. Citizenship and Security The Constitution of Political Being. Abingdon: Routledge.

Guillaume, Xavier and Huysmans, Jef (2013). ‘Introduction: Security and Citizenship.’ In: Guillaume, Xavier and Huysmans, Jef eds. Citizenship and Security The Constitution of Political Being. Abingdon: Routledge

Huysmans, J. and Aradau, C. (2011) ‘Mobilising (global) democracy: a political reading of mobility between universal rights and the mob.’ in Joe Hoover, Meera Sabaratnam, and Laust Schouenborg (eds) Interrogating democracy in world politics. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 150-165.

Huysmans, J. and Squire, V. (2009) ‘Migration and Security’ In Victor Mauer & Myriam Dunn Cavelty (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies, Routledge, pp. 169-179

Huysmans, J. (2009) ‘Conclusion: Insecurity and the everyday.’ In Patricia Noxolo and Jef Huysmans (eds) Community, citizenship, and the ‘war on terror’: Security and insecurity. Palgrave, pp. 196-207.

Huysmans, J. (2006) ‘Introduction: Political Agency and the Politics of Protection.’ In Jef Huysmans, Andrew Dobson, and Raia Prokhovnik (eds) The Politics of Protection. Sites of Insecurity and Political Agency. Routledge, pp.1-18

Huysmans, J. (2003) ‘Discussing Sovereignty and Transnational Politics.’ In Neil Walker (ed.) Sovereignty in Transition. Hart, pp. 209-227

Huysmans, J. (2001) ‘European Identity and Migration Policies.’ In Lars-Eric Cederman (ed.) Constructing Europe’s Identity. The External Dimension. Lynne Rienner, pp. 189-211

Huysmans, J. (2000) ‘Contested Community: migration and the question of the political in the EU.’ In Morten Kelstrup & Michael Williams (eds) International Relations Theory and The Politics of European Integration. Power, Security and Community. Routledge, pp. 149-170

Huysmans, J. (2000) ‘Migration and the Politics of Security.’ In Sophie Body-Gendrot and Marco Martiniello (eds.) Minorities in European Cities. The Dynamics of social integration and social exclusion at the neighborhood level. MacMillan, pp. 179-189.

Huysmans, J. (1997) ’James Der Derian. The Unbearable Lightness of Theory.' In Iver Neumann & Waever, Ole (eds) The Future of International Relations. Masters in the Making? Routledge, pp. 337-358

Huysmans, J. (1996) ‘The CSCE’s military and ethnic security fields.’ In Jaap de Wilde and Hakan Wiberg (eds) Organized Anarchy in Europe: The Role of Intergovernmental Organizations. Tauris, pp. 163-180

Huysmans, J. (1995) 'Migrants as a security problem: dangers of 'securitizing' societal issues.’ In Miles, R. & Thränhardt, D. (eds) Migration and European Integration: The Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion. Pinter, pp. 53-72

Huysmans, J. (1995) ‘The construction of security fields in Post-Cold War Europe: the case of CSCE.’ In: Judit Balazs and Hakan Wiberg (Eds) Changes, Chances and Challenges. Europe 2000. Academiai Kiado, pp. 53-78

Huysmans, J. (1993) 'The end of Liberocracy? Some thoughts on the infallibility of liberal democracy' (with Tom Casier and Sam de Smedt) In: Käkönen, J. (ed.) Changes in the Northern Hemisphere in the 1990s. Tampere Peace Research Institute, pp 11-41.

Other publications (non-refereed)

Huysmans, Jef & Scherrer, Amandine (2015) Why bother about digital rights? An absence in the election campaigns. in: openDemocracy 15 April 2015 

Scherrer, Amandine & Huysmans, Jef (2014) The EU’s active fight for digital rights. In: Open Democracy 19 May 2014

Huysmans, J & Ragazzi, F. (2009) Liberty & Security. Multi-media Teaching and Training Module. DVD-rom and open-source web site (, 2009 [100% content; 50% design]

(2009) Mobilising European Democracy: Mobility and Citizenship between Universal Rights and the “Mob” Research Paper for European Commission Framework Programme 7 (FP7-SSH) project ENACT – Enacting European Citizenship 
(217504) [with Claudia Aradau]

(2008) Mobile Acts of European Citizenship: Towards a mobility turn in European citizenship studies. Research Paper for European Commission Framework Programme 7 (FP7-SSH) project ENACT – Enacting European Citizenship (217504) [with Claudia Aradau and Vicki Squire]

(2005) ‘International politics of insecurity: unilateralism, inwardness and exceptionalism,’ in Elise Collective Volume: Counter-Terrorism. Implications for the Liberal State in Europe. Brussels, Centre for European Policy Studies, pp. 1-20.

(2000) NATO & Human Security. The Kosovo Albanian Refugee Crisis (March 1999 – June 1999). Working Papers on Ethics and Transnational Politics. London Centre of International Relations, No. 3

(2000) ‘The European Union and the Securitization of Migration’, Working Papers of Centre d’Etudes de l’Ethnicité et des Migrations. No. 00/07

(1997) ‘European identity and migration policies: socio-economic and security questions in a process of Europeanisation’, CEU Political Science Working Paper No. 9, Budapest, Central European University, Political Science Department

(1995) 'Multilateral constructions of security fields', Diplomacy. AUCBerkeley - European Community Newsletter, Spring 1995: pp. 5, 12

(1994) 'Humanitaire interventie?' ("Humanitarian intervention?"), IPIS-Brochure, nr. 70, 64pp.

(1994) 'Op de grens van rechtvaardigheid en veiligheid' (On the border between justice and security), Militaire Interventie om Humanitaire Redenen. Plicht of Bedrog? Verslagboek van de Studiedag 20 November 1993, Antwerp: Pax Christi Vlaanderen, pp. 8-11

(1994) 'Wapenbeheersing nog altijd actueel' (Arms control still topical), Koerier. Vol. 37, nr. 1, p. 10

(1993) 'Het einde van Fukuyama en de laatste democratie' (The end of Fukuyama and the last democracy), Cahiers Internationale Betrekkingen en Vredesonderzoek, vol. 37, no. 3, 35 pp. (with Tom Casier and Sam de Smedt) (33%)

(1993) 'Wapenbeheersing: het verhaal van de oude en nieuwe agenda' (Arms control: the story of the old and new agenda.), De Vredeskrant vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 4-10.

(1993) 'Van CVSE naar CVSE. Veligheid en veiligheid zijn twee' (From CSCE to CSCE. Security and Security are two), IPIS-Brochure, no. 67, 76pp.

(1993) 'De Koude Oorlog is voorbij, leve de Post-Koude Oorlog (?)' (The Cold War is over, long live the Post-Cold War (?)), IPIS-Brochure, no. 65, 58 pp.

(1992) 'Het 'vredesdividend' van de Post-Koude Oorlog' (The 'peace dividend' in the Post-Cold War), Kultuurleven. vol. 59, no. 3, pp. 66-73

(1992) 'Liberokratian loppu? Ajatuksia liberaalin demokratian ylivertaisuudesta' (The end of liberocracy? Some thoughts on the infallibility of liberal democracy. In Finnish.), Rauhantutkimus, no. 4, 1992, pp. 4-24. (with Tom Casier and Sam de Smedt) (33%)

(1992) 'Internationale regimes. Inleidend literatuuroverzicht' (International regimes: Introduction to the literature), Cahiers van het Centrum voor Vredesonderzoek, vol. 10, no. 1, 37pp.

(1989) 'Gorbatsjov, Gorbatsjovisme en Oost-Europa. De Geleide Chaos' (Gorbachev, Gorbachevism and Eastern Europe. The Guided Chaos), Cahiers van het Centrum voor Vredesonderzoek, no. 22, November 1989, Leuven, 42pp.


I welcome PhD proposals in the following areas:

  • Critical security studies
  • The politics of surveillance
  • Securitisation of migration and mobility
  • The social and political life of methods
  • The everyday in international politics
  • Democracy and security
  • Acts of citizenship in International Relations

Current PhD Students

Lizy Blake “Dataveillance by Type: A comparative study into public attitudes and behaviours to dataveillance conducted by the state, commercial organisations and the self.”

Hannah Owens “Vernacular Security: The Nexus between Mobility and Security as experienced by Syrian and Iraqi Refugees and US Security Policy Elite.”

Maja Grundler “Refugee Status for Reasons of Citizenship? – Passports, Dangerous Journeys, and the Nexus to Nationality.”

Andonea Dickson, ‘Across Deep Seas and Territorial Waters: Interrogating Strategies of Mobility Control in Maritime Geographies'

Madelein Lindh, ‘The politics of return

Sabina Pačariz, ‘The role of identity in foreign politics: Serbian-Turkish relations since the rule of Justice and Development Party.’

Anna Finiguerra: Iceberg politics. On bodies, borders and boundaries.

Timor Landherr: 'Borders and Their Long Shadows – (Co-)Enacting Border Security and the Disentanglement of Sovereignty/Territoriality in the 21st century'


Katherin Weatherhead, ‘Unravelling Mediterranean migration: legal and political knowledge creation and diffusion among asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.’

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