hello. i am a political sociologist with trans-disciplinary expertise on (world) political violence, political aesthetics, political design, and social critique.
Jonathan Luke Austin is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Copenhagen. He is also Director of the Centre for Advanced Security Studies (CAST) and PI (with Anna Leander and Javier Contreras) of the Future of Humanitarian Design (HUD) research project.
Until 2021, Austin was Lead Researcher for the Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. He was also a Visiting Lecturer at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Previously, Austin has held positions at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS), the International Relations Institute (IRI) of the Pontificial Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC) at the University of Copenhagen, and the Max Weber Foundation’s Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB) in Lebanon.
Austin’s research agenda is focused around four inter-related axes: the ontology of political violence, the relationships between politics and aesthetics, the state of social critique in contemporary social science, and the possibility of emerging field of international political design. He also possesses extensive area studies expertise on the Middle East, based on over a decade of research and field experience in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, and Turkey. Austin’s work in these areas has been published in leading journals including European Journal of International Relations, International Political Sociology, Security Dialogue, Review of International Studies, European Journal of International Security and beyond.
As Lead Researcher for the VIPRE Initiative – a multi-year and multi-researcher project designed by Austin and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation – Austin was investigating novel (pragmatist) sociological approaches for achieving the prevention of war crimes and human rights violations (torture, the targeting of civilians, genocide) by translating cutting-edge social theory into empirical and practical purchase. Austin’s previous work exploring the conditions of possibility for violent human rights abuses like torture forms the core theoretical, conceptual and empirical base underlying the Initiative.
Austin received his PhD summa cum laude avec les félicitations du jury in International Relations from the Graduate Institute in 2017 and also received the Alumni Association Prize from the Graduate Institute for the Best Doctoral Dissertation defended between 2014-2019 in International Relations and Political Science. His doctoral research was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation under a Doc.CH fellowship. Austin is a member of the editorial team for Contexto Internacional: Journal of Global Connections, based at the Pontificial Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, was previously an associate editor of the journal New Perspectives, and communications officer on the executive board of the Science, Technology, and Art in IR (STAIR) section of the International Studies Association.
Aside from academia, Austin’s work has taken him extensively to the Middle East, where he has lived, worked, and carried out ethnographic field research in Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Kurdistan, Jordan, and Turkey. During this time he worked worked with United Nations agencies across the Middle East and NGOs focused on educational programmes. Austin also worked as a freelance photographer in the Middle East for governmental bodies and other organizations, with his work being published and distributed by leading photojournalistic agencies including Reuters and AFP. Today, he continues to consulate and write policy or research documents for, present his work to, and collaborate with organisations including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY), the Swedish Red Cross (Svenska Röda Korset), the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, the World Bank, the Canadian Development Agency, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and beyond.