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In discussion: Lee Jarvis

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We recently announced the election of new members of our Executive Committee. We hope this interview series, one with each new trustee, will help you get to know them a little better.  This week it's the turn of Lee Jarvis who is based at the University of East Anglia.

Tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from

Hi everyone! I grew up in Enfield, North London, and currently live just outside Cambridge. When I’m not teaching or writing about international politics, I play the guitar with far more enthusiasm than ability, and spend way too much time thinking about the cricket and football teams I follow.

Why did you want to be a BISA trustee and what do you hope to achieve during your term?

I’ve always been keen to get involved with the building of research communities and groups, and have done so in the past via internal university roles, or through collaborative research networks. I also had a great experience a few years ago of co-convening the BISA Critical Studies on Terrorism working group with Charlotte Heath-Kelly and Christopher Baker-Beall. Becoming a BISA trustee presents a great opportunity to give something back to an organisation from which I’ve benefitted a great deal, and which is such an important source of support for IR colleagues within and beyond the UK. In my time as a trustee, I therefore hope to contribute to the work BISA does in supporting and representing our community, and will do my best to work with BISA members to deliver on their priorities for teaching and research across the discipline.

What is your area of research and how did you get into it? What are you currently working on?

My research interests are very broad, but often link somehow to the politics of security. I’ve written most frequently on the discursive construction of terrorism and counter-terrorism in various sites and spaces, but have published on a range of other security issues including cybersecurity, pandemics, and radicalisation. I become a researcher in large part because I had a fantastic lecturer as an undergraduate student who encouraged me to pursue a PhD. I had no idea what that involved – or whether I’d be capable of doing it – but without her encouragement, and the support of many other people since, I wouldn’t be an academic now. I don’t know if that academic would want to be named here, so I won’t do so, but I hope she knows who she is!

In terms of my current research, I’m currently working on an ARC-funded project with Tim Legrand exploring the colonial roots of contemporary powers of proscribing or banning terrorist organisations. I’m writing about the storying of international politics in children’s picturebooks with Nick Robinson to follow up on our recent piece on The Gruffalo, and on constructions of threat and masculinity in terrorist obituaries with Andrew Whiting. I’ve been doing some work on numbers and critical security studies on my own, and have a book due out next year with Stuart Macdonald and Andy Whiting on the UK’s Prevent Strategy and vernacular discourse.

Can you tell us a bit about your career journey so far? Do you have any advice for colleagues just embarking on an academic career?

I completed my PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2008, where I met a number of amazing people, several of whom have I have since collaborated with on various project. I then spent a year at Oxford Brookes, and several at Swansea University, before moving to the University of East Anglia in 2014.

It’s really difficult, and potentially unwise, to give generic advice to colleagues embarking on a career now. HE has changed so much in the years since I finished my PhD, and people’s contexts, backgrounds, opportunities, and obstacles vary so much. The following, therefore, won’t be relevant or helpful to everyone, but if it resonates with any readers great!:

  1. Academia is, for me, much more interesting, and much more fun, when it is done collaboratively. I learn far more from co-authoring than I do when I’m writing alone, and I enjoy the ‘successes’ – publication, grant capture, etc. – far more when they’re shared.
  2. Rejection should not only be expected, but – where possible – embraced. If our work doesn’t get rejected from time-to-time, it might be because we’re being too safe in what we work on, or in how we position our work. It is, though, much easier to think like this from positions of relative privilege.
  3. Seek advice from your colleagues and peers, but no good at all comes from comparing your academic career to that of others.

Look out for our interview with Laura McLeod (University of Manchester) which is coming soon. 

Photo by Medy Siregar on Unsplash