I am a researcher and educator working at the intersection of international relations, political economy and social theory.
I’m interested in understanding the many ways in which things aren’t quite what they seem in international politics: my work has involved looking at the often-unexamined role of ambiguity, risk, failure, exceptionalism and ignorance in past and present policies.
After spending a decade doing research on the global governance of international development finance, culminating in the publication of Governing Failure with Cambridge University Press in 2014, I have returned to the field of political economy.
Inspired by the long slow recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis and more recently by the rise of right-wing populism, my new research seeks to find some answers for our current political dilemmas by looking back to an earlier crisis: the “war on inflation” in the 1970s and early 1980s, which was in many ways the crucible in which our present political economic order was formed.
My current research is organized around three major themes: economic exceptionalism, quiet failures and varieties of ignorance. I seek to re-evaluate the early history of neoliberal policies in the UK, the US and Canada, complicating conventional narratives of a singular, coherent and largely successful neoliberalism by focusing on the pervasive role of ignorance and failure, as well as the uneven recourse to economic exceptionalism. In the process, I hope to challenge the telos of many contemporary accounts of neoliberalism and to open up some space for imagining a different political and economic future.
I’ve written books on the central problem of failure in global governance, the historical role of ambiguity in international finance, cultural political economy, and the return of the public in global governance.