Prof Dr Naomi Head

Senior Research Fellow

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstraße 44
47059 Duisburg

Phone: +49 (0)203 379-5247
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276





Since 08/2015

University of Glasgow

School of Social and Political Sciences

Professor of International Relations

08/2016 - 08/2023

University of Glasgow

School of Social and Political Sciences

Senior Lecturer in International Relations

08/2010 - 07/2016

University of Glasgow

School of Social and Political Sciences

Leverhulme Research Fellow

08/2009 - 07/2010

Aberystwyth University

Department of International Relations

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow

08/2008 - 07/2009

University of Leeds

School of Politics and International Studies

Lecturer in International Studies

Research Interests

  • Emotions and bodies in world politics
  • Gender and war
  • Counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • The politics of knowledge production
  • Narrative approaches to contemporary international relations

Current Projects

Making War and the Politics of Empathy: A Postcolonial Exploration

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Narratives of War and Conflict (Undergraduate)
  • Humanitarian Intervention: Civilians or Sovereignty? (Postgraduate)
  • Introduction to International Relations (Undergraduate)


ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (2022-23): ‘Let’s Talk About Race: Tackling Racism in the University Community’

Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2019): “Empathy under Fire: ‘Hearts and Minds’ and the Politics of Empathy”

2018 Winner of the British International Studies Association Excellence in Teaching International Studies Prize

Expertise and Consulting Work

  • Co-Editor, Critical Emotion Studies series (Brill)
  • Associate Practitioner, Centre for Good Relations (UK)


Prof Dr Naomi Head joined the research group 'Global Cooperation and Diverse Conceptions of World Order' in September 2023 and will be a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre until December 2023.

Research Project at the Centre

Making War and the Politics of Empathy: A Postcolonial Exploration

The politics and practices of empathy in military contexts have received little systematic attention in International Relations wherein research has predominantly focused on conflict transformation, peace initiatives, dialogue projects, and non-violence, with the assumption that greater empathy leads to more peaceful and ethical relations. Captured by the notion of ‘winning hearts and minds’, this research examines how military actors engage with, co-opt and deploy affective relations to engage with civilian communities in situations of occupation and war. The project explores the way in which empathy and ‘knowledge of others’ becomes central to war-making and neo-colonial forms of world order. Engaging with debates across anthropology and the social sciences, the project focuses on the contested understandings of the role that population-centric counterinsurgency (COIN) played in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Seminars and Conferences

British International Studies Association Annual Conference, Glasgow, June 2023 (co-organiser)

'Emotions Across the Disciplines' (Co-Director) workshop, University of Glasgow, May 2023

'Violence and Emotions', presented at International Studies Association Annual Conference, Montreal, March 2023

'Feeling what for whom?  COIN and the politics of empathy in Iraq and Afghanistan', presented at British International Studies Association Annual Conference, Newcastle, June 2022

“Custodians and conduits” of counterinsurgency: women as historical and contemporary affective military terrain, SSSHARC Global Symposium, ‘Gender, (In)security, and Temporalities of Violence’, University of Sydney, September 2019

Empathy in War: U.S. Counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, Visual Politics Strategic Research Program, POLSIS, University of Queensland, February 2019

Pedagogies of Discomfort: Experiential Learning and Emotional Journeys in Israel and Palestine, International Studies Association, San Francisco, 2018


  • British International Studies Association (elected Trustee 2020-2022; Co-Convenor of Emotions in Politics & IR Working Group 2018-21)
  • International Studies Association
  • UK and Ireland Peacebuilding Network


Head, N. (forthcoming). 'Women helping women': Deploying Gender in US counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Security Dialogue.

Head, N. 2020. ‘A “pedagogy of discomfort”? Experiential learning and conflict analysis in Israel/Palestine’, International Studies Perspectives 21:1, 78–96. DOI: 10.1093/isp/ekz026

Head, N. 2020. ‘Contesting emotional governance: Empathy under fire in the Israeli public sphere during Operation Protective Edge’, in Simon Koschut (ed.), The Power of Emotions in World Politics (Abingdon: Routledge), pp.113-129.

Head, N. 2020. ‘Sentimental politics of structural injustice? The ambivalence of emotions for political responsibility’. International Theory, 12:3, 337-357. DOI: 10.1017/S175297192000007X

Head N. 2019 (with Amanda Russell Beattie and Clara Eroukhmanoff). ‘Introduction: Interrogating the ‘everyday’ politics of emotions in international relations’, Journal of International Political Theory, 15(2). Co-editor of the Special Issue on ‘Interrogating the ‘everyday’ politics of emotions in international relations’. DOI: 10.1177/1755088219830428

Matthies-Boon, V. and N. Head. 2018. ‘Egypt's Double Trouble: On Young Activists' Broken Lifeworlds and Political Trauma’, Journal of International Political Theory, Vol 14(3), pp. 258 – 279. DOI: 10.1177/1755088217748970

Head, N. 2016. ‘Costly encounters of the empathic kind: a typology’, International Theory, 8(1), pp.171-199. DOI: 10.1017/S1752971915000238

Head, N. 2016. ‘The Politics of Empathy: Encounters with Empathy in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories’, Review of International Studies, 42(1), pp.95-113 DOI: 10.1017/S0260210515000108

Head, N. 2012. Justifying Violence: Communicative Ethics and the Use of Force in Kosovo, (Manchester: Manchester University Press), pp.vii-236. (also available online: 2017, eISBN: 9781526130235)