Patricia Owens

Patricia Owens


Professor of International Relations
IR, Political Theory
Somerville College

Patricia Owens is Professor of International Relations and Director of the Leverhulme Research Project, Women and the History of International Thought and is a Co-Investigator on a Danish Council for Independent Research project.

She was the Visiting Kathleen Fitzpatrick Professor in the Laureate Research Program in International History at the University of Sydney; a former fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard; Seton-Watson Research Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford; the Jane Eliza Proctor Research Fellow at Princeton; a Visiting Professor at UCLA; a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Southern California, and a Visiting Scholar at UC-Berkeley, supported by a grant from the Social Science Research Council.

Her most recent book, Economy of Force (Cambridge) won the 2016 Susan Strange Prize for the Best Book in international studies, the 2016 International Studies Association Theory Section Best Book Award, and was Runner up for the 2016 Francesco Guicciardini Prize for Best Book in Historical IR.  Research for the book was supported by a competitive fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard. Patricia's frst book was Between War and Politics: International Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt (Oxford University Press, 2007) 

Owens was co-editor of European Journal of International Relations between 2013 and 2018 and is co-editor of the leading undergraduate textbook in IR, The Globalization of World Politics (Oxford, 2019), now in its 7th edition and translated into Arabic, French, Korean, Polish, Greek, Turkish, Slovene, Hungarian and Macedonian.

Patricia sits on the editorial boards of European Journal of International Relations, Security Dialogue and Political Studies and previously served on the boards of Journal of International Political Theory, Humanity: an International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development and was a managing editor of Cambridge Review of International Affairs.

During 2018, Patricia was a consultant for the European Commission on a project to increase dialogue between academia, policy Director-Generals and the Joint Research Centre to shape a post-Lisbon narrative of citizen-engagement, particularly drawing on the thought of Hannah Arendt. The project built on a mix of philosophy, political theory, linguistics, and economics (CT-EX2017D305961-101-1)

In Spring 2022, Patricia will co-curate a Public Exhibition, 'Women Thinkers of the International', at the LSE Library in London, with the opening to coincide with a major international conference.

Research Interests

Patricia is the Director of the Leverhulme Research Project Grant, Women and the History of International Thought. This multidisciplinary and multi-methodological project will run from the summer of 2018 until 2022 and will systematically recover and evaluate the international thought of women both inside and outside academe during the early to mid-twentieth-century. 

Patricia is also Co-Investigator on a project funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research (2018-2022). Bodies as Battleground: Gender Images and International Security is led by Professor Lene Hansen (Copenhagen). The team will use both qualitative and large-N quantitative visual methodologies to examine how gender norms are reproduced or challenged in war photography, using a massive trove of images from the US-Iraq War.

Political Theory Feminism Gender History International relations Power



Women’s International Thought: Towards A New Canon co-editor with S. Dunstan, K. Hutchings, K. Rietzler (Cambridge University Press, in press)

Women’s International Thought: A New History co-editor with Katharina Rietzler (Cambridge University Press, in press)

Economy of Force: Counterinsurgency and the Historical Rise of the Social (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Between War and Politics: International Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Articles (select)

Women and the History of International Thought, International Studies Quarterly, 62(3) 2018: 467-481

Decolonizing Civil War, CAL: International & Interdisciplinary Law Review, 4(2) 2017: 160-169

Racism in the Theory Canon: Hannah Arendt and ‘the one Great Crime in which America was Never Involved’, Millennium, 45(33) 2017: 403-424

The International Origins of Hannah Arendt’s Historical Method, Political Power and Social Theory (32) 2017: 37-62

The Limits of Military Sociology, International Affairs, 96(3) 2017: 460-1462

International Historical What? International Theory, 8(3) 2016: 448-457

On the Conduct of Sociological Warfare: a reply to special section on Economy of Force, Security Dialogue, 47(3) 2016: 215-222

Introduction to the Forum: Historicizing the Social in International Thought, Review of International Studies, 41(4) 2015: 652-653

Method or Madness: Sociolatry in International Thought, Review of International Studies, 41(4) 2015: 655-674

From Bismarck to Petraeus: The Question of the Social and the Social Question in Counterinsurgency, European Journal of International Relations, 19(1) 2013: 135-157

Human Security and the Rise of the Social, Review of International Studies, 38(3) 2012: 547-567. Highly commended by the Article Prize Committee. Subject of a panel at 2018 ISA

Not Life but the World is at Stake: Hannah Arendt on Citizenship in the Age of the Social, Citizenship Studies, 16(2) 2012: 295-305

The Supreme Social Concept: The Un-worldliness of Modern Security, New Formations, 71: 2011: 14-29

Torture, Sex and Military Orientalism, Third World Quarterly, 31(7) 2010: 1147-1162

Reclaiming “Bare Life”? Against Agamben on Refugees, International Relations, 23(4) 2009: 567-82; reprinted in Betts and Loescher (eds.) Refugees in International Relations (Oxford)

Distinctions, Distinctions: “Public” and “Private” Force? International Affairs, 84(5) 2008: 977-90; reprinted in Colás and Mabee (eds.) Mercenaries, Pirates, Bandits and Empires (Columbia)

Humanity, Sovereignty and the Camps, International Politics, 45(4) 2008: 522-530

Beyond Strauss, Lies, and the War in Iraq: Hannah Arendt’s Critique of Neoconservatism, Review of International Studies, 33(2) 2007: 265-83; among top ten most cited articles during 2013-15

Xenophilia, Gender and Sentimental Humanitarianism, Alternatives, 29(3) 2004: 285-304

Theorising Military Intervention, International Affairs, 80(2) 2004: 355-365

Accidents Don’t Just Happen: The Liberal Politics of High-Tech Humanitarian War, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 32(3) 2003: 595-616

Book chapters (select)

How Dangerous it can be to be Innocent in M. Goldoni and C. McCorkindale (eds.) Hannah Arendt and the Law (Hart, 2012): 251-270

The Return of Realism? War and Changing Concepts of the Political in S. Scheipers and H. Strachan (eds.) The Changing Character of War (Oxford, 2011): 484-502

The Ethics of War: Critical Alternatives in D. Bell (ed.) Ethics and World Politics (Oxford, 2010): 309-323

Walking Corpses: Arendt on the Limits and the Possibilities of Cosmopolitan Politics, in C. Moore and C. Farrands (eds.) International Relations Theory and Philosophy: Interpretive Dialogues                                (Routledge, 2010): 72-82

Hannah Arendt, in J. Edkins and N. Vaughan-Williams (eds.) Critical Theorists and International Relations (Routledge, 2009): 31-41

The Ethic of Reality in Hannah Arendt, in D. Bell (ed.) Political Thought and International Relations (Oxford, 2008), pp.105-121

Hannah Arendt, Violence, and the Inescapable Fact of Humanity in A.F. Lang and J. Williams (eds.) Hannah Arendt and International Relations (Palgrave, 2005): 41-65

Other (select)

Women Thinkers of the World Economy, Blog for Leverhulme Project Website

Sex, Gender and Canon, Blog for Leverhulme Project Website

On the Heirs to Agnes Headlam-Morley, Blog for Leverhulme Project Website

What Happened to Women’s International Thought, Blog for Leverhulme Project Website

A Political Economy of the “Exception”?, Security Dialogue/PRIO blog

Lucy Philip Mair, Early International Relations scholar, LSE History Blog

Susan Strange, Never Meant to be an Academic, LSE History Blog

Critical Dialogue between Jessica A. Stanton, author of Violence and Restraint in Civil War and Patricia Owens, author of Economy of Force, Perspectives on Politics, 15(4) 2017: 1102-1107

Economy of Force: a symposium, The Disorder of Things, opening post and reply to special section on Economy of Force (Cambridge, 2015)

Interview/Profile, E-International Relations, January 2015

Book Review, Intelligent Compassion: Feminist Critical Methodology in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, by Catia Cecilia Confortini, Cambridge Review of International                            Affairs (26)2 (2013) 474-476 

Book Review, Political Evil in a Global Age: Hannah Arendt and International Theory, by Patrick Hayden, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 39, 2011: 884-885

Book Review, Democracy and the Foreigner, by Bonnie Honig, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 31, 2002: 1