Assistant Professor - Tenure Track
Department of Political Science
Øster Farimagsgade 5
1353 København K
Dean Cooper-Cunningham is an Assistant Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen. His research intersects feminist and queer theory, critical security studies, and visual politics. His most recent work has focused on the international politics of sex, how powerful actors in global politics strategically adopt pro- or anti-queer agendas in domestic and foreign policy, and the way that actors use the visual and the body as modes of resistance to state violence. Dean is particularly invested in emphasising the radical antinormative and antisocial politics of early queer theorising and taking an expansive approach to discourse that includes the body and the visual as epistemic foci.
He is the author of several articles on the subject of sexuality, gender, security, and visual and bodily forms of activism. These have appeared in the International Feminist Journal of Politics, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Security Dialogue, and International Affairs. Dean is one of the architects of the policy-based project 'Queering Atrocity Prevention,' which not only encourages the integration of queer people and queer ethical perspectives into atrocity prevention frameworks but also reimagines what atrocity prevention entails.
Broadly speaking, my research focuses on power, identity, and foreign and security policy. Within the field of International Relations, my research is situated within critical security studies, particularly feminist and queer approaches to security, visual security studies, and atrocity prevention. I am primarily motivated by questions about the politics of security and subjectivity, particularly which actors get to speak/are silenced, when, how, and on what issues. This is all rooted in a critical engagement with the concept of ‘security’ and a focus on which issues are constituted as ‘security’ problems or not.
Taking Russian foreign policy as its starting point, my latest research began from a curiosity about what moral positions on sexuality and gender were doing in a state’s foreign policy discourse. From there, I used sexuality as a lens through which to read and understand global order and international politics, theorising an international politics of sex and focussing on the way powerful actors in global politics strategically adopt pro- or anti-queer agendas in domestic and foreign policy.
My research on Russian sexual geopolitics has been the basis of a recent collaborative project on atrocity prevention with Jess Gifkins (University of Manchester) and the NGO Protection Approaches. In early 2022, as part of a research project funded by the UK Government, we published an agenda-setting policy paper on queering atrocity prevention. The paper queered atrocity prevention practice and research in two senses: (1) integrating queer people and groups into research and practice on mass atrocity; and (2) bringing a queer politics to research on and practices of atrocity prevention.
Methodologically, I primarily use qualitative visual methods and a discourse analytic approach. I draw on various empirical sites from archives to digital memes, and have demonstrated that I can develop creative methods to explore the non-traditional sites where global politics unfolds. Not only have I introduced a new tripartite method for studying security, I introduce various new visual methods in my forthcoming book—including visual genealogy, a method I developed through research in the New York Public Library. As part of the ‘Bodies as Battleground’ project, I have started to explore quantitative and mixed-method approaches.
Primary fields of research
- Critical security studies
- Queer Theory
- Visual politics
- Atrocity Prevention
- Social Movements
My general teaching interests are in critical approaches to international security, gender and sexuality politics, International Relations theory, and critical methods (primarily discursive and visual methods).
In terms of my teaching approach, I emphasise cultivating an inclusive and inspiring teaching environment that breaks down student/teacher hierarchies to ensure the co-creation of knowledge and mutually shared responsibility for learning that promotes student metacognition. I aim to make concepts, theories, and cases accessible but challenging. I am committed to the student experience and acknowledge that everyone has different learning styles. In all of the courses I have taught, I have always engaged in open dialogue with students to build the learning environment best suited to that class.
This academic year (23-24) I am teaching:
Bachelor project and Master thesis supervision
The International Politics of Sex
Atrocity Prevention (as part of Security Risk Management)