Professor Eric Herring

Professor Eric Herring

Professor Eric Herring
Professor of World Politics

2.4 10 Priory Road,
11 Priory Road, Clifton, Bristol
(See a map)

Telephone Number (0117) 928 8582

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Personal profile

I am Professor of World Politics in SPAIS.

Previously, I have been a University of Bristol Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Research Fellow and Reader, and SPAIS Research Director.  I have also been a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University, a Social Science Research Council MacArthur Fellow at Columbia University and a tutor at the University of Aberystwyth. I was Specialist Adviser to the Select Committee on Economic Affairs of the House of Lords for its inquiry into UK economic sanctions policy; an advisory board member for the Oxford Research Group's Every Casualty programme; Assistant Director of the Global Insecurities Centre; and Book Reviews Editor of the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies. I was a member of the Transformative Research Call Commissioning Panel of the Economic and Social Research Council.  I have given oral evidence on Iraq to the Select Committee on Defence of the House of Commons and have written expert reports on Iraq in relation to cases before the UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. I serve on the editorial boards of Critical Studies on Terrorism, GlobalizationsCritical Military Studies and the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies and the advisory board of the Institute for Policy Research and Development and I am a reviewer for the Transformations to Sustainability Programme of the International Social Science Council.

I have received invitations from the following to speak about my work: American University in Cairo. RMIT University Melbourne. Tufts University. University of Amsterdam. University of Hamburg. Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Oslo. George Soros Open Society Institute, Tashkent. NATO School, Oberammergau. Foreign Policy Association, New York. SOAS, University of Oxford. University of Cambridge. University of London. Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. Louise T. Blouin Institute, London. University of St. Andrews. University of Birmingham. King's College London. University of the West of England. Goldsmiths College. Imperial College, London. University of Leeds. University of Kent at Canterbury. University of Aberystwyth. University of Exeter. University of Plymouth. Richmond: The American University in London. Keele University. Joint Services Command and Staff College, RAF Henlow.

Public engagement via the news media has been an important part of my work. For the print media this has included articles, interviews or quotes for Rzeczpospolita Poland, Pravdy Slovakia, L’Avvenire Italy, Fars News Agency Iran, Folha de Sao Paulo Brazil, New York Times, Helsingen Sanomat Finland, Today Singapore, El Nacional Venezuela, the Press Association, Daily TelegraphThe PeopleThe TimesSunday HeraldDaily MirrorNew Statesman, Scottish Daily RecordWestern Mail, Bristol Evening Post, Western Daily Press and The Big Issue. I have written background and presenter material for BBC 2 Newsnight; had a regular current affairs slot on Channel 4's Big Breakfast; was academic consultant for John Pilger's documentary Paying the Price about the economic sanctions on Iraq; and have appeared on Sky news and various national current affairs and local news programmes. For radio, I have appeared on or had material broadcast by SBS Radio Australia, the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the Finnish Broadcasting Company. For BBC radio, I have contributed to the World Service and World Service Asian Network; Radio 4 6 O’Clock News, Today,  Moral Maze, You and Yours, The Westminster Hour and The Turning World; Radio 5 Live Magazine, Drivetime and After Hours; Radio 2; Radio Wales and Radio Scotland. I have also appeared many times on LBC London, TalkSport Radio  and BBC local radio across the UK.


My current research and impact activities have two main components:

First, I am Co-Director with Latif Ismail, CEO of Transparency Solutions (TS), of the Somali First (SF) initiative to promote Somali-led development through impartial facilitation, research, training and education. The University of Bristol supports Somali First as a Strategic Priority and has awarded TS the status of Strategic Partner. The approach to development seen far too often is that foreign organisations generate project ideas and appoint consultancy teams at arm’s length and short notice, with limited chance of leaving a positive longer-term legacy. In that flawed approach, Somalis are kept in subordinate positions and are defined as lacking capacity that has to be provided by outsiders. In contrast, Somali-led development encourages self-help and builds on local capacities. It is more cost effective, more relevant to local needs and more sustainable. Academics who wish to work productively with Somalis do not have to be experts on Somalia/Somaliland: Somalis are the experts on Somalia/Somaliland, so our work is about combining academic knowledge with Somali knowledge. Both sides lack capacities that the other can provide. We have a balanced relationship across government, business, civil society and academia in Somalia/Somaliland and with the Somali diaspora, including the Somali community in Bristol. We are aiming to transform the process of development itself so that it is Somali led by integrating our approach across issues and through levels of governance.

Although SF was established only at the start of 2015, we already have many projects, including a joint programme with the Observatory of Conflict and Violence Prevention with $700,000 from the international Somalia Stability Fund to train sixty Somali social researchers between 2015 and 2017. SF received the University of Bristol Engagement Award 2015: see our 5 minute film. SF resulted from a project for which I was Principal Investigator with £245,000 of funding 2013-15 from the Economic and Social Research Council’s Transformative Social Science programme for 'genuinely transformative research at the frontiers of social science'. The project title was 'Transforming Insecurity through Nonviolent Grassroots Networks', grant number ESRC ES/L003171/1.

Second, I have been working with Piers Robinson, Vian Bakir and David Miller on a conceptual framework on ‘organised persuasive communication'. This has included Open Access articles with Piers Robinson in Political Science Quarterly and the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies on the British Government ’s use of deliberate deception through distortion and omission in the period leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.



  • Herring, E. and G. Rangwala. Iraq in Fragments: The Occupation and its Legacy (Cornell University Press & C. Hurst 2006). 'This is a first-rate study of the consequences for Iraq of the US-led invasion and occupation of the country and of the kind of politics that has developed there. The authors use state-building theory and the insights of international political economy to throw light on the processes which have been set in motion and which are going to shape Iraqi politics for years to come. At the same time, their narrative is a lively one, packed with detail and informed by a real understanding of the fears and ambitions of many of the Iraqi political actors. This complex story of idealism, greed and violence, woven through social formations and the pale institutions of the emerging Iraqi state, produces a compelling account - the clearest yet available of the "new Iraq".' ( Prof. Charles Tripp, SOAS, University of London). 'Iraq in Fragments stands out as an admirably sober and powerful analysis of one of the most complicated and emotionally charged issues in today's world politics. With its lucid account, impressive research, and extensive documentation, the book is challenging and compelling. It should be a must-read for all Iraq specialists, foreign policy experts, and policy- and opinion- makers. Students of international relations, as well as general readers, will also benefit greatly from this up-to-date work.' (Prof. Tareq Y. Ismael, University of Calgary). 'serious … persuasive … splendidly researched … required reading' (Prof. Jeffrey Record, Middle East Policy Council). 'excellent … compelling … better than any other' (Prof. Robert Springborg, SOAS, University of London). 'the best of the lot' (Prof. Richard Haas, US Council on Foreign Relations). 'doubtless an important contribution ... essential' (Prof. Adria Lawrencem Yale University).

  • Buzan, B. and E. Herring, The Arms Dynamic in World Politics (Lynne Rienner 1998). Published in Chinese 2002. 'a winner - a signal contribution … cuts through hundreds of books and articles' (Prof. KJ Holsti, University of British Columbia). 'ambitious, noteworthy … an unambiguous success' (Professor Denis Ross, University of New Mexico). 'highly sophisticated … first class' (Prof. Andrew Pierre, Georgetown University). 'creates an agenda for future dialogue between the fields of security studies and international relations' (Dr. Bryan Mabee, Queen Mary, University of London).

  • Herring, E. (ed.). Preventing the Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (Frank Cass 2000).

  • Herring, E., Danger and Opportunity: Explaining International Crisis Outcomes (Manchester University Press, 1995). ' There is much to like about this book. Herring is knowledgeable about political science theory and wise in its ability and limitations to guide policy' (Prof. Steven David, Johns Hopkins University) . 'will no doubt have an impact on the discussion' (Prof. Colin Gray, University of Hull).

  • Pridham, G., E. Herring and G. Sanford (eds), Building Democracy? The International Dimension of Democratisation in Eastern Europe (Leicester University Press 1994, rev. edn. 1997). 'first-rate' (Prof. Paul G. Lewis, Open University ).

  • Booth, K. and E. Herring, Strategic Studies (Mansell 1994). 'wonderful', an 'Outstanding Academic Book' ( Choice ).

Journal articles (selected)

Book chapters (selected)

  • Herring, E. 'Historical Materialism' in A. Collins (ed.) Contemporary Security Studies (Oxford University Press 2015), 4th edn.

  • Herring, E. 'The Future of Iraq', in A. Acharya and H. Katsumata (eds), Beyond Iraq: The Future of World Order (World Scientific Publishing 2011), pp. 1-20.

  • Buzan, B. and E. Herring, 'Arms Races' in C.W. Hughes and Y.M. Lai (eds) Security Studies: A Reader (Routledge 2011).
  • Herring, E. 'Armed Groups and the Fragmentation and Globalisation of the Iraqi State' in K. Mulaj (ed.), Violent Non-State Actors and International Relations (Columbia University Press and C. Hurst & Co. 2010).

  • Herring, E. 'Neoliberalism Versus Peacebuilding in Iraq' in N. Cooper, M. Pugh and M. Turner (eds), Whose Peace? Critical Perspectives on the Political Economy of Peace Buildi ng (Palgrave Macmillan 2008), pp. 47-64. Paperback 2011.

  • Herring, E. 'Sanctions' in M. Bevir (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Governance (Sage 2006), 2, pp. 849-50.

  • Herring, E. 'Military Security' in A. Collins (ed.) Contemporary Security Studies (Oxford University Press 2006), pp. 129-145.

  • Herring, E. 'Sanctions' in C. van den Anker and R. Smith (eds) The Essentials of Human Rights (Hodder Arnold 2004), pp. 315-17.

  • Herring, E. 'Power, Propaganda and Indifference: An Explanation of the Maintenance of Economic Sanctions on Iraq Despite Their Human Cost', in W. Haddad, T. Ismael (eds.), Iraq: The Human Cost of History (Pluto 2003), pp. 34-55.

  • Herring, E. 'An Uneven Killing Field: The Manufacture of Consent for the Arms Embargo on Bosnia-Herzegovina' in M. Evans (ed.) Aspects of Statehood and Institutionalism in Contemporary Europe (Dartmouth 1997), pp. 159-82.

  • Herring, E. 'International Security and Democratisation in Eastern Europe' in G. Pridham, E. Herring and G. Sanford (eds.), Building Democracy?, pp. 87-118 (pp. 81-109 in 1997 edn).

  • Herring, E. 'The Collapse of the Soviet Union: The Implications for World Politics' in J. Baylis and N. J. Rengger (eds.) Dilemmas of World Politics (Clarendon 1992), pp. 354-83.

  • Herring, E. 'The Decline of Nuclear Diplomacy' in K. Booth (ed.) New Thinking About Strategy and Security (London: Harper Collins 1991), pp 90-109.


I am passionate about teaching and was very pleased to be awarded a Faculty of Social Sciences and Law Teaching Prize in 2005. 

I supervise PhD research on diverse world politics topics (e.g. state terrorism, the arms trade, US foreign policy, the news media, propaganda, neoliberal globalization, strategic nonviolent struggle, refugees, the global movement against sexual harassment of women in public, alternatives to the war on drugs), using many kinds of method and drawing on a wide range of theoretical perspectives. I have supervised 16 PhDs (with two more nearing completion) and these have been published as numerous excellent books and journal articles. I have had the pleasure of supervising the PhDs of the following excellent scholars: Theo Farrell, Ian Manners, Charlotte Hooper, Cecile Dubernet, Andrew Chou, Piers Robinson, Doug Stokes, Emma Mayhew, Shih Hui Voon, Ruth Blakeley, Anthony McKeown, Nathan Farrell, Nadia Ghandour-Demiri, Jo Tidy, Amanda Chisholm and Oscar Berglund. I am particularly interested in supervising PhDs on any part of the world relating to the accelerating biosphere catastrophe, climate change (including climate action, climate communication and climate justice),  inclusive development and adaptive development. I have a particular but not exclusive interest in Somalia/Somaliland.  

I teach SPAI10004 Issues in World Politics for first and second year undergraduates, POLI31555/30011 Politics Dissertation for final year undergraduates and POLIM3012 International Security at MSc level. I use a wide range of teaching methods and materials. My fundamental goals are to introduce you to  relevant scholarly knowledge, ideas and debates; to assist you in understanding the world better; and to help you develop your independent analytical capabilities in ways that will serve you well beyond university. 

The unifying theme in my teaching and PhD supervision is critical scholarly engagement with a significant contemporary question or issue. 'Critical' in this context refers to identifying and questioning underlying values and frames of reference rather than taking them at face value. It also refers to exploring the prospects and potential for connecting scholarship to positive social change while understanding that what constitutes 'positive social change' is itself something that should not be taken as self-evident or beyond dispute. 

Key publications

  1. Bakir, V, Herring, E, Miller, D & Robinson, P, 2018, ‘Organized Persuasive Communication: A new conceptual framework for research on public relations, propaganda and promotional culture’. Critical Sociology.

Latest publications

  1. Bakir, V, Miller, D & Herring, E, 2018, ‘Lying and Deception in Politics'’. in: The Oxford Handbook of Lying. Oxford University Press, UK, pp. 529-540
  2. Herring, E & Robinson, P, 2014, ‘Report X Marks the Spot: The British Government's Deceptive Dossier on Iraq and WMD’. Political Science Quarterly, vol 129., pp. 551-583
  3. Herring, E & Robinson, P, 2014, ‘Deception and Britain's road to war in Iraq’. International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, vol 8., pp. 213-232
  4. Herring, E, 2012, ‘Variegated Neoliberalization, Human Development and Resistance: Iraq in Global Context’. International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, vol 5., pp. 337 - 355
  5. Herring, E, 2011, ‘Book Review: The US Military and its War in Iraq - Sociological Perspectives’. Intellect Publishers
  6. Herring, E & B., B, 2011, ‘Arms Races’. in: Christopher W Hughes, Yew Meng Lai (eds) Security Studies: A Reader. Routledge, pp. 180 - 199
  7. Herring, E & D, S, 2011, ‘Critical Realism and Historical Materialism as Resources for Critical Terrorism Studies’. Critical Studies on Terrorism, vol 4., pp. 5 - 21
  8. Herring, E, 2010, ‘Armed Groups and Fragmentation and Globalization in Iraq’. in: K Mulaj (eds) Violent Non-State Actors in World Politics. Columbia University Press & C Hurst and Co, pp. 181 - 205
  9. Herring, E, 2010, ‘Book Review: Policies of Mass Destruction’.

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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