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Personal profile


Adriana Sinclair is lecturer in International Relations. She joined UEA in 2009 having previously held Postdoctoral Research Fellowships at the University of British Columbia, Canada (2004-5) and the University of Bremen, Germany (2005-7). In 2012 she was a AHRC/BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker. And in 2018 she was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Her research explores the ways in which international relations and international law – and our understandings of them – intertwine. Her first book explored how IR theory understands international law and why we need a far more critical understanding of how international law operates (Sinclair 2010).

In her work with Alexander Brown, she has used her knowledge of the nexus of international relations and international law to shine a light on how and why the international norm against hate speech emerged. Unusually, the international realm and the activism of the UN was a significant driver of change, challenging the usual assumption that normative development happens within states and then radiates out to the international level (Brown and Sinclair 2020).

Finally, in ‘Why we should see international law as a structure: unpicking international law’s ontology and agency’ Sinclair argues that our most common understandings of international law are reluctant to see international law as doing anything more than enabling the operation of other actors, forces or structures. Rather, we should see international law as a structure because it possesses both the surface structure of rules, principles, processes, personnel and material elements of the international legal system and a deep structure of values that sits deep within our subconscious. When we do so, we can see how international law locates actors within a social hierarchy and how it behaves in similar ways to recognised structures like capitalism and racism (Sinclair 2021).

Recent publications include

Sinclair, A. (2021) ‘Why we should see international law as a structure: unpicking international law’s ontology and agency’ International Relations 35: 216-235.

Brown, A. and A. Sinclair (2020) The Politics of Hate Speech Laws (Routledge).

Sinclair, A. (2010) International Relations Theory and International Law: A Critical Approach (Cambridge University Press)

Key Research Interests and Expertise

Adriana’s research spans the fields of International Relations Theory, in particular constructivism, and international law.

She would be interested in supervising postgraduate research students in all areas of contemporary International Relations theory and interdisciplinary work on international law.

She has previously supervised PhDs on: IR theory and hydro-politics; the role of social movements upon human rights change; ASEAN, collective security and constructivism.

Teaching Interests

Adriana Sinclair convenes the following modules:  

-       Level 2 Module, International Relations Theory

-       Level 1 Module, Global Politics 2

External Activities

  • Adriana Sinclair is a reviewer for the following journals: European Journal of International Relations, Millennium, Review of International Studies, and International Politics

Administrative Posts

Course Director for the International Relations degrees (2010-11; 2018-21)

Athena Swan Committee (2018-19)

Disability Liaison Officer (2011-12) 


Visiting Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia (2018)

Lecturer in International Relations, UEA (2009- )

AHRC/BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Thinker Scheme (2012)

Research Fellowship at Collaborative Research Centre 597, University of Bremen, Germany (2005-7)

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Global Politics and International Law at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia (2004-2005)

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentship, PhD (2001-4)

Academic Background

B.A. Hons Politics with French; University of Warwick (2000)

M.Sc.Econ International Politics; University of Wales, Aberystwyth (2001)

Ph.D. International Politics; University of Wales, Aberystwyth (2005)


Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Aberystwyth University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2005

Master of Social Science, Aberystwyth University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2001

Bachelor of Arts, University of Warwick

Award Date: 1 Jan 2000