Ben Thirkell-White

AProf Ben Thirkell-White profile picture

Associate Professor School of History, Philosophy, Political Science & International Relations


Teaching in 2020


  • BA, MA Cambridge
  • PhD Leeds


Ben Thirkell-White joined the Programme in February 2009. His undergraduate degree was in Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge. He qualified as a commercial solicitor before leaving to gain his PhD at the University of Leeds in 2002. He then taught at the Universities of Bristol, Sheffield and St Andrews before coming to Victoria.

His primary focus is the politics of global finance, particularly the IMF’s relationship with emerging market countries. He is also interested in the global governance of development and the comparative political economy of East and Southeast Asia.

Current research projects

Ben is currently researching the politics of banking re-regulation in the wake of the global financial crisis, particularly in the UK.

He is also working on a book about the ways in which neglected aspects of Jürgen Habermas’s writing on democracy and the public sphere can help us to think about global economic governance. The book argues for the recovery of a more Hegelian and less Kantian Habermas. Rather than emphasizing Habermas’s cosmopolitan ideal, it focuses on the dialogic process through which the interests of the lifeworld are constantly reasserted in the face of exclusionary forms of politics based on instrumental, narrowly rational calculation. This perspective encourages a critical approach to global economic governance that seeks out ways in which voice can be given to more holistic concerns than those of a narrowly technocratic economics and shows how striving to do so will be necessary to secure the ongoing legitimacy of international institutions.

Master of Arts and PhD supervision

Ben enjoys supervising graduate students. He has recently supervised projects on: a regional approach to educational aid in the South Pacific; the impact of the NZ-China FTA on small New Zealand businesses; gender policy in NZ ODA; the impact of participation in international institutions on Vietnamese foreign policy thinking; and the ways in which the global financial crisis might make us re-think international economic history.

He is particularly keen to supervise projects on the politics of international finance, including aid and development finance. He is also interested in supervising a wide range of projects on: international political economy; the political economy of development; and the politics, political economy and international relations of Southeast Asia – particularly Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand..

Selection of publications

  • 'Ambitious Goals, Limited Tools: the IMF and Poverty Reduction’ in Nadakavukaren,K (ed) Poverty and the International Economic Law System: Duties to the World’s Poor (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  • Mosley, P, Chiripanhua, B, Grugel, J & Thirkell-White, B The Politics of Poverty Reduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • ‘The influence of international economic law: towards the end of executive dominance?’ in Morris, Caroline, Boston, Jonathan & Butler, Petra (eds) Reconstituting the Constitution (Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer, 2011).
  • ‘Dealing with the Banks: Populism and the Public Interest in the Wake of the Global Financial Crisis’ International Affairs Vol. 85, No. 4 (2009), 689-711.
  • ‘Poverty Reduction in Indonesia: Why Pro-poor Growth Requires More Than Getting Institutions Right’ Labour Capital and Society, Vol. 41 & 42, (2009), 140-167.
  • Indonesia and Malaysia: The Persistence of a Domestic Politico-Business Class", Power and Politics After Financial Crisis: Rethinking Foreign Opportunism in Emerging markets, Justin Robertson (ed), (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 187-211.
  • ‘Globalisation and Development’ in Issues in International Relations, (2nd Revised Edition), Trevor Salmon, M. F. Imber (ed), (London: Taylor and Francis, 2008).
  • Jean Grugel, Pia Riggirozzi & Ben Thirkell-White, 'After the Washington Consensus? Asia and Latin America in search of more autonomous development paradigms', International Affairs Vol. 84, No. 3, (2008), 499-517.
  • Critical International Relations Theory After 25 Years, edited with Nick Rengger, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • 'The International Financial Architecture and the Limits to Neoliberal Hegemony' New Political Economy Vol. 11, No. 1, (2007), 19-41.
  • 'Private Authority and Legitimacy in the International System ' International Relations Vol. 20, No. 3, (2006), 335-342.
  • ‘The Wall-Street-Treasury-IMF complex after Asia, neoliberalism in decline?’ in Richard Robison (ed) The Neoliberal Revolution: Forging the Market State, (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2006), 135-155.
  • The IMF and the politics of financial globalisation: from the Asian crisis to a new international financial architecture (Basingstoke, Palgrave: 2005).

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Teaching in 2020