I am a Lecturer in International Relations at the ANU. I received a MSc and PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to this, I received a BA (hons) in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University.
My research centers on the microsociological study of international relations. Everyday practices, face-to-face interactions, emotions, and embodied experiences are the small units of analysis that take centerstage in my research. Long considered irrelevant in a field dominated by grand and structural theories, my work is part of a growing body of scholarship that shows how small units have a distinct form (morphology) and enjoy a puzzling degree of autonomy from wider structural constraints, making them consequential in world politics.
While I have an abiding interest in the wonders of the ‘micro,’ I wrestle with my historical and structural instincts. This informs my interest in asking how micro-level units are tethered to wider structures of class, race, and gender. In making these connections I draw inspiration from structural approaches like historical sociology and Bourdieusian political sociology.
Empirically, I pursue my interest in the micro by studying diplomats and international bureaucrats. Most of my fieldwork has been in the circuitries of everyday diplomacy spanning ministries and diplomatic enclaves in Southeast Asia, especially in the budding ASEAN diplomatic field in Jakarta, Indonesia. I use interpretive approaches and methods in my research, mainly elite interviews and ethnography (when possible), supported by historical print-media analysis.
I am currently working on a book manuscript on the everyday cultural production of ASEAN. Titled “Doing Nothing: The Cultural Production of Inaction in ASEAN Diplomacy” the book examines how seemingly banal, bogus, and empty activity can have powerful political effects. Since joining ANU, I have started a project on the “Third Indochina War in the Making of Southeast Asia: The Afterlives of War, Genocide, and Diplomacy.” I have been awarded an ANU Futures Scheme Grant to develop this project.
Besides my research, I love literary fiction (especially postcolonial fiction in South and Southeast Asia), sci-fi films, and nearly anything by the virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz.
Areas of Expertise
International Politics of Southeast Asia
Awards & Fellowships
2022 ANU Futures Scheme Grant
2022 Antony Deos Young Scholar Award, ISA Diplomatic Studies Section
2021 ISA Diplomatic Studies Section Article Prize
2020 Best Article in the European Journal of International Relations (EJIR)
Nair, Deepak (2021) “Spooks, Goons, ‘Intellectuals’: The Military-Catholic Network in the Cold War Diplomacy of Suharto’s Indonesia,” History and Anthropology. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02757206.2021.1946051
Nair, Deepak (2021) “ ‘Hanging Out’ While Studying ‘Up’: Doing Ethnographic Fieldwork in International Relations” International Studies Review https://doi.org/10.1093/isr/viab001
Nair, Deepak (2021) H-Diplo Roundtable on Teaching the Cold War in International Relations. https://networks.h-net.org/node/28443/discussions/7914119/h-diplo-teachi…
Nair, Deepak (2020) “Emotional Labour and the Power of International Bureaucrats.” International Studies Quarterly 64(3): 573-587 https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqaa030
Nair, Deepak (2020) “Sociability in International Politics: Golf and ASEAN’s Cold War Diplomacy,” International Political Sociology (Winner of the ISA Diplomacy Section Article Prize) https://doi.org/10.1093/ips/olz024
Nair, Deepak (2019) “Saving Face in Diplomacy: A Political Sociology of Face-to-Face Interactions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations” European Journal of International Relations 25(3): 672-697 (Winner of the EJIR Best Article Prize). https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066118822117
Nair, Deepak (2016) “Learning Diplomacy: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam Diplomats in ASEAN” Trends in Southeast Asia Series, ISEAS: Singapore, Issue 14. https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/learningdiplomacy/59047E999FAFFE31C…
Nair, Deepak (2011) “ASEAN’s Core Norms in the Context of the ‘Global Economic and Financial Crisis’: Is the Crisis a Catalyst for Institutional Development?” Asian Survey 51(2): 245-267. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/as.2011.51.2.245
Nair, Deepak (2009) “Regionalism in the Asia-Pacific/East Asia: A Frustrated Regionalism?” Contemporary Southeast Asia 31(1): 110-142. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41288791
Nair, Deepak (2021) “ASEAN on Myanmar’s Coup: Revisiting Cold War Diplomacy on Cambodia,” New Mandala https://www.newmandala.org/asean-on-myanmars-coup-revisiting-cold-war-di…
Nair, Deepak (2016) “A Strong Secretariat, a Strong ASEAN? A Re-evaluation ISEAS Perspectives (ISEAS: Singapore). https://www.iseas.edu.sg/images/pdf/ISEAS_Perspective_2016_8.pdf
Service to the Profession
Associate Editor, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy (2021–present) https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/hjd
Member-at-Large (elected), Diplomatic Studies Section, International Studies Association (ISA) 2020– present https://www.isanet.org/ISA/Sections/DPLST
Associate Editor, Journal of Contemporary Southeast Asia (2009-2013)