Edward H.K. Howell

Mr Edward H.K. Howell

Research topic:
Nuclear domestic legitimacy: North Korea's state survival
Degree course:

Research Themes:
Identity Ideology States Groups, Identities and Social Movements Political thought and ideologies Norms, legitimacy and justification 

Academic Profile

I am an ESRC Doctoral Training Student and MPhil candidate in International Relations, supervised by Dr. Carlotta Minnella. My research focuses on the role of culture and identity in the survival North Korea, and this reflects my research interests in identity, social norms, with a specialism in the Korean Peninsula. I am fascinated by the role of national and cultural identity, and social norms in closed societies, and how they can catalyze state survival and legitimacy processes, in conjunction with more material elements, such as nuclear doctrine. My research stresses the role of more everyday elements which form the puzzle at the centre of my current work. My principal research methods involve interviewing, qualitative data analysis, participant observation, and process-tracing, paying attention to the iterative nature of qualitative research.

Before joining the DPIR, I achieved a double First in Geography, at Brasenose College, Oxford (2013-2016), where I was a prizewinning candidate, awarded the proxime accessit C.D.D. Gibbs Prize for the second highest performance in Final Honours School Geography, focusing on Social and Cultural Geography. My work in Social and Cultural Geography is ongoing, and I am researching how North and South Korean migrants to the United Kingdom negotiate citizenship, belonging, and identity at the everyday micro level, between homeland and hostland.

My research interests have led me to work with the North Korean defector community as a means of fostering greater information exchange between the DPRK and wider world. I was involved in launching the BBC World Service in North Korea, forming part of a team interviewing North and South Koreans residing in the UK. I am a fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and French, and use my language skills in my research to develop greater understanding of local-level identity-based politics from the perspective of the region under investigation.

Please do contact me at edward.howell@politics.ox.ac.uk if you would like to know more about my work!

Teaching specialism, interests and experience

Teaching Experience:

Associate Lecturer in Geography, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University


Teaching Interests:

Identity, Identity-based politics, Korean Peninsula, citizenship, socio-cultural norms, emotional citizenship, non-elite migration, nuclear politics


Gibbs Prize for second highest performance in Final Honour School Geography, University of Oxford, 2016 Economic & Social Research Council Doctoral Training Student - Pathway in International Relations, 2016 cohort Travel Grant - Balliol College, University of Oxford, 2016 John House Prize for second highest performance in Preliminary Examinations, School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford, 2014


The State of the Union And the State of Trump’s North Korea Policy - The Huffington Post, February 1 2018

What Can We Learn from North Korea's Latest Missile Launch - The Huffington Post, August 29 2017

Trump and Kim: A War of Words? - The Huffington Post, August 11 2017

Where Do North Koreans Fit Into the West's North Korea Policy?The Diplomat, March 22 2017 

From Area to Area: The Changing Face of Area StudiesThe Oxford University Politics Blog, August 27 2016


Conference Papers and Presentations

American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting  - 'Making Inflexible Citizenship Flexible: South Korean migrants in London, UK' - Conference Paper and Presentation, 5-9 April 2017 - Boston, MA