Jonna Nyman

(Re)conceptualising energy security in US-China relations

Supervisor: Adam Quinn and Rita Floyd

My research develops a critical empirical analysis of how central actors from China and the USA discursively constructed energy security from 2000 onwards. In particular, I'm interested in analysing the relationship between energy security discourses, (foreign) policy and bilateral relations through the adoption of a ‘critical constructivist’ approach to energy security. My thesis aims to improve understandings of energy security in US-China relations through critical analysis, to make a theoretical and empirical contribution to security studies and the emerging field of critical energy security studies.

Between January and July 2012 I carried out ESRC-funded fieldwork for my thesis, interviewing experts and policy-makers in the United States and China.

My research interests also include critical security studies and theoretical approaches to security, as well as climate change and environmental politics.


Upon completion of my undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham in 2009, I was awarded an ESRC 1+3 studentship. I completed an MA in research methods in October 2010, and then began my doctoral research into the impact of energy security discourses on foreign policy and bilateral relations between the US and China. Prior to my graduate degrees I worked as a parliamentary researcher in the House of Commons, as well as gaining work experience at the European Parliament in Brussels.

2010-2011 I was also an elected executive committee member of the BISA Postgraduate Network.

I am currently co-editing International Studies Today, BISA’s magazine on international affairs.


  • BA (First Class) International Relations (Hons): University of Birmingham
  • MA (Distinction) Political Science: University of Birmingham

Research interests

  • International security
  • Critical security studies
  • Energy security
  • Chinese foreign and energy policy
  • US foreign and energy policy

Teaching responsibilities

  • Introduction to International Relations: POLS 105 (2010-11)
  • International Security: POLS 218 (2011-12, 2012-13)

Professional memberships 

  • International Studies Association
  • British International Studies Association
  • China Postgraduate Network

Conference papers

Nyman, J. (2013) 'Conceptualising energy (in)security in the United States and China', Workshop 7: New approaches to understanding contemporary global energy relations, at 1st European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS), Tartu, Estonia, June 2013.

Nyman, J. (2013) 'Contextualising the value of security: from negative to positive energy security in the United States', British International Studies Association Annual Convention, June 2013.

Nyman, J. (2013) ‘Securitising energy, energising security? Towards a critical energy security studies’, at International Studies Association Annual Convention, San Francisco April 2013.

Nyman, J. (2013) ‘Positive security in practice: (re)conceptualising (energy) security in the United States’, at International Studies Association Annual Convention, San Francisco April 2013.

Nyman, J. (2012) ‘Rethinking energy, climate and security: a critical analysis of energy policy in the US’, at: Rethinking Climate Change, Conflict and Security, University of Sussex, October 18-19, 2012.

Nyman, J. (2012) ‘The Energy Security Paradox: the problems of
US energy foreign policy’, at BISA US Foreign Policy Working Group Annual Conference, September 2012.

Nyman, J. (2011) ‘Obama’s Sputnik Dilemma: The problems of US climate change discourse and implications for US-China relations’, at American Frontiers: British Association for American Studies, November 12, 2011

Nyman, J. (2011) 'The Sputnik Dilemma: space for change? (Re)presentation, the future of global climate security and the role of the G2', at ECPR General Conference, Reykjavik, August 25-27, 2011.

Nyman, J. (2011) ‘The future of global climate security and the role of the G2’ at University of Birmingham School of Government and Society Postgraduate Colloquium, 24 February.

Nyman, J. (2010) ‘Red Storm Ahead: Securitisation of energy in the Unocal Affair’ at North/South Relations: Climate Change Governance and Energy Security workshop, University of Birmingham, 10 November.


Nyman, J. (forthcoming 2014) ‘Red Storm Ahead: Securitisation of energy in US-China relations’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 42(2).

Nyman, J. (2013) ‘Securitisation Theory’ in Shepherd, L.J. (ed) Critical Approaches to Security: Theories and Methods, Routledge.