Global Humanities professor leads SFU research engagement on the Russian-Ukrainian war

April 14, 2023
A Ukrainian soldier fires a grenade launcher on the frontline in Bakhmut in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Libkos)

James Horncastle, McWhinney Professor in International Relations, ranked #1 at SFU for March 2023 with 40,497 reads, making up over 45% of The Conversation Canada’s total SFU faculty reads for the month.

Having joined The Conversation Canada on the day Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Horncastle has lent his research expertise from the onset and continues to assess and offer commentary on the conflict as it unfolds. Though the invasion of Ukraine was met with widespread international condemnation, its coverage in popular media has slowed down as the ongoing war reaches its 1-year mark. His readership, however, testifies to the continued public interest, as well as his ability to engage with global issues and unpack today’s critical challenges for audiences beyond the academy.

From Bosnia-Herzegovina being the next site of a Russian-fuelled conflict to Russia’s use of drones to erode Ukrainian morale to, most recently, how the battle for Bakhmut is increasingly a quagmire that works to Russia’s advantage, Horncastle’s contribution to the existing discourse and scholarship is crucial. In fact, his article on the symbolic importance of Putin’s indictment was translated to French the day after the original was published. He was also interviewed by a number of media outlets for his analyses of the war, including Shaye Ganam of 630CHED and 770CHQR about Russia's tactic against Ukraine's power grid and infrastructure.

With over 120,000 total reads from 10 published articles on topics such as migration crises, national defence, contemporary geopolitics, and securitization of borders, Horncastle’s commitment to global engagement is evident and aligns with SFU’s 2023 strategic priorities and raison d'être to “create and connect knowledge, learning and community for deeper understanding and meaningful impact.” As President Joy Johnson said, “SFU is a university that knows how to meet the moment…a university that [isn’t] afraid to cause a little trouble and challenge the status quo.” Friends and colleagues of Horncastle will be hard-pressed to find better words to describe him. 

He has this to say about why it is important to keep the discourse alive despite backlash:

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is one of the defining geopolitical events of contemporary history, yet one that is shrouded in false narratives. I appreciate SFU and my colleagues’ encouragement to engage with this topic.”

About James Horncastle

Horncastle is an assistant professor in the Department of Global Humanities and holder of the Edward and Emily McWhinney Professorship in International Relations at Simon Fraser University. He is also a member of the steering committee for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies. His recent manuscript, The Macedonian Slavs in the Greek Civil War, 1944–1949, examines how the Macedonian Slavs participation in the conflict, and the attempts by other groups to manipulate them, gave rise to modern issues that continue to affect politics in the region today. His research interests include: refugee and migration studies; international relations; conflict studies; history of modern Greece; and Yugoslav studies.