Dr Ma​ïa Pal


Senior Lecturer in International Relations

School of Law and Social Sciences

Ma​ïa Pal


Employability Coordinator for IR, Politics and Sociology from September 2019.

Teaching and supervision

Modules taught

  • INRL4001_S1 Level 4 Introduction to International Relations 1: Perspectives (Module Leader)
  • INRL5004_S2 Level 5 International Trade and Migration (Module Leader)
  • INRL6003_S1 Level 6 Law, Empires, and Revolutions (Module Leader)
  • POLI 5015  Workbased Learning: Politics & IR
  • SOCI 5012 Work-based Learning: Sociology.

My teaching is research-driven, and focuses on the potential of historical sociology to develop critical pedagogies for the study of empires, colonialism and legal subjectivity in international relations. I also teach issues in the political economy of migration, and use this module to develop student's awareness of critical aspects of employability. I am deeply concerned with issues of equality and diversity in our teaching, and have participated in efforts to 'decolonise' the curriculum. Since coming to Oxford Brookes in September 2014, I have taught widely across the Politics and IR programme, at UG and MA levels. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and passed the PGCTHE in June 2017 with a Distinction.


  My primary research intervenes in debates in international theory and historical sociology in IR, by developing a historical materialist methodology informed by critical legal history for understanding large-scale social change. I argue that the concept of jurisdiction remains undervalued as a heuristic tool and has been overshadowed in IR by concepts of sovereignty and territory. I therefore propose a new research agenda based on jurisdictional processes so as to 1) reveal underexplored aspects of historical international relations and 2) provide a new critical conceptual framework to better understand the contemporary relationship between international relations and the international legal order. This work is empirically informed by the analysis of early modern European empires. It explores their role in the development of large-scale global phenomena such as mercantilism, capitalism, and the international legal order. Specifically, I focus on diplomats such as overseas consuls as well as lawyers, merchants, settlers, and companies, as actors with ambiguous jurisdictional roles in furthering imperial expansion. Research in progress focusing on key journal articles will develop my new research agenda on jurisdiction through the phenomenon of underwater cables as a key infrastructure of contemporary capitalism, similarly invisible and jurisdictionally ambiguous as the consuls of the early modern period. I am also working on debates on digital capitalism and so-called techno-feudalism. As a second research portfolio, and in parallel with administrative and institutional roles on student employability, I engage with research in critical pedagogy, student subjectivity, and structural meanings of work and employability.

Research impact

  •   Voices EISA podcast, ‘What is… Political Marxism?’, August 2022 https://voices-the-eisa-podcast.podigee.io/11-new-episode
    Deutscher Prize podcast on Jurisdictional Accumulation with Alex Colas, June 2022 https://www.deutscherprize.org.uk/wp/podcast-interviews-with-shortlist-authors/
    Guest on 'The Full English’ podcast discussing the origins of capitalism for the relationship between English identity and food, April 2022 https://shows.acast.com/the-full-english/episodes/a-land-of-sheep-and-glory
    HM podcast on symposium publication 'Debates in Political Marxism', Nov 2021 https://soundcloud.com/histmat/episode-1-political-marxism?
  • Podcasts and webinars with AdvanceHE on 'Employability: a review of the literature 2016-2021' 
  • Symposium on Jurisdictional Accumulation in the Brazilian branch of the International Law Association blog, International Law Agendas. 
  • Review of my book Jurisdictional Accumulation: an early modern history of law, empires, and capital (CUP, 2020) by Prof. Christopher Tomlins
  • 'Marxism in IR', Podcast Interview for OccupyIRTheory, hosted by Dr Nicholas Kiersey
  • Participant in Think Human Festival (organised by Humanities and Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University) for Human Library event 'Resist! Remain!', 15 May 2018
  • Guest author for Verso Books blog on Marx's 200th anniversary, 5 May 2018
  • Guest on TV show The Fix (Novara Media) ‘Can Labour ever be a vehicle for a progressive foreign policy?’ 24 February 2016
  • Roundtable debate with MP John McDonnell, Luke Cooper, Simon Hardy, Lynne Segal and Mary G. Clarke ‘Beyond Capitalism (The Alternative Queen’s Speech)’, 'People’s Parliament', House of Commons, London, 4 June 2015.


slide 1 of 6

Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies


  • Workshop organised on ‘Who still wants to be a historical sociologist?’ with an open CFP for BISA Historical Sociology and IR workging group. 10 participants and 4 panels on 9 July 2021, https://www.bisa.ac.uk/members/working-groups/hsir/news/who-still-wants-be-historical-sociologist
  • Book discussion for Jurisdictional Accumulation (CUP, 2020) on 21-23 June 2021 at the BISA Annual Conference with Edward Keene, Julia Costa Lopez, Kelly-Jo Bluen and Yassin Brunger
  • Book launch for Jurisdictional Accumulation (CUP, 2020) with Prof Claire Cutler and Prof Benno Teschke at Queen Mary, University of London at The Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context, the Law and Marxism series (recording available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBhRNG6qZZc) on 22 March 2021
  • Historical Materialism Online 2020 Discussant on David McNally's book Blood and Money: War, Slavery, Finance, and Empire (2020, Haymarket) during HM Online Annual conference (event recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6psUWDkUjc)
  • Historical Materialism Online 2020 Panel organiser and participant Historicising Law and Capitalism: New Directions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqsAv0CHIjc&t=186s)
  • Keynote Lecture at the Marx Nu Conference, Copenhagen, October 2020, (Online)
  • Historical Materialism London November 2019
  • Historical Materialism Athens May 2019 Keynote on the Gilets Jaunes movement
  • Bordering Subjects in an Age of Containment: Migrants and Juridical Forms of Capital Accumulation, BISA Annual Conference, Bath, 13-15 June 2018
  • Roundtable on 'Decolonising Marx's Capital and concept of Primitive Accumulation', BISA Annual Conference, Bath, 13-15 June 2018
  • Bordering Subjects in an Age of Containment: Migrants and Juridical Forms of Capital Accumulation, ISA Annual Convention, San Francisco, 4-7 April 2018
  • Roundtable on 'Legacy of Ellen Meiksins Wood for IR' (participant and organiser), ISA Annual Convention, San Francisco, 4-7 April 2018
  • 'Marxism and IR', University of Oxford PPE Society, St Peter's College, 15 November 2017
  • 'Jurisdictional Accumulation: Towards Non-Eurocentric Histories of Early Modern European Empire' Lecture to the Centre for Critical International Law (CeCIL) at the University of Kent, 21 November 2017. See report here
  • ‘The space of biopolitics in the neoliberal university: conduct and counter-conduct’ The Space of Biopolitics workshop, School of Law, Oxford Brookes University, 4 July 2017
  • (with Louiza Odysseos) ‘Towards Critical Pedagogies of the International? Student Resistance, Self-formation and Other-regardedness in the Neoliberal University’, BISA, Brighton, June 2017
  • 'Uncomfortable Pedagogies: Diversifying and Decolonising the Curriculum in Politics, Sociology and IR' 17 February 2017 Speakers: Claire Vergerio, Mend Mariwani, Micaela Opoku-Mensah, Dalila Da Silva Lopes, 17 February, Oxford Brookes University    
  • ‘Territory, Sea, Migrants: New Agents of Accumulation’ Panel with Dr Chris Hesketh, Dr Alex Colas, Dr Liam Campling, and Dr Ashley Bohrer, Historical Materialism Annual Conference, London, 5-8 November   
  •  'Migrants and borders: exploring new historical subjects for critical pedagogies in international law and international relations' Legacies of the Tricontinental, University of Coimbra (Portugal), 22-25 September 2016
  • ‘Counter-Conduct in the University Factory: Locating the Occupy Sussex Campaign’ International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Convention, Atlanta (USA), 16-19 March 2016
  • ‘My Capitalism is Bigger than Yours: Early-Modern Legal Sovereignties and UCD's theoretical delusions’, Historical Materialism Annual Conference, London, 5-8 November 2015
  • 'Retrieving Agency in IR/IL: a Historical Sociology of Jurisdiction', British International Studies Association (BISA) Annual Conference, London, 17-19 June 2015
  • 'From Conflict of Laws to Jurisdictional Resistance: Rights against States and Capital', Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Research Conference, Oxford Brookes University, 11 June 2015
  • ‘Jurisdictional Struggles’, Symposium to celebrate the work of Ellen Meiksins Wood, organised by Verso Publishers and the Politics Department at Birkbeck University, London, 4 November 2015
  • Participation in Roundtable 'Resisting Everyday Sexism in the Academy: Stories and Strategies', International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Conference, New Orleans (USA), 18-21 February 2015
  • 'Extraterritorial Obligations and Jurisdictional Accumulation: Towards A Historical Sociology', International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Conference, New Orleans (USA), 18-21 February 2015
  • Organisation of panel ‘Contending Perspectives of Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: International Law, International Relations, Historical Sociology’, International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Conference, New Orleans (USA), 18-21 February 2015
  • 'Thoughts on theory and jurisdiction from IR and Political Marxism', Symposium: Towards a Materialist History of International Law’, London School of Economics, 5-6 December 2014
  • 'Human Rights or State Capitalism ‘Beyond Borders’? Extraterritorial Obligations and Jurisdictional Accumulation', Annual Historical Materialism Conference, London, 6-9 November 2014
  • 'Is HE a Public Space? Occupying universities for asylum seekers in France', Critical Legal Conference, Brighton, 4-6 September 2014 
  • 'Beyond Capitalism (The Alternative Queen's Speech)' People's Parliament, House of Commons, Committee Room 8, Wednesday 4 June 2014, Chaired by MP John McDonnell, with Dr. Luke Cooper, Simon Hardy, Prof. Lynne Segal, Mary Griffiths Clarke 
  • Occupy Sussex: Counter-Conduct in the University Factory, ‘Governing Academic Life’: Conference at the London School of Economics and British Library, 25-26 June 2014
  • Jurisdictional accumulation: the geographical and political limits of transhistorical concepts ‘Geographies of Law: Power, Space, Borders’ workshop Altonaer Stiftung fur philosophische Grundlagenforschung, Hamburg (Germany), 16-18 May 2014
  • Methodological Problems in Theories of International Law: Calling for a Historical Sociology of Jurisdiction, 55th International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Conference, Toronto (Canada), 26-29 March 2014
  • Processes of Jurisdictional Accumulation in Early Modern Spain and France: a pre-capitalist history of international law, Annual Historical Materialism Conference, London, 7-10 November 2013
  • Sussex Against Privatisation: Educational Notes from a Campaign, Radical Lawyering: Theory and Practice, Cumberland Lodge Weekend hosted by Birkbeck Law School and Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, 13-15 September 2013
  • Occupy Sussex: Beyond Counter-Conduct? Presented with Kerem Nisancioglu at Counter-Conduct in Global Politics CAIT Workshop, University of Sussex, 10-12 September 2013
  • Thinking Beyond the Neoliberal Project: Comparing Cases of Jurisdictional Struggles, Understanding Neoliberal Legality: Perspectives on the Use of Law By, For, and Against the Neoliberal Project Workshop, University of Oxford, 21 June 2013
  • The Sussex Occupation: Ideas and Practices Against Neoliberalism in Education, The Utopian Law School and the Fate of the University, Law On Trial Series, Birkbeck University, 17 June 2013
  • Le concept d’hégémonie et le problème d’extraterritorialité: une critique des approches néo-gramsciennes, CÉDIM (Centre d’Études du Droit International et de la Mondialisation), UQÀM (Université du Québec À Montréal, Canada), 8-10 May 2013
  • Historical Materialism and International Law: Developing Legal Agency in Political Marxism, Social and Political Thought Research Group Seminar Series, Brunel University, 13 December 2012
  • Social Movements Against the Extraterritorial Application of SOPA and PIPA: Jurisdictional Agency vs. Juridical Accumulation? Annual Historical Materialism Conference, London, 8-10 November 2012
  • La transformation du concept ‘d’amélioration territoriale’ en pratique d’extraterritorialité par l’Empire Brittanique du XIXème siècle : enjeux contemporains pour les droits de propriété intellectuelle (SOPA - PIPA), Congrès annuel Société Québécoise de Science Politique (SQSP), Ottawa (Canada), 23 May 2012
  • Des enclosures à la globalisation juridique : socialiser l’histoire de l’extraterritorialité, 80e Congrès de l’Association Francophone pour le Savoir (Acfas) Montréal (Canada), 11 May 2012
  • English state formation, the rise of capitalism and nineteenth century international law: a legacy of double standards, Annual Historical Materialism Conference, London, 7-10 November 2011
  • The Separation of International Relations from International Law: A Critical Marxist Approach European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Joint Sessions Muenster (Germany), 22-27 March 2010

Further details

I previously taught at the University of Sussex and at the University of Brighton in Hastings. I am bilingual in French and English.

Academia.edu site