Ben Fermor


I completed a BA in International Politics at the University of Surrey in 2013, before going on to do an MSc in International Relations with 1+3 ESRC funding a year later. Since then, I’ve moved to Yorkshire and started a PhD thesis on US foreign policy at the University of Leeds.

Research interests

My thesis asks how the discursive structures of US foreign policy changed during the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency. I am particularly interested in official representations of the Middle East, North Africa, and the ‘Muslim World’, and the relationship between Obama and the institutions and structures of US statecraft.

I argue that while Obama began his presidency by talking about universal values, and the prospect of a ‘new beginning’ in America’s relationship with the rest of the world, his language became increasingly Orientalist following the Arab Spring and the emergence of the Islamic State from 2014.

My research uses a computer-aided discourse analysis of official statements taken from the White House archive. I have also written with Dr Jack Holland on Donald Trump and the post-2016 discursive war of position over the ‘common sense’ of American policy.