I am a Lecturer in International Relations at the Australian National University (ANU). I was previously in the Department of Political Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

I received a MSc and PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to this, I received a BA (hons) in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University.


My research centers on the microsociological study of international relations. Everyday practices, face-to-face interactions, emotions, and embodied experiences are the small units of analysis that take centerstage in my research. Long considered irrelevant in a field dominated by grand and structural theories, my work is part of a growing body of scholarship that shows how small units have a distinct form (morphology) and enjoy a puzzling degree of autonomy from wider structural constraints, making them consequential in world politics.

While I have an abiding interest in the wonders of the ‘micro,’ I wrestle with my structural and historical instincts. This informs my interest in asking how micro-level units are tethered to wider structures of class, race, and gender. In making these connections I draw a great deal of inspiration from structural approaches like historical sociology and Bourdieusian political sociology.

Empirically, I pursue my interest in the micro by studying diplomats and international bureaucrats. Most of my fieldwork has been in the circuitries of everyday diplomacy spanning ministries and diplomatic enclaves in Southeast Asia, especially in the budding ASEAN diplomatic field in Jakarta, Indonesia. I use interpretive approaches and methods in my research, mainly elite interviews and ethnography (when possible), supported by historical print-media analysis.

Besides my research, I love literary fiction (especially postcolonial fiction in South and Southeast Asia), sci-fi films, and nearly anything by the virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz. 

Current Projects

I am currently working on a book manuscript on the everyday cultural production of ASEAN. Titled “Doing Nothing: The Cultural Production of Inaction in ASEAN Diplomacy” the book examines how seemingly banal, bogus, and empty activity can have powerful political effects.

Since joining the ANU, I have started a project on the “Third Indochina War in the Making of Southeast Asia: The Afterlives of War, Genocide, and Diplomacy.”

I have been awarded an ANU Futures Scheme Grant to develop both these projects. Please contact me if you would like more information on either or touch base to express shared interests.

Research Interests

Microsociology, Diplomacy, International Bureaucracy, Ethnography, International Politics of Southeast Asia, ASEAN.

Awards & Grants


Journal Articles      

  • Nair, Deepak (Forthcoming) “Using Bourdieu’s Habitus in International Relations.”  International Studies Quarterly.
  • Nair, Deepak (2023)  “Populists in the Shadow of Great Power Competition: Duterte, Sukarno, and Sihanouk in Comparative Perspective.”  European Journal of International Relations 29(2) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/13540661231173866
  • Nair, Deepak (2023) “International Relations in Southeast Asia” in Patrick James (ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/373137366_OUPBiblio
  • Nair, Deepak (2021) “Spooks, Goons, ‘Intellectuals’: The Military-Catholic Network in the Cold War Diplomacy of Suharto’s Indonesia,” History and Anthropology 33(3): 372-390 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02757206.2021.1946051
  • Nair, Deepak (2021) “‘Hanging Out’ While Studying ‘Up’: Doing Ethnographic Fieldwork in International Relations”  International Studies Review 23 (4):1300-1327. https://doi.org/10.1093/isr/viab001
  • Nair, Deepak (2020) “Emotional Labour and the Power of International Bureaucrats.” International Studies Quarterly 64 (3): 573-587 https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqaa030
  • Nair, Deepak (2020) “Sociability in International Politics: Golf and ASEAN’s Cold War Diplomacy,” International Political Sociology 14 (2): 196-214. https://doi.org/10.1093/ips/olz024  (Winner of the ISA Diplomatic Studies Section Article Prize 2021).
  • Nair, Deepak (2019) “Saving Face in Diplomacy: A Political Sociology of Face-to-Face Interactions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.” European Journal of International Relations 25(3): 672-697. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066118822117  (Winner of the Best Article Prize in the EJIR 2020.)
  • Nair, Deepak (2011) “ASEAN’s Core Norms in the Context of the ‘Global Economic and Financial Crisis’: Is the Crisis a Catalyst for Institutional Development?” Asian Survey 51(2): 245-267. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/as.2011.51.2.245
  • Nair, Deepak (2009) “Regionalism in the Asia-Pacific/East Asia: A Frustrated Regionalism?” Contemporary Southeast Asia  31(1): 110-142. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41288791


Book Chapters

  • Nair, Deepak. (Forthcoming in 2023). “A Diplomatic Image and its Afterlife: Bangkok 1967 and ASEAN’s Creation Myth.” In Naoko Shimazu and Mathew Philips eds. Diplomatic Images: Cold War Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • Nair, Deepak (2022) “The Military-Catholic Network in the Cold War Diplomacy of Suharto’s Indonesia.”  In Sercan Yolacan, Ameem Lufti, and Nisha Mathews eds. Strongmen and Informal Diplomats: Toward an Anthropology of International Relations (Abingdon: Routledge Special Issues as Books).


Editor Reviewed Publications 


Book Manuscript (in progress)

Title: Anti-Political Diplomacy: ASEAN and the Cultural Production of Inaction


Service to the Profession


At ANU, I am teaching a postgraduate seminar on International Relations in the Asia-Pacific (INTR8022). 

Syllabus: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/373157730_SYLLABUS_NAIR_International_Relations_in_the_Asia-Pacific_ANU