Jonathan Leader Maynard – B.A. (Lon), M.Phil., D.Phil. (Oxf)

Rank-Manning Junior Research Fellow in Social Sciences, New College, University of Oxford


About Me

My primary current research is on the ideological dynamics of ‘mass killing’ or ‘atrocities’ – the many horrific forms of lethal violence targeted against civilians, including but not limited to genocide. My work aims to produce a general cross-case account of the role of ideology in the mass killing of civilians, informed by the latest research on both phenomena. At its core, this theory identifies six recurring ‘justificatory mechanisms’, which describe the assemblage of processes through which anti-civilian ideologies motivate, legitimate and/or rationalise violence. I draw on a range of disciplines in producing this theory, including genocide studies, International Relations, political theory, political sociology, intellectual history, social psychology and social epistemology. In my recently completed doctoral thesis, I substantiated this account through case studies of the Nazi Holocaust, Stalinist violence in the Soviet Union, Allied aerial bombing in World War Two, and briefer examination of a number of recent cases of mass killing.


I am now working on a book on this topic, which further fleshes out my theory of the ideological dynamics of mass atrocities, adds deeper investigations of recent cases and terroristic atrocities, and also develops the implications this theory has for international atrocity/genocide prevention efforts. In parallel, I am currently working on a number of analyses of the role of ideology and justification in political violence more generally, and developing approaches to violence prevention and atrocity prevention orientated around ideology. I have secondary research interests in a number of areas related to this project: including the broad study of conflict and political violence, philosophical accounts of evil, international ethical and political theory, and the sociology of knowledge.


I currently teach Oxford undergraduate students in the following PPE papers: Theory of Politics, International Relations, International Relations in the Era of the Cold War, and Sociological Theory.


I have a great interest in communicating my research to non-specialist and non-academic audiences who desire to understand genocide and other forms of horrific violence. Misspent hours of my undergraduate and masters degrees as a competitive debater have left me with a general interest in presentations and public speaking, as well as enduring links to debating itself. I will serve as the Chief Adjudicator of the World Universities Debating Championship in Malaysia in 2015.


Contact Details

I can be contacted at jonathan.leadermaynard [at] (forgive the anti-spam presentation of this address).

You can also write to me at Jonathan Leader Maynard, New College, Holywell Street, Oxford, OX1 3BN.

My doctoral supervisor at Oxford was Dr Elizabeth Frazer.


Curriculum Vitae

Academic Career

Rank-Manning Junior Research Fellow in Social Sciences, New College, University of Oxford (October 2013 – Present)

Non-Stipendiary Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford (2011-2013)



BA (First Class Honours), War Studies and History, King’s College London (2008)

M.Phil. (Distinction), Politics, University of Oxford (2010)

D.Phil, Politics, University of Oxford (2014)




-         “Rethinking the Role of Ideology in Mass Atrocities,” Terrorism and Political Violence 26/5 (2014): 821-841.


-         “A Complex Systems Approach to the Study of Ideology: Cognitive-Affective Structures and the Dynamics of Belief Systems”, Journal of Social and Political Psychology 1/1 (2013): 337-363 [co-authored with Thomas Homer-Dixon, Matto Mildenberger, Manjana Milkoreit, Steven J. Mock, Stephen Quilley, Tobias Schröder and Paul Thagard].


-         “A Map of the Field of Ideological Analysis,” Journal of Political Ideologies 18/3 (2013): 299-327.


-         “Combating Atrocity-Justifying Ideologies,” in Jennifer Welsh & Serena Sharma (eds.), The Responsibility to Prevent: Overcoming the Challenges of Atrocity-Prevention (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) [Forthcoming]


-         “Liberal and Non-Liberal Justifications of Mass Violence Against Civilians,” in Alan Cromartie (ed.), Liberal Wars (2014) [Forthcoming]


-         “Ideological Analysis,” in Adrian Blau (ed.), Research Methods in Analytical Political Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015) [Forthcoming]


-         “Identity and Ideology in Political Violence and Conflict,” St. Anthony’s International Review 10/1 (2015) [Forthcoming]


Policy Briefs

-         “Countering Ideologies That Justify Mass Atrocities,” The Prevention Toolbox: Systematising Policy Tools for the Prevention of Mass Atrocities, Policy Brief 4 of 6, Australian Civil-Military Centre & Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (2013) [available:]



-         “Is bombing ISIS atrocity prevention or a token gesture ?”, Politics In Spires (29/09/2014),

-         “Nasty piece of work: The Sun’s nationalism is doing England great harm”, The Conversation (01/07/2014),

-          “A doubtful genealogy,” The Oxonian Review of Books, 15.3 (2011)

-         “Stalin’s Genocides,” The Oxonian Review of Books, Orbits (2011)

-         “What is the Left for?,” The Point, 5 (2011)


Working Papers

“Ideology: A Transatlantic Literature Review” [with Matto Mildenberger, Yale University]

“The Realist Narrative About “Ethics-First” Political Philosophy” [with Alex Worsnip, Yale University]

“Virtuetalk and the Justification of Violence”

“The Revolution is the Highest Law: Revolutionary Marxist Discourse on the Morality of Ends and Means”

“Social Psychology and the Explanation of Atrocities: A Critical Examination”

“Theories of Genocide and Theories of Evil”