Dr. Jonathan Kennedy

Dr Jonathan Kennedy

Department of Political Science



I have a PhD from the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge (2013). Prior joining the Department of Political Science in UCL I was a Research Associate at the sociology department in Cambridge.

Broadly speaking, my research can be divided into two substantive strands. The first introduces methods and theories from political economy and political sociology to analyze the political, social and economic determinants of public health. The second seeks to understand violent political conflict between the state and marginal communities in a manner that takes into account the dynamic relationship between individual actions, political opportunity structures, and socioeconomic structures. I am also very interested in how violent political conflict affects public health and this is currently the focus of my research. I use a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods – including in-depth interviews, comparative historical methods and statistical analysis. My published research concentrates on South Asia, but I am interested in developing and transitional countries more generally.

Key Publications

For copies of these and other papers click here

Jonathan Kennedy and Lawrence King (2011): ‘The Conviction of Binayak Sen,’ The Lancet 377 (9774): 1316-17.

Jonathan Kennedy and Lawrence King (2011): ‘Understanding the Conviction of Binayak Sen: Neocolonialism, Political Violence and the Political Economy of Health in Central India,’ Social Science and Medicine 72(10): 1639-42.

[Both publications on Binayak Sen were widely covered in the Indian media, including The Hindu (front page) and The Hindustan Times.]

Jonathan Kennedy and Sunil Purushotham (2012): ‘Beyond Naxalbari: A Comparative Analysis of Maoist Insurgency in India, 1947 to present date,’ Comparative Studies in Society and History 54 (4): 832-62.

Keertichandra Rajan, Jonathan Kennedy and Lawrence King (2013): ‘Is Wealthier Always Healthier in Poor Countries? The Health Effects of Income, Inequality, Poverty, and Literacy in India,’ Social Science and Medicine 88: 98-107.

[Widely covered in the media. For example, by The Guardian (UK) and Economic Times (India).]

Jonathan Kennedy and Lawrence King (2013): ‘Adivasis, Maoists and Insurgency in India,’ European Journal of Sociology/Archives Européennes de Sociologie 54(1): 1-32.

Jonathan Kennedy and Lawrence King (2014): ‘The political economy of farmers’ suicides in India: Indebted cash-crop farmers with marginal landholdings explain state-level variation in suicide rates,’ Globalization and Health 10(16): 1-9.

[Widely covered in the Indian media. For example, by Times of India and Hindustan Times.]

Jonathan Kennedy (2014): ‘Gangsters or Gandhians? The political sociology of Maoist insurgency in India,’ India Review 13(3): 212-34.

Jonathan Kennedy (2015): ‘The Socioeconomic Determinants of Natural Resource Conflict: Minerals and Maoist insurgency in India,’ Society and Natural Resources 28 (2), 149-164.

Projects and Collaborations

I am currently working three main research projects.

The first investigates the political determinants of polio and specifically seeking to understand the persistence of polio in countries that are affected by Islamist insurgencies, such as Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The second is a collaborative project with colleagues at the Institute for Global Health at UCL, Cambridge University and New Delhi on a project investigates how the political, social and economic determinants of son preference in India have changed over the past 30-40 years.

Thirdly, I maintain an interest in the Maoist insurgency in India and continue to work on this topic with colleagues at Cambridge University and in India.

Teaching Interests

South Asian politics and society
Political economy of South Asia
Armed conflict
Political, social and economic determinants of health

Areas of PhD research supervision

Violent conflict and public health in developing and transitional societies.