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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Mark Aspinwall

Mark Aspinwall
Professor Mark Aspinwall
Honorary Fellow
58 George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 1730
Research Interests
Mexico, Mexican politics, Political economy of North America, Political economy, Institutions and institutional change, norm diffusion, governance, development, civil society

Office Hours

I am now based at CIDE in Mexico City, though available for PhD supervision on topics above. Contact me at


  • BA (Middlebury College)
  • MA (University of Rhode Island)
  • MSc, PhD (LSE)


Mark is a native of Massachusetts who teaches international relations and international political economy. In his previous life he worked as a professional staffer in the US House of Representatives, and a Washington lobbyist for a consortium of shipowners. Prior to that, he worked as a tour boat captain in Boston Harbor, and as a mate on several schooners. He has held visiting positions at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University, Peoples University in Beijing, and the European University Institute (Florence).

His first novel - Cold Havana Tomb - was published as a Kindle e-book in 2015 under the pseudonym Mark A. Dean. It features quite a bit of Politics and International Relations, especially about the US-Cuba relationship!

Research Interests

Mark's research interests are in regional integration, and especially the impact of regional organizations on domestic politics in North America and the European Union. His most recent project concerns the capacity-building effect of the NAFTA environmental side agreement on Mexican politics. This project was part-funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh. He is currently researching legal mobilization among Latin American environmental groups, as well as administrative capacity and the acceptance of labor rights norms.

He has published in numerous scholarly journals, including British Journal of Political Science, Review of International Studies and Political Studies. His most recent book is Side Effects: Mexican Governance Under NAFTA's Labor and Environmental Agreements (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013). This book was translated into Spanish and was published in 2014 under the title Efectos Paralelos Mexico City: Editorial CIDE).

From 2009-12 he was Coordinator of MERCURY, a consortium of nine partner institutions funded by the European Commission, examining the external relations of the European Union. He is an editorial board member of the journal European Union Politics, and is a member of the following Politics Research Groups: International Politics Research Group; European Union Research Group.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Side Effects: Mexican Governance Under NAFTA's Labor and Environmental Agreements (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013).
  • (with Mark Duckenfield) 'Private interests and exchange rate politics: the case of British business,' European Union Politics vol. 11, no. 3 (2010).
  • 'NAFTA-ization: regionalization and domestic political adjustment in the North American economic area,' Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 47, no. 1 (2009).
  • 'Government preferences on European integration: an empirical test of five theories,' British Journal of Political Science, vol. 37, no. 1 (2007).
  • Rethinking Britain and Europe: Plurality Elections, Party Management, and British Policy on European Integration, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004).


Mark is involved in ongoing training and capacity-building efforts in various countries. He gives a twice-yearly talk to senior NATO officers and Foreign/Defence Ministry officials at the NATO Defence College in Rome, on the politics of the international financial system. He has done training courses for civil servants in Taiwan and Mexico on the European Union, and on globalization, and has taught at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels in the USA, China, France, Cuba, Mexico, Slovenia, and others.


Mark teaches undergraduate and post-graduate courses in International Political Economy as well as a second-year course on international organisations entitled International Cooperation in Europe and Beyond. He also contributes lectures on Mexican politics to the first year course "Democracy in Comparative Perspective." He has been nominated on numerous occasions by the Edinburgh University Students' Association for a teaching award, and in 2010 was recognised for his innovative teaching.

Teaching Innovation

Mark produced a 10-minute video as an exercise, illustrating outsourcing as an element of globalisation. In the video, which was shown to students in our course International Cooperation in Europe and Beyond (and which won the 2010 Edinburgh University Students' Association award for Innovative Teaching), someone pretends to be a new lecturer from India, replacing Mark by video link in order to reduce costs to the University and ultimately to the students. Also posted is a short video explaining the rationale and including some of the out-takes and interviews with the director and the 'lecturer' from India.

View the Outsourcing Lecture here.

View the 'Making of' and Out-Takes here.

Topics interested in supervising

Regional integration in North America and Europe; Domestic impacts of regional integration; Mexican responses to NAFTA; good governance.

If you are interested in being supervised by Mark Aspinwall, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Politics