Dr Elisa Wynne-Hughes
Lecturer in International Relations
My research is motivated by a concern to better understand the social construction, positioning and governance of subjects through everyday (popular culture) practices, most recently examining the politics of Western tourism in Cairo. Building from this research I am writing a politicised guidebook, Planet Cairo, to encourage more inclusive tourism visions and policies. I am also working on projects that examine how popular representations of street harassment in Cairo reinforce international and Egyptian security policies that target ‘bad’ Arab/Muslim males as (sexually) threatening. Finally, I am examining the tactics of transnational stop street harassment groups. I analyse the emancipatory and exclusionary potentials of their everyday governance and security strategies.
My research interests include:
- the international politics of tourism
- transnational responses to everyday sexual violences
- neoliberal subjectivities
- neoliberalism and urban space
- postcolonial governmentalities
- popular culture and world politics
- postcolonial, feminist and poststructural approaches
- discourse analysis and ethnographic research methods
I welcome proposals for research projects in my areas of research.
Education and Qualifications
- PhD in Politics, Bristol, UK
- MA in Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada
- BA (Honours) in Political Studies and English Literature, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
- 2014 - present: Cardiff University School of Law and Politics, Department of Politics and IR
- Introduction to Globalization (1st Year, UG)
- Gender, Sex and Death (2nd Year, UG)
- Colonialism, Global Political Economy and Development (2nd Year, UG)
- Issues in International Relations (PGT)
- International Security (2nd Year, UG)
- The International Politics of the Middle East: Security, Development and Governance (3rd Year, UG)
- Popular Culture and World Politics (PGT)
I have completed the Cardiff Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning programme, and am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
The International Politics of Tourism
My most recent work examines the relationship between Western knowledge of Egypt and governmental policy at four tourist sites in Cairo: the Pyramids of Giza, Khan al Khalili market, Garbage City and Tahrir Square. It studies how tourism governs through various practices that shape the behaviours of tourists and Egyptians at these sites. Western tourism’s neocolonial images of Egypt reinforce elite visions and neoliberal security-development policies that exclude the majority of Egyptians from economic participation. This project combines governmentality and postcolonial approaches to study tourism as a technology of governance that reproduces hierarchical social relations between and within nation-states. This work, based on more than a year of ethnographic field research in Cairo and conducted primarily in Arabic, makes a significant contribution to knowledge about the Middle East and Egypt specifically, and more broadly to our understanding of the role of popular culture in neoliberal governance.
My next project builds from my research on tourism in Egypt to write a politicised guidebook, Planet Cairo. Popular guidebooks to Egypt present a sanitised image of Cairo that is palatable to global tourists and Egyptian elites. This one-sided image reinforces exclusionary Egyptian tourism policies that treat poorer Egyptians as inauthentic to tourist sites, insofar as working class masculinities and development trajectories are represented as deviant. This project asks whether another type of guidebook is possible – one that challenges the current one-dimensional tourist experience. To answer this question, I will develop, reflect on and disseminate an original ‘politicized guidebook’ genre. Planet Cairo will highlight the many different facets of popular Egyptian tourism sites and encourage more inclusive tourism visions and policies. This project aims to help reinvigorate the tourism in Egypt in a way that encourages the benefits from this industry to be spread more evenly throughout society. I will write corresponding journal articles that evaluate the guidebook’s effectiveness in resisting dominant tourism and elite visions of Egypt. Ultimately, I will produce – and critically evaluate – a new genre of both guidebook and academic writing that breaks down disciplinary, professional, popular and generic boundaries.
The Politics of the Transnational Anti-Street Harassment Movement
This project investigates the potential for everyday governance practices to be redirected for emancipatory purposes. It examines transnational responses to everyday sexual violences to understand how they reinforce or redirect dominant governance practices. This began as an article based on my tourism research, ‘Flirtation and Fear: Gendered Tourism, Transnational Terrorism’. This article examines how representations of street harassment in tourism guidebooks legitimise international and Egyptian security policies that target ‘bad’ Arab/Muslim males as (sexually) threatening. Meanwhile, in April 2014 I conducted interviews with members of six projects in Cairo to stop street harassment, which contributed to a Bristol-based ESRC-funded research project entitled ‘Transforming Insecurity through Nonviolent Grassroots Networks’. My ‘Flirtation and Fear’ article and subsequent fieldwork in Cairo inspired me to write an article, ‘Self-Governance in Zero-Tolerance Zones: the spatial politics of stop street harassment campaigns in Cairo’, which studies the post-2011 campaigns by various groups to tackle street harassment in a way that avoids state violence and victim blaming. Instead, these groups focus on ending the social acceptability of sexual harassment by targeting day-to-day practices in the streets of Cairo. I am currently examining these spatial tactics to understand the potentially emancipatory and exclusionary potentials of these localised governance and security strategies. I have received ESRC Impact Initiator funding for this work. The ensuing article lays the groundwork for a larger joint project examining everyday security strategies to tackle street harassment transnationally. To initiate this project, I have recently been successful in a bid for an Independent Social Research Foundation Flexible Grant for Small Groups in collaboration with Professor Jutta Weldes at SPAIS, who has been working with UK-based stop street harassment projects. This grant has allowed us to conduct initial ethnographic fieldwork and workshops with groups working to stop street harassment both across the UK and in Cairo (click here for more details). Based on this research, we are working on an article to be presented at BISA and EISA.
I am also working on a project that brings together scholars who apply governmentality and postcolonial approaches to better understand how neoliberal governance is shaped and reproduced through everyday practices in postcolonial sites. To do so, I organised two workshops on the topic of ‘Postcolonial Governmentalites’ with Terri-Anne Teo from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, held at Bristol in 2014 and Cardiff in 2015, funded by BISA and Cardiff University. We engaged in discussions and established a network of scholars who combine postcolonial and governmentality approaches in relation to their empirical work in postcolonial sites. We aim to cement our network and continue to develop this postcolonial governmentality framework in relation to contemporary transnational phenomena. We also intend to publish an edited volume on Postcolonial Governance: Inequalities, Exclusions and Potentials with the ‘Announcing Kilombo: International Relations and Colonial Questions’ series of Rowman and Littlefield. Through this project, we are building supportive links between scholars across different BISA working groups and at different stages in their careers.
Precarity and Collective Subjectivity
Based on a workshop, ‘Agency, Precarity and Precarious Life’, organized by myself and Tahseen Kazi (Georgia Southern) and held at Cardiff University in October 2017, we are editing a Special Issue on ‘Precarity and Collective Subjectivity’ to be submitted to Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. This special issue reconceptualises the relation of precarity to collective subjectivity, following insights from the previous two decades of sustained intellectual engagement with precarity. This special issue examines the concrete emergences of precarity, agency and collectivity in diverse geopolitical spaces, asking how they help us to further understand these concepts and how they are emerging in practice.