Profile image of Cai Wilkinson

A/Prof. Cai Wilkinson



Associate Professor, International Relations


Faculty of Arts and Education


School of Hum & Social Science


Melbourne Burwood Campus

Biography summary

Cai is an Associate Professor in International Relations. She joined Deakin in February 2012 from the University of Birmingham, UK, where she was a Lecturer in the Centre for Russian and East European Studies and taught International Relations and Russian language. 

Cai's research focuses on societal security in the post-Soviet space, with a particular focus on LGBTQ human rights and “traditional values” in Kyrgyzstan and Russia, as well as on interrogating the role of genders and sexualities in international politics. Methodologically, Cai utilizes interpretive ethnographic approaches that foreground lived experiences and situated knowledge production. Her work has been published in journals including Security Dialogue, Journal of Human Rights, Nationalities Papers, and Critical Studies on Security, and she has also contributed chapters to volumes on securitization theory, LGBT activism in Central Asia, and fieldwork-based research methods. Cai is currently working on projects about the politics of LGBT rights and "traditional values", and queer knowledges.

At Deakin, Cai has previously served as Course Director of the Bachelor of International Studies (2013-2018), Associate Head of School (International and Partnerships) for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (2014-2019), Director of Work Integrated Learning for the Faculty of Arts and Education (2020), Course Director for the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership (2021-2022), and Associate Director of Teaching and Learning for the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership (2022).

Research interests

  • Securitization studies and Critical Security Studies
  • International human rights norms contestation and “traditional values”
  • Genders, sexualities and queerness in International Relations
  • Interpretive and ethnographic methods and fieldwork
  • Experiential learning and reflective practice

The primary empirical focus of Cai's work is on the post-Soviet space, especially Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Methodologically, Cai utilises critical interpretive approaches that foreground lived experiences and are attentive to the situated nature of knowledge production.

Teaching interests

  • Security Studies: International politics and security in Eurasia; Critical Security Studies; Human Security; Non-traditional and societal security challenges.
  • International Relations: Constructivist International Relations theory; Norms socialisation and localisation; Genders and sexualities.
  • Research Methods: Qualitative and interpretive research methods; Fieldwork methods.
  • Experiential Learning: Cross-cultural and intercultural communication; immersive study experiences; work-integrated learning; internships; reflective learning and practice; portfolio thinking.

Knowledge areas

  • Post-Soviet society and politics, especially Kyrgyzstan and Russia
  • Security, gender and identity
  • Securitization theory (Copenhagen School)
  • LGBTQ rights in Russia and Central Asia
  • Interpretive and fieldwork methods
  • Experiential learning


Conference Presentations & Service (since 2019)

  • Roundtable Participant. “Book Launch: Feminist Solutions For Ending War”. 2022 International Feminist Journal of Politics & Asian Center for Women’s Studies Ewha Womans University Hybrid Conference, Virtual Platform.
  • Panel Discussant. “Identity and Visibility of LGBTQ+ People in the post-Soviet e-World”. 2021 Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies Convention, Virtual Platform.
  • Panellist and Discussant. Methodology Workshop, 2021 International Studies Association North-East Conference, Virtual Platform.
  • Roundtable Chair and Discussant. “Becoming Fluent in Fieldwork: (Un)Learning What is Good/Ethical/Responsible Fieldwork.” 2021 British International Studies Conference, Virtual Platform.
  • “Heteronational Relations: Straight States and Queer Panics”. Co-authored paper with Dean Cooper-Cunningham (University of Copenhagen). 2021 International Studies Association Convention, Virtual Platform.
  • Plenary Roundtable Participant, “The Globalisation of ‘Traditional Values’.” 2019 European Conference of Politics & Gender, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Panel Chair. “LGBT+ Rights and EU Dynamics.” 2019 European Conference of Politics & Gender, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Invited Presentations (since 2021)

  • “Queer Methods”. Seminar for the postgraduate course “Queer, Indigenous and Feminist Research Methodologies: Non-Normative Approaches to Knowledge Production”, The Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, & Sexuality, Boston University. Boston, MA, United States of America. Via Zoom, 5 April 2022 & 23 July 2022.
  • “Gender Ideology and ‘Traditional Family Values’ in Russia: Beyond Human Rights”. Presentation for the panel “Shaping the Body Politic: Gender, Ideology, and Conflict in Contemporary Poland and Russia”, Russian & Eastern European Studies Network, Queen’s University. Kingston, ON, Canada. Via Zoom, 5 February 2022.
  • “Interpretive Research in IR: Making Sense of It”. Roundtable, School of International Service PhD Program, American University. Washington, DC, United States of America. Via Zoom, 10 November 2021.
  • “LGBTQIA+ Discrimination It Stops With Me”. Panel discussion, Council for International Students Australia webinar. Via Zoom/Facebook streaming, 27 May 2021. 
  • “Experiencing IR: From Theory to Praxis”. Distinguished Teacher Teaching Workshop, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews. St Andrews, Scotland. Via Teams, 14 May 2021.
  • “Unsettling IR: Teaching as Making the Familiar Strange”. Distinguished Teacher Lecture, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews. St Andrews, Scotland. Via Teams, 13 May 2021.
  • “Political homophobia in World Contexts”. Invited talk for the undergraduate course “Sexuality and Gender in World Politics”, Department of International Politics, City University of London. London, UK. Recorded via Zoom, 24 February 2021.


  • Distinguished Teaching Award, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews, Scotland, 2021.
  • Faculty of Arts and Education Student and Alumni Engagement Award (as part of the Humanitarian Action Team Internship team), Deakin University, 2021.
  • Faculty of Arts and Education Industry Engagement Award (as part of Centre for Humanitarian Leadership conference team), Deakin Univerrsity 2021.
    Cora Maas Award for best evaluated courses at the Summer or Winter Schools in Methods and Techniques, European Consortium for Political Research, 2020
  • International Studies Association LGBTQA Caucus Eminent Scholar Award, 2019.
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Global Experiences, Deakin University, 2017.
  • Faculty of Arts and Education Student Mobility Program Award (for AIS203 Japanese Politics, Society and Culture Immersive Study Program), Deakin University, 2016.
  • Award for Excellence, PGCLTHE Teaching Project, University of Birmingham, UK, 2011.
  • School of Government and Society Teaching Prize, University of Birmingham, UK, 2009. 


  • The politics of LGBT rights and "traditional values"
  • Queer knowledges
  • Research ethics and meaningful consent practices


Filter by


Intersection of "Traditional Values" and LGB rights

Cai Wilkinson

(2021), Vol. 1, pp. 360-376, Worldwide Perspectives on Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals, Santa Barbara, Calif., B1

book chapter

Being LGB in Russia

Cai Wilkinson

(2021), Vol. 3, pp. 215-234, Worldwide Perspectives on Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals, Santa Barbara, Calif., B1

book chapter

Queer Our Vision of Security

Cai Wilkinson

(2021), pp. 89-104, Feminist solutions for ending war, London, Eng., B1

book chapter

Protecting the rights of LGBTIQ people around the world: Beyond marriage equality and the decriminalisation of homosexuality

P Gerber, S Raj, C Wilkinson, A Langlois

(2021), Vol. 46, pp. 5-12, Alternative Law Journal, C1

journal article

Developing Learning-Centered Approaches across the Discipline: Implementing Curated ePortfolios in Information Technology and International Studies

Kathryn Coleman, Sophie McKenzie, Cai Wilkinson

(2020), pp. 103-124, ePortfolios@edu: What We Know, What We Don't Know, and Everything In-Between, Louisville, Ken., B1

book chapter

The namelessness of lives: what's not in a name?

Cai Wilkinson

(2019), pp. 13-25, Sexuality and translation in world politics, Bristol, Eng., B1

book chapter

LGBT Rights in the former Soviet Union: The evolution of hypervisibility

Cai Wilkinson

(2019), pp. 1-18, The Oxford handbook of global LGBT and sexual diversity politics, Oxford, Eng., B1

book chapter

Mother Russia in queer peril: the gender logic of the hypermasculine state

C Wilkinson

(2018), pp. 105-121, Revisiting gendered states : feminist imaginings of the state in international relations, Oxford, Eng., B1

book chapter

Community, identity, orientation: sexuality, gender and rights in ASEAN

A Langlois, C Wilkinson, P Gerber, B Offord

(2017), Vol. 30, pp. 710-728, Pacific review, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article

LGBT rights in Southeast Asia: one step forward, two steps back?

C Wilkinson, P Gerber, B Offord, A Langlois

(2017), Vol. 3, pp. 5-17, IAFOR : Journal of Asian studies, Nagoya, Japan, C1

journal article

Human rights in Papua New Guinea: is this where we should be settling refugees?

C Wilkinson, P Gerber, A Langlois, B Offord

(2016), Vol. 22, pp. 27-65, Australian journal of human rights, Chatswood, N.S.W., C1

journal article

The securitization of development

C Wilkinson

(2015), pp. 32-46, Handbook of international security and development, Cheltenham, Eng., B1

book chapter

Imagining Kyrgyzstan's nationhood and statehood: reactions to the 2010 Osh violence

C Wilkinson

(2015), Vol. 43, pp. 417-436, Nationalities papers : the journal of nationalism and ethnicity, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Development in Kyrgyzstan : Failed State or Failed Statebuilding?

C Wilkinson

(2014), pp. 137-162, Development in difficult sociopolitical contexts, Aukland, New Zealand, B1

book chapter

LGBT activism in Kyrgyzstan: What role for Europe?

C Wilkinson

(2014), pp. 50-72, LGBT Activism and the making of Europe, Basingstoke, U. K., B1

book chapter

Putting "traditional values" into practice : the rise and contestation of anti-homopropaganda laws in Russia

C Wilkinson

(2014), Vol. 13, pp. 363-379, Journal of human rights, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article

Not just finding what you (thought you) were looking for : reflections on fieldwork data and theory

C Wilkinson

(2013), pp. 387-405, Interpretation and method : empirical research methods and the interpretive turn, London, England, B1

book chapter

More problem than solution? Managing the practical challenges of PBL course delivery

C Wilkinson

(2013), pp. 67-92, Disciplines: The Lenses of Learning, Champaign, IL, B1

book chapter

Ethnographic methods

C Wilkinson

(2012), pp. 129-145, Critical approaches to security : an introduction to theories and methods, Oxon, England, B1

book chapter

From blogging Central Asia to citizen media : a practitioners' perspective on the evolution of the neweurasia blog project

C Wilkinson, Y Jetpyspayeva

(2012), Vol. 64, pp. 1395-1414, Europe-Asia studies, Abingdon, England, C1

journal article

International agency in Kyrgyzstan : rhetoric, revolution and renegotiation

C Wilkinson

(2010), pp. 133-155, Stable outside, fragile inside? Post-Soviet Statehood in Central Asia, Farnham, England, B1-1

book chapter

The limits of spoken words: From meta-narratives to experiences of security

C Wilkinson, C Wilkinson

(2010), pp. 94-115, Securitization Theory: How Security Problems Emerge and Dissolve, London, Eng., B1-1

book chapter

What's in a name? The personal and political meanings of 'LGBT' for non-heterosexual and transgender youth in Kyrgyzstan

C Wilkinson, A Kirey

(2010), Vol. 29, pp. 485-499, Central Asian survey, Oxon, England, C1-1

journal article

Positioning security and securing one's position : the researcher's role in investigating security in Kyrgyzstan

C Wilkinson

(2008), pp. 43-67, Field work in difficult environments : discussing the divergence between theory and practice, Berlin, Germany, B1-1

book chapter

The Copenhagen school on your in Kyrgyzstan : is securitization theory useable outside Europe?

C Wilkinson

(2007), Vol. 38, pp. 5-25, Security dialogue, London, Eng., C1-1

journal article

The e-revolution in Kyrgyzstan

C Wilkinson

(2005), Vol. 1, pp. 17-21, Danish Society for Central Asia journal, Copenhagen, Demark, C1-1

journal article

Funded Projects at Deakin

Industry and Other Funding

UNFPA Humanitarian Leadership Training Program

Ms Mary Ana McGlasson, A/Prof Cai Wilkinson, Dr Nazanin Zadeh-Cummings

The United Nations Population Fund

  • 2023: $43,286
  • 2022: $145,609

BRAC Humanitarian Leadership Training Program.

Ms Mary Ana McGlasson, A/Prof Cai Wilkinson

Stichting BRAC International

  • 2022: $44,422

Changing the way the world responds to humanitarian crises: train current and future humanitarian leaders as innovative thinkers and dynamic achievers.

Ms Mary Ana McGlasson, A/Prof Cai Wilkinson, Dr Nazanin Zadeh-Cummings, Mrs Justine De Rouck, Ms Manika Saha

Action Against Hunger - USA

  • 2023: $1,565,986
  • 2022: $599,433
  • 2021: $700,453

Crisis Leadership Program - Ukraine

Ms Mary Ana McGlasson, A/Prof Cai Wilkinson

Center for Disaster Philanthropy Inc (CDP)

  • 2022: $1,124,829

Diverse Leadership in Crises

Ms Mary Ana McGlasson, A/Prof Cai Wilkinson, Dr Phoebe Downing, Mrs Justine De Rouck

USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance

  • 2024: $386,427


Principal Supervisor

Julie Anne Richardson

Thesis entitled: Gender, Security and Identity in Turkey: A Narrative Exploration

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Associate Supervisor

Ravi Dutt Bajpai

Thesis entitled: Civilizational Perspectives in International Relations and Contemporary China-India Relations

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Timothy Sutherland Budge

Thesis entitled: Creating Change in Informal Settlements in Southern Africa

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences