A/Prof. Cai Wilkinson



Associate Professor, International Relations


Faculty of Arts and Education


SHSS Arts & Education


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 in the post-Soviet space and the protection of LGBTIQ rights in the Asia-Pacific. 

Cai was Course Director of the Bachelor of International Studies between 2013 and 2018, and served as Associate Head of School (International and Partnerships) for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences between 2014 and 2019.

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


Selected presentations from last five years: 

Invited speaker on ‘Traditional Values’ in Russia and the Former Soviet Union for the Plenary Roundtable "The Globalisation of 'Traditional Values'" at the European Conference of Politics and Gender, Amsterdam, 3 July 2019.

“Through the Looking Glass: Political Homophobia During and After the Cold War”. Paper presented at the 59th annual International Studies Association Convention, San Francisco, US, 4-7 April 2018.

Roundtable participant, “Navigating ‘Power of Rules and Rules of Power’ in the Profession while Queer, Trans, Femme/Women and/or Racialized: On Mentoring and Being Mentored”. 59th annual International Studies Association Convention, San Francisco, US, 4-7 April 2018.

“It’s Personal: Reimagining Research Ethics as Intimate Practice”. Paper presented at the International Feminist Journal of Politics 2018 conference, San Francisco, US, 2-3 April 2018.

“The Securitization of a Discipline”. Paper presented at the 58th annual International Studies Association Convention, Baltimore, US, 22-25th February 2017.

“Hot Wars, Cold Wars, Queer Wars. LGBTQ Citizens as Internally Displaced Persons”. Paper presented at the 58th annual International Studies Association Convention, Baltimore, US, 22-25 February 2017.

Convenor and roundtable participant, “Queer/s in the Academy: Challenging ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’”. 58th annual International Studies Association Convention, Baltimore, US, 22-25 February 2017.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? LGBT International Students’ Experiences in Australia: Preliminary Research Findings”. Australian International Education Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 21 October 2016.

“Global Citizenship as Practice: A Collaborative Study Experience Model”. Co-presentation with Dr Brian Masshardt (Musashi University, Japan), Asia-Pacific Association for International Education, Melbourne, Australia, 29 February - 3 March 2016.

“‘Special’ Rights or Just Human Rights? Learning from the politics and practices of LGBT advocacy in Kyrgyzstan”. Presentation as part of the panel “Power, Politics and Marginalisation”, Australasian Aid Conference, Canberra, Australia, 10-11 February 2016. 

“LGBT Rights in South-East Asia”. Panel at the Fifth Asian Conference on Cultural Studies, Kobe, Japan, 28-31 May 2015.

“By Words Not Deeds? Advocating for LGBT rights in Kyrgyzstan”. Paper presented at the 56th annual International Studies Association Convention, New Orleans, US, 18-21 February 2015.

“Exploring the Limits of Sexual Citizenship: The Evolution of LGBTQ Rights Activism in Kyrgyzstan”. Paper presented at the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Biennial International Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 23-25 June 2014.

“We’re not Europe, thank God? Russian State Identity and the Othering of LGBT Identities”. Paper presented at the 55th annual International Studies Association Convention, Toronto, Canada, 26-29 March 2014 and subsequently at the Oceanic Conference on International Studies, Melbourne, 9-11 July 2014.

“Russian Politics Explained by the Spice Girls: Trialling Task-Based Learning in the International Relations Classroom”. Paper presented at the 55th annual International Studies Association Convention, Toronto, Canada, 26-29 March 2014.

Co-convenor and roundtable participant, “The Politics and Practices of Privilege: Beginning an Open Conversation”. 55th annual International Studies Association Convention, Toronto, Canada, 26-29 March 2014.


  • 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 in the post-Soviet space.
  • Research ethics and meaningful consent practices.
  • The protection of LGBTIQ+/SOGIE human rights in the Asia-Pacific


Filter by


LGBT Rights in the Former Soviet Union

Cai Wilkinson

(2020), B1

book chapter

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 Dont Know, and Everything In-Between, 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

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

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

Paula Gerber, Cai Wilkinson, Anthony Langlois, Baden Offord

(2016), Vol. 22, pp. 27-65, Australian Journal of Human Rights, Melbourne, Vic., 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. 133-154, Stable Outside, Fragile Inside? Post-Soviet Statehood in Central Asia, B1-1

book chapter

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

C Wilkinson

(2010), pp. 94-115, Securitization Theory: How Security Problems Emerge and Dissolve, 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 tour in Kyrgyzstan: Is securitization theory useable outside Europe?

C Wilkinson

(2007), Vol. 38, pp. 5-25, Security Dialogue, 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

Development in Kyrgyzstan

Cai Wilkinson

(), Development in Difficult Sociopolitical Contexts, B1-1

book chapter

Funded Projects at Deakin

No Funded Projects at Deakin found


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

Timothy Sutherland Budge

Thesis entitled: Creating Change in Informal Settlements in Southern Africa

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences