Staff profile

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Dr Cai Wilkinson

Position: Associate Head Of School
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Arts and Education
Department: SHSS Arts & Ed
Campus: Melbourne Burwood Campus
Phone: +61 3 92443951 +61 3 92443951


Biography summary

Cai is Associate Head of School (International), Course Director for the Bachelor of International Studies and a Senior Lecturer 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 rights in Kyrgyzstan and Russia. She recently co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Human Rights on resistance to LGBT rights, and has previously published in Security Dialogue, Central Asian Survey and Europe-Asia Studies, as well as contributing chapters to a number of books on securitization, international politics in Central Asia and the use of interpretive ethnographic methods in Critical Security Studies.

LinkedIn profile

Personal website


Teaching Interests

  • Critical Security Studies
  • Gender and Sexualities in IR
  • Research Design
  • Eurasian Politics and Society

Subjects and units currently teaching


AIS203 Japanese Politics, Society and Culture (study tour)


AIR747 Contemporary International Politics (Lecturer, Unit Chair)

AIR729 Human Security (Lecturer, Unit Chair) 

AIS330 International Internship A (Unit Chair)

AIS331 International Internship B (Unit Chair)

AIR292 America and the International System (study tour)

Knowledge areas

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

Conferences and seminars

"A Matter of Moral Security: the Securitization of LGBT People in Russia". Paper presented at the 54th annual International Studies Association Convention in San Francisco, 3-6 April 2013.

Convenor, Critical Security Studies Methods Cafe. Innovative Panel, 54th annual International Studies Association Convention, San Francisco, 3-6 April 2013.

Round table participant, "Where are the 'Women?' Challenges of Data Collection about Gender Diversity in ISA and the Profession". 54th annual International Studies Association Convention, San Francisco, 3-6 April 2013.

Roundtable participant, "Reflexivity in (International) Politics and Practice". Western Political Science Association, Hollywood, 28-30 March 2013. "Anti-gay laws in Russia: fighting back".

Presentation at the Queer Allies/Queer Spaces Symposium (joint RMIT, Deakin and Monash event), RMIT Brunswick, Melbourne, 16 November 2012.

"Passing and Perception, Power and Privilege: Identity Management for Queer academic Fieldworkers". Paper presented at the 53rd annual International Studies Association Convention, San Diego, 1-4 April 2012.

Round table participant, "Claiming Space: LGBTQI Scholarship and Teaching in the IR Classroom", 53rd annual International Studies Association Convention, San Diego, 1-4 April 2012.

"Letting 'Reality' Interfere with Theory: Towards a 'How' of Fieldwork-Based Securitization Studies". Paper presented at the 52nd annual International Studies Association Convention, Montreal, Canada, 16-19 March 2011.

Round table participant, "Queer Theory in International Relations Teaching and Research: Making Connections and Challenging Boundaries", 52nd annual International Studies Association Convention, Montreal, Canada, 16-19 March 2011.

"Returning Context to Securitization: From Meta-narratives to Experiences of Security". Paper presented at the International Studies Association Annual Convention, New Orleans, 17-21 February 2010.

"Problematic Protests: Adding Action to Securitizations Words". Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies,University of Birmingham, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park, UK, 6-8 June 2008.

Round table participant, "The Political Baggage of Political Ethnography", Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference, Chicago, 12-15 April 2007.

"You Say Security, We Say Safety: Speaking and Talking Security in Kyrgyzstan". Paper presented at "Methodologies in Peace Research" Conference in cooperation with the Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI), Finland, Centre for Peace Studies, University of Troms, Norway, 21-23 March 2007.

"Positioning 'Security' and Securing One's Position: The Researcher's Role in Investigating 'Security' in Kyrgyzstan". Paper presented at "Central Asia and the Caucasus: explorations from the field" Postgraduate Conference, St. Andrews, UK, 9-11 November 2006.

"Narratives of Identities: The Founding and Formalisation of Labrys as an LBT Space in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan". Paper presented at "Spaces of Sexualities Unlimited: Still Queerying Geographies?" Conference, Brighton, 29 August 2006.

Taking Copenhagen Outside Europe: The Copenhagen School and Societal Security Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park, UK, 10-12 June 2005.

Related Links

Deakin Ally Network information profile


Awards and prizes

Award for Excellence, PGCLTHE Teaching Project, University of
Birmingham, UK, 2011. 

School of Government and Society Teaching Prize, University of
Birmingham, UK, 2009. 


Research projects

  1. The securitization of LGBTQ identities in Russia.
  2. The politics of LGBT rights in the post-Soviet space.
  3. LGBTQ experiences of (in)security.
  4. The politics and practices of LGBT allyship.
  5. Research ethics and meaningful consent practices.

Research interests

- Securitization Studies;
- Critical Security Studies;
- Interpretive ethnographic methods and fieldwork in IR;
- International norms socialization, localization and resistance;
- Genders and sexualities in IR.

Empirically, Cai's research focuses on the former Soviet Union, particularly
Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

Research grants

Deakin University, Central Research Grants Scheme, 2013
$14,000 for the project "Mapping International Norm Diffusion Dynamics: The Case of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights in Kyrgyzstan" (January – December 2013, project ID RM25342).

CEELBAS Consortium grant (, 2010-2011
£5,000 for the development of oral course materials for Intermediate Russian for Fieldwork.

Research page



Selected publications

"Sovereignty, Nationhood and International Norms: Reactions to the 2010 Osh Violence in Kyrgyzstan". Nationalities Papers. (2014). DOI:10.1080/00905992.2014.961127

"LGBT Activism in Kyrgyzstan: What Role for Europe?" Chapter in Ayoub, Phillip and David Paternotte (eds.) (2014) Transnational LGBT activism and the Idea of Europe, Palgrave.

"Development in Kyrgyzstan: Failed State or Failed State-Building?" Chapter in Ware, Anthony (ed.) (2014) Fragile, Failed, Pariah: Development in Difficult Socio-Political Contexts, Palgrave

"LGBT Human Rights versus 'Traditional Values': The Rise and Contestation of Anti-Homopropaganda Laws in Russia". Journal of Human Rights, 13(3) (2014): 363-379.

"Special issue: Not Such an International Human Rights Norm? Local Resistance to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights—Preliminary Comments". Journal of Human Rights, 13(3) (2014): 249-255. Co-authored with Anthony J. Langlois.

"Putting Traditional Values into Practice: Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws", Russian Analytical Digest, No. 138, 8 November 2013: 5-7.

"Not Just Finding What (You Thought) You Were Looking For: Reflections on Fieldwork Data and Theory". In Yanow, Dvora and Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine (eds.) (Forthcoming 2013) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn, Second Edition. M.E.Sharpe:

"Ethnographic Methods". In Shepherd, Laura J. (ed.) (2013) Critical Approaches to Security: An introduction to theories and methods. Routledge: 129-145.

"From Blogging Central Asia to Citizen Media: A Practitioners' Perspective on the Evolution of neweurasia". Europe-Asia Studies 64(8), October 2012: 1395-1414. Co-authored with Yelena Jetpyspayeva.

"Give a State a Bad Name?: Kyrgyzstan and the Risk of State Failure", Global Dialogue 13(1), (2011).

"What’s in a Name?: The Personal and Political Meanings of LGBT for Non-Heterosexual and Transgender Youth in Kyrgyzstan" Central Asian Survey  29(4), (2010): 485-499. Co-authored with Anna Kirey.

"The Limits of Spoken Words: From Meta-narratives to Experiences of Security". In Balzacq, Thierry (ed.) (2010) Securitization Theory: How Security Problems Emerge and Dissolve. London and New York: Routledge: 94-115.

"International Agency in Kyrgyzstan: Rhetoric, Revolution & Renegotiation". In Kavalski, Emilian (ed.)  (2010) Stable Outside, Fragile Inside?: Post-Soviet Statehood in Central Asia, Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate: 113-154.

"Positioning 'Security' and Securing One’s Position: The Researcher’s Role in Investigating 'Security' in Kyrgyzstan". In Wall, Caleb & Peter Mollinga (eds.) (2008) Field Work in Difficult Environments: Discussing the Divergence between Theory and Practice, Berlin: Lit Verlag: 43-63.

"You Say Security, We Say Safety: Speaking and Talking ‘Security’ in Kyrgyzstan". In Methodologies in Peace Research, Centre for Peace Studies Working Papers No. 10, University of Tromsø, 2007: 183-194.

"The Copenhagen School on Tour in Kyrgyzstan: Is Securitization Theory Useable Outside Europe?" Security Dialogue 38(1), (2007): 5 – 25.

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