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Dr Cathy Elliott
29 Tavistock Square
Tel: 020 7679 4990
Dr Cathy Elliott profile picture
  • Associate Professor (Teaching)
  • Dept of Political Science
  • Faculty of S&HS
  • Associate Professor (Teaching)
  • Arts and Sciences (BASc)
  • Faculty of Arts & Humanities

My first degree was in French and Czech (with Slovak) from the University of Oxford. I subsequently obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in International Development from the Open University, an MSc in Democracy and Democratisation from UCL and earned my PhD at University College London with the support of a +3 grant from the ESRC. My Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education is from the UCL Institute of Education.

I have a professional background as a development practitioner. I spent seven years managing development projects for the British Council, including three years based in Islamabad, Pakistan. During that time I was responsible for the DFID-funded Gender Equality Project, a project to support civil society worth £2.6 million, as well as other projects aimed at supporting Pakistan’s education and health systems. I also worked on the British Council’s strategic approach to democracy promotion in Pakistan. My curiosity about, and frequent disillusionment with, this work was what led me to do a PhD.

Research Summary

I am currently working on the politics of the British "new nature writing". In this interdisciplinary undertaking, I am taking seriously the proposition that there is no useful politics that can possibly emerge from "an alienated existence on a dead planet", as Jane Bennett (2001, p. 4) puts it. I therefore argue that the "new nature writing" offers us, at its best, a mode of resisting the ways of life, the narratives, and the temporalities that drive the destruction of the planet. They do this, I suggest, by producing and enacting a politics of enchantment.

More broadly, I have for a long time been interested in ideas about time, temporality and story-telling in politics and international relations. My current work on nature writing recapitulates these themes in new ways, but I have previously concentrated more on the stories that are commonly told about democracy and voting. My first book, Democracy as Foreign Policy: Temporal Othering in International Relations, came out in 2017 and deals with the ways in which British identity is produced through stories about democracy. I show that through a particular mode of talking about British history – which relies on a conception of time as linear and progressive – a very specific form of liberal democracy is not only legitimated but also promoted and even enforced in ways that have often been violent. One major line of argument that I make is that this is deeply counter-intuitive and ironic, given the ways in which democracy tends to be thought of as the best way of promoting peace and managing conflict in non-violent ways. I have also written various shorter pieces about the incipient violence that lurks in democracy and democracy promotion.

I also write and research on the politics of pedagogy and the pedagogy of politics (see Teaching Summary below).

All my research is deeply influenced by the ideas of Michel Foucault, for which I suppose we can blame my undergraduate education in French literature. I also find myself persistently returning to ideas about gender, race, and sexuality in my writing. I read and think a lot about academic work dealing with the politics of aesthetics and time.

Teaching Summary

Teaching and personal tutoring are a huge and important part of my work as an academic. I am particularly interested in creating inclusive curriculums and learning environments. This particularly involves providing the tools and resources for students to critique existing forms of knowledge and the power structures that exist in, and are reproduced through, universities. I am also interested in engaging with students' imaginations and emotions, as well as intellect, so I use sources like fiction, drama and art, as well as academic readings, as a core part of my syllabus.

I currently teach an undergraduate module, Discourses and Practices of International Development, and a postgraduate module, Qualitative Research Methods: Texts and Images.

Academic Background
2008   Master of Science University College London
1998   Bachelor of Arts (Honours) University of Oxford
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