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Debbie Lisle

Dr Debbie Lisle
Reader in International Relations
Director of Postgraduate Research
Convener of MA International Relations

Contact Details
Room 025.03.002 
tel: ++44 (0) 28 9097 3853 

QUB Research Portal (Pure)

Teaching Areas
My general teaching areas are International Relations, Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Visual Culture, Science and Technology Studies and Contemporary Social and Political Theory. I run the first year introductory module Media, Politics & Conflict as well as contributing to International Relations teaching at all levels in the School. I run my own third year module entitled War and Visual Culture which looks at representations of war (e.g. photography, film, museums, media), new modes of surveillance (e.g. drones) and the role of visual technologies in the execution of war. I am the pathway convener for the taught MA in International Relations, and I contribute to cross-Faculty teaching on Visual Politics.

Research Interests
My research engages with a number of contemporary debates in International Relations and beyond, most notably around issues of difference, mobility, security, travel, visuality, governmentality, biopolitics, materiality, technology, practice and power. My earlier work explores the relevance of cultural and visual artifacts (e.g. contemporary travel writing, museum exhibits, photographs, art, war films) to world politics, and argues that the cultural realm tells as much about International Relations as the official documents usually privileged in this context. More recently, my research has been exploring the following themes:

  • Tourism, Militarism, Everyday Life: I have recently completed a book entitled Holidays in the Danger Zone: Entanglements of War and Tourism (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming 2016). I am interested in how the worlds of leisure intersect with the worlds of violence in unexpected ways, and how global politics needs to acknowledge the constitutive circuits of leisure that support prevailing geopolitical imaginaries. I am particularly interested in the relationship between leisure, recreation and resilience in modern military culture and beyond. In this area, I have published work on Dark Tourism, the London Olympics, Terrorism and Tourism, and the aftermath of 9/11. 
  • Borders, Technology, Security: I am involved in a number of collaborative projects exploring the role of security technologies at border sites. Of particular interest for me is how failure operates through technology, and how different actors (e.g. border guards, scientists and engineers, regular and irregular migrants, security agents) have competing understandings of failure and its consequences. I have published jointly-authored work tracing the development of specific border technologies for detecting CBRNE materials.
  • War, Representation, Surveillance: Drawing from my earlier work on visuality and representation, I am interested in the way war is represented across visual and cultural realms (e.g. in museums, photography, art, films). Locally, I am involved in museum efforts to think critically and creatively about how to represent the Troubles in Northern Ireland. More recently I have become interested in the more-than-representational registers of war, for example, how visual technologies are productive of war and conflict (e.g. drones, surveillance, governmentality). In this area, I have published work on travel writing, photography, war films, media and museums.

Areas of Research Supervision:
I am happy to supervise PhD students in the general areas of International Relations, Critical Security Studies, Visual Culture, Mobility, Materiality, Poststructuralism, Critical War Studies, Urban Politics and Cultural Studies. More specifically, I can supervise projects exploring the relationship between International Relations and the Cultural and Visual realms, either those focusing on the representational register (e.g. those analysing film, travel writing, the media, contemporary literature, museums, photography, art and performance) or those focusing on practice and everyday life (e.g. the Olympics, urban security, travel and tourism). Some of the current projects I am supervising include:

  • Re-imagining the Troubles Exhibit at the Ulster Museum
  • The Rio Olympics, Urban Politics and resisting Neoliberalism
  • Emotion, Affect and Fear in post 9/11 Everyday Spaces
  • Memory, Ethics and the Libyan Intervention 

Recent/Select Publications

  • "Exotic Endurance: Tourism, Fitness and the Marathon des Sables", Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, doi: 10.1177/0263775815613094 
  • “Rejuvinating Method’, Critical Studies on Security, 2(3), 2014: 370-373.
  • “Energizing the International”, pp. 44-48 in Michele Acuto & Simon Curtis, eds., Reassembling the International (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014)
  • “Photography”, pp. 534-541 in P. Adey, D. Bissell, K. Hannam, P. Merriman & M. Sheller, eds., The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities (London: Routledge, 2014)
  • “Frontline Leisure: Securitizing Tourism in the War on Terror”, Security Dialogue, 44(2), 2013: 127-146.
  • “Hospitality at the Olympics” pp. 51-77 in Vassil Girginov, ed. Handbook of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Volume Two – Celebrating the Games (London: Routledge, 2013) (co-authored with Dan Bulley)
  • “How do we find out what’s going on in the world?” pp. 154-175 in Maja Zehfuss & Jenny Edkins, eds. Global Politics: A New Introduction, 2nd Edition (London: Routledge, 2013)
  • “Welcoming the World: Governing Hospitality in London’s 2012 Olympic Bid”, International Political Sociology, 6(2), 2012: 186-204.
  • “The Surprising Detritus of Leisure: Encountering the Late Photography of War”, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol. 29, No. 5, 2011, pp. 873-890 [see also “Digging Up the Cold War: An Interview with Angus Boulton” on the Society and Space Webpage here ]
  • “Moving Encounters: The Affective Mobilities of Photography”, pp. 139-154 in David Bissell and Gillian Fuller, eds. Stillness in a Mobile World (London: Routledge, 2010). Reprinted in Kamila Kuc & Joanna Zylinska, eds. Photomediations: A Reader (Open Humanities Press), download available at
  • “Art, Politics, Purpose” (with Alex Danchev), Review of International Studies, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2009, pp. 775-80
  • “Joyless Cosmopolitans: The Moral Economy of Ethical Tourism”, pp. 139-157 in Matthew Paterson and Jacqueline Best, eds., Cultural Political Economy (London: Routledge, 2009).
  •  “Humanitarian Travels: Ethical Communication in Lonely Planet Guidebooks", Review of International Studies, Special Issue on 'Cultures and Politics of Global Communication', Vol. 34, 2008, pp. 155-172.
  • “Encounters with Partition: Tourism and Reconciliation in Cyprus” in Louise Purbrick, Jim Aulich and Graham Dawson, eds., Contested Spaces: Sites, Representations and Histories of Conflict (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007) pp. 94-117
  • “Benevolent Patriotism: Art, Dissent and The American Effect” Security Dialogue, Vol. 38, No. 2, June 2007, pp. 233-250
  • "Sublime Lessons:  Education and Ambivalence in War Exhibitions", Millennium:  Journal of International Studies, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2006, pp. 185-206.
  • The Global Politics of Contemporary Travel Writing, (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • "Local Symbols, Global Networks:  Re-reading the Murals in Belfast" special issue on "Art and Politics", Alternatives:  Global, Local, Political, Vol. 31, No. 1, Jan-Mar. 2006, pp. 27-52.
  • “The New Face of Global Hollywood: Black Hawk Down and the Politics of Meta-Sovereignty”, Cultural Politics, Vol. 1, No. 2, July 2005, pp. 165-192 (co-authored with Dr. Andrew Pepper)
  • “Globalization” in Iain McKenzie, ed., Political Concepts: A Reader (University of Edinburgh Press, 2005)
  • “Gazing at Ground Zero: Tourism, Voyeurism and Spectacle”, Journal for Cultural Research, Vol. 8, No. 1, January 2004, pp. 3-21 (special issue edited by Debbie Lisle)
  • “Site Specific: Medi(t)ations at the Airport” in Cynthia Weber and Francois Debrix, eds., Rituals of Mediation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003) pp. 3-29