Heather L. Johnson

Dr Heather L. Johnson

(PhD McMaster)
Lecturer in Politics and International Studies
Contact Details
Room: 024.03.003 
Phone:  +44 (0)28 9097 3646
Email:  h.johnson@qub.ac.uk

QUB Research Portal (Pure)

Teaching Areas
My general teaching areas are International Relations (and IR Theory), Security Studies, Conflict Studies, and Globalization and Transnationalism.  I also teach in Comparative Politics, with a particular focus on Development.

Research Interests
I am interested in the politics of migration and border security, and particularly in the shifting international refugee regime and the politics of irregularity and irregular migration.  I study how different kinds of geopolitical spaces, particularly at borders, impact and shape the political agency of migrants – and how these impacts are challenged and resisted from the ‘ground level.’  I am interested in the politics of citizenship, nationalism and security, but with a specific focus on those “outside” of our traditional political categories.  In pursuit of this, I conduct field research in refugee camps, detention centres and border areas in Tanzania, Spain, Morocco and Australia.  I look at how the voices and narratives of migrants can shape and change our understandings and imaginings of central political concepts such as conflict, belonging, identity, and citizenship.   My current project examines the journeys and routes of migration to and from global border sites.

My work has an interdisciplinary character, and I am very interested in critical security studies, in theorizations and the study of representation, voice, participation, and resistance, and theories and perspectives of postcolonialism.  Much of my work is focused on developing conceptions and theories of political agency, irregularity and non-citizenship.  However, I also incorporate a study of global policy regimes into my research, and try to get a grip on how we can understand a global politics of asylum from a grassroots and local perspective.

Finally, I have an on-going interest in Development Studies, and am engaged in research about how patterns of migration and discourses of security impact development politics, particularly in Africa.

I am part of the Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict at Queen’s University Belfast.  Externally, I am an external researcher with the York Centre for International Security Studies in Toronto, Canada.  I am a member of the Refugee Research Network, and I sit on the executive of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS).

Recent/Selected Publications

  • “The Other Side of the Fence: Reconceptualizing the “Camp” and Migration Zones at the Borders of Spain” International Political Sociology 7:1 (March 2013).
  • “Listening to Migrant Stories” in Salter, Mark and Can Mutlu, eds., Research Methods in Critical Security Studies: An Introduction (Routledge: 2012).
  • “Moments of Solidarity, Migrant Activism and (Non)Citizens at Global Borders: Political Agency at Tanzanian refugee camps, Australian detention centres and European borders” in Nyers, Peter and Kim Rygiel, eds..  Citizenship, Migrant Activism and the Politics of Movement. (Routledge: 2012). 
  • “Click to Donate: Visual Images, Constructing Victims and Imagining the Female Refugee,  Third World Quarterly 32:6 (July 2011).
  • “Intercepting Boat Arrivals: What the Australian Policy Model Means for Canadian Asylum Policy”, Canada-Asia Agenda - Issue 15, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.  (December 8 2010).
    ** republished in abbreviated form as an op-ed “Smuggling rhetoric masks security priority” in The Embassy Magazine, December 15 2010.
  • “Borders and Citizenship: Voluntary Repatriation and Development” in Huque, Ahmed Shafiqul, ed.  The Enigma of Development.  (South Asian Publishers: 2009).