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Emma Mc Cluskey

Dr Emma Mc Cluskey

Research Associate & Teaching Fellow

Research interests

  • International relations
  • Conflict and security
  • Policy and society


I am a Research Associate at the Department of War Studies and a Teaching Fellow in International Relations. I am also a member of the Research Centre in International Relations (RCIR). I hold a PhD in International Relations from King’s College London.

My research interests include refugees and migrants in the European Union, International Relations theory (particularly the notion of the ‘everyday’ in IR), International Political Sociology, ethnographic approaches to Critical Security Studies, the relationship between hospitality and (in)security, and reconfiguring International Political Sociology along anthropological lines. 

I am currently working on a European Union FP7 funded project entitled SOURCE: Societal Security Network, with thirteen other partners spread throughout nine European countries. The aim of the SOURCE Network of Excellence is to create a robust and sustainable virtual centre of excellence capable of exploring and advancing societal issues in security research and development.

King's College London is responsible for Workpackage 4; Security professions and institutions analysis (WP4). The primary objective of this workpackage is to generate and continuously update a knowledge base and map of professional networks concerned with the provision of societal security in Europe. My role examines the connections between the field of Societal Security and EU Internal Security and the social effects of this field on third country nationals (TCNs).

I am also co-founder and researcher on the British Academy and King’s College London Social Science and Public Policy funded project entitled ‘Language, Insecurity and Everyday Practice’ (LIEP). LIEP is an interdisciplinary collaboration between sociolinguists and researchers in peace, conflict and security studies that seeks to connect ethnographic descriptions of language and situated practice with critical accounts of the growing significance of geopolitical conflict and insecurity in everyday life.

Research Interests

My research interests include

  • Refugees and migrants in the European Union
  • International Relations theory (particularly the notion of the ‘everyday’ in IR), International Political Sociology
  • Ethnographic approaches to Critical Security Studies
  • The relationship between hospitality and (in)security
  • Reconfiguring International Political Sociology along more anthropological lines.

PhD thesis

My PhD thesis (submitted in September 2016) was entitled ‘Righteousness and Its Decent Citizen: An Alternative Approach to Securitization’.

This project explored the relationship between the celebration of Sweden as exemplar of European migration and asylum policy, particularly with regards the current Syrian civil war and the banal enactment of 'the refugee' as a threat in day-to-day life.

It employed a political-anthropological approach to theories of (in)securitization, based on the works of James C. Scott and Michel Foucault with the aim of bringing to the forefront the way in which ordinary people go about their day-to-day life, individualise culture and re-appropriate it in mundane situations, and asking 'What happens when we see these actions in terms of security?'

Based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork with both NGOs and refugees in Sweden, the thesis argued to move away from a focus on 'bad' or 'securitizing' politics and render visible what mainstream constructivist approaches to security have marginalised by focusing solely on sovereign 'speech acts' or securitizing moves by politicians and bureaucrats.

The thesis put forward a political-anthropological reconstruction of Critical Security Studies and argued how such an approach is best placed to examine how local communities can act to ‘take their security into their own hands’ and formulate their own security practices in a horizontal fashion, through so-called ‘hidden transcripts’, and acts of appropriation.


Please refer to the Research Portal 


I currently teach the following BA and MA modules:

5SSW2061 Contemporary International Relations Theory (convenor)

6SSW0007 Critical Security Studies (co-convenor)

7SSWM024 Transdisciplinary Approaches to (In)security (co-convenor)