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Dr Melissa Nisbett

Reader in Cultural Politics

Research interests

  • Arts
  • Culture


Melissa has been teaching MA students for over ten years. Prior to academia, she worked in the cultural sector as an arts manager, consultant and trustee in the visual arts.

Her research interests focus on the relationship between culture and power, which she has explored from a number of angles, including: the impact of cultural elites on policy-making, the effect of charismatic leaders on the arts, the role of cultural heritage within conflict and warfare, cultural genocide, the role of cultural policy in social justice and democracy, and the use of soft power in a new era of globalisation.

Melissa’s current research focuses on the intersections between cultural and foreign policy, and the role that culture plays within international relations, diplomacy and soft power. She is working on a project in collaboration with the United Nations, to examine how diplomats use the arts in their negotiations around human rights issues.

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

  • Cultural diplomacy and/or soft power
  • Cultural and intercultural relations
  • The intersection between cultural and foreign policy
  • Culture in war and conflict, including cultural genocide
  • Culture and social justice

For more details, please see her full research profile.


Melissa teaches across various topics including cultural policy, conflict and diplomacy. In her teaching, she draws upon a wealth of fields and disciplines including political science, critical theory, sociology, political science, anthropology, international studies, political philosophy and cultural studies. She supervises PhD theses, MA dissertations and MA arts-based research projects.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Melissa is a peer reviewer for the International Journal of Cultural Policy, Poetics, Museum Anthropology, Cultural Trends and the International Journal of Arts Management, as well as for the publishers Palgrave and Routledge.

She is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Cultural Trends and is on the Board of Trustees for Arts Cabinet. She is also an External Examiner at the University of Leeds and Queen’s University Belfast.

Melissa regularly gives public lectures and participates in panel discussions on subjects related to her research expertise. She also liaises with the policy community to provide advice and guidance on the role of culture with foreign policy and international relations.