Dr Elspeth Van Veeren

Dr Elspeth Van Veeren

Dr Elspeth Van Veeren
Senior Lecturer

2.01, 10 Priory Road,
11 Priory Road, Clifton, Bristol
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Telephone Number (0117) 928 8238
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School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Personal profile

I completed my PhD in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Bristol (2011) and since then I have been an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex (2011-2013), a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Security Theory at the University of Copenhagen (2013) in Denmark, and a Banting Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the York Centre for International and Security Studies at York University in Canada. 


I am a Lecturer in Political Science in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) at the University of Bristol and a Resident at the Pervasive Media Studio at the Bristol Watershed.

My work is focused on US security cultures and policies, particularly with relation to the US Global War on Terror and its legacies. First, through a study of torture, security common-sense and popular culture, and then a detailed  study and theorisation of visual and material power associated with detention and interrogation practices at Joint Task Force Guantanamo (Security Collisions: Guantánamo and the Materialisation of Post-9/11 Security, Routledge, forthcoming) in order to understand how controversial security practices are made visible and therefore meaningful as part of US security discourses.

My current research focus is a study of secrecy: in relation to the second decade of the US Global War on Terror and the emerging US security doctrine of ‘shadow wars’ and 'manhunting', but particularly in the interconnections between personal and everyday secret keeping that takes gender and race as central to secrecy, and that is key to understanding power on national and transnational scales.

My published work has appeared in a range of edited volumes and peer-reviewed academic journals including New Political Science, International Political Sociology, Review of International Studies, and the Journal of War and Culture Studies.


I teach 'Democracy and US Government' (21226), 'US Foreign Policy' (30002) and Secrecy the State and Me' (30018) at the undergraduate level, and Theories of Security Studies (M0029) as part of our graduate programme.

I currently co-supervise PhD students, including:

  • Modupe Akileye: media representations of terrorism and counterterrorism in Nigeria
  • Rodrigo Liceaga Mendoza: information technologies and the production of freedom and security in Mexican cyberspace
  • Mohsin Zeb: United States-Pakistan security relations since 2001
  • Corrin Bramley: Gender and US Presidential Leadership

I am interesting in supervising PhD research on range of topics related to American politics and US Foreign policy, culture and security. I am especially keen to support potential PhD applicants working on secrecy studies in security and foreign policy. 

Fields of interest

US politics and democracy; US military and security policies; US foreign policy; the war on terror; critical security studies; secrecy studies; security futures; science and technology studies; history and philosophy of science and technology; media, culture and war; material and visual theories; interpretivism and continental philosophy in politics and international relations; critical methodologies

Latest publications

  1. Van Veeren, E, 2019, ‘Secrecy’s subjects: special operators in the US Shadow War’. European Journal of International Security.
  2. Van Veeren, E, 2019, ‘Layered wanderings: epistemic justice through the art of Wangechi Mutu and Njideka Akunyili Crosby’. International Feminist Journal of Politics, vol 21., pp. 488-498
  3. Van Veeren, E, 2018, ‘The War on Terror is hard to see: the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Age of Terror’ exhibition and absence as curatorial practice’. Critical Military Studies.
  4. Van Veeren, E, 2018, ‘Invisibility’. in: Roland Bleiker (eds) Visual Global Politics.
  5. Van Veeren, E, 2016, ‘Orange prison jumpsuit’. in: Making Things International 2: Catalysts and Reactions. University of Minnesota Press, pp. 122-136
  6. Van Veeren, ES, 2014, ‘Materializing US Security: Guantanamo’s Object Lessons and Concrete Messages’. International Political Sociology., pp. 20
  7. Van Veeren, ES, 2013, ‘Clean War, Invisible War, Liberal War: The Clean and Dirty Politicsof Guantánamo’. in: Andrew Knapp, Hilary Footitt (eds) Liberal Democracies at War: Conflict and Representation. Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 89-112
  8. Van Veeren, ES, 2011, ‘Captured by the camera's eye: Guantánamo and the shifting frame of the Global War on Terror’. Review of International Studies, vol 37., pp. 1721?1749
  9. Van Veeren, ES, 2011, ‘Guantánamo does not exist: Simulation and the production of ‘the real’ Global War on Terror’. Journal of War and Culture Studies, vol 4., pp. 193?206
  10. Van Veeren, ES, 2009, ‘Interrogating 24: Making Sense of US Counter-terrorism in the Global War on Terrorism’. New Political Science, vol 31., pp. 361-384

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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