An increasing number of politicians and civil servants travel to sites of violent conflict, humanitarian emergencies and interventions in order to ‘assess/witness the situation at first hand’ or to ‘personally get a picture of the situation on the ground’, as these official visits are justified. This project takes a close look at the practice of policy-makers’ on-site visits in sites of international intervention and assistance. It analyses how multiple actors with different social roles, institutional interests and normative objectives enact these journeys in diverse political arenas and for various audiences, thereby constructing specific forms of knowledge, perceptions of authenticity and expertise.
Welsh Crucible project with Prof Emily Cross (PI) and Dr Faye Short
(School of Psychology, Bangor University)
This interdisciplinary research project took an experimental approach to explore how experiences of field visits shape the conscious and unconscious political perceptions of travellers. Specifically, we measured the explicit and implicit political perceptions of Bangor undergraduates before and after an excursion to Moscow. Through pre- and post-journey behavioural psychology experiments and qualitative social science interviews, and comparisons with a control group of non-travelled students, we explore how experiences of being ‘in the field’ and interacting with people, spaces, and objects impacts political perceptions of Russia.