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Ellen Carmen Gordon

Human Geographer studying the state, public sector employment, and street-level bureaucracy in Ecuador.

Soy una geógrafa interesada en el estado y la ciudadanía. Mi tesis de doctorado estudia el empleo en el sector publico y la burocracia a nivel de calle en el Ecuador.



  • Lecturer (early 2022) for Part II (final year) Human Geography course: Geographies of Postcolonialism and Decoloniality.
  • Supervisor for 1A (first year) Human Geography course: Geopolitics and Political Geography. 2020.
  • Intern at Cambridge City Council. Quantitative Data Analysis for project: Assessing child poverty associated with energy efficiency and child health in Cambridge, UK. July-October 2020.
  • MPhil Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge. Dissertation: Rethinking Project Reconciliation in Colombia: Practices, Strategies and Effects in Bogotá. Graduated June 2018.
  • Assistant Language Teacher at Universidad Santo Tomás, Bogotá, 2016-2017.
  • Adjudicator at the Financial Ombudsman Service, London. 2015-2016.
  • (BA) Hispanic Studies at King’s College London: First with Distinction. Graduated 2015.


  • ESRC Knowledge Exchange PhD studentship (2018-2021)
  • Cambridge University Fieldwork Fund
  • Simón Bolívar Award, Centre for Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge


Ellen Carmen Gordon is a human geographer working on the state. Her PhD research focuses on the training, experiences, and representations of public sector workers in the post-2008 plurinational state of Ecuador. Specifically she focuses on the construction of the state through the education programmes offered to public servants, and their experiences of everyday work during periods of rapid, ambitious state reform. During the second year of the PhD Ellen was based at the Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales (IAEN) in Quito, where she carried out 8 months of qualitative fieldwork.

Current work in progress includes analysis of data collected from observations of courses for public servants at the IAEN. This work evaluates how the IAEN is teaching public servants to work in the state, how the state is characterised in classroom discussions, and it also considers the obstacles to teaching public servants who travel to the IAEN from all over the country and who work in a very broad range of public sector roles.

Key areas of interest: Geography and Anthropology of the state, Legal Geographies, Decolonial Geographies, Geographies of Citizenship, Latin American Studies.


Seminars and conference presentations

  • Co-convened panel at the RGS-IBG 2021 conference “Working in/like a state, border positionalities and practices in the everyday state”. Presentation: “Estudios Nacionales and the everyday state: the uneven geographies of public sector work in Ecuador”. September 2021.
  • Presented: “La utilidad del trabajo de Max Weber para los estudios contemporáneos sobre el estado” at the Jornada de Reflexión: Los aportes de Max Weber a los estudios del estado moderno, la administración pública y la burocracia: 100 años de su muerte. Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales, Quito. October 2020.
  • Presented: “Transition, Rupture and Repeat: How does the work of civil servants in Ecuador shape recent attempts to transform the state-civil society relationship?” at the Bureaucracies in Transition workshop, Queen’s University, Belfast. December 2019.
  • Presented: “Affect and emotion for the study of a postcolonial bureaucracy” at the Latin America PhD Research Conference, Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge. May 2019.
  • Convened graduate seminar for International Visiting Scholar to the Geography department, Professor James C. Scott. May 2019.
  • Presented: “Project(s) of Reconciliation in Colombia: Practices, strategies and effects” at Robinson College Graduate Research conference, May 2018.


  • Member (Postgraduate Fellow) of the Royal Geographical Society.
  • Member of Decolonial Research Lab, University of Cambridge.
  • Member of Latin American Geographies UK Research Network.
  • Volunteer for IWGB Trade Union (2015-2016 and 2020).