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Judit Kuschnitzki BA, MPhil

Judit Kuschnitzki BA, MPhil

PhD Student (probationary) in Geography

Diplomatic Agency and Contested Loyalties: The Yemeni Foreign Service after 2011

This thesis analyses the complex interplay of socio-political, personal, and material forces that informed the maintenance and partial reworking of the Yemeni diplomatic service at a time of crisis.



  • 2013, MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford
  • 2010, B.A. in International Relations, University College Maastricht, Maastricht University


  • 2017-2018, Managing Editor, The Cambridge Review of International Affairs, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2015, Research Assistant and Student Advisor, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Institute of Islamic Theology, Germany
  • 2014-2015, Managing Editor, The Yemen Times Newspaper, Yemen
  • 2013-2014, Research Assistant, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Institute of Islamic Theology, Germany
  • 2011, Intern, Research NGO 'Arab West Report', Egypt
  • 2010-2011, Intern, Online magazine 'Al-Thara', Syria

Funding and awards

  • British International Studies Association (2019)
  • Cambridge European Scholarship, Cambridge Trust (2015-2018)
  • PhD Maintenance Award, Pembroke College, Cambridge (2015-2018)
  • PhD Partial Studentship Award, Economic and Social Science Research Council (2015-2018)
  • Full studentship Award, Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (2012-2013)
  • Travel Grant, Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (2012)


This thesis examines how political conflict in Yemen has played out within the country's diplomatic corps since 2011. Drawing on nine months of fieldwork, it argues that the coexistence of institutional endurance and change constitutes a paradox that can only be grasped by conceptualizing the Yemeni foreign service as a dynamic, fragmented and internally uneven socio-material institution. Regime change and war translated into a particular professional challenge inside the Yemeni foreign ministry and embassies, marked by shifting and diversified diplomatic practices, attitudes, forms, and functions. Notwithstanding such change, strands of continuity prevailed, rooted in material institutional structures, as well as staffing policies, professional norms, and personal thoughts and emotions. In the process of examining internal change and continuity, this thesis sheds light on the controversial yet central notions of diplomatic loyalty and professionalism, while further fleshing out the concept of diplomatic agency, which is shown to underlie both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary processes.

To assess the uniqueness of the Yemeni case study, this project extends it analytical gaze to Tunisia and Egypt. While it is not comparative per se, its outline of developments inside the Egyptian and Tunisian diplomatic service provides empirical snapshots which can be productively juxtaposed with the Yemeni case study. This study challenges the Western-centric bias in contemporary diplomacy research and constitutes an important step toward a radically heterogeneous imagination of diplomats and diplomatic practice. Its empirical insights unsettle widespread perceptions of global diplomacy as a homogeneous professional field marked by bounded state interests, material luxury, and shared professional conduct.



  • Kuschnitzki, J., 2019. Navigating Discretion: A Study of Diplomatic Practice in Moments of Socio-Political Rupture. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy (forthcoming).
  • Kuschnitzki, J., 2016. The Establishment and Positioning of al-Rashad - A Case Study of Political Salafism in Yemen. In Cavatorta, F. & Merone, F. (eds.), Salafism after the Arab Awakening: Contending with People's Power. London: Hurst & Co/Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bonnefoy, L. & Kuschnitzki, J., 2015. Salafis and the "Arab Spring" in Yemen: progressive politicization and resilient quietism, Arabian Humanities, 4.

Other publications


  • "Navigating Discretion: Diplomatic Practice and Resistance in Moments of Socio-Political Rupture". Association for American Geographers Annual Meeting, Panel: Regulating Geopolitics: Statecraft and its Discontents. Washington D.C. (2019).
  • "Subversive Diplomats? A study of the Yemeni, Egyptian, and Tunisian Foreign Service in 2011". Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, Panel: The (In)Coherent State. Cardiff (2018).
  • "Negotiating Statehood: A Study of the Yemeni Diplomatic Service". Alumni event, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (2018).
  • "Understanding Diplomatic Networks: A Case for Multi-Sited and Multi-Method Qualitative Research". Association for American Geographers Annual Meeting, Panel: Network Analysis and Geography III – Elite and Corporate Networks. New Orleans (2018).
  • "International Snowballing and the Multi-Sited Research of Diplomats". Seminar Series: Methodologies in the 'Field'. Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (2018).
  • Co-Convenor and Chair. Panel: Architecture and Displacement. Pembroke College, University of Cambridge (2018).
  • Co-Organizer and Chair. International Conference: The Reform of Islamic Law. Approaches, Challenges and Methods. Center of Islamic Theology, University of Tübingen (2015).
  • "The rise of Political Salafism in Yemen: A Contested Transformation of Religious Concepts". International Conference: The New Yemen: Social, Cultural, and Political Ramifications of the 'Revolution', University of Bonn (2017).
  • "The Establishment and Positioning of al-Rashad – A Case Study of Political Salafism in Yemen". International Workshop: Salafism after the Arab Awakening. Tunis (2013)


  • Associate Lecturer, Academic Skills, Birkbeck (2019)
  • Supervisor, Politics and Political Theory, Pembroke King's Summer Programme, University of Cambridge (2019)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Part 1A, Geopolitics and Political Geography, University of Cambridge (2018)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Part 1B, Citizenship, Cities and Civil Society, University of Cambridge (2018)