Research Themes

Merje Kuus is a political geographer who investigates the workings of expertise in policy-making processes. She examines how national and transnational institutions, such as government agencies, international organizations, or civil society groups, know what they know, how they have come to know what they know, and how they persuade themselves and others that this is so. Her current work examines diplomatic practices in Europe and the Arctic, but this empirical focus undergirds a broader interest in knowledge and power in bureaucratic settings.

Dr. Kuus is the author of Geopolitics and Expertise: Knowledge and Authority in European Diplomacy (Wiley Blackwell, 2014), Geopolitics Reframed: Security and Identity in Europe’s Eastern Enlargement (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), and numerous articles in geographic, international relations, and European studies journals. She is also a co-editor of the Ashgate Research Companion to Critical Geopolitics (Ashgate, 2013). Dr. Kuus has been the recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship and the Killam Fellowship as well as individual research grants from the United States Institute of Peace, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Soros Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, among other bodies.

The list below highlights the key themes within that work. Bibliographic information on publications, including links to the webpages of the books, is listed under the tab ‘Publications’ above.

Geopolitics and diplomacy in the Arctic

Much of my work examines the geographical assumptions and definitions that underpin international politics in general and diplomatic negotiation in particular. Empirically, my current work focuses on transnational diplomatic practices in the Arctic. My effort is to advance our understanding of the emerging inter-national and trans-national regulatory regimes in the region.

Policy and the politics of expertise

Policy-making shapes not just societal outcomes but, more importantly, the long-term processes that produce these outcomes. To study policy is to investigate diffuse processes that transgress the convenient distinctions between state and non-state actors. Empirically, this strand of my research focuses on the European Union as a key center of transnational regulatory power in today’s world.

Geographical imaginary in wine

This new blend of work explores the geographical imaginaries and travels of ideas that shape the making and marketing of wine. I examine how wine professionals imagine and narrate British Columbia as a distinct and captivating place in the world of wine. This may seem distant from my main research on diplomacy, but it connects to my core interest in understanding how political actors—whether diplomats or wine entrepreneurs—perceive places and their own connections to these places. I hold the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 Award in Wine.

Editorial or Advisory Board service


European Urban and Regional Studies


The Hague Journal of Diplomacy


Journal of International Relations and Development


New Perspectives:  Interdisciplinary Journal of Central & Eastern European Politics and International Relations


Geography Compass
(Political Geography section)