Dr Helen Louise Turton (she/her)

Department of Politics and International Relations

Lecturer in International Relations

Profile image for academic staff member Helen Turton
Profile picture of Profile image for academic staff member Helen Turton
+44 114 222 1663

Full contact details

Dr Helen Louise Turton
Department of Politics and International Relations
Modular Teaching Village
Northumberland Road
S10 1AJ

Dr Helen Louise Turton joined the Department of Politics and International Relations in September 2015. Her research interests and expertise lie in the intersection of the sociology of knowledge and security studies. Specifically her work focuses on how justice is understood by victim/survivors of sex and gender based violence in Colombia. This is the focus of her current British Academy grant working with victim/survivors of conflict related violence in Colombia.

Her previous work has looked at critically examining the methods used to produce knowledge about sexual violence in armed conflict in order to develop ethically driven and conflict sensitive methodological advancements. Helen has worked on developing co-produced participatory methods and uses these to examine the multi-level and multi-layered consequences of conflict-related sexual and gender based violence and the limitations of existing justice processes.

Before her focus on conflict related sexual violence, Turton’s work investigated the movement of ideas within the discipline of IR to challenge the hidden hierarchies of knowledge that exclude non-Western methods and insights which led to the publication of her 2016 monograph International Relations and American Dominance: The Diverse Discipline


Before joining the Department of Politics and IR as a Lecturer in 2015,  Helen previously worked as a University Teacher at the University of Sheffield, and the University of Exeter. Dr Turton holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Exeter, which was awarded in 2013.

Research interests

My research falls into three main areas:

  • Conflict Related Sexual Violence

In particular looking at how to victim/survivors can access 'justice' and the long-term impacts of CRSV for individuals and communities

  • Peace-building in Colombia

My fieldwork has primarily been conducted in Colombia, and I have examined the existing justice models for victim/survivors of the armed conflict, and the development of alternative justice mechanisms for building peace

  • Participatory and artistic methods in the social sciences

My research has sought to develop more participatory ways of conducting research in post-conflict spaces, whereby methods of research can also become capacity buiding activities for communities. 


PI: ‘What do Survivors Want? A Victim Centred Approach to Justice for Conflict Related Human Rights Abuses’ 3 years (2021 – 2024). British Academy Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling Global Challenges - £43,315. 
Participatory research project with female victim/survivors of conflict related violence, to include and strengthening their voices in the definition of justice and the production of justice related policies.                                             

CI: ‘Building a Better Peace in Post-Conflict Colombia’ 8 months (December 2022 – July 2023). Newton Fund GCRF - £72,182.
Delivery of capacity building training for female victim/survivors of the Colombia armed conflict on the topics of 1) community strengthening; 2) knowing the law and 3) access to justice                                                              

PI: ‘Violence, Truth and the Limits of Reparations: From Transitional to Local Justice in Peru’ 6 months (2019). GCRF Pump Priming Award - £6600. 
Pilot study to examine the link between Peru’s TRC and current levels of sex and gender based violence in Peru.                                                                      

CI: ‘Improbable Dialogues: Participatory Research as a Strategy for Reconciliation’ 3 years (2018 -2021). Colciencias - Newton Fund RCUK - £489,962. 
Participatory video project capturing three different community experiences of conflictividades in Colombia. Using participatory methods to facilitate ‘Improbable dialogues’ between community members and policymakers                  

Teaching activities

I teach a third year module, Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict, which is the only module of its kind in the UK. Students are able to engage with and discuss the findings from my fiedlwork in Colombia and Peru.

Professional activities and memberships
  • 2018 - present: Editorial board member for the journal All Azimuth
Supervision Expertise
  • Conflict related sexual violence
  • gender based violence, in particular sexual violence
  • peace-building in particular transitional justice
  • Colombia
  • non-Western IR theory
  • the discipline of IR/sociology of IR