Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies

Professor Ruth Holliday

Professor of Gender and Culture

I have been working at the University of Leeds since 2002, first as Director of Studies, then Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies. I was made Professor in the School of Sociology and Social Policy February 2008.

Before Gender Studies, I worked in Cultural Studies, Sociology, Business Studies, and, initially, electronics so interdisciplinarity is a key feature of my academic career!

Research Interests

My research interests are primarily located in social and cultural theories of the body and identity particularly as they apply to class, gender and sexuality. Most recently I led an international ESRC funded research project (Grant Reference RES-062-23-2796) exploring the phenomenon of Cosmetic Surgery Tourism - a form of medical travel where people go abroad for procedures to improve their appearance. The study followed people from the UK, Australia and China traveling to countries in Europe, East-Asia and North-Africa, charting patients' experiences of surgery and place, as well as the accounts of surgeons, agents and other workers in this industry. Further details on this project can be found by clicking on Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone link to the right of this page.

I have been working on cosmetic surgery for more than ten years and have published on CS and classed bodies, men’s CS and CS and globalization.

My other recent project is a co-authored book with Tracey Potts on Kitsch. This book traces the shifting definition of a specific form of material culture from early modernity to the present day. We show how kitsch is used to add value to some bodies and identities whilst stripping value from others but question whether kitsch can be rehabilitated more positively without effecting distinction.

In the past I carried out research on sexuality and identity performances using visual methods (video diaries). This work, also funded by the ESRC (Grant Reference R000236657), focused on 'the body' as a site of identity, a mode of experience and conceptual category.


I currently convene the following courses.

  • Conteted Bodies
  • Researching Gender

And contribute to the following:

  • Theorising Gender
  • Sociological Analysis of Contemporary Society (SACS)
  • Central Problems in Sociology
  • Sociological Thinking
  • Dissertations

PhD Supervision

I am happy to consider PhD proposals on a range of topics related to class, the body, gender, sexualities, and material culture. In particular I am interested in supervising on:

  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • International Medical Travel
  • Classed representations and identities
  • Taste and value

Key Publications


Holliday, R and Potts, T (2012) Kitsch! Cultural Politics and Taste, Manchester University Press.

Recent Articles

Ruth Holliday, David Bell, Kate Hardy, Emily Hunter, Meredith Jones, Elspeth Probyn and Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor (2013) ‘Beautiful Face, Beautiful Place: Relational Geographies and Gender in Cosmetic Surgery Tourism Websites, Gender, Place and Culture. For full article please click here

Ruth Holliday and Joanna Elfving-Hwang, (2012) Gender, Globalization and Aesthetic Surgery in South Korea, Body and Society, June 2012 18: 58-81. For full article please click here

David Bell, Ruth Holliday, Meredith Jones, Elspeth Probyn and Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor (2011) ‘Bikinis and Bandages: An Itinerary for Cosmetic Surgery Tourism’, Tourist Studies 11 (2), 137-153. For full article please click here

Ruth Holliday and Allie Cairnie (2007) 'Man made plastic: an alternative account of aesthetic surgery', Journal of Consumer Culture 7 (1), 57-78. For full article please click here

Ruth Holliday and Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor (2006) 'Aesthetic surgery as false beauty', Feminist Theory 7 (2), 179-195. For full article please click here

Grants Secured

2011 - With Elspeth Probyn, David Bell, Meredith Jones, Jackie Sanchez Taylor, ‘Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone: Aesthetic Surgery Tourism in the UK and Australia’, ESRC - £542k FEC, PI.  RES-062-23-2796

2007 – With Gabriele Griffin, AHRC Collaborative Research Training Grant Research Training in Humanities Women’s and Gender Studies, £9840, Co-I.

2007 - With Kathy Davis, Meredith Jones, Cressida Heyes, Elspeth Probyn and Beverley Skeggs, ‘Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone’, Leeds Fund for International Collaborations - £6k, PI.

2006 - 'Providing Excellence in research methods for Gender Studies' University of Leeds Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund - £1000.

2006 - ‘Building Capacity in Visual Research’ ESRC – £79,000, Co-I. RES-035-25-0023.

1999 - ‘Public Performances Private Lives: Identity at Work Rest and Play’, ESRC, Award - £49,700, PI. R000236657.

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