Popular culture, although often dismissed, is a crucial aspect for anyone committed to understanding and critically engaging with the structures and behaviours that influence politics from the local to the global. My feminist curiosity about how the world works, and the ways in which knowledge is privileged or marginalised within political and social structures has long included attention to the stories that are told, and the people who are permitted to be, within popular culture narratives of conflict and of peace.
Reading the Harry Potter series as a war-story allowed me to explore Hermione’s journey as a window into the experiences of girls in conflict.
I have written and spoken about the way children are portrayed in videogames depicting war – questioning their absence, or their stereotypical representation. I have also worked with Brendan Keogh to draw together insights from media studies, feminist embodiment theory, and international relations to explore the virtual, virtuous but empty battlefields of military shooter videogames, and the implications of such portrayals for popular understandings of conflict–where embodied and engendered experiences of conflict are flattened or erased. Such work has been published at e-IR, Critical Studies on Security, and Australian Journal of Political Science.
I am working on a collaborative project on ‘virtual humanitarianism’, exploring the way videogames and apps are used for advocacy and awareness raising for humanitarian disasters and the consequences of conflict. This originated with work undertaken with my colleague Erin O’Brien on apps about human trafficking, published at Open Democracy and the journal Anti-Trafficking Review. Funded by a Faculty of Law Research Seed Grant, Erin and I are now working with two other QUT colleagues expanding this work, publications are in progress.
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