My research addresses the implicit background to political and ethical practices. The kinds of implicit backgrounds I focus on are, firstly, historically- and geographically-specific modes of embodiment and affect, and, secondly, ontological assumptions in political imaginaries. I have pursued this research interest in four main areas:
The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, Sexuality, and Gender in Everyday Practice
I have developed innovative theorisations of the affective, bodily and ‘machinic’ background to the micro-politics of everyday life. This research builds on my doctoral study to examine how racialised, ethnicised, sexualised and gendered power relations are enacted and embodied in everyday practice. Theoretically, it is informed by Deleuzoguattarian theories of ‘affect’ and ‘machinism’ to explore new ways of thinking about the relationship between the capabilities bodies have to affect and be affected by one another in specific events and broader historically-specific social and political formations.
Sexual Politics in the SlutWalk
Based on empirical work conducted at SlutWalk marches in 2011 and 2012, this project – a collaboration with Alexandra Fanghanel (University of Greenwich) – considered how anti-rape discourses variously contest, negotiate and reproduce dominant constructions of female sexual subjectivity and embodiment and of gendered inequalities in access to urban public space.
Political Imaginaries in Feminist Activism in London and Brighton
This research collaboration with Erin Sanders-McDonagh (University of Kent) considers the ontological assumptions implicit in how feminist activists formulate and conceptualise the political problems they wish to address. We investigate these political imaginaries in the context of the dominance of neoliberal values of individualism and responsibility, on the one hand, and intersectional critiques of how different modes of oppression (e.g. sexism, racism, class, homophobia) interact, on the other hand. In this context, we ask who can become a subject of feminism, and who or what become the objects of feminist critique. The importance of these questions concerns the ability of feminists who are, for instance, also sex workers, working-class women, Muslim women, or practitioners of BDSM to challenge and rework feminist critiques that have constructed them as problems or objects requiring intervention.
What is Happiness in 'The Happiness Project'?
This research arises from my involvement in a Wellcome-Trust funded arts-science collaboration with the Roundhouse Theatre, London and Glas(s) Performance, Glasgow that devised a theatrical production – ‘The Happiness Project’. This theatrical production brought together academics from different disciplines with a group of young people from London to explore ideas of happiness and well-being. The research attends to what happened in the devising of the theatrical production when academic understandings from different disciplines came together with stories of personal experiences of happiness: how do these understandings and experiences articulate; are there forms of authority that privilege some understandings and some experiences over others? This project explores historically-specific ontological assumptions about happiness and well-being. The knowledge generated by this study will contribute to debates about the articulation of culture, technique and neurophysiology in the production of subjectivity and affect – and the political and ethical implications thereof.