I am the co-convenor of the MA in Gender, Media and Culture and convenor of the Feminist Postgraduate Forum. I am the Director of the Centre for Feminist Research.
My courses are:
- Race, Empire and Nation
- Gender, Affect and the Body
Areas of supervision
I would be interesting in supervising phd students in the following broadly defined areas:
- Queer Theory
- Race and Postcolonial Theory
The Cultural Politics of Emotion
On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life
The Promise of Happiness
Not in the Mood
Whitenes and the General Will: Diversity Work as Willful Work
A Willfulness Archive
Problematic Proximities: Or Why Critiques of Gay Imperialism Matter
Embodying Diversity: Problems and Paradoxes for Black Feminists
'Happy Futures, Perhaps'
‘"You End up Doing the Document Rather than Doing the Doing": Diversity. Race Equality and the Politics of Documentation’
Conference or Workshop Item
Conversation on Black British Feminisms
Debilities: Sensing Bodies and Worlds
Puar, Jasbir; Gunaratnam, Yasmin
Screening and Panel Discussion on the work of Angela Davis, Free Angela and Other Political Prisoners
Doing Diversity Work’
My research is concerned with how bodies and worlds take shape; and how power is secured and challenged in everyday life worlds, as well as institutional cultures. I begin with the messiness of the experiential, the unfolding of bodies into worlds, and the drama of contingency, how we are touched by what comes near. My work explores how differences, otherness and strangeness become ‘properties’ of bodies and spaces over time. Differences that Matter (1998) analyses intersections between differences in the shaping of identities, challenging the reification of difference in some postmodern theory. Strange Encounters (2000) examines how others are racialised by being recognised as strangers, as ‘bodies out of place’. More specifically, the book explores 'stranger fetishism', how the figure of 'the stranger' acquires a life of its own by being cut off from histories of determination, however unfinished those histories may be. The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2004) considers how emotions register the proximity of others. It describes emotions as ‘the flesh of time’ and explores how emotions are attributed to objects, such that objects become sticky, or full of affective value. Queer Phenomenology (2006), explores how orientations affect how bodies inhabit time and space, re-thinking the ‘orientation’ in ‘sexual orientation’ and the ‘orient’ in orientalism. I offer a philosophical and personal exploration of how bodies are orientated by ‘what’ they come into contact with (using the example of the philosopher and the table). The Promise of Happiness (2010) considers how we are directed toward certain objects by the promise of happiness, such that we 'happen' upon those things that are already attributed as happiness causes. In this book, I explore how the freedom to pursue 'whatever' makes us happy is directive: we are free to pursue this 'whatever' on condition that it causes happiness, which as a condition involves an implicit demand that we make certain choices. Drawing on feminist, queer and anti-racist 'unhappy archives,' as archives that are assembled out of the struggle against happiness, the book considers happiness by taking up those who enter its history as 'wretches', 'killjoys' and 'affect aliens.' It analyses how one history of happiness is the history of the removal of the hap from happiness, and calls not only for 'the freedom to be unhappy,' but for a politics that puts the 'hap' back into happiness. On Being Included (2012) examines the turn to diversity within institutional cultures, and explores race equality policies as 'non-performatives' that do not bring into effect that which they name. It discusses how those who describe the problem of racism are treated as if they are creating a problem, as threatening an institution's reputation for 'being diverse.' This book also reflects on a genre of argumentation we can call 'overing': how it is assumed that we are 'over' racism (and other relations of structural inequality) or that by getting over racism, racism will be over. It reflects on how diversity workers come up against 'a brick wall' in attempting to transform institutional cultures and calls for a politics that does not 'look over' what we cannot or do not 'get over.' Willful Subjects (2014) explores how willfulness is a a charge made by some against others. It shows how one history of will is a history of the requirement to eliminate willfulness from will. It explores how willfulness might be required to recover from the attempt as its elimination.
- I have begun a new research project on Utility: The Uses of Use. In this project I will not only track the history of the idea of use (across a range of domains including design and material culture, evolutionary theory, as well as political and ethical theory) but will reflect on how utility becomes a social as well as moral injunction. I am especially interested in the use of the assignment of uselessness (with particular reference to class and the social body).
- I am writing a book Living a Feminist Life, which draws on everyday experiences of being a feminist, in particular experiences of being a feminist killjoy, as a way of doing feminist theory. I hope to develop "sweaty concepts," by working on and through and with experiences that are trying or difficult. The book will focus on the importance of renewing feminism as a mode of critique, and as a way of challenging power (including through a willful citational practice). The book is organised as three sections: Becoming Feminist (Feminism is Sensational, On Being Directed, Willfulness and Feminist Subjectivity); Diversity Work (Trying to Transform, Being in Question, Brick Walls) and Living the Consequences (Fragile Connections, Feminist Snap, Lesbian Feminism) as well as an Introduction, Bringing 'Feminist Theory' Home, and two conclusions: A Killjoy Survival Kit and A Killjoy Manifesto. I am working through some of this material on my feminist killjoy blog (http://feministkilljoys.com/).