Glitterworlds: The Future Politics of a Ubiquitous Thing

Rebecca Coleman


Page count:
Published on:

Glitter is everywhere, from crafting to makeup, from vagazelling to glitter-bombing, from fashion to fish. Glitter also gets everywhere. It sticks to what it is and isn't supposed to, and travels beyond its original uses, eliciting reactions ranging from delight to irritation.

In Glitterworlds, Rebecca Coleman examines this ubiquity of glitter, following it as it moves across different popular cultural worlds and exploring its effect on understandings and experiences of gender, sexuality, class and race. Coleman investigates how girls engage with glitter in collaging workshops to imagine their futures; how glitter can adorn the outside and the inside of the body; how glitter features in the films Glitter and Precious; and how LGBTQ* activists glitter bomb homophobic and transphobic people.

Throughout, Coleman attends to the plurality of politics that glitter generates, approaching this through the concepts of hope, wonder, fabulation, and prefigurative politics—all of which indicate the making of different, better worlds, although often not in ways that are straightforward or conventional. She develops an original account of future politics, where time is nonlinear and sometimes non-progressive. Coleman's argument brings together feminist cultural theory, feminist new materialisms, and theories on futures and temporality, in order to propose that we should understand glitter as a thing—vibrant, processual, transformational, and traversing boundaries between media and material, culture and nature, bodies and environments.

Far more than a romance with sparkles, Rebecca Coleman critically explores glitter’s ability to create magic in everyday orifices, rain down on political opponents, and prefigure futures of waste. In the process, she wonderfully demonstrates the conceptual richness of an unexpected social thing as it crosses and unravels temporal, social and bodily divisions.

Davina Cooper, Research Professor in Law & Political Theory, King’s College London

Girly, frivolous and polluting, glitter sticks, spreads and lingers, adding sparkle to where there is none. Dazzling and enchanting, Glitterworlds does full justice to its ambiguous subject by diving deep into the vibrancy and political potentiality of glitter as it transforms worlds by moving between them. After reading this, glitter is not the same.

Susanna Paasonen, Professor of Media Studies, University of Turku


Rebecca Coleman

Rebecca Coleman is Reader in the Sociology Department, Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research crosses sociology, media and cultural studies and feminist theory. She is the author of Transforming Images: Screens, Affect, Futures and The Becoming of Bodies: Girls, Images, Experience

Future Media: Anti-TED thinking for media and technology futures

The Goldsmiths Press Future Media series calls for alternatives to utilitarian and instrumentalist 'TED thinking’ about media and technological futures. It encourages authors to propose a relatively short, sharp intervention into these futures informed by feminist, queer, trans, anti-racist and/or speculative approaches. Rather than offering quick technological solutions to social problems, the Future Media series is oriented towards thinking-in-action that embraces complexity and refuses easy, obvious, off-the-peg answers to questions about the forms media might take and how we might live mediated lives.