My work centres the cultural study of discourse, politics, and identities. I track flows of discourse as they move in and out of the public sphere influencing both individual and group identities, embodiments, and politics—both within cultural groupings and between those groups and the larger str...
My work centres the cultural study of discourse, politics, and identities. I track flows of discourse as they move in and out of the public sphere influencing both individual and group identities, embodiments, and politics—both within cultural groupings and between those groups and the larger structures of society.
Specifically, my research addresses topics such as digital and platform intimacies, the relationship of intimacy and privilege, hybridity and mixed-race identities, the social and cultural aspects new media forms, and non/monogamy in the public sphere. It is situated disciplinarily at the nexus of communication and cultural studies; methodologically within discourse analysis; and draws theoretical energy from a wide range of sources such as feminist, queer, postcolonial, and critical race theories; semiotics, affect theory, event theory, and psychoanalysis.
- BaH in Psychology, Queen's University, 1999 - MA in Theory, Culture and Politics, Trent University, 2004 - PhD in Communication, Concordia University, 2009
Major Research Streams Intimate Privilege in Discourses of Non/Monogamy In this early but still active research stream, I study how monogamy and non-monogamy are represented in discourse. It investigates how certain intimacies are privileged over others in the public sphere, in complex, intersectional, and emergent ways. Part of this stream, my monograph, Fraught Intimacies: Non/Monogamy in the Public Sphere (UBC Press, 2015) explores the increased mediation of non-monogamies since the early nineties—in every medium from television, to film, to self-help books, to the internet—and how such convergent mediation opens these discourses up to societal scrutiny, as well as transformation. By unpacking the privileged logics that frame our conceptions of intimacy, I flesh out the political and cultural implications of how we frame non-monogamy broadly in sexual discourse, as well as how the public sphere presences of three major forms of non-monogamy (adultery, polygamy, and polyamory) display a complex relationship with “intimate privilege,” an emergent state in which one’s intimacies are read as viable, ethical or even real.
While these explorations largely culminated in my monograph, I still engage with elements of this stream, and in particular how non-monogamies surface in digital culture (e.g., non-monogamies in videogames, in hashtags), in line with my research on digital and platform intimacies.
Unpacking Digital and Platform Intimacies My primary research stream investigates the intimate potentials and problematics of digital culture and platforms, drawing insights from critical intimacy theory (a subset of queer theory), but extending its ambit to consider multiple forms of digitally mediated togetherness. This stream deploys methods from discourse analysis, to surveys and interviews, to digital ethnography, to digital methods, and explores existing and emerging forms of digitally mediated intimacies. These include such topics as hashtags as technosocial assemblages; the politics of race-activist hashtags such as #Ferguson; haptics and digital touching; the digital sociality of videogame spaces; game representations of sexualities; the intimacies of VR and AR worlds; and the emerging sex robot industry.
In conjunction with this stream project I edited the collection Hashtag Publics: The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks (Digital Formations series, Peter Lang, 2015). This collection investigates the publics of the hashtag. Taking cues from critical public sphere theory, contributors are interested in publics that break beyond the mainstream—in other publics. They are interested in the kinds of publics that do politics in a way that is rough and emergent, flawed and messy, and ones in which new forms of collective power are being forged on the fly and in the shadow of loftier mainstream spheres. Hashtags are deictic, indexical—yet what they point to is themselves, their own dual role in ongoing discourse. Focusing on hashtags used for topics from Ferguson, Missouri, to Australian politics, from online quilting communities to labour protests, from feminist outrage to drag pop culture, this collection follows hashtag publics as they trend beyond Twitter into other spaces of social networking such as Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr as well as other media spaces such as television, print, and graffiti.
Communicating Intersections of Privilege This research stream engages the concept of hybridity in both theoretical and popular texts, combined with discursive and textual analyses of the depiction of mixed identities—considered broadly from mixed-race and diasporic identities; to complicated sexual and gendered identities, such as bisexuality; to the extremist/mainstream “alt-right”, and human/machine, human/code, living/dead figures—in discourse. Finally, it explores the mixing of privilege and oppression and nuances of intersectionality in society, research, universities, academic canon, and other locations.
As part of this stream I edited the collection Intersectional Automations: Robotics, AI, Algorithms, and Equity (Lexington Books, 2021). This collection explores a range of situations where robotics, biotechnological enhancement, artificial intelligence (AI), and algorithmic culture collide with intersectional social justice issues such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and citizenship. As robots, machine learning applications, and human augmentics are artifacts of human culture, they sometimes carry stereotypes, biases, exclusions, and other forms of privilege into their computational logics, platforms, and/or embodiments. The essays in this multidisciplinary collection consider how questions of equity and social justice impact our understanding of these developments, analyzing not only the artifacts themselves, but also the discourses and practices surrounding them, including societal understandings, design choices, law and policy approaches, and their uses and abuses.