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Senior Lecturer in International Studies & Global Societies
University of Technology Sydney
I am a cultural theorist whose research is anchored in the field of Spanish cultural studies, European cultural studies and popular culture studies. I use cultural texts such as films, novels and poetry, to explore how crisis is activated in these texts to make present the voices that are often occluded in mainstream political discourse. My research trajectory on crisis began with terror-related events and the wider global war on terror and has since shifted to economic crisis (austerity) and queer crises (loneliness, banality). I have a significant number of publications in all three areas relative to my active years as a researching academic.
I am committed to continuing that trajectory through several upcoming projects. All three areas of my research profile will be tied together in a new monograph (estimated timeframe: 4 years) that will seek to synthesise my understanding of crisis not as “event” but as an epistemological category that operates along a continuum. This book will include a number of case studies drawn from contemporary Spanish cultural texts, and other queer and European texts (see five-year plan below).
1. Spanish Cultural Studies
Publications: My doctoral research utilised cultural theory in an innovative approach to understanding terror-related events in contemporary Spain. That research led to the publication of one journal article in 2007 "Mass-Mediated Social Terror in Spain” in Comparative Literature & Culture and also a monograph in 2016: Las dos Españas: Terror and Crisis in Contemporary Spain that also included a study on economic crisis.
Current project: In the past year, I have used Spanish filmic texts to investigate the legacy of austerity. I argue that the crisis disrupted young Spaniards’ sense of what makes home “home”. I ask: How might we understand “home” in an era when economic and political crises have the capacity to upend lives, for young bodies to affect and to be affected? This research reads narratives of “shame” in the emerging subgenre of crisis cinema in contemporary Spanish film culture(s). This research has been submitted to the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies.
Future project: I have sketched a new journal article that will update my research on “the two Spains” (las dos Españas) and investigate the recent polarisation of Spanish politics in the aftermath of the Catalan referendum in 2017, the emergence of far-right party Vox, and the new narrative clash between Podemos and Ciudadanos (two new political formations in Spain). My aim is to explore the narratives that the Spanish right articulates in their attempt to capture the imagination of voters and provide them with a sense of “national” direction. I ask: how does the left/right divide that I explored in my doctoral research manifest itself today in an era of fragmented bipolarism? This article will be submitted to the International Journal of Iberian Studies (estimated time frame end of 2020).
2. European Cultural Studies.
Publications. Questions related to the European integration project have also been of interest in my research. I have published two journal articles related in the disciplinary area: “The Possibility of a ‘Dead Europe’: Tsiolkas, Houellebecq and European Mythologies” in PORTAL: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies and “Europe is Scared: The European Narrative of Perpetual Peace” in Culture, Theory and Critique.
Current project. At UTS I am involved in the Mediterranean Port Cities Project with Dr. Angela Giovangelli and Dr. Alice Loda and other interstate colleagues. My contribution “Too much of a good thing: navigating the urban space in post-crisis Barcelona” will explore how locals might navigate a multivalent, post-crisis Barcelona, when the city structure has been upended, bodies displaced. Has there been a clash between the cosmopolitan port city on the one hand and these new grassroots movements on the other? How do these competing constituencies negotiate the urban space? I will thus attempt to reimagine the Mediterranean port city as a complex site where social power is not only materially contested, but that also opens up spaces where cultural values and identities can be reinscribed in terms of relationality and community. A 3000-word paper will be presented at a symposium at UTS in November 2019. Future publication is expected in 2020-2021.
Future project. I am at the beginning stages of an international collaboration with Professor Murray Pratt, University of Amsterdam. In January 2018, we presented a paper at the conference “Tuning into the Noise of Europe” at the Hague University of Applied Sciences: “Beyond the Eurotypes: Alternative Narratives of Contemporary European Culture.” This paper will be written into a journal article where we explore disparate cultural landscapes and offer alternative mappings of European culture(s) that explore predominant visions and versions that limit European identities as dysfunctional, irrelevant (noise) or antiquated (even defunct or deceased). We suggest that the seeds for moving beyond NEUralgia are already present in these cultural landscapes, suggesting that perhaps it is not the “idea” of Europe that is in peril, but rather our ability to “read” and take notice of these alternative narratives. Potential publication in the special issue “Narratives of Europe” in the journal European Cultural Studies or cognate academic journal. This project also has the potential to be developed into a monograph with multiple case studies.
3. Popular Culture Studies.
Publications. I have published journal articles and book chapters on queer suburbia, gay male loneliness and post-closet cultures. I have a forthcoming chapter in the edited collection Gladiators in Suits: Race, Gender and the Politics of Representation in Scandal (2019) where I investigate necropolitics in the TV series Scandal and engage with questions about what it means to be human when necropolitics underpins systems of government. I have no current or future project in development in this area at the moment, although my engagement with Spanish cinema crosses over into popular culture, albeit from a non-Anglophone perspective.
My immediate focus in on building a track record in research outputs. I have established research collaborations in the School of International Studies and my outward networks are expanding. My research has synergies with Professor Murray Pratt (see above) and with my colleague Dr. Maria Giannacopoulos at Flinders University. We are currently engaged in discussions to propose a special issue in a relevant academic journal on how the austerity crisis has contributed to political polarisation in distinct European countries and the different ways such polarisation is manifested. Timeline for proposal: Early 2020.
Increased quality research outputs and collaborations will provide me with a good track record needed to mount successful bids for research grants in the future. I will begin this process by applying for faculty-level seeding funds for my next monograph. In that monograph I suggest that it is perhaps necessary to read crises not as isolated “events” but rather as part of a continuum that can be disentangled, read and understood. Cultural texts, I argue, achieve a partial “working through” of the trauma of crises. Activating such a reading might also lead to the kinds of recognition of peripheral voices that are often occluded, averting the kinds of political polarisation that has predominated in contemporary Spain and contemporary Europe in recent decades. Estimated timeframe: book proposal by the end of 2020; complete manuscript by mid-2022.
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