Upcoming Presentations and Public Lectures

'"Do You See What I See?" Visions of the Anthropocene in Serial TV Drama', European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS),  WS31: Popular Culture and the End of the World: Imagining Dystopia and Utopia in the Anthropocene Epoch at Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Türkiye (3-5 July 2024)

In this paper, I interrogate the increasing presence of Anthropocenic visions on the  small screen and what such trends portend for world politics in times of cascading climate crises. From Nordic depictions of a despoiled septrional realm (Thin Ice, Trapped), to Apple TV+’s ecological dramas (Extrapolations, The Mosquito Coast) and HBO’s post-pandemic dystopias (The Last of Us, Station Eleven), to other streaming services’ treatments of the New Human Epoch (e.g. Netflix’s Frontera Verde, Amazon’s The Rig, TNT’s Snowpiercer), quality TV is responding to the breaching of planetary boundaries and ecological tipping points. Despite showrunners’ evocative employment of Anthropocenic narratives, landscapes, and imaginaries, it is not assured that their conjuring of a threatened world is actually being processed by their viewers. Building on the work of Bould, dell’Agnese, and Mirzoeff, I focus on how the tools and techniques of television series capture – however ineffectively and incompletely – the presence of what Morton deems ‘hyperobjects’, those metaphenomena associated with (in)humanity’s geological agency. Responding to the workshop’s call, I problematise the notion of hope via predicted futures, represented presents, and disputed pasts as they present in contemporary TV dramas. Contrasting the world-building of serial TV dramas such as those referenced above, this paper also reflects on recent Anthropocene cinema (including Barbie and Oppenheimer), focusing on what – if anything – television does better in terms of making us look the horrors and terrors set before us as we trundle toward an Earth-worldly politics of climate chaos and environmental catastrophe.
'Finding Arnie: An American and an Austrian Investigate the Popular Geopolitics of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum', British International Studies Association Conference, Birmingham, UK (5 June 2024)

This paper serves as a bi-national interrogation of the representational practice of celebrity across two continents via the persona, performativity, politics, and corporeal presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Born in 1947 in Thal, Austria, the son of a Nazi Party member, ‘Arnie’ aka the ‘Governator’ emigrated to the US as a neophyte of Republican president Richard Nixon and a self-declared 'refugee' of socialism. Once there, the bodybuilder became an icon of 1980s cinema  before following in the footsteps of his other hero, Ronald Reagan, winning the governorship of California (2003-2011). After his term-limited departure from office, he has managed his celebrity in multiple ways, occasionally bemoaning the constitutional-sacrosanct ‘natural-born citizen’ requirement that prevents his ascendency to the US presidency. Our paper explores Schwarzenegger’s eponymous museum in Thal as a spatial-textual-visual-affective space that invokes his ‘worldwide’ fame, ‘bears his name’, and is ‘supported by the man himself’. In this intervention, we address the museological construction of ‘Arnie’ from two different positionalities: an American abroad, recovering, reflecting on, and re-negotiating his 80s-era man-crush on a political figure who embodies an array of positions he stands against; and a Viennese, born two generations after WWII, whose Habsburg-heritage combines and complicates the notion of (Central) European/Austrian situatedness vis-à-vis his Heimat’s unintended ‘superhero’, which has been strongly contested via his actions as an ‘Ami’ from his signing of death warrants for Californian convicts to his affiliation with the neo-con presidency of George W. Bush and his 'War on Terror'.
'"Obey": Navigating the Incepted Inheritance of 1980s Pop-Culture in the Era of Trumpism', British International Studies Association Conference, Birmingham, UK (5 June 2024)

There is a global fever that has yet to break, one which combines perceived and real elements of (geo)political marginalisation of those who conceive themselves as the natural holders of power, but who have been denied their inheritance due to shadowy forces who are actually ‘pulling the strings’. From Hungary to UK to the USA, there is a growing chorus of voices who are convinced that we are ruled by extraterrestrial reptilian overlords whose technological prowess and social engineering lies at the root of their/our subjugation. In this structuration, transnational corporations, mainstream media organisations, and political parties (left, right, and centre) are all implicated, being tools in a planetary subjugation of Homo sapiens in service of the recondite designs of the Hidden Masters. In this paper, we explore two artefacts of 1980s popular culture – namely NBC’s television series V (1984-1985) and John Carpenter’s They Live (1988) – that we contend incepted, via visual cues, geopolitical codes, and somatic markers, a latent worldview that has found purchase in the current era via those audiences who engaged with such fare. Moreover, we argue that subsequent generations (Millennial, Z, etc,) – either through inherited knowledges, social media leakages, real-world experiences, or other means of engagement – have found meaning-making in such conspiratorial thinking given its capacity to explain their own troubled position in a time of peak liberalism and, in turn, allows such thinking to influence their political culture.
Roundtable (Chair): Charting the Future of PCWP Scholarship beyond the Tübingen School, British International Studies Association Conference, Birmingham, UK (5 June 2024)

In 2016, Nick Robinson and Kyle Grayson convened the European International Studies Association workshop entitled Popular Culture and World Politics – Time, Identity, Effect, Affect in Tübingen, Germany. The event brought together leading and emerging scholars exploring the state of the art in the subfield of popular culture and world politics (PCWP), with a particular interest in questions of methodology and method. One of the central concerns of the workshop was to empower researchers grappling with how to legitimate their research on PCWP within the confines of ‘mainstream IR’. Nearly a decade on – and with a Trump presidency and the Covid lockdowns behind us (or perhaps in our future as well) – the work of what some have deemed the ‘Tübingen School’ has gained greater respect within the field of International Studies. More importantly, it has also seen a welcome diversification of its researchers, subjects of study, methods/modalities, and applications to pedagogy. In line with BISA’s goals for the conference, this roundtable brings together many of the original participants to explore how PCWP scholarship advances knowledge creation and prosocial change in times of global crises. Our specific focus is on how we can move forward with a greater emphasis on promoting equality, diversity, and inclusivity in our scholarship, research practices, course development/deployment, student/peer mentoring, and collaboration with colleagues (particularly those outside of the UK, US, and Australia).

Past Events

'Terra Nullius No More! Finland in Geopolitical Imagination after NATO',   hosted by the Global Politics and Practice Research Group at Central European University, Vienna, Austria (21 November 2023)
'Black + Brown ≠ Green: The Absent Presence of the Anthropocene in Wakanda Forever',  Popular Culture and World Politics v14: Shaping a Broken World at Central European University, Vienna, Austria (17 November 2023)
'Posthuman Geopolitical Culture(s): Decentring the State in the Anthropocene Epoch' at the British International Studies Association (BISA) conference, Hilton Glasgow, UK (23 June 2023)
'Blinding Visions of the Anthropocene: Thinking and Feeling the New Human Epoch While Watching See ', Televisual Landscapes in the Era of Climate Crises at the ECREA 9th European Communication Conference, Aarhus University, Denmark (21 October 2022)
'A See Change? Observations on the (Visual) Politics of Screening the Anthropocene ', Surviving the Human Epoch: Popular Culture and the (Geo)Politics of the Anthropocene at the British International Studies Association (BISA) conference, Newcastle University, UK (16 June 2022)
'Geographical Imagination, Genealogy, and Geopolitics  in Who Do You Think You Are? ' at the (Em)placing the Popular in Cultural Geography workshop at Coventry University, UK (12 January 2022)
'(Be)longing to/for the Past: Negotiations of Time, Space, and Identity in Beforeigners ', In/between Spaces of Power - SF Geographies of Bodies in Troubled Times at the Swiss Geoscience Meeting (SGM), University of Geneva, Switzerland (20 November 2021)
'Perilous Visions of the North: Screening the Anthropocene in Nordic Television Drama', Nordic Anthropocene Screen Media, Aarhus University, Denmark (20 September 2021)
'A Broken World (Politics): Dark Visions of American Foreign Policy in the Late Anthropocene ', Performing Anthropo(s)cenes: Politics of/with(in) Popular Culture section at European International Studies Association's 14th Pan-European Conference on International Relations, 'Power Politics of Nature', in Msida, Malta (14 September 2021)
'IR in Ruins: Imagining Global Power in the Coming Apocalypse', Cosmologies of the End workshop at the 7th European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS), University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece (2 July 2021)
'Screening the Nordic City: The Politics of Place and Space in Contemporary Crime Series',  hosted by MEDEA and Institute for Urban Research (IUR) , Panora, Malmö, Sweden (December 10, 2019)
'The Political Culture(s) of European Crime Series: Place, Power, Identity', EURONOIR: Producers, Distributors and Audiences of European Crime Narratives, Aalborg University, Denmark (October 2, 2019)
'A Critical Analysis of the Political Geographies of Black Panther', invited keynote at Headington College and Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability workshop, University of Oklahoma (March 26, 2019)
'Extending the Katechon: Religio-Civilizational Vectors in Russia’s Intervention in the Levant', Striking from the Margins Conference: State, Disintegration and Devolution of Authority in the Arab Middle East , American University of Beirut, Lebanon (January 17, 2019)
'Who Gets to Imagine the Community in Cyberspace? A Reflection on the Past(s), Present, and Future(s) of Digital Nationalism' at the Nations in Cyberspace conference, hosted by the Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary  (June 28, 2018)
'#Geopolitics: Diplomacy in the Age of Twitter', School of International Relations at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia (April 27, 2018)