Upcoming and Recent Presentations and Public Lectures

'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 (13-17 September 2021)

During the Cold War, American and British speculative fiction served a trenchant medium for imagining the impact of a full-scale nuclear exchange between the superpowers of the US and USSR. Indeed, the first generation of such works, including On the Beach (1957), Alas, Babylon (1959), and Canticle for Leibowitz (1959), shaped popular conceptions of the as-yet-unrealised threat of mutually-assured destruction (MAD). In the new millennium, cli-fi has occupied a similar space, assessing what a future system of International Relations (IR) might look like as the Earth heats up, sea levels rise, millions of species die off, resources become scare, and the global neoliberal system collapses. Employing two recent cli-fi novels as tools to think with – Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009) and Omar El Akkad’s American War (2017) – this paper engages with the already-present impact of the so-called Anthropocene and the challenges it presents to American (geo)power. Operationalising planetary thinking as a mechanism for remapping contemporary geopolitics, I transpose Bacigalupi and El-Akkad’s respective built-worlds – both of which feature an American ‘rump state’ grappling with catastrophic climate change and a collapsing world system - onto our current system of world politics. Reflecting on the hereness of the Anthropocene, I contrast these contemporary US-centric treatments with older Europe-centric cli-fi (The Death of Grass [1956], The Drowned World [1962], etc.), which dispensed with the notion of a working system of world politics. Reflecting upon these dark visions of a world to come (or one that’s already here), I am interested in assessing new ways of thinking and being that could partially mitigate collapse of IR in the coming century.
'IR in Ruins: Imagining Global Power in the Coming Apocalypse', Cosmologies of the End workshop at the 7th European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS), Thessaloniki, Greece (30 June - 3 July 2021)

Apocalyptic fiction is one of many ways to envision a world where an anthropogenically-wrought ‘end of us’/end of the U.S. emerges. In such cosmological narratives, American power is often ruined by climate change, causing a once-proud nation to resort to the most horrific forms of foreign policy to maintain a semblance of dominance on a radically-transformed world stage. Using two recent cli-fi novels as tools to think with – Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009) and El-Akkad’s American War (2017) – this intervention engages with the harsh realities of the so-called Anthropocene era and the challenges it presents to American (geo)power. Employing planetary thinking as a modus for remapping contemporary geopolitics, I interrogate Bacigalupi and El-Akkad’s respective built-worlds, both of which are set in ruined spaces, the former being Bangkok (with Thailand emerging as a great power after the global ‘calorie wars’) and the latter being the American Deep South (following a Second Civil War over fossil-fuel use). In both novels, Europe is absent while the U.S. government is a remote, opaque source of power, floundering in a world ravaged by rising seas, food and energy scarcity, invasive species, eco-terrorism, pandemics, and economic collapse. Confronted with catastrophes of its own making, a mutated, broken republic strays into dark territory as humanity’s mastery of the geos wanes. Reflecting upon these questions, reflections of a future IR come into focus allowing us to see and even plan for how disintegration, decay, and ruination will shape global governance in the centuries to come.
'Marcella as "London Noir": Transplanting the (Bio)Politics of Nordic Noir into the Dark Heart of Neoliberalism’ (with Gabriella Calchi Novati), DETECt 2021: Detecting Europe in Contemporary Crime Narratives: Print Fiction, Film, and Television, Link Campus University, Rome, Italy (21-23 June 2020)

Over the past decade, we have seen numerous imitations of Nordic noir in the UK (e.g. Broadchurch, Hinterland, and Shetland). Despite stylistic and story-telling mimicry, such series focus on the instrumental motivations for crime, failing to recognise the inherent systemic culprit behind each plot. Drawing on interviews with Nicola Larder, who co-created with Hans Rosenfeldt the British thriller Marcella (2016-), this paper examines the successful transplantation of Nordic noir’s (bio)politics into the most neoliberal environment possible: London. In the foreground, Marcella is a police procedural focusing on DS Marcella Backland. However, in the background, we witness the pernicious impact that unfettered global capitalism has on the denizens of the British capital, resulting in existential precarity for both its haves and have-nots.  Neither a Nordic noir adaptation beyond the region (e.g. AMC’s The Killing) nor an extra-regional copy of Nordic noir (e.g. La Mante), Marcella is a genuine Scandinavian-British hybrid. Combining Rosenfeldt’s experiences on The Bridge and Larder’s work on The Tunnel, Marcella brings the prosocial critique of the genre to bear on the day-to-day realities of late liberalism in contemporary London. Marcella as ‘London noir’ screens a world of growing precarity amidst ever-greater skylines, defined by widening social distance among those living in a metropolis that runs on alienating labour and global flows of commerce. Paradoxically, Larder argues that Marcella is a type of import (it was written in Scandinavia) that is meant to be consumed where it is set (the UK), while simultaneously being designed for export (specifically to the US via Netflix).We will conclude our argument by claiming that Marcella – as a mere object of consumption – fails to perform what it is set to critique, for it profits from and can only exist in that neoliberal dynamic of transnational flows of goods and anonymous labour.

Past Events

'ICYMI: How the Russian International Broadcaster RT Attempts to Influence Young People in the Anglophone "West"' (with Rhys Crilley and Precious Chatterje-Doody), Workshop on Youth, News, and Democratic Engagement, Southern Denmark University, Odense, Denmark (20 November 2020)
'Towards an Aural Cosmology of the Anthropocene: Ways of Listening to and Learning from "Nonlife"' (with Gabriella Calchi Novati), Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future at British Museum/ SOAS University of London/Royal Geographical Society, London, UK (September 18, 2020) - on Vimeo
'The False Hope of the ‘Green Place’: The Political Ecologies of the Ruined Landscape in Contemporary Apocalyptic Cinema',  Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference (DOPE 2020) at University of Kentucky (February 28, 2020)
'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)
'Getting over Borat: Exploring the (After-)Effects of Parody in the Post-Soviet Realm' Russia and the Caucasus Regional Research (RUCARR), Malmö University (December 10, 2019)
'Sounding the Anthropo(s)cene: The Passion of the Geos in Contemporary Planetary Politics', with Gabriella Calchi Novati, Touching Sound: Passion and Global Politics, Aga Khan University, London, UK (October 11, 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)
'Effigial Representation, Ritual & Resistance: Connecting the Mind and Body to Everyday IR', with Rhys Crilley, European International Studies Association meeting, Sofia, Bulgaria (September 13, 2019)
'ICYMI: RT and the Social Media Aesthetics of the "New Cold War'", with Rhys Crilley and Precious Chatterje-Doody, European International Studies Association meeting, Sofia, Bulgaria (September 12, 2019)
'Sensing the Future of IR, or Call for a Sensorial Turn in the Discipline', IR and Discourse Re-visited in Light of the Turns workshop, European Workshops in International Studies, Kraków, Poland (June 26-29, 2019)
'Screening the "Crisis": European Television Fiction, Geographical Imagination and Mediated World-Building', 8th Nordic Geographers Meeting, Trondheim, Norway (June 18, 2019)
'Radio Free Sweden: Satirical Anti-Feminism, Danish National Identity and the Very Un-PC (Geo)Politics of Jonatan Spang', invited keynote at Comedy and International Relations: The Rise of Humour in the Global Public Sphere, University of Warwick, UK (May 8, 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)
'Nordic Television Drama, Screened (Geo)Politics and the Refugee Crisis', Reimagining Norden in an Evolving World, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark (March 8, 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, Issam Fares Institute – American University of Beirut, Lebanon (January 17, 2019)
'Screening the Regions: Framework for Studying the Geopolitical Aspects of Television Drama Series across Europe' (with Anne Marit Waade), 7th European Communication Conference, Lugano, Switzerland (November 3, 2018)
'Pissing on the Past, or the Urinal as a Space of Effigial Resistance', with Rhys Crilley (Open University, UK) at the Millennium Conference on Revolution and Resistance in World Politics, London, UK (October 27, 2018)
'Why Norden? Why Now? - Nordic Noir, (Geo)politics, and Neoliberalism' at Nordic Noir, Geopolitics and the North ReNEW workshop, Aarhus University, Denmark (October 4, 2018)
'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)
'Screening the North: A Call for Geocriticism in Critical Television Studies',  Visual Perspectives on the North and the Arctic, part of The Changing Environment of the North project, at Tampere University, Finland (June 15, 2018)
'Scandinoir’s Border-Crossings/Crossers: The Geopolitics of Nordic Transnational Television', Transnational Television Drama at Aarhus University, Denmark (June 8, 2018)
"#Geopolitics: Diplomacy in the Age of Twitter," School of International Relations at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia (April 27, 2018)