Upcoming Presentations and Public Lectures

'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 (19-22 October 2022)

As television outpaces film as the primary dispositif through which individuals imagine and understand the world around them, how showrunners treat the challenges of the Anthropocene is critical as we draw closer to the survivability moment for the current global system. Bringing together approaches from screen studies, cultural geography, and critical geopolitics, my analysis speaks to the growing need  to learn how to visualise the effects of the New Human Epoch – whether in the form of climate change, mass extinctions, or the myriad breachings of planetary boundaries by pollutants. From Snowpiercer to Station Eleven, serious television is increasingly looking to (graphic) novels for inspiration for (profitable) series that grapple with cataclysmic changes that the planet is undergoing. The big budget series See (2019- ), starring Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista, and Sylvia Hoeks, is not an adaptation, but original programming developed for the premium streaming service Apple TV+. Set some 600 years in the future, humans have been nearly wiped out by a virus which spread around the world in the early twenty-first century. Those members of the species that remain have been rendered blind, but sight is slowly returning to the world. Filmed in rural British Columbia, the first series of See is defined by its landscapes of rewilded space littered with the ruins of Great Acceleration, which – due to humanity’s sightlessness – present a realm of danger (just as the viewer is invited gaze upon these sublime vistas with wonder and awe). Employing the See’s visual world as a tool to think with and through the Anthropocene, my paper interrogates what I identify as the series’ speculative geographical imaginary, a vision of a future wrought by the end of Homo sapiens’ reign as a singularly disruptive force on the planet. Narratively, See initially promises a cautionary tale of humanity’s hubris, presenting a manifestation of the Gaia’s revenge (Lovelock 2007) wherein Mother Earth’s tormentor is hobbled by simply removing its ability to see. Yet, as the focus shifts from a family drama set in a milieu of murderous intolerance of difference to the second series’ quasi-fantasy epic which pits primitive armies against one another amidst a complex scramble for political power, its Anthropo(s)cenic qualities are discarded. Turning See’s representational paradigm upon itself, I argue that the series effectively blinds itself (and us, the viewers) to the very problems it once seemed to condemn. By revelling in its ocular-centric perspective, See’s rich and often inexplicable visual culture reveals an inability to imagine a (sightless) world that does not mirror the one created by ‘Western’ extractivist, patriarchal, and ableist practices which have likely doomed our species to apocalypse.
'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)

Since 2000, quality long-form television drama has demonstrated a profound attraction to IR topics, from The Wire’s interrogation of the local effects of transnational criminality to Occupied’s imagining of a Russian invasion of Norway. The visualisation of place and space has become increasingly central to the storytelling process of such geopolitical TV series, with the screening of meaningful landscapes serving as an indispensable enhancement to the sensory feedback loop enabled by the advent of Television 3.0. As television outpaces film as the primary dispositif through which individuals imagine and understand the world around them, how showrunners treat the challenges of the Anthropocene is critical to the popular culture-world politics nexus as we draw closer to the survivability moment for the current global system. Drawing on Mirzoeff’s (2016) notion of the ‘see change’, or the problem of learning to see the effects of the Human Epoch on the planet, my paper assesses the possibilities and questions the limitations of ecocritical series to help viewers grapple with the totality of our interwoven ecological crises. Employing Apple TV+’s See (2019- ) as a tool to think with and through the Anthropocene, my analysis interrogates the series’ speculative geographical imaginary wrought by the end of Homo sapiens’ reign as a singularly disruptive force on the planet (some 500 years in the future the meagre remnants of humanity are all blind due to a twenty-first-century pandemic). However, turning See’s representational paradigm upon itself, I critique the prosaism of the series’ (visual) politics, both from the ocular-centric perspective of its visual culture and its inability to imagine a world that does not mirror the ‘Western’ extractivist, patriarchal, and ableist nature of contemporary geopolitics.

Past Events

'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)
'Screening Geopolitics in Norden:  Televisual Representation(s) of the Post-Cold War Order' at the Fourth Nordic Challenges Conference: Reconsidering the Nordic Models in an Age of Polarization, hosted by Reimagining Norden in an Evolving World (ReNEW) at Boston University (5 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)
'Nordic Whereabouts in Times of Trouble', opening address at [t]ERROR ON TOUR: Nordic Whereabouts - Straying through Erratic tERRitORies, Institute for Urban Research (IUR), Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden (9 June 2021)
'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)
'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)
'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)
'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)
'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)