Dr Carolyn Pedwell
Dr Carolyn Pedwell arrived at the University of Kent in 2014, having previously held the post of Senior Lecturer (and Lecturer) in Media and Cultural Studies, Newcastle University (2009-2014). Prior to this, she was ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London (2008), where Professor Sara Ahmed was her mentor. Carolyn has been Visiting Scholar at the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney (2013), the Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary, University of London (2013-2014), and the Gender Institute, London School of Economics (LSE) (2008-2011).
Carolyn completed her PhD in Gender Studies at the LSE in 2007, where she was supervised by Professor Anne Phillips and Professor Clare Hemmings.
Dr Pedwell’s research interests include the international politics of emotion and affect, embodiment and embodied practices, theories of habit and habituation, digital culture and sociality, transnational and cross-cultural theory and methods, and feminist, postcolonial and queer theory.
Her current research project, ‘Habit, Power and Social Transformation’, explores how the concept of ‘habit’ can inform new approaches to understanding both the complex behaviour of social subjects and the dynamics of cultural and socio-political relations. In particular, she is interested in the cultural salience and potentiality of habit as an embodied technology at the contemporary intersection of neoliberalism, digital culture, and transnational politics. She is currently completing a monograph, Transforming Habit: Revolution, Routine and Social Change. She has also published journal articles in Cultural Studies, Body and Society and Subjectivity.
Carolyn recently completed an AHRC Fellowship: ‘Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy’ (2013-2014), which explored the links between transnational politics and the ‘turn to affect’. As part of the Fellowship, she undertook research visits to the University of Sydney and Queen Mary, University of London and convened an international symposium, ‘Transnational Affects’ at Queen Mary in May 2014. This project produced a monograph, Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy. The book explores the power dynamics underlying the contemporary affective injunction to 'be empathetic', and their complex social and geopolitical implications. Through analysis of a range of popular and scholarly sites and texts, it investigates the possibilities, risks and contradictions of figuring empathy as an affective tool for engendering transnational social justice. On the basis of this research, she has also published a co-edited special issue (with Anne Whitehead), ‘Affecting Feminism: The Question of Feeling in Feminist Theory’, Feminist Theory (August, 2012) and articles in the international journals New Formations, Society and Space, Emotion, Space and Society and Feminist Theory.
Carolyn’s previous research explored the links between gender, cross-cultural comparison and ‘the body’ and was funded by an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship held at the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths in 2008. Based on this research, her first monograph, Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison was published in 2010. The book explores how, within both feminist theory and popular culture, establishing similarities between embodied practices understood to be rooted in different cultural and geo-political contexts has become increasingly common as a means of countering cultural essentialism, ethnocentrism and racism. It examines how cross cultural comparisons of embodied practices function as a rhetorical in a range of contemporary feminist texts. This project also produced articles in Feminist Theory and Feminist Review as well as various book chapters.
In addition, Carolyn has conducted research consultancy work on gender relations in the areas of the informal economy, political participation and representation, international development, social enterprise, and new media for organisations including The International Labour Organisation (ILO), The UK Department for International Development (DFID), One World Action, FrankPR and Social Enterprise London.
Dr Pedwell co-ordinates teaching and degree programmes in cultural studies and media. She convenes and contributes to modules in this field at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Carolyn is External Examiner for the MA degrees in Women’s Studies at the University of York, UK (2014-2018). She is also External Examiner for the MA in Psychosocial Studies in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London (2017-2021).
Carolyn was awarded an LSE Teaching Award in 2008 in recognition of the excellence of her teaching at the Gender Institute.
Please contact Carolyn if you are interested in the areas of social and cultural theory; feminist, postcolonial and queer theory; transnational and cross-cultural theory and methods; emotion and affect; the body and embodiment; new media and digital culture; and feminist media and popular culture.
Current PhD students
- 2018 - present: Rebecca Geach, ‘Dissent from “common-sense”: To what extent have the socio-economic realities and rhetoric of a decade of austerity impacted upon how activists engage in political action?’
- 2018 - present: Anna Segal, ‘How does the engagement with BDSM practice influence women’s relationships with their bodies and sexualities?
- 2017 - present: Pattamanan Poonseripipat, 'Affective Experiences of E-Philanthropy: A Case Study of Thai Online Philanthropic Communities'
- 2016 - present: Katja May, 'The Politics of Needlework: Stitching, Writing, and Social Transformation'
- 2015 - present: Carolina Furusho, 'Vulnerability and Human Rights Court'.
- Editor of the international journal Feminist Theory, having acted as Book Reviews Editor from 2010-2012.
- Reviewer of manuscripts for Routledge, Palgrave, Ashgate, Duke University Press, Polity Press and numerous international journals.
- Honorary Treasurer for the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association (UK and Ireland) from 2006-2009, having been a member of the executive committee from 2005.
- Convenor of the School's Gender, Sexuality and Culture research cluster.
International keynote and public lecture speaker
Most recent engagements:
- April 2019, ‘Habits in Crisis: Trumpism, Propaganda and Post-Truth Politics’, Affect, Propaganda and Political Imagination, OISIE, University of Toronto, Canada (invited speaker).
- Nov 2018, ‘Sensing Racism: Habit, Affect and the Politics of Receptivity’, Affect Theory and Praxis: Transdisciplinary Methodologies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway (invited keynote).
- 2019 'Mood', panel discussion for the Forum for Philosophy Podcast on London School of Economics website
- 2018 Popaganda: You Feel Me? Podcast on Bitch Media
- 2017 Is our culture of empathy perpetuating inequality? Article in Zocalo Public Square
- 2016 The Transnational Politics of Empathy, a ThinkKent video on YouTube
Pedwell, C. (2019). Digital Tendencies: Intuition, Algorithmic Thought and New Social Movements. Culture, Theory and Critique [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/14735784.2019.1579658.With the rise of new digital, smart and algorithmic technologies, it is claimed, ‘the human’ is being fundamentally re-mediated. For some, this is problematic: digitally colonised by capitalism at the level of gesture, affect and habit, it is argued, we are now increasingly politically disaffected. There are also, however, more hopeful socio-political visions: Michel Serres (2015), for example, argues that, in delegating habits of mental processing and synthesising to digital technologies, millennials have honed cognitive conditions for a more ‘intuitive’ mode of being-in-the-world. While there is no necessary link between intuition and progressive social transformation, there are, this essay argues, significant resonances between the ‘intuitive digital subjects’ that Serres imagines and the logics and sensibilities of new networked social movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter. Vitally enabled by digital technologies, these activisms combine a tendency to oppose exploitation and oppression with a capacity to sense change as it is happening and thus remain radically open to alternative futures.
Pedwell, C. (2017). Habit and the Politics of Social Change: A comparison of nudge theory and pragmatist philosophy. Body and Society [Online] 23:59-94. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034X17734619.Rethinking the political workings of habit and habituation, this paper suggests, is vital to understanding the logics and possibilities of social change today. Any endeavour to explore habit’s affirmative potential, however, must confront its legacies as a colonialist, imperialist and capitalist technology. As a means to explore what it is that differentiates contemporary neoliberal modes of governing through habit from more critical approaches, this article compares contemporary ‘nudge’ theory and policy, as espoused by the behavioural economist Richard Thaler and the legal scholar Cass Sunstein, with the pragmatist philosophies of habit offered by John Dewey, William James and Shannon Sullivan. While nudge advocates focus on how policymakers and corporate leaders can intervene in the ‘choice architectures’ that surround us to outsmart or bypass problematic human tendencies, I argue, pragmatist philosophers appreciate the necessity of collective efforts to develop new and flexible forms of habituation in order to engender more enduring and democratic forms of social transformation.
Pedwell, C. (2017). Transforming Habit: Revolution, Routine and Social Change. Cultural Studies [Online] 31:93-120. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09502386.2016.1206134.Compelling recent scholarly work has explored the crucial role affect, emotion and feeling might play in activating radical social and political change. I argue, however, that some narratives of ‘affective revolution’ may actually do more to obscure than to enrich our understanding of the material relations and routines though which ‘progressive’ change might occur and endure in a given context – while side-stepping the challenge of how to evaluate progress itself in the current socio-political and economic landscape. Drawing on the work of Eve Sedgwick, John Dewey, Felix Ravaisson and others, this article asks whether critical work on habit can provide different, and potentially generative, analytical tools for understanding the contemporary ethical and material complexities of social transformation. I suggest that it habit’s double nature – its enabling of both compulsive repetition and creative becoming – that makes it a rich concept for addressing the propensity of harmful socio-political patterns to persist in the face of efforts to generate greater awareness of their damaging effects, as well as the material forms of automation and coordination on which meaningful societal transformation may depend. I also explore how bringing affect and habit together might productively refigure our understandings of ‘the present’ and ‘social progress’, as well as the available modes of sensing, instigating and responding to change. In turning to habit, then, the primary aim of this article is to examine how social and cultural theory might critically re-approach social change and progressive politics today.
Pedwell, C. (2017). Mediated Habits: Images, Networked Affect and Social Change. Subjectivity [Online] 10:147-169. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41286-017-0025-y.While many people remain hopeful that particular images of injustice will have the power to catalyse progressive transformation, there is also widespread belief in the inevitability of ‘compassion fatigue’. Bringing philosophers of habit into conversation with contemporary scholars of affect, visual culture and digital media, this article argues for a more nuanced understanding of the links between images and change – one in which political feeling and political action are complexly intertwined and repeated sensation does not necessarily lead to disaffection. When affect acts as a ‘binding technique’ compelling us to inhabit our sensorial responses to images, I suggest, we may become better attuned to everyday patterns of seeing, feeling, thinking and interacting – and hence to the possibility of change at the level of habit. This article thus contends that thinking affect and habit together as imbricated may enable us to better understand the dynamics of both individual and socio-political change today.
Pedwell, C. (2016). De-Colonising Empathy: Thinking Affect Transnationally. Samyukta: A Journal of Womens Studies XVI:27-49.
Pedwell, C. (2014). Cultural Theory as Mood Work. New Formations [Online]:47-63. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3898/NEWF.82.03.2014.In staging an encounter between Sedgwick's discussion of reparation, Spivak's analysis of translation, and critical scholarship on mood, this essay considers how we might understand contemporary cultural theory as a form of 'mood work' that is at once discursive and material, textual and affective, political and aesthetic. In particular, I am interested in how thinking reparation, translation and mood together might open up different ways of conceptualising and negotiating the affective 'double binds' central to both critical thought and socio-political relations at the current conjuncture. As Sedgwick and Spivak each show us, I will argue, tarrying with contradiction and ambivalence is the mood work that cultural theory must continue to pursue, both in order to understand the material implications of our own emotional investments in intellectual production and to appreciate the complex ways in which power operates within the structures of feeling of late liberalism.
Pedwell, C. (2013). Affect at the margins: Alternative empathies in A Small Place. Emotion, Space and Society [Online] 8:18-26. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2012.07.001.Against the contemporary universalist injunction to ‘be empathetic’, this paper explores the possibilities of what I call ‘alternative empathies’ in the aftermath of the Atlantic slave trade and European colonialism. Offering an affective reading of Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place ( 1988/2000), it examines how empathy expressed at the margins of postcolonial imaginaries might disrupt or refigure some of the dominant ways that affect is thought and mobilised in pervasive Euro-American liberal and neoliberal discourses. As a powerful commentary on the cultural, political, economic and affective links between slavery, colonialism, and contemporary practices of tourism in the Caribbean that has provoked intense emotional responses among its readers, A Small Place offers a pertinent site through which to consider how history, power and violence shape the meanings and effects of empathy. It illustrates how the affective afterlives of decolonisation shape contemporary subjectivities in ways that are not easy to penetrate, nor possible to undo, through the power of empathetic will alone. Yet it also points to the role that alternative empathies can play in interrogating ideas of time as linear and universal and space as self-contained, revealing how we live affectively through different temporalities and spatialities – with varying implications for our senses of possibility in and for the world. I thus argue that exploring alternative empathies might open out to affective politics which do not view emotions instrumentally as sources of – or solutions to – complex social and political problems, but rather examine diverse and shifting relations of feeling for what they might tell us about the affective workings of power in a transnational world.
Pedwell, C. (2012). Affective (self-) transformations: Empathy, neoliberalism and international development. Feminist Theory [Online] 13:163-179. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1464700112442644.Affective self-transformation premised on empathy has been understood within feminist and anti-racist literatures as central to achieving social justice. Through juxtaposing debates about empathy within feminist and anti-racist theory with rhetorics of empathy in international development, and particularly writing about ‘immersions’, this article explores how the workings of empathy might be reconceptualised when relations of postcoloniality and neoliberalism are placed in the foreground. I argue that in the neoliberal economy in which the international aid apparatus operates, empathetic self-transformation can become commodified in ways that fix unequal affective subjects. Empathy may function here less to produce more intersubjective relations and ways of knowing than it does to augment the moral and affective capacities of development professionals. Yet, I suggest, it is in the ambivalences, tensions and contradictions of both emotion and neoliberalism that spaces for thinking and feeling transnational encounters differently might be cultivated.
Pedwell, C. (2012). Economies of empathy: Obama, neoliberalism, and social justice. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space [Online] 30:280-297. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/d22710.This paper asks how we might theorise the politics of empathy in a context in which visions of social justice premised on empathetic engagement need to be situated within prevailing neoliberal frameworks. Through reading the ambivalent grammar of President Obama’s emotional rhetoric, I examine how it resonates in different ways both with feminist and antiracist debates about empathy and social justice and with the neoliberal discourse of the ‘empathy economy’ expressed within popular business literatures. I argue that, in framing empathy as a competency to be developed by individuals alongside imperatives to become more risk-taking and self-enterprising, Obama’s rhetoric reveals its centrist neoliberal underpinnings and risks (re)producing social and geopolitical exclusions and hierarchies. Yet, I suggest that seeing the phenomenon of ‘Obama-mania’ as produced not only within discourses of neoliberal governmentality but also through more radical intersections of empathy, hope, and imagination illustrates how empathy might be conceptualised as an affective portal to different spaces and times of social justice
Pedwell, C. and Whitehead, A. (2012). Affecting feminism: Questions of feeling in feminist theory. Feminist Theory [Online] 13:115-129. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1464700112442635.This special issue engages with the relationship between feminist theory and ‘the affective turn’. Through their analyses of a range of affective states, spheres and sites, the authors in this volume pose critical questions regarding feminist theoretical engagements with affect, emotion and feeling. They ask whether it is necessarily a positive move to put affect theory and feminist theory together, or whether there are inherent risks, for example of depoliticisation, or of an over-privileging of the individual; whether feminist theorists have made, or can make, distinctive contributions to conceptualising affect; and what particular insights feminist theory can bring to bear. In different ways, the authors featured here consider how we can understand the complex implications of the turn to affect in and for feminist theory, and how we might examine its potentialities for theoretical, political and social transformation.
Pedwell, C. (2008). Weaving relational webs: Theorizing cultural difference and embodied practice. Feminist Theory [Online] 9:87-107. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1464700107086365.Through illustrating the similarities between embodied practices rooted in different cultural contexts (such as `African' female genital cutting and `Western' cosmetic surgery), feminist theorists seek to reveal the instability of essentialist binaries which distinguish various groups as culturally, ethnically and morally `different'. They also aim to query how the term `culture' is employed differentially on the basis of embodied axes such as race and nation. However, in emphasizing overarching commonalities between practices, feminist cross-cultural comparisons risk collapsing into economies of sameness that elide the complex relations of power through which such practices have been constituted. They can also fix the imagined subjects of these practices in troubling ways. Using the ubiquitous `African' female genital cutting and `Western' cosmetic surgery binary as an example, this article explores the difference it might make to address culturally essentialist constructions of embodied practice with a focus on relationality rather than commonality. As a means to reorient feminist cross-cultural approaches which depend on assertions of similarity or sameness, it argues for the theoretical and pedagogical utility of thinking through relational webs.
Pedwell, C. (2007). Theorizing 'African' female genital cutting and 'Western' body modifications: a critique of the continuum and analogue approaches. Feminist Review [Online] 86:45-66. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400352.Making links between different embodied cultural practices has become increasingly common within the feminist literature on multiculturalism and cultural difference as a means to counter racism and cultural essentialism. The cross-cultural comparison most commonly made in this context is that between 'African' practices of female genital cutting (FGC) and 'western' body modifications. In this article, I analyse some of the ways in which FGC and other body-altering procedures (such as cosmetic surgery, intersex operations and 19th century American clitoridectomies) are compared within this feminist literature. I identify two main strategies of linking such practices, which I have termed the 'continuum' and 'analogue' approaches. The continuum approach is employed to imagine FGC alongside other body-altering procedures within a single 'continuum', 'spectrum' or 'range' of cross-cultural body modifications. The analogue approach is used to set up FGC and other body-altering practices as analogous through highlighting cross-cultural similarities, but does not explicitly conceive of them as forming a single continuum. Two key critiques of the continuum and analogue approaches are presented. First, because these models privilege gender and sexuality, they tend to efface the operation of other axes of embodied differentiation, namely race, cultural difference and nation. As such, the continuum and analogue approaches often reproduce problematic relationships between race and gender while failing to address the implicit and problematic role which race, cultural difference and nation continue to play in such models. This erasure of these axes, I contend, is linked to the construction of a 'western' empathetic gaze, which is my second key critique. The desire on the part of theorists working in the West to establish cross-cultural 'empathy' through models that stress similarity and solidarity conceals the continuing operation of geo-political relations of power and privilege.
Pedwell, C. (2014). Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy. [Online]. Palgrave Macmillan / Springer. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9781137275264.Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy explores the power dynamics underlying the contemporary affective injunction to 'be empathetic', and their complex social and geopolitical implications. Through analysis of a range of popular and scholarly sites and texts – including Obama's speeches and memoirs, best-selling business books, international development literatures, popular science tracts, postcolonial literature and feminist, anti-racist and queer theory – this book investigates the possibilities, risks and contradictions of figuring empathy as an affective tool for engendering transnational social justice. Opening up new ways of thinking and feeling empathetic politics beyond universalist calls to 'put oneself in the others' shoes', it examines empathy's dynamic links to processes of location, translation, imagination and attunement. Affective Relations is interested in how empathy might be translated differently - how dominant liberal, neoliberal and neocolonial visions and practices of empathy can be reinterpreted in the context of transnationality to activate alternative affective connections, solidarities and potentialities.
Pedwell, C. (2010). Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison. [Online]. London, UK: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Feminism-Culture-and-Embodied-Practice-The-Rhetorics-of-Comparison/Pedwell/p/book/9780415528887.Within both feminist theory and popular culture, establishing similarities between embodied practices rooted in different cultural and geo-political contexts (e.g. ‘African’ female genital cutting and ‘Western’ cosmetic surgery) has become increasingly common as a means of countering cultural essentialism, ethnocentrism and racism.
Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice examines how cross cultural comparisons of embodied practices function as a rhetorical device – with particular theoretical, social and political effects - in a range of contemporary feminist texts. It asks: Why and how are cross-cultural links among these practices drawn by feminist theorists and commentators, and what do these analogies do? What knowledges, hierarchies and figurations do these comparisons produce, disrupt and/or reify in feminist theory, and how do such effects resonate within popular culture? Taking a relational web approach that focuses on unravelling the binary threads that link specific embodied practices within a wider representational community, this book highlights how we depend on and affect one another across cultural and geo-political contexts.
Pedwell, C. (2018). Beyond Comparison: 'African' Female Genital Cutting and 'Western' Cosmetic Surgery. in: Griffin, G. and Jordal, M. eds. Body, Migration, Re/constructive Surgeries: Making the Gendered Body in a Globalized World. London, UK: Routledge, pp. 1-32. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Body-Migration-Re-constructive-Surgeries-Making-the-Gendered-Body-in/Griffin-Jordal/p/book/9780815354192.Making links between gendered embodied practices understood to be rooted in different cultural and geo-political contexts has become increasingly common within feminist literatures as a means to counter racism and cultural essentialism. The cross-cultural comparison most commonly made in this context is that between so-called ‘African’ female genital cutting (FGC) and ‘western’ body modifications. In this chapter, I analyse some of the ways in which FGC practices and other body-altering procedures (such as cosmetic surgery, intersex operations and 19th-century clitoridectomy) are compared within feminist texts. I identify two main comparative strategies, which I have termed ‘continuum’ and ‘analogue’ approaches. Because these strategies privilege gender and sexuality, I contend that they tend to efface the operation of other axes of social differentiation, namely race, cultural difference and nation. As such, the continuum and analogue approaches often reproduce problematic relationships between race and gender whilst failing to address the implicit role which race, cultural difference and nation continue to play in such models. I argue that feminists might more successfully seek to develop understanding, awareness and accountability across cultural and geo-political boundaries through examining, and engaging with, the intersectional processes through which embodied practices are relationally and hierarchically constructed.
Pedwell, C. (2017). Preface. in: Padilha Figueira, H. ed. Change through Empathy: The role of feeling for others in international relations. Brasilia, Brazil: Polo Books, pp. 8-11.‘Change through Empathy’ - as both the title of this insightful
and moving volume and the guiding motto of the 20th Americas Model
United Nations (AMUN), this phrase has multi-dimensional significance
in the context of contemporary political governance, analysis
and action. Firstly, these words capture something vital about the ethos,
practices and possibilities of international Model United Nations
(MUN), and of the 20th AMUN in particular. Convened by students from
the University of Brasilia, the AMUN has, for two decades, facilitated
engaging simulations of international organizations and political actors
promoting the values of the United Nations. As part of this immersive
process, students put themselves in the shoes of diplomats, journalists,
heads of state, judges and other actors to grapple with a host of complex
political, social, cultural, economic and environmental issues. In
doing so, they draw on their critical knowledge and imaginative capacities
to inhabit different political and ethical points of view and even
to defend positions and policies unrelated to, or at odds with, their
own beliefs and opinions. In other words, AMUN participants learn to
hone and exercise empathy as a vital affective tool in political analysis,
debate and policy-making.
Pedwell, C. (2016). Weaving Relational Webs: Theorizing cultural difference and embodied practice. in: Evans, M. ed. Feminism: Four Volume Set. London, UK: Sage. Available at: https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/feminism/book245392.
Pedwell, C. (2012). Power. in: Evans, M. and Williams, C. eds. Gender: The Key Concepts. Routledge, pp. 179-184. Available at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gender-Key-Concepts-Routledge-Guides/dp/0415669626/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410275873&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Gender%3A+The+Key+Terms+Evans.
Pedwell, C. (2011). Sometimes what’s not said is just as important as what is: Transnational feminist encounters. in: Davis, K. and Evans, M. eds. Transatlantic Conversations: Feminism as Travelling Theory. Ashgate Publishing Limited, pp. 145-156. Available at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transatlantic-Conversations-Feminism-Travelling-Imagination/dp/B00FGW44HW.
Pedwell, C. (2011). The Limits of Cross-Cultural Analogy: Muslim Veiling and “Western” Fashion and Beauty Practices. in: Gill, R. and Scharff, C. eds. New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity. Palgrave Scho, pp. 188-202. Available at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Femininities-Postfeminism-Neoliberalism-Subjectivity/dp/0230223346.
Pedwell, C. (2008). Intersections and Entanglements: Tracing “the Anorexic” and “the Veiled Woman”. in: Oleksy, E. H., Petoe, A. and Waaldijk, B. eds. Gender and Citizenship in a Multicultural Context. Peter Lang AG, pp. 261-267. Available at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gender-Citizenship-Multicultural-Context-Elzbieta/dp/3631561962/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410276803&sr=1-1&keywords=Gender+and+Citizenship+in+a+Multicultural+Context.
Pedwell, C. (2002). Seeing the Self in the “Other” and the “Other” in the Self: (Inter-subjective) Reflexivity – A Methodology for Representing “Others’’’. in: Marginal Research: Reflections on Location and Representation. Gender Institute, The London School of Economics and Political Science, pp. 71-81. Available at: http://www.lse.ac.uk/genderInstitute/pdf/marginalResearch.pdf.
Pedwell, C. and Whitehead, A. (2012). Special Issue: Affecting Feminism: Questions of Feeling in Feminist Theory Pedwell, C. and Whitehead, A. eds. Feminist Theory [Online] 13:115-241. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1464700112442635.This special issue engages with the relationship between feminist theory and ‘the
affective turn’. Through their analyses of a range of affective states, spheres
and sites, the authors in this volume pose critical questions regarding feminist
theoretical engagements with affect, emotion and feeling.1 They ask whether it is
necessarily a positive move to put affect theory and feminist theory together,
or whether there are inherent risks, for example of depoliticisation, or of an
over-privileging of the individual; whether feminist theorists have made, or can
make, distinctive contributions to conceptualising affect; and what particular
insights feminist theory can bring to bear. In different ways, the authors featured
here consider how we can understand the complex implications of the turn to affect
in and for feminist theory, and how we might examine its potentialities for theoretical,
political and social transformation.
Pedwell, C. (2017). Is Our Culture of Empathy Perpetuating Inequality? [Online article]. Available at: http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/07/17/culture-empathy-perpetuating-inequality/ideas/nexus/.We desperately need more empathy. At least, that’s what we are told—in political rhetoric, in bestselling popular science books, in international development discourse, in feminist and anti-racist activism. Among current political antagonisms, especially the rise of Trumpism, many are worried about the deleterious effects of “empathy erosion.”
Empathy has been touted as a necessary quality in leadership, the solution to a wide range of social ills and a central component of social justice. If we see from another’s perspective, imaginatively experiencing her or his thoughts, feelings or predicaments, we will open up lines of dialogue, ameliorate conflicts and grievances, and engage in more ethical or socially responsible action. The problem, however, is that empathy is much more uneven and unpredictable than these narratives convey.
Pedwell, C. (2015). (In)habiting the Present [Website]. Available at: https://criticalhabitations.wordpress.com/debate/inhabiting-the-present/.How might we understand the links among affect, habit, temporality and social transformation – and what might such a critical investigation imply for the ‘here and now’ of cultural and social theory and praxis?
Recent (as well as much earlier) work in Cultural Studies, and related fields, has explored the vital role certain affects, emotions and feelings might play in catalyzing radical social and political change. Such narratives of ‘affective revolution’ are often rich, important and inspiring. My sense, however, is that some of these analyses may actually do more to obscure than to enrich our understanding of how ‘progressive’ change might occur and endure in a given context (while side-stepping the vexing question of how to evaluate the concept of social ‘progress’ itself in the current socio-political landscape).
Pedwell, C. (2015). Interview: Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy [Pocast about authored book.]. Available at: http://newbooksinhumanrights.com/2015/08/27/carolyn-pedwell-affective-relations-the-transnational-politics-of-empathy-palgrave-macmillan-2014/.
Pedwell, C. (2014). Empathy, Accuracy and Transnational Politics [online article]. Available at: http://theoryculturesociety.org/carolyn-pedwell-on-empathy-accuracy-and-transnational-politics/.
Pedwell, C. (2014). Circuits of Feeling in The Age of Empathy [Blog]. Available at: https://emotionsblog.history.qmul.ac.uk/2014/02/circuits-of-feeling-in-the-age-of-empathy/.This is a guest post by Carolyn Pedwell, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Newcastle University and AHRC Visiting Scholar at The Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary, University of London.
With the rise of the ‘science of empathy’ in the wake of the ‘discovery’ of mirror neurons, we have seen a veritable return to biology, ethology, neuroscience, genetics and various evolutionary theories to explain not only human circuits of feeling, but also the emotional politics of contemporary societies internationally. The final chapter of my forthcoming book, Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave, 2014), grapples with the implications of the multiple layers of translation involved in politicising the science of empathy.
Pedwell, C. (2012). The Academic Feminist Goes Global: A Conversation with Carolyn Pedwell [online]. Available at: http://feministing.com/2012/05/22/the-academic-feminist-goes-global-a-conversation-with-carolyn-pedwell/.
Pedwell, C. (2008). Just Politics: Women Transforming Political Spaces. One World Action. Available at: http://www.gadnetwork.org/storage/5.%20Just%20Politics.pdf.In November 2007, One World Action brought together 40 women and men from north and south for a a unique dialogue - Just Politics: Women transforming political spaces. This report summaries the week's events which explored what difference women in power can make, and how women's involvement in politics can be supported and strengthened.
Pedwell, C. and Chant, S. (2008). Women, gender and the informal economy: An assessment of ILO research and suggested ways forward. International Labour Organization. Available at: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---gender/documents/publication/wcms_091605.pdf.This discussion paper provides an overview of ILO research on women, gender and
the informal economy which was undertaken
during the last two decades. It examines
methodological and analytical frameworks used
in various studies, identifies research gaps
and proposes directions for future work. It
ultimately aims to enhance ILO’s work in
developing consistent, cohere
nt and coordinated policy advice to constituents across the
four pillars of the ILO Decent Work Agenda
: standards and fundamental principles and
rights at work, employment, social protection and social dialogue.
Pedwell, C. and Perrons, D. (2007). The Politics of Democratic Governance: Organising for Social Inclusion and Gender Equity. One World Action. Available at: http://win.amarc.org/documents/ThePoliticsofGovernance.pdf.The Politics of Democratic Governance:
Organising for Social Inclusion and Gender Equity
was a two-day seminar organised by One World
Action in London in March 2007. The event brought
together activists at the forefront of democracy
building in Indonesia, Guatemala, Brazil, Thailand,
Nicaragua, Philippines, Malawi, India and Zambia
with policy-makers in the UK and Europe to focus on
how poor and marginalised people can have a voice
in the decisions that affect their lives. Participants
examined the challenges marginalised groups face in
organising, engaging with, and transforming political
processes. Looking at examples from a range of
international contexts, the presentations and
discussions considered the potential of new
strategies and forms of political engagement that
aim to build equitable, gender-sensitive, democratic
and accountable governance.
Pedwell, C. (2007). Tracing “the Anorexic” and “the Veiled Woman”: Towards a Relational Approach. Gender Institute, The London School of Economics and Political Science.The ‘new’ Muslim veiling phenomenon represents a co
ntemporary ‘equivalent’ to the
growing epidemic of anorexia in the industrialised
West, Mervat Nasser has argued
(1999). Like anorexia
, she contends, the new veiling
, represented by the growing
number of young Muslim women wearing Islamic dress
within universities, workplaces,
urban centres and political organisations around th
e world, responds to ‘conflicting
cultural messages and contradictory cultural expect
ations’ experienced by women
globally (407). Both embodied practices
function as forms of problem solving which, in
the absence of real power or control, help women co
pe with the competing demands of
ambitious professional goals and pressure to mainta
in a traditional female identity. And
both, she suggests, ultimately lead to the reproduc
tion of tradition and the reinforcement
of gender inequality.
Pedwell, C. and Armitage, F. (2005). Putting Gender on the Map The LSE Gender Institute’s First Fifteen Years. Gender Institute, The London School of Economics and Political Science. Available at: http://www.lse.ac.uk/genderinstitute/pdf/genderinstcover.pdf.New Working Paper Series
Issue 16, September 2005 (special issue
Pedwell, C. (2002). MARGINAL RESEARCH:REFLECTIONS ON LOCATION AND REPRESENTATION. Gender Institute, The London School of Economics and Political Science. Available at: http://www.lse.ac.uk/genderInstitute/pdf/marginalResearch.pdf.The idea for this special edition of the Gender Institute Research-in-Progress series came out of my experiences in the
Gender:Epistemology and Research Methodology course this year. The course seeks to trace a distinct political and intellectual trajectory through the history and current position of western feminist research theory and practice. It is designed to be challenging, predominantly student-led, and focuses on dilemmas arising from questions of location, experience, ethics, representation and reflexivity, as well as methodologies appropriate to resolving or highlighting those dilemmas. And perhaps more importantly, it is the only consistent pedagogical space within the Gender Institute where PhD and Masters students come together to work on shared research problems and form more abiding alliances.
Pedwell, C. (2018). Inhabiting the World of Affect: Mediation, Critique and Power in Ben Anderson's Encountering Affect. Dialogues in Human Geography [Online] 8:1-3. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/dhga/current.
Pedwell, C. (2015). The Persistence of Melodrama: Affective Politics Post-9/11 and Anker’s Orgies of Feeling. Theory and Event [Online] 18:1. Available at: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/theory_and_event/v018/18.2.pedwell.html.
Pedwell, C. (2012). Hypertext and the female imaginary. Feminist Review [Online] 86:45-66. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/fr.2012.2.Whereas scholars once lauded the utopian possibilities of cyberspace to dissolve embodied markers of gender and race, Jaishree K. Odin argues that a paradigm shift is now required to bring attention back to ‘the embodied status of the human and the situated nature of experience’ (p. ix). Hence, in order to interrogate theoretical conventions that confine us to machinic, technorationalist constructions of the human (and the masculinist and Western-centric assumptions on which they often rely), Hypertext and the Female Imaginary contends that we need new ways of imagining being and subjectivity in all their complexity, fluidity and fragmentation—a task to which electronic media lends itself in extremely thought-provoking ways. This shift, the book suggests, involves conceptualising contemporary social life as a complex ‘topological space where different worlds intersect at different levels’ (p. ix), and where narrative spaces can be opened up for multiple ‘other’ stories to surface. It is this that both Odin and the female hypertext authors, artists and film-makers explored in her book do with considerable insight and ingenuity.
Pedwell, C. (2007). Ethics of the Body: Postconventional Challenges. Feminist Review [Online] 85:134-136. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400326.In her introduction to this dynamic volume, co-editor Margrit Shildrick argues that mainstream bioethics is fundamentally 'out of touch' (p. 1). As bioethicists cling to outmoded modernist views of the self, while relying on and reproducing essentialist binaries, bioethics remains disconnected from actual bodies and the impact of postmodern culture and theory. Within this highly technological 'era of postmodernity' (p. 3), the book contends, such modernist conceptions are untenable. The collection's contributors argue that postconventionalist approaches, which include postmodernist, poststructuralist, phenomenological and other deconstructive methodologies, offer the means for a 'radical reconfiguration of bioethical thought'
Pedwell, C. (2007). Space Invaders: Race, Gender and Bodies Out of Place. Body and Society [Online] 13:116-118. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1357034X070130040703.In a context in which women and racialized minorities are increasingly entering spaces in the public realm traditionally occupied by white men, Space Invaders provides a compelling critique of discourses that continue to reduce diversity and equality to the inclusion of ‘different’ bodies. Author Nirmal Puwar argues that the tendency to equate the inclusion of these bodies with social transformation presumes problematically that ‘women’ and ‘ethnic minorities’ are homogenous groupings ‘that can generate a mimetic politics from their shared experiences’ (p. 149). This dominant rhetoric also
fails to examine the wider institutional changes required to address the white, masculine ideal (masquerading as ‘universal’) which is now deeply embedded in the institutional practices of a host of professional and political spaces, from the art world, to academia, to parliament.
Pedwell, C. (2006). Third-wave feminism: a critical exploration. Feminist Review [Online] 82:138-140. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400269.In their succinct introduction, Stacy Gillis, Gillian Howie and Rebecca Munford emphasize their desire to offer a critical exploration of third wave feminism, considering its complexities, possibilities and limitations. Their project is vital, and somewhat controversial, in an academic context in which third-wave feminism has generated widespread anxiety and hostility. Feminists aligning themselves with the second wave, in particular, have been quick to dismiss the
purported emergence of a third wave
Pedwell, C. (2006). Inclusive Feminism: A Third Wave Theory of Women’s Commonality. Feminist Theory [Online] 7:367-369. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1464700106069049.In this bold book, Naomi Zack insists that an unapologetic reclaiming of
women’s commonality is what must drive forward feminism’s third wave. The
author wants to move beyond a focus on intersectionality, which she argues
has resulted in fragmentation that has prevented the establishment of common
goals and basic empathy. The book seeks to offer a new model of feminism that
will be ‘inclusive’. Outlined in the book’s eight chapters, this comprehensive
framework consists of what Zack terms ‘inclusive’ feminist theories of psychol-
ogy, social theory and history. Linking these components are her ‘relational’,
non-biological definition of women and an emphasis on individual agency. The
conclusion offers a utopian vision of women’s worldwide political rule.
Pedwell, C. (2019). Affect [Online glossary entry]. Available at: http://www.translatingcultures.org.uk.While ‘the affective turn’ has gained significant currency over the past two decades, it is nonetheless difficult to define as it signifies a range of different, and sometimes contradictory, movements and articulations. On one hand, it is an extension of the ‘discursive turn’ which challenged ‘the scientific superiority of “detached reason” … over the emotional and the subjective’, paving the way for a ‘resurgence of empirical and theoretical interest in emotions’ (Greco and Stenner, 2008: 5). On the other hand, in its call for ‘a vital re-centring of the body’, the affective turn offers a profound critique of the limitations of discursive, linguistic and textual modes of analysis (Gregg and Seigworth, 2010: 9; see Pedwell and Whitehead, 2012). I propose that affect is an inherently relational term – it signifies emergent interactions of human and non- or more-than human actors which are productive of different kinds of sensation and becoming. Following Marianne Lilijeström and Susanna Paasonen, it is important that ‘rather than position considerations of materiality, affect and embodiment in opposition to textual analysis’, we investigate ‘their interrelations as intimate co-dependence’ (2010: 2). From this perspective, then, affect is not a thing, or a property, but rather a form of sensorial relationality - as well as an interpretive approach and critical field of study (Pedwell, 2012a, 2012b, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017a, 2017b).
Pedwell, C. (2019). Affect Theory's Alternative Genealogies: A Response to Ruth Leys. History of the Human Sciences.Despite what its title, blurb and editorial endorsements might suggest, Ruth Leys’ The Ascent of Affect: Genealogy and Critique is not a genealogy of the ‘turn to affect’ or a critical account of the emergence of affect theory across the humanities, social sciences and life sciences. It is, rather, a post-war history of the ‘science of emotion’ focusing on mainstream, American, largely male, psychologists and philosophers investigating the relationship between feelings and facial expressions in human and non-human animals. In its pursuit of the latter, it is rigorous, incisive and illuminating. In its claim to the former, it is partial, dismissive and, at times, misguided - though not without critical food for thought for interdisciplinary affect and emotion studies. In what follows, I summarise Leys’ important arguments and insights before offering a more detailed consideration of her critique of affect theory.
Pedwell, C. (2019). Affective Habits: Sensation, Duration, Automation. in: Politics of Emotion. Power of Affect. Berlin: Diaphanes.This chapter begins with a critical hypothesis: in order to better understand the logics, challenges and potentialities of social change at the current conjuncture, we might need to attend more carefully to the relationship between affect and habit. That is, in the midst of the turn to affect, renewed interest in habit, the rise of various ‘new’ materialisms and ecological approaches and the growing salience of algorithmic life, both apprehending and pursuing socio-political transformation may require closer engagement with the emergent links among sensation, duration, repetition, iteration, automation and atmosphere.