Portrait of Dr Carolyn Pedwell

Dr Carolyn Pedwell

Reader in Cultural Studies
Director of Cultural Studies and Media


Dr Carolyn Pedwell is Reader in Cultural Studies at the University of Kent and the author of three monographs: Revolutionary Routines: The Habits of Social Transformation (McGill-Queens UP, 2021); Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave, 2014); and Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison (Routledge, 2010). 

Prior to arriving at Kent, Carolyn was Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Newcastle University (2009-2014) and ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London (2008). 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.

Research interests

Dr Pedwell’s research interests include digital media and culture; the politics of emotion and affect; habits and social change; the body and embodied practices; cultural and social theory; and feminist, queer, critical race and decolonial theories.

Her Leverhulme Fellowship (2020-2021), ‘Digital Media and the Human: The Social Life of Software, AI and Algorithms’, explores how digital, smart and computational media may be radically transforming ‘the human’. Leading corporate and scholarly accounts of emergent media, however, entail an implicit universalism that downplays embodied differences and power relations.  Arguing that it matters what kind of human our engagements with technology produce, this project will develop a framework to explore the transformative dynamics of digital media informed by feminist, queer, critical race and decolonial studies.

Carolyn’s recent research project, ‘Habit, Power and Social Transformation’ (2014-2020), explores what habits tell us about social change, power and ‘progressive’ politics at the intersection of neoliberalism, digital culture and transnational politics. Her monograph, Revolutionary Routines: The Habits of Social Transformation (McGill-Queens UP, 2021) argues that seemingly minor everyday habits that are vital to meaningful change. Through its account of influential socio-political processes – from the resurgence of fascism and white supremacy, to the crafting of new technologies of governance, to the operation of digital media and algorithms –  the book rethinks not only how change works but also what counts as change.  This project also produced journal articles in Body and Society; Subjectivity; Cultural Studies; Theory, Culture and Critique; and The Thinker.  

Her previous AHRC Fellowship (2013-2014): ‘Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy’, examined the links between transnational politics and the ‘turn to affect’. Her monograph, Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave, 2014), explores the power dynamics underlying the contemporary affective injunction to 'be empathetic', and their social and geopolitical implications. This project also produced a co-edited special issue (with Anne Whitehead), ‘Affecting Feminism: The Question of Feeling in Feminist Theory’, Feminist Theory (2012) and journal articles in New Formations; Society and Space; Emotion, Space and Society; Feminist Theory and Samyukta.

Carolyn’s ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2008-2009), ‘Gender, Embodiment and Cultural Practice: Exploring Issues in Theory, Media and Policy’, was held at the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths and examined the links between gender, cross-cultural comparison and ‘the body’. This project produced her first monograph, Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison (Routledge, 2010).

In addition, Carolyn has conducted research consultancy work on gender relations in the areas of the digital media; the informal economy, political participation and representation, international development, and social enterprise 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 in Psychosocial Studies in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London (2017-2021). She was also External Examiner for the MA degrees in Women’s Studies at the University of York, UK (2014-2018). 


Please contact Carolyn if you are interested in the areas of social and cultural theory; feminist, queer, critical race and decolonial theory; digital media and culture; habit and habituation; emotion and affect; the body and embodied practices.

Current PhD students

2020 - present:  Lilith Cooper, ‘The Culture, Politics and Lived Experience of Health: Zines at Wellcome Collection’.

2020 - present:  Amy Clark, ‘Care in Feminist Activism and Care as Feminist Activism’.  

2019 - present: Sabina Trimble, ‘Reconciliation and Philanthropy: How is Western Canada’s nonprofit sector responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada?’

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'


Co-Editor of Feminist Theory journal, 2010-2020. 

Reviewer of manuscripts for numerous publishers and international journals.

Honorary Treasurer for the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association (UK and Ireland), 2006-2009.

Founding Convenor of the School's Gender, Sexuality and Culture research cluster, 2014-2019.

International keynote and public lecture speaker

Most recent engagements:

June 2019, ‘Habits of Solidarity: Algorithmic Technologies, Pre-figurative Politics and Black Lives Matter’, OISIE, University of Toronto, Canada (invited speaker).

Nov 2018, ‘Affective Habits: Sensation, Duration, Automation’, Affect Theory and Praxis: Transdisciplinary Methodologies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway (invited keynote). 

Recent Media

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

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