Dr. Carolyn Pedwell is Reader (Associate Professor) in Cultural Studies. She is the author of two research monographs: Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave: 2014) and Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison (Routledge: 2010). Her third monograph, Transforming Habit: Revolution, Routine and Social Change, is under contract with McGill-Queens University Press. Carolyn is also an Editor of the international journal Feminist Theory.
Carolyn 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.
In the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at Kent, Carolyn is Head of the Cultural Studies and Media subject area, joint Head of Internationalisation and convenor of the Gender, Sexuality and Culture research cluster.
Room E127, Cornwallis East
University of Kent
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF
Thursdays 11.00-12.00, or by appointment
Please contact me by email
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
My 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.
My current research project, ‘Habit, Power and Social Transformation’, explores how the concept of ‘habit’ can inform new approaches to understanding both the complex behavior of social subjects and the dynamics of cultural and socio-political relations. In particular, I am interested in the cultural salience and potentiality of habit as an embodied technology at the contemporary intersection of neoliberalism, digital culture, and transnational politics. I am currently completing a monograph, Transforming Habit: Revolution, Routine and Social Change, which is under contract with McGill-Queens University Press. I have also published journal articles in Cultural Studies, Body and Society and Subjectivity.
I 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, I 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, published by Palgrave in September 2014. 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 – 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 – 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, I have 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.
My 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, my first monograph, Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison was published by Routledge in 2010 (2012 in paperback). 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 (e.g. ‘African’ female genital cutting and ‘Western’ cosmetic surgery) 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 device – with particular theoretical, social and political effects - 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, I have 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.
I would be interested in receiving supervision inquiries from PhD and Postdoctoral Researchers 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.
PhD students supervised to completion
- 2018 Ulluminair Salim, 'Representational Politics and the Moral Economy of (Im)Mobility in the Developing World: A Situational Analysis’ (PhD in Sociology, University of California SanFrancisco, DissertationCommittee member).
- 2017 Constance Akurugu, ‘Marriage, Power and Performativity: Implications for Gender Relations in Ghana’ (PhD in Sociology, Newcastle University).
- 2016 Tiffany Page, ‘Unspectacular Events: Researching Vulnerability through the Localised and Particlar’ (PhD in Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths).
- 2014 Marie Thompson, ‘Beyond Unwanted Sound: Noise, Affect and Aesthetic Moralism’ (PhD in Music, Newcastle University).
- 2013 Anne Graefer, ‘Celebrity, Skin and Cyberspace’ (PhD in Media and Cultural Studies, Newcastle University).
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?’ (PhD in Sociology, University of Kent, Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship).
- 2018 - present: Anna Segal, ‘How does the engagement with BDSM practice influence women’s relationships with their bodies and sexualities? (PhD in Sociology, University of Kent, Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship).
- 2017 - present: Pattamanan Poonseripipat, 'Affective Experiences of E-Philanthropy: A Case Study of Thai Online Philanthropic Communities' (Phd in Sociology)
- 2016 - present: Katja May, 'The Politics of Needlework: Stitching, Writing, and Social Transformation' (joint with School of English).
- 2015 - present: Carolina Furusho, 'Vulnerability and Human Rights Court', Doctorate in Cultural and Global Criminology.
I co-ordinate teaching and degree programmes in Cultural Studies and Media in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at Kent.
I convene the MA module SO883: Contemporary Social Theory and the stage 2/3 UG module SO742: Emotion, Media and Culture. I also contribute to the stage 1 UG modules S0334: Studying Modern Culture, SO335: Contemporary Culture and Media, and SO337: Fundamentals of Sociology, and to the stage 2 UG module SO506: Popular Culture, Media and Society.
I am External Examiner for the MA degrees in Women’s Studies at the University of York, UK (2014-2017). I am also External Examiner for the MA in Psychosocial Studies in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London (2017-2021).
Prior to arriving at Kent, I taught Media and Cultural Studies, Sociology and Gender Studies at Newcastle University, Goldsmiths, LSE, Westminster University and the Creative and Supportive Trust (London). I was awarded an LSE Teaching Award in 2008 to recognise the excellence of my teaching at the Gender Institute.
The Transnational Politics of Empathy
A Think Kent video 2016
- 2018 Popaganda: You Feel Me? Podcast on Bitch Media
- 2017 Is our culture of empathy perpetuating inequality? Article in Zocalo Public Square
- 2015 New Books in Global Ethics and Politics, City University of New York: Podcast interview on my book, Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy
- 2013 Faculti media: Interviewed on my book, Affective Relations: http://facultimedia.com/downloads/cultural-studies-affective-relations-the-transnational-politics-of-empathy/
- 2012 Feministing.com: Profiled as academic of the month in ‘The Academic Feminist’: http://feministing.com/2012/05/22/the-academic-feminist-goes-global-a-conversation-with-carolyn-pedwell/
- 2012 Shameless.com: Interviewed on film series ‘Louder Now: Feminism on Film’.
- 2012 BBC Radio Tees: Interviewed on ‘the future of feminism’.
- 2009 BBC Radio Newcastle: Interviewed on ‘contemporary gender politics’.
- I am an Editor of the international journal Feminist Theory, having acted as Book Reviews Editor from 2010-2012. I regularly review manuscripts for Routledge, Palgrave, Ashgate, Duke University Press, Polity Press and numerous international journals.
- I served as 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.
- I am convenor of the School's Gender, Sexuality and Culture research cluster.
Keynotes and public lectures
The following is a list of selected recent and forthcoming international keynotes and public lectures:
- 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).
- Nov 2018 ‘Governing through Habit: Nudge Theory and Speculative Pragmatism’, Assembling and Governing Habits, University of Western Sydney, Australia (invited speaker).
- Aug 2018 ‘Affective Habits: Sensation, Duration and Automation’, Capacious: Affect Inquiry, Millersville University, Pennsylvania, USA (invited workshop).
- June 2018 ' ‘Mediated Habits: Digital Affect and the Habits of Social Change’, The Netherlands Research School for Media Studies (RMes) Summer School, Radboud University, The Netherlands (invited keynote).
- April 2018 ‘Digital Tendencies: Habit, Intuition and New Social Movements’, Migrant Narratives and the City in Western Modernity Part I, University of Debrecen, Hungary Part II (invited keynote).
- April 2018 ‘Mediated Habits: Images, Networked Affect and Social Change’, Migrant Narratives and the City in Western Modernity, Central European University Part I, Hungary (invited keynote).
- Jan 2018 ‘Decolonizing Empathy: Thinking Affect Transnationally’, Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, Germany (invited public lecture).
- Oct 2017 ‘Digital Tendencies: Habit, Intuition and New Social Movements’, Activism, Affect, and New Media: Theoretical Provocations, University of Utah, USA (invited keynote).
- June 2017 ‘Decolonizing Empathy: Thinking Affect Transnationally’, Empathies: 11th SLSAeu Conference: European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts, University of Basel, Switzerland (invited speaker and workshop leader).
- Nov 2016 ‘Affective Habits: Rethinking Progressive Social Change’, Things that Move Us: Affect and Authority Seminar Series, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany (invited research seminar).
- Nov 2015 ‘Decolonizing Empathy: Thinking Affect Transnationally’, Decolonizing Theories of the Emotions, University of Kerala, Kerala, India (invited speaker).
- Nov 2014 ‘Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy’, National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference: Families in the Nexus of Global Change, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (invited keynote).
- Aug 2013 ‘Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy’, Transforming Cultures Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney, Australia (invited research seminar).
- Aug 2013 ‘Circuits of Feeling in The Age of Empathy’, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney, Australia (invited research seminar).
- May 2013 ‘Affect, Embodiment and Transnationality’, Inter-University Seminar in Gender Studies, Ghent University, Belgium (invited keynote).
- June 2012 ‘Affective Translation and the Transnational Politics of Empathy: Feminist, Queer and Postcolonial Perspectives’, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Germany (invited public lecture).