IR Departmental Seminar: Felix Ciută - The Playful Subject: Critique, Popular Culture and the Imagined Subjectivities of IR
Abstract: The contribution of IR to academic and non-academic knowledge is circumscribed by the characteristics of IR as an academic subject: a serious, sombre discipline that deals with the most sombre, deadly issues. In turn, the need to think of IR as this kind of subject conditions its engagement with the objects and subjects of its concern. The growing interest in popular culture has brought the parameters of this engagement into sharp relief, showing its reliance on a mutually constitutive set of imagined subjectivities: the IR academic who studies popular culture, the consumers of popular culture, and finally the professionals of popular culture. I discuss in this paper the relationship between these subject positions, which can be observed in academia in the impact/relevance debate, in the shift of the status of the professionals of popular culture, and the decline of the stigma associated with popular culture (for example video games) fandom. This clarification is essential, because the relationship between these subject positions circumscribes the propositions that can be formulated about particular popular culture products, or popular culture genres more broadly. The inflection of identities created by the encounter between IR and popular culture also gives an insight into the socio-institutional production and hierarchical organisation of different domains of knowledge. To study these imagined subjectivities is necessary for challenging archetypal representations of popular culture/academia/IR: if popular culture is to indeed matter to international politics, then the subjects of popular culture must be (re)imagined in a way that allows them to matter, and to hear each other.
Bio: Dr Felix Ciută is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University College London. He has published widely on security theory, politics of security in different historical and regional settings, and on the interaction between IR and other knowledge domains, such as popular culture, mass media and public policy.