Serious scholarship … plus a Cardassian

Update 2014/09/02 : You can read my article for free from Taylor & Francis here:

Moving into the long weekend, I’m thrilled to say that my second scholarly publication has just been published. It’s appearing in a special Interventions section of the (still fairly) new journal Critical Studies on Security.

I’m proud to have my work included with strong work from strong scholars in this special section on Writing In/Security, and I’m particularly thrilled with Richard Jackson’s thoughtful and candid introduction to the section (which seems to be accessible without a subscription).

This special section is, well, special. It’s in a journal on security studies, easily one of the most serious fields around. And while all of these pieces are about security, they are also all creative writing. As Richard writes,

“What am I supposed to say, exactly? How does one make sense of a poem about the death of a much-loved mother or the violence of masculinity within the context of high-level security theorising? What security-related themes or analytical insights are to be drawn from a short story about going through airport security or an imaginary conversation with a character from Star Trek? How will these data-less, theory-free, esoteric, emotionally affecting writings advance our understanding of security?”

That’s one of the open questions in narrative approaches to the study of politics and international relations these days. I think this collection goes a long way in advancing that discussion.

For those of you who know me well, the fact that Richard mentions Star Trek will not have escaped your notice. My piece is called “Revolting Comfort: Meeting the Shadow’s Gaze.” It is an imaginary conversation between a professor and Elim Garak, the Cardassian tailor and former intelligence operative from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

You don’t need to know DS9, or Garak, to understand my short story. But if you’re someone who likes background information, here’s a taste:

I didn’t intend for Garak to make such a startling appearance into my publication record. But after attending a panel on popular culture and international relations at a conference, I got thinking about what I felt was missing. How do we deal not just with the abstract impact of popular culture on politics, but also with the more visceral and intimate reactions we have to fictional stories and characters? What kinds of contradictions and messy places does that question conjure?

This piece is my first significant response to these questions. I’ve shared my original manuscript here, and at the bottom of this post, so you can read the story for yourself. I’d love to know what you think. And since it’s short, I hope you’ll read it whether you’re an academic or not; one of the more promising aspects of narrative approaches is their accessibility.

If your university library subscribes to Critical Studies on Security, you can find all six parts the section here (though you’ll have to scroll down to Interventions). If your library doesn’t subscribe yet, please let them know that you would like them to: most university libraries have a request feature, and this groundbreaking new journal should be accessible to all students and scholars in this area.

Revolting Comfort – Author Original Manuscript