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Dr Lauren Wilcox wins prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize

last modified Oct 29, 2018 03:03 PM

Dr Lauren Wilcox 2The University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies is delighted to congratulate our Deputy Director, Dr Lauren Wilcox, on winning a prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize. This prize is an early career award for UK-based academics that honours researchers whose future career is seen as ‘exceptionally promising’ and whose work has already attracted international recognition. Prize winners receive an award of £100,000 in research funding over two or three years. Dr Wilcox’s prize is in the field of Politics and International Relations; eligible fields rotate each year with 30 total prizes awarded.

Dr Wilcox’s research has pushed forward the boundaries of theorizing war, political violence and security by centering questions of bodies and embodiment. Her first book, Bodies of Violence, was the first major work to make questions of bodies and embodiment central to IR, rectifying the curious oversight in a field that understands itself to be centrally concerned with injuring and harming certain bodies in war and protecting other bodies in practices of security. In this work, Dr Wilcox made the case for theorizing bodies and more precisely, the embodiment of the subject, at the nexus of the material and discursive, not bound by the skin, and formed in and through relations with other bodies. Building on this, Dr Wilcox argues that theorizing bodies and embodiment are crucial to understanding international political violence, and argues that if IR continues to erase bodies and embodiment, it not only erases the social agency of bodies, but also fails to fully theorize political violence.

Her current project is tentatively entitled War Beyond the Human. This work argues that the category of ‘the human’ haunts our very capacity to understand, comprehend, and critique violence in global politics. Relatedly, racial divisions at the heart of Western modernity described by critical race and postcolonial theorists suggest ‘the human’ is defined by whiteness. In developing a feminist/queer reading of this ‘posthuman’ moment of political violence, Dr Wilcox asks how regimes of gender/sexuality make certain forms of death and injury and make other bodies “matter” when the human body is fractured into organs, fluids, codes, information, and prostheses such than gender and sexuality cannot be ascribed to individual bodies. Dr Wilcox is developing this work through a discussion of four ‘posthuman’ figurations: the drone, the swarm, the zombie, and the artificially intelligent robot.

Funds from the Philip Leverhulme Prize will be used toward Dr Wilcox’s next project, Gender, Precarity, and the Politics of Posthumanism. The aim of this project is to provide a feminist/queer contribution to exploring insights into the place of humans in the new posthuman era in which artificially intelligent machines play a large role in shaping social and political futures, while the subject of ‘the human’ seems increasingly precarious, and ‘precarity’ itself is a mode of governance. The aim of this project is not only to consider the challenges of AI and related technological developments, but also to envision a progressive politics that offers new interpretations of the consequences and opportunities of 'the posthuman' for projects of survival, justice, and resistance in an age of human precarity. The project will emphasize feminist and critical race theories as fruitful lenses through which to investigate these questions.

 A full list of winners can be found on the Leverhulme website:

 Leverhulme Prizewinners 2018