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Dr. Emily Merson joins the Department of Political Science as our new CLA

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Emily Merson to our teaching staff beginning July 1, 2021.

Jul 05, 2021

Dr. Merson obtained her PhD in Political Science from York University, and subsequently held a teaching post at the University of Regina. She joins us in a 2-year contractually limited position and will teach a range of Undergraduate courses principally in International Relations. Dr. Merson is also a highly active researcher, who has published two new books in the past year.

Emily Merson. Creative Presence: Settler Colonialism, Indigenous Self-Determination and Decolonial Contemporary Artwork. London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020.

Emily Merson (Editor). The Art of Global Power: Artwork and Popular Cultures as World-Making Practices. New York: Routledge, 2020.


We sat down with Dr. Merson to get some insights into her plans over the next two years.

Tell us a bit about your approach to teaching. What can students look forward to in your classes?

Emily: My research in International Relations focuses on the role of artwork and popular cultures in the formation of political communities. A top priority in my teaching is to make International Relations theory accessible for students. So one of my strategies for this is to make opportunities through assigned readings and class discussions for students to think with creative projects such as films, short stories, and comics alongside IR theory texts. The key learning objective is to think critically about how our everyday lives are situated in global contexts and to cultivate students’ abilities to ask critical questions about global power hierarchies and agency. In the Fall 2021 term I will be teaching POLSCI 4QQ3 Issues in International Politics. In this seminar I’m looking forward to introducing to the department my course on “Popular Cultures and World Politics”. In this course we investigate the relationship between symbolic representation and our material participation in pop culture through looking at feminist theories of the body in visual culture, political economy theories of wealth and labour in event culture with a focus on The Olympic Games, and Black and Indigenous theories of surveillance and freedom in digital culture.

What is your most recent research about?

Emily: My current research project is on speculative fiction storytelling about climate action. This project investigates the questions: how do we know what we know about climate change? Whose voices are centralized and which forms of knowledge are the basis for mobilizing collective action for climate justice? This work includes archival research I have done on Octavia E. Butler’s papers at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in California. Students who are interested in the politics of knowledge and climate action can look out for my Winter 2022 seminar POLSCI 4ST3 Special Topics in Contemporary Politics on the topic of “Climate Action and the Futures of Global Politics”.

We are all impatient to return to campus and to in-person interactions within and outside of the classroom. Beyond that, what are you most looking forward to doing after COVID?

Emily: When it’s safe to do so, one thing that I can’t wait to do is go see a Friday night opening weekend movie in the theatre with friends and an audience. And popcorn of course!

What is one “fun fact” that students should know about you?

Emily: As much as I appreciate the accessibility and convenience of e-books, for me print books are essential. When I get the opportunity to travel one of my favourite things to do is visit libraries and independent bookstores in that place. For author talks, to connect with fellow readers and find out what’s happening politically in their communities, and for the joy of book browsing to find great reads you would never encounter otherwise if only searching for an exact title online. The last city I visited before the pandemic was Los Angeles. There are so many awesome independent bookstores there – Skylight Books, Book Soup, The Last Bookstore plus Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. If you have a favourite bookstore in Hamilton, be sure to let me know about it when we meet.