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Emily Merson

Sessional Lecturer
Ph.D. and MA, York University (Political Science); Hons BA, University of Toronto (Political Science and Women & Gender Studies)

Office: Classroom Building 210
Phone: 306-585-4206

Current classes
Winter 2021 – PSCI 337 Women in Politics and PSCI 434 Politics and the Media; Spring 2021 – PSCI 390BB Popular Culture and International Politics

Research interests

International Relations Theory; Sovereignty; Transnational Politics; Contemporary Artwork; Popular Culture; Decolonial and Postcolonial Theories of Canadian Settler Colonialism; Indigenous Self-Determination; Political Imagination and Agency.


My research and teaching in International Relations specializes in Feminist, Decolonial, and Cultural Political Economy theories and methods of global power. My work emphasizes how contemporary artwork and popular cultures are sites of political struggle and empowerment, in particular projects that invite audiences to think critically about the role of culture in the formation of political communities. My current research project on speculative fiction about climate action includes archival research on Octavia E. Butler’s papers at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in California.

My book "Creative Presence: Settler Colonialism, Indigenous Self-Determination, and Decolonial Contemporary Artwork" was published in October 2020 by the Rowman & Littlefield International book series 'Kilombo: International Relations and Colonial Questions'. This research focuses on the transformative power of visual and performance artwork to unsettle conventional academic theories of sovereignty and popular imaginations of sovereignty. I bring a transnational feminist intersectional analysis to looking at artwork by Indigenous artists engaging with themes of colonialism and decolonization in the context of Canada. “Creative Presence” is a framework for understanding how artists’ purposeful selection of materials, media forms, and place-making in their exhibitions and performances contributes to International Relations theories of sovereignty and participates in Indigenous reclamations of lands and waterways in world politics.

I am the editor and author of the introduction chapter in “The Art of Global Power: Artwork and Popular Cultures as World-Making Practices” published by the Routledge 'Popular Culture and World Politics' book series in February 2020. In this book, contributors draw on their experiences across arts, activist and academic communities to theorize and demonstrate diverse methods of writing about how the global politics of colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy can be transformed through artistic labour and participation in popular cultures.

My article “International Art World and Transnational Artwork: Creative Presence in Rebecca Belmore’s Fountain at the Venice Biennale” was published in the September 2017 issue of Millennium: Journal of International Studies.