I earned my PhD in 2017 from the department of Women's & Gender Studies at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where I specialised in Feminist, Decolonial, and Continental Philosophy and Political Theory. Broadly speaking, my research concerns the relations between concepts of life, sex(uality), and spirituality in modern and contemporary theory and politics, both as these are structured by the dominance of modern techno-scientific rationality, and decolonial, feminist and queer challenges to this.
My dissertation, "A World of Difference: Life, Sex, Ontology" (directed by Drucilla Cornell and Elizabeth Grosz) studied the critiques of techno-scientific understandings of life and sex in post-Heideggerian French thought (Luce Irigaray, Michel Foucault, Gilbert Simondon). Following Heidegger's linkage of the question concerning technology and the question of being (or "ontology"), I argued for a rethinking of being in terms of life, eros, and sexual difference. This research is being revised into a monograph, Thinking in the Midst of the Sciences: Life, Sex, Ontology, which combines the Heideggerian ontological critique of technology and its French reception with decolonial and feminist theory to address the philosophical questions raised by the recent turn to natural science in social theory. This work will intervene in contemporary debates in the (post)humanities, post-secularism, feminist and queer theory, science and technology studies, and critical life studies.
During my fellowship with the Institute of Advanced Study at Warwick, I will be based in the department of Sociology, working in particular with the Social Theory Centre and the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, and within the "Connecting Cultures" Global Research Priorty. My research project, "Queer Theory from the South: Rethinking Global Sexual Politics with South Africa," examines the work of Islamic and Indigenous LGBT activists in South Africa in order to shift social theory and policy debates on sexuality in the context of globalisation, migration, and multiculturalism. Reading their work through the Africana and Caribbean Studies methodology of 'creolisation,' which emphasises the relations between competing cultural values made possible and necessary by the history of colonisation, I argue that these activists have developed some of the most sophisticated and generative ways of negotiating between an anti-imperialist (or decolonial) politics and queer politics. The central output of this research will be a monograph that investigates four cases—constitutional jurisprudence on sexual rights, activism by LGBT Sangomas, the 'theology of justice' in Islamic HIV/AIDS organizing, and queer digital activism in the urban townships—in order to demonstrate how South African queer politics is situated within 400 years of struggle against colonisation, apartheid, and neo-colonisation and how this might help to move beyond the supposedly irreconcilable conflicts between Western, African, and Islamic values.
My research has been recognised by awards from the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (2014), the Luce Irigaray Circle (2014), and PhiloSOPHIA: A Continental Feminist Society (2015), as well as supported by visiting fellowships from the Institute for Research on Women (Rutgers, 2012-13), the Zentrum Gender Studies (Universität Basel, 2015), and the Institute of Advanced Study (Warwick, 2016).
Areas of Research
- Feminist, Decolonial, and Continental (esp. 20th-21st century French) Philosophy
- Political Theory and Critical Legal Studies
- Queer Theory and Critical Sexualities Studies
- Science and Technology Studies
- Critical Life Studies
- Political Spirituality and Post-Secularism
- Psychoanalysis, Critiques, and Non-Western Alternatives
- The Spirit of Revolution: Beyond the Dead Ends of Man, co-authored with Drucilla Cornell (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016).
- Une nouvelle culture de l'energie: par-delà Orient et Occident, by Luce Irigaray. English title: A New Culture of Energy: Beyond East and West (under contract and forthcoming from Columbia University Press).
Journal Articles and Book Chapters
- "What Does it Mean to Be Living? A Dialogue," with Luce Irigaray, philoSOPHIA: A Journal in Continental Feminism vol. 8: 2 (November 2018).
- "Sexual Difference in/and the Queer beyond of Ethics," Feminist Formations vol. 29: 3 (December 2017), 163-71.
- "Irigaray Between God and the Indians: Sexuate Difference, Decoloniality, and the Politics of Ontology," Australian Feminist Law Journal vol. 43: 1 (June 2017), 41-65.
- "Does Life Have (a) Sex? Thinking Ontology with Irigaray and Simondon," Feminist Philosophies of Life, edited by Hasana Sharp and Chloë Taylor (Montreal: McGill University Press, 2016), 108-28.
- "There's Nothing Revolutionary About a Blowjob," co-authored with Drucilla Cornell, Social Text vol. 32:2 (Summer 2014), 1-20. [Turkish translation: “Saksonun Devrimci Bir Yanı Yok,” translated by Tüm Yazıları, KaosQ+ vol 6: 6 (May 2017)].
- "How Do You Dress a Body without Organs? Affective Fashion and Queer Becoming," WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly vol. 41: 1-2 (Spring/Summer 2013) 249-67.
- "Coming Out of the (Confessional) Closet: Christian Performativities, Queer Performativities," Performing Religion in Public: Acts of Devotion in the Public Sphere, edited by Joshua Edelman, Simon du Toit, and Claire Maria Chambers (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 219-36.
- "What Has Happened to the Public Imagination and Why?" co-authored with Drucilla Cornell, global-e vol. 10: 19 (2017).
- "Seven Theses on Trump," co-authored with Drucilla Cornell, Critical Legal Thinking (2016).
- "Sexuation and Individuation," Working with Luce Irigaray (2013).
- Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
- Caribbean Philosophical Associaiton
- PhiloSOPHIA: A Continental Feminist Society
- National Women's Studies Association
- The Ubuntu Project
- PhD (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey), 2017
- BA Hons (The University of Illinois at Chicago), 2010
s dot seely at warwick dot ac dot uk
D1.29, Social Sciences Building