Susan Potter

Chair of Film Studies; Senior Lecturer - Sydney, Australia
Sydney, Australia

For many years now I have signed petitions, participated in marches, and taken my bike on critical mass rides in support of campaigns to reduce fossil fuel use, and to advocate for the transition to renewables. In 2019, I flew my last long-haul flight to a conference (that I love) in Amsterdam. I was already engaged in a new form of direct activism, helping organise non-violent civil disobedience with Extinction Rebellion in Sydney. Later that year, the most unprecedented fires in Australia’s recent history started. The loss of life, of our non-human kin, was devastating. Sometimes I feel that I have worked through my grief since then, and other times I feel as if I’ve cordoned it off in my mind. I do know that any future travel I undertake will be at the lowest carbon cost possible. I will only be flying in future if I absolutely have to, for example to visit my family, and I will offset the carbon cost of any flights I do take in the best way possible. We have to think and act, however, beyond carbon accounting. As Australian environmental philosopher Freya Mathews writes, extractivist modern economies are “underpinned by psychic structures in which we ourselves … prove obdurately invested” (“Burning Our Kin,” 94, in Vol. 4 Persons, Kinship: Belonging in A World of Relations, Centre for Humans and Nature Press, 2021). For those of us who have been brought up as good citizens in settler-colonial societies, who are middle class or upwardly mobile, flying less is only one small commitment in a larger and more difficult process of cultural and self-transformation.

My research concerns the intertwined histories of cinema and sexuality, including the relation of film as modern mass medium to the intensification of sexuality since the late nineteenth century, and the genres, aesthetics and ethics of sexual representation in contemporary film. I also have documentary production experience in a variety of roles, including editor, archivist, researcher, production manager, producer and director.