Responding to Charlottesville

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 21st August 2017.

When I got to writing this article this week, I quickly realised I couldn’t write something that didn’t address the recent events in Charlottesville. However, I was also keenly aware that it was not necessarily my place nor within my capabilities to provide a response, beyond an expression of the horror, devastation, disappointment, and determination that so many have been expressing in the past few days. I know I am not alone in feeling helpless in the face of these events, and I know that many of us have been looking for ways to support the counter-protestors of Charlottesville, both in the work they have already done to fight white supremacists and neo-nazis, and in the work that they will doubtless continue to do in the future. I also know that many of us would like all the guidance we can get in helping us to understand what has been happening and how best to move forward. With this in mind, I have decided to use my platform this week for two purposes: providing links to organisations doing invaluable work that would greatly benefit from our financial support; and providing links to excellent, spark-inciting pieces written by those most affected by the rise of these racist movements and those who have been fighting this fight for a long time.

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Antidepressants after Prozac Nation

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 10th July 2017.

Twenty-three years after the publication of American author Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir entitled Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America (1994), public opinion about antidepressants is still as rife with misconceptions, fear, and judgement, as it was when Wurtzel was first prescribed medication to manage her persistent and devastating depression. Writing in what is now a significant traditional of women’s narratives of mental illness— including Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963), Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted (1999), and Marya Hornbacher’s Madness (2008)—  Wurtzel details the brutal development of her depression from early adolescence into adulthood, and notes the rise in illnesses such as hers across the country.

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A Few Reasons Why Not

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 1 May 2017

[tw: discussions of suicide and rape]

Netflix’ recent series, 13 Reasons Why, has been subject to a wide chasm in reception. The story follows a teenage boy, Clay, as he listens to the tapes left by his friend and love interest Hannah, detailing the 13 reasons why she committed suicide. The show depicts Hannah’s fights with friends, her parents’ financial troubles, her experiences of bullying, misogyny, and rape by fellow students, and, very graphically, her suicide. Given this wide chasm, what are some of the main critiques of the show and what problems does it engender?

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A Host of Questions: Artificial Agency in Westworld

Maria Torres-Quevedo | 20th February 2016.

Trigger Warning: Rape, Violence.

Westworld (2016) depicts a sci-fi not-too-distant future in which humans have mastered the art of artificial intelligence, and have used this to create a Western-style theme park in which real humans (almost exclusively white men) from the real world can live out their fantasies consequence-free with “non-human” robots.

The park ostensibly serves to allow its human patrons to “find themselves,” revealing their real desires in an environment designed to cater specifically to them. More interesting to me, however, is the self-discovery exemplified by the two female robots (hosts) around which much of the narrative centres.

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Social Media Strikes Back

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 17 October 2016

Social media empowers individuals who usually lack epistemic power, and hence suffer systemic testimonial injustice (people who are rarely listened to or considered credible by society at large: women, people of colour, trans people, etc.), to testify in meaningful ways. By posting on the internet, they can complicate and undermine state sanctioned narratives in a way that mainstream media cannot.

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