How Not to Reproduce What We Inherit

by: , February 6, 2024

In May 2023, I sent my contributor’s submissions for Doing Women’s (Global) (Horror) Film History (DWGHFH) out on peer review. It was only at this point that I began to ponder my own contribution to the special issue (it is the editor’s prerogative to be stupendously late with their own submission, surely?). The only thing I had decided on was that I wanted to engage with Sarah Ahmed’s study of racism and diversity initiatives in the academy, On Being Included (2012). Leafing through my much-loved paperback, covered in scrawl and cracked of spine, I alighted, in a matter of moments, on the right words. Ahmed offers three sentences, at the end of a long paragraph, over 180 pages into the book, that can be understood (retrospectively) as DWGHFH’s manifesto. These three sentences (which I refuse to reproduce here, teasing, why don’t you watch the video essay instead) spoke to me after securing the funding for this project, after recruiting contributors, after hiring a team, after all the masterclasses, mentoring and training, and after I had reviewed my contributor’s excellent submissions.

It is the after that is important here. Galvanised by the wonderful work of DWGHFH, I returned to Ahmed, and her words shaped my understanding of this huge, unwieldy, multi-year project. While thinking about Ahmed, I watched artworks by Mona Hatoum, Dayna McLeod and Maryam Tafakory, whose creative practices are—evidently—a significant inspiration for this piece. This process then led me to make my video essay: an audiovisual collage of fifteen short and feature-length women-made horror films from every region explored in this special issue. My video essay thus emerges through my engagement with scholarship and artistic practice both in and beyond DWGHFH, an acknowledgement that undermines existing (or expected) social and professional hierarchies, where the expertise of the editor is assumed to permeate, top down, throughout the focus issue and to control the production of knowledge. I could have written about process and intention for my video essay, but actually, the single most important aspect of this critical reflection is the explicit decentreing of my professional position. This is because we are at our best when we destabilise hierarchies, when we work collaboratively together, and when we learn and make and practise feminism in our multitudes.


Many thanks to Lucy Fife Donaldson and Colleen Laird for their instructive feedback on an early draft of this video essay and written statement.

This project was funded by the AHRC, as part of my AHRC Research, Development and Engagement Fellowship in Feminist Horror Cinema, project reference AH/W000105/1.


Ahmed, Sara (2012), On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life, Durham: Duke University Press.

Hatoum, Mona (1988), Measures of Distance, Toronto Palestine Film Festival, (last accessed 28 November 2023)

McLeod, Dayna (2024), Thelma and Louise: Rape Culture, Mudflaps, and Vaginal Horizons’, Teknokultura. Journal of Digital Culture and Social Movements, 21, no. 1: (last accessed 5 February 2024).

Tafakory, Maryam (2023), ‘chaste / unchaste’, [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3, (last accessed 5 December 2023)

Tafakory, Marayam (2022), نظربازی / Nazarbazi, (last accessed 28 November 2023)

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