Dr Maria Hynes

PhD, BA (Hons), Dip App Sci
Senior Lecturer
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Sociology 1608
  • Social Philosophy 220319
  • Sociology And Social Studies Of Science And Technology 160808
  • Screen And Media Culture 200212
  • Visual Arts 3606

Research interests


This dimension of my work explores diverse forms of creative practice and their capacities for producing new forms of social life. One arm of this research involves interviews with those engaged in creative practice (broadly defined - eg. artists, activists, artivists) with an eye to experimenting with new forms of collective life.

The other branch of this research examines dominant and emerging models of transdisciplinary collaboration, with a focus on Art-Science and Design Thinking. I am especially interested in exploring the diverse forms of immaterial, cognitive and affective labour to which such institutional arrangements give rise, in view of the dependence of the current phase of capitalism on the circulation of immaterial, as well as material, things (products, goods, technological innovations, but also ways of thinking, experiencing, feeling and being).



The ontological and post-humanist turns in social theory give the impression that the human is a somewhat redundant form. But it is clearly a persistent one. Who is 'the human' of discourses evoking the post- or more-than human? My current work reads such discourses through the lens of those who, through histories of colonialism and slavery, have been historically deemed less-than human. It explores the implication of viewing the human, not in terms of its identity or species essence, but as an operator of variation and difference. How might the human variable be thought today? I am interested in how such questions sit in relationship to the project of 'decolonising' the social sciences, insofar as that moves beyond the politics of inclusion, which invariably negates our debt to blackness, Indigeneity and the undercommons. In this, I am especially influenced by the work of Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, Denise da Silva Ferreira, Frank Wilderson III, Sadiya Hartmann, Tyson Yunkaporta and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro.



Underpinning much of my research is an interest in the 'affective turn' in sociological theory and method, which involves a shift away from human-centred and cognitive understandings of social action and knowledge production toward a focus on forces, intensities and embodied capacities. I have an ongoing interest in the concept of affect as a way of understanding social action and transformation at a time in which power operates directly on our vitality, modulating our capacities for action. Here I draw on the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari and those influenced by their thought to understand affect from a social, rather than psychological, perspective. This interest in the affective turn has informed research in the following areas:

(i) The limits of traditional humanist frameworks for approaching contemporary problems. I have undertaken rearticulations of what would normally be seen as very human centred themes (the problem of indifference, the role of enthusiasm in our engagement with the world and the place of charismatic authority in contemporary society).

(ii) The nature of power in view of its operation on the domain of 'life itself'. How is our conceptualisation of life shaped by affective capitalism and scientific knowledge? How might it be vitalised by artistic engagements?

(iii) The question of subjectivity. What role might ethico-aesthetic experiments with subjective and collective existence play in the face of dominant modes of subjectivation? 



I am interested in the question of how to think resistance as something other than reactivity. Here I draw on the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, alongside Radical Italian thought and critical race theory, to reconceptualise resistance in less reactive terms. I have written on the micropolitical capacities of art and, with Scott Sharpe, on the  the role that humour can play in generating social, cultural and political change, seen from the point of view of highly visible, macropolitical struggles but especially from a more micropolitical perspective. 


I have been employed in Sociology at ANU on a continuing basis since 2009, after being awarded my PhD at Macquarie University. My principal interest lies in the ways in which different forms of life persist, flourish and suffer in view of contemporary and historical modes of governing and extracting value from social life. 

I have undertaken theoretical explorations of the vital forces that enervate social life, producing new forms of life, innovative modes of action and transformations in our habits of thinking, doing, seeing and saying. I am especially interested in the forms of structural violence that underpin dominant images of contemporary life. Other writing has explored the role played by genetic science and neuroscience in producing and governing possible modes of life; art and practices of experimentation; and interdisciplinary endeavours at the nexus of art and science. 

I teach in the areas of Contemporary Social Theory and the Sociology of Resistance. While my teaching draws on a wide range of classical and contemporary social theorists, my research is largely informed by post-structuralist theory  and the philosophies that inform them (Deleuze, Bergson, Guattari, Massumi, Spinoza, Leibniz, Nietzsche), critical theory (Moten, Harney, Wilderson, Hartman, Ferreira da Silva, Sexton, Povinelli, Viveiros de Castro) and Radical Italian thought (Lazzarato, Negri).

Current student projects

I am currently involved in PhD supervision on the problem of 'Quality of Life' and (Con)spiritualism and image-based practices.

Past student projects

Past PhD projects supervised in the areas of animal studies, the Anthropocene, African-Australian youth, neuroscientific developments, the Internet of Things and mobile technologies.



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  16 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers