Dr Maria Hynes

PhD, BA (Hons), Dip App Sci
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

Research interests

Art-Science in the Innovation Age

At a time in which governments world-wide are insisting on the need for innovation in ideas, new and fascinating institutions are coming into being. This area of my research examines emerging institutions in which artists and scientists come together to engage in collaborative and interdisciplinary problem solving and experimental projects. I am especially interested in exploring the diverse forms of cognitive and affective labour to which such institutional arrangements give rise.



Underpinning much of my research is an interest in the 'affective turn' in sociological theory and method, which involves a shift away from cognitive understandings of social action and knowledge production toward a focus on 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. 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 post-humanist 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 changing character of power in light of its incursion into the domain of 'life itself'. How is our very conceptualisation of life shaped by scientific knowledge and vitalised by artistic engagements?


Micropolitics and Resistance

I am interested in the micropolitical and affective dimensions of resistance. How do contemporary social actors intervene in the micropolitics of everyday life? I write on the role that art plays in challenging some of the ways that Sociology has approached the question of political action. I have also written with Scott Sharpe, a Cultural Geographer at UNSW@Canberra, on the political, cultural, aesthetic and ethical dimensions of lightness, in view of the privileging of gravity in the history of thinking about political and social action. An important aspect of this work is 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. We have written on affirmation, culture jamming and the affective politics of the anti-globalisation movement. I am an Associate Member of the Unit of Play at Goldsmiths College, University of London, which explores the problematic of play in relation to diverse empirical problems.


Racism and Anti-racism 

I am interested in the project of decolonising the social sciences, understood not merely as a reinclusion of excluded authors from the canon but, more broadly, as a project of reconfiguring what a discipline of sociology is, once the negation of its debt to blackness and the undercommons is challenged. In this, I am very influenced by the work of Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, Denise da Silva Ferreira and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro.

I have been a chief investigator on an ARC Linkage project on racism and anti-racism, titled ‘Bystander Research Proposal: From the Challenging Racism Project’. The project involves qualitative and quantitative research into the enablers and constraints of bystander action as a response to racism. 




I have been employed in Sociology at ANU on a continuing basis since February 2009 after being awarded my PhD at Macquarie University. Principally, my interest lies in the kinds of 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. This interest has lead me to analyse the impact of vitalist, reductionist and holist modes of thinking on our conception of ‘life itself’; the ways that life has been transformed by genetic science and technological developments; the role of art, and specifically sculpture, in producing innovative modes of thinking and being; the politics of affect broadly, and the affective politics of humour more specifically. 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 more particularly by the thought of Deleuze, Bergson, Guattari, Massumi, Spinoza, Leibniz, Nietzsche, Ravaisson and the Italian Autonomists.

Current student projects

I am currently involved in PhD supervision in the areas of human/animal relations, mobile technologies and affect, the Anthropocene and the Internet of Things.

Past student projects

Past student projects include studies of African-Australian youth, neuroscience, the problem of the animal, the online space of reddit, habit and gaming, BDSM porn, the Hillsong church, videogaming, the performativity of IV drug use and nationalism and urban space.


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:  01 July 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers