Meet Nalini Haynes
Research Area: Media and Communications.
- Representation and identity
- New Materialism
- Multimodal discourse analysis.
Through the looking glass: a person with albinism examines representation of albinism in contemporary speculative fiction.
What’s your thesis about?
I’m analysing representations of people with albinism (‘albinos’) in recent speculative fiction to see how these representations influence others and impact upon people with albinism. I’ll be looking at everything from the evil albino trope to how Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch contributes to Nigerian attitudes towards people with albinism in spite of being a ‘benevolent’ representation of albinism.
What would you be doing now if not the PhD?
Counselling and visual art.
(Yes, I’m visually impaired. Yes, I have a history as an artist, including receiving awards and exhibiting. No, I haven’t done much artwork lately.)
What made you decide to complete a PhD?
When I was 9, my peers told me ‘You must be evil because you’re an albino and all albinos on TV and in the movies are evil’. Ever since then, I’ve been paying attention to representations of albinism. Usually my peers have proven correct about representations of albinism. Even ‘benevolent’ representations of people with albinism can feed into others’ mistaken beliefs about albinism, making life more difficult for people with albinism.
In 2005 I started a visual arts degree for personal interest and to de-role from counselling as I was completing my masters while also practicing counselling. (No, I’m not a workaholic, nor am I an overachiever. I don’t know what you mean. )
I saw how people with disabilities were represented and then decided I wanted to undertake a PhD on representations of people with disabilities. It’s been a long road to be accepted into academia as a person with a disability and I’m deeply appreciative of the University of Canberra for being open to this research and supporting me as a researcher with a disability.
What’s your favourite part of grad life been so far?
Getting to know other grad students and learning about their research during the breaks in Shut Up And Write, over coffee and lunch.
What’s your dream job (no matter how silly!)?
Being a fiction author and an artist. And being paid for it!!!
How do you de-stress?
Exercise is always good. I’m sun-shy because I have to balance my love of nature with hiding from the UV rays, so the gym is good, as is walking around Canberra’s lake at dawn or dusk. Also I enjoy killing monsters with friends (and killing friends with monsters) in World of Warcraft, playing the online card game Hearthstone, watching TV and movies, and reading.