Polly Withers is LSE Fellow in Media and Communications, and Associate Programme Director of the Global Media and Communications MSc, at the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. She is also a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the LSE Middle East Centre (2021–).
Polly lectures and researches on issues related to global media and communications, media and feminisms, and popular culture. Her work is interdisciplinary and explores how gender, race, and class intersect in popular culture and media practices in the global south. She is particularly interested in examining and questioning how different media and cultural modalities frame, produce, and/or challenge dominant subjectivities and social relations in the Middle East and beyond. In her current work she explores how gendered images in commercial advertisements reflect and communicate shifts in gender and sexuality norms in current-day Palestine.
Dr Withers has also worked as a Research Officer in the LSE Middle East Centre (2019–2020), where she led the project “Neoliberal Visions: Exploring Gendered Adverts and Identities in the Palestinian West Bank”, funded by the LSE Middle East Centre’s Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme. She was also an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the LSE Department of Media and Communications (2018–2019), and a Visiting Fellow at the CBRL’s Kenyon Institute in East Jerusalem, Palestine (2017–2018). She received her ESRC-funded PhD in Middle East politics from the University of Exeter in 2017, for which she was awarded the 2018 BRISMES-Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize for best PhD dissertation on a Middle Eastern topic in the humanities and social sciences. Her doctoral research explored the gendered politics of popular music in Palestine. It is the backdrop to her forthcoming monograph developed from two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Palestine (Haifa, Ramallah, and Jerusalem) and its diaspora (in Amman and London) on the politics of ‘alternative’ music in Palestine.