I am a cultural sociologist whose research straddles together theoretical and methodological approaches from the social sciences and from the arts and humanities. My areas of expertise include time and temporalities, cultural production, material and visual culture, and disability studies. My work in these areas is underpinned by feminist and queer epistemologies and methodologies. Embodied and emplaced, it is rooted in phenomenology and draws on affect theory and ANT.
I am interested in the emergence of subjectivities under the (cultural) conditions of late capitalism, characterised by precarious employment, the aestheticization of everyday life, growing imperatives to embrace and enact geographical, social and professional mobility, and the injunction to manage incalculable risks while retaining an affective investment in the future. I am also interested in counter-emergences; in cultural imaginaries and practices that conjure alternative subjectivities, non-normative ways of being, and future-orientations premised on ‘hope without optimism’. This informs my recent focus on queer and crip utopias.
My earlier research examined the labour of fashion intermediaries and enquired what kinds of knowledge their work relies on, and what kinds of subjectivities it summons and constitutes. This project applied the critical lenses that emerged from the ‘affective turn’ in the humanities and the social sciences to the analysis of labour in the cultural and creative industries. Another strand of my research has been concerned with representations of disability in contemporary cultural texts. Drawing on textual analysis of recent fashion media, performance and photography, I enquired how popular culture incorporates the disabled body into its imaginaries by means of normalising, mainstreaming, ‘enfreakment’ or commodification.
My current research seeks to further advance the dialogue between cultural sociology, disability studies, sociology of time, and material and visual culture. It explores ‘crip’ and ‘queer-crip’ cultural production, with a focus on what I tentatively term ‘queer-crip aesthetics’ emerging in recent fashion, media and performance: a nascent cultural paradigm that foregrounds and celebrates queer-crip subjectivity as a unique way of being-in-the-world.
Prior to academia, I worked in the creative industries across four countries for over 15 years, and this experience informs both my teaching and my research.
Together with Dr Don Slater, I convene the MSc Culture and Society.
Articles and book chapters
Melkumova-Reynolds, J. (2022) “Let Me Be Your Stimy Toy”: Fashioning Disability, Cripping Fashion. In: R. Mahawatte, J. Willson (Eds.) Dangerous Bodies: New Global Perspectives on Fashion and Transgression. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Melkumova-Reynolds, J. (2022) How the East Was Worn: Negotiating National Heritage in the First Issues of Vogue Ukraine and Vogue Russia. In: R. Findlay and J. Reponen (Eds.). Insights on Fashion Journalism. London: Routledge https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003035688
Melkumova-Reynolds, J. (2021) From Bag to “It”-bag: The “Consecration” of Sophie Hulme’s Tote Design. In: E. Paulicelli, V. Manlow, & E. Wissinger (Eds.). The Routledge Companion to Fashion Studies. New York: Routledge https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429264405
Burton, L. and Melkumova-Reynolds, J. (2020) ”My leg is a giant stiletto heel”: Fashioning the prosthetic body. In: M. Barnard (Ed). Fashion Theory: A Reader, 2nd edition. London: Routledge
Burton, L. and Melkumova-Reynolds, J. (2019) ”My leg is a giant stiletto heel”: Fashioning the prosthetic body. Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, 23 (2) DOI 10.1080/1362704X.2019.1567061
Melkumova-Reynolds, J. (2019) ‘”This guy is such a machine!”: Gendering the prosthetic body. In: B. Braid and H. Muzaffar (Eds.). Bodies in Flux: Embodiments at the End of Anthropocentrism. Leiden: Brill https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004408760_006
2019. ‘Schrödinger’s jeans’, Vestoj (online)
2019. ‘Experimental Fashion: Performance Art, Carnival and the Grotesque Body’, review of the book by F. Granata, International Journal of Fashion Studies, 6 (1)
2016. ‘Exhibiting Fashion: before and after 1971’ [review of the book by J. Clark and A. de la Haye], Fashion Theory, No. 34 (Russian edition)
2015. ‘The Glamour of Italian Fashion’ [review of the exhibition at the V&A], Fashion Theory, No. 32
2014. ‘Fashioning models: Image, Text and Industry’ [review of the book by J. Entwistle and E. Wissinger], Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, No. 29 (Russian edition)
2013. ‘Mannequin: Le Corps De La Mode’ (Mannequin: The Body of Fashion) [review of the exhibition at Palais Galliera], Fashion Theory, No. 28 (Russian edition)