Now that a new academic year is upon us again, I thought it was a good time to share (for those of you interested) my progress on advancing my interest in the popular geopolitics of James Bond.
Over the summer, a colleague Lisa Funnell (University of Oklahoma) and me have been writing a book with the working title The World is Not Enough, which brings together our interests in gender, geopolitics and film. We have a good working draft now and explore Bond’s relationship to place and space, and the manner in which he is able to improvise, manage, administer, destroy and discipline those sites and spaces he encounters. It is proving great fun to write and we hope by the end to demonstrate how the where is critical to making sense of the why and how of Bond and mission success. We also think the where plays a significant role in explaining Bond’s continuing popularity (and the political economy of the films from the Eady subsidies in the 1960s to the desire to expand the Bond brand in new markets in the global South including China).
For now a glimpse of our Bond project can be found in the Journal of Popular Film and Television, which has just published our co-written piece on ‘“The Man with the Midas Touch”: The Haptic Geographies of James Bond’s Body’. As our introduction notes, “Bond’s body and haptic encounters need to be examined across various situations, spaces, and contexts. The discussion of the haptic geographies of James Bond should include a consideration of how his body is defined as being fit, sensual, technical, memorializing, and calculating, as well as the ways in which his body changes in accordance with shifting generic and gendered codes in the franchise. Bond, as M noted in Casino Royale (Dir. Martin Campbell, 2006), might be a “blunt instrument” but his apparent bluntness should not obscure something equally fundamental: he is a touch-oriented and sensuous secret agent. Without that touch and without that feel, he would be a “dysesthetic instrument” and ultimately less likely to serve Queen and Country with any great distinction”.
A forthcoming piece in Journal of American Culture (again co-written with Lisa) entitled “The Anglo-American Connection:Examining the Intersection of Class, Nationality, Gender, and Race in the James Bond Films”, considers how the popular geopolitics of James Bond is decisively shaped, in many of the films, by the personal relationship between Bond and his American allies, both men and women. Bond’s special power in all of this might be rooted in what we describe as “Bond’s repeated demonstration of what he can do, touch, and feel also matters to the ‘special relationship’. His ability to connect is what makes the relationship special with his American allies—he can push the button at the right moment, seduce a key informant, and sense danger that others cannot”.
The final element of the summer, albeit written somewhat earlier, is seeing a chapter I wrote called “It’s Not For Everyone”: James Bond and Miss Moneypenny in Skyfall (2012)” appear in Lisa’s edited collection, For His Eyes Only: The Women of James Bond (Columbia University Press 2015). My chapter explores that seemingly throwaway remark by Bond to Moneypenny in the aftermath of his accidental shooting somewhere outside Istanbul, while chasing the main suspect in a botched mission for MI6. I am thrilled to be part of this collection, which contains a fascinating array of essays by established and emerging Bond scholars. The foreword is by Christopher Linder, a well known Bond scholar and editor (amongst other things).
As I look forward to going to see SPECTRE this autumn with our new MSc Geopolitics and Security students, the film itself provides the final element in our book length manuscript which we will be submitting to Palgave Macmillan in the new year.