Michelle Marzulo Karina Eileraas Karakus

Associate Professor
Human Sexuality
School of Consciousness and Transformation

PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

MA, Northwestern University

Karina received a BA in Women’s Studies, International Relations & French from Wesleyan University. After graduation, she worked in global commodities, international tax, and systems integration consulting with Sidley & Austin, Ernst & Young and Accenture. She subsequently pursued a MA in French & Francophone Studies at Northwestern University and a Ph.D. at UCLA, where she became the first Ph.D. graduate of the Women’s Studies Program. Before joining CIIS, Karina taught at UCLA, USC and Pomona College; and served as a Mellon Research Associate with Judith Butler in the Program in Critical Theory and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies Program at UC Berkeley.  

Karina’s research addresses the interface between sexuality, revolution, visual culture and digital citizenship in a transnational frame. She specializes in sexual violence, trauma and cultural memory; the politics of desire; sexuality and technology, especially in start-up culture; feminist and postcolonial theory; revolution, visual culture and diaspora in the Middle East and North Africa; Islamic feminist approaches to sex education and violence; global beauty, body politics and reproductive health; film, music and performance studies; and the relationship between sexual violence, fantasy, and misrecognition. Karina is currently writing a book on fashion, sexuality and revolution. She is researching modest fashion, Islamic capital and the role of hijabista influencers in the emergence of a new religious elite in Turkey. In addition, Karina is revising an essay on the French-Lebanese film Lila dit ca (2006). She is especially intrigued by the ways in which sexual fantasy and state violence work together in this film to “fix” geopolitical borders as well as fantasies of racial, cultural, ethnic, religious and sexual belonging and “otherness”. Karina has recently published articles and book chapters on nude protest and social media as transnational feminist sites of rage and as means of reformulating the public square with respect to the Egyptian nude blogger Aliaa al-Mahdy and Femen. She has also published on public debate surrounding visible religious symbols with respect to a tidal wave of legal bans on the burqa, hijab, and burkini in France and beyond.

Beyond academia, Karina consults with ReadySet, a boutique DEI consulting start-up, to assist and train corporate clients on issues related to diversity, equity, bias and sexual harassment. She also works with HEART, a Muslim feminist organization that creates intersectional, culturally sensitive training and advocacy as well as sex-positive education programs to increase sexual health literacy and combat sexual violence and gendered Islamophobia within and outside the Muslim community. Additionally, she serves on the Program Advisory Board of Population Media Center to design educational entertainment media centered on reproductive justice; and consults with several women-founded start-ups in LA, San Francisco, and Hong Kong to develop software and GPS apps and implement behavioral design-based programs to challenge gender norms and reduce sexual violence. Karina has also worked as Program Management Officer of the Silicon Valley Solution Vortex of the World Education Foundation to connect thought leaders in higher education, international development and the tech sector. She partnered on social entrepreneurship ventures to empower female refugees in conflict zones, partly by challenging cultural biases that contribute to sexual violence and to the global digital and educational divide.

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