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Research Communications

Political scientists explore what Battlestar Galactica can teach us about international relations 

By Taylor Evans

The science fiction television series Battlestar Galactica drew a legion of fans for its dramatic depiction of a robot genocide that leaves 50,000 human survivors searching for a new home in the universe.

It's now attracted the attention of political scientists who see parallels between contemporary issues on Earth and the show's discussion of topics such as civil/military relatioNICHOLAS KIERSEYns, terrorism, technology, religion, genocide, and gender roles. Battlestar Galactica and International Relations, co-edited by Nicholas Kiersey and Iver Neumann, is a collection of 10 essays from scholars who explore the show's far-reaching influence.

"We looked at all these themes from a critical perspective and we tried to see how Battlestar Galactica ismaking the world a better or a worse place—and sometimes it's both," says Kiersey, assistant professor of political science at Ohio University's Chillicothe campus. "We didn't just have one thing to say about it."

Kiersey's chapter discusses how the series parallels the way people think of technology today and the concerns that it runs our lives. He argues that Battlestar and contemporary international relations theory both consider modernity and technology to be the downfall of humanity.

In another essay, University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Charli Carpenter explores the way civil military relations in the show shaped the attitude of Tahrir Square protestors during the Arab Spring. Egyptian protestors employed quotes from the series during their protest in the form of tweets and placards.

The book—out in paperback for a general audience this fall—not only has attracted the attention of academics, Kiersey reports, but an endorsement from actor Edward James Olmos, who played Admiral William Adama on the Battlestar Galactica series.

This article will appear in the Autumn/Winter 2013 issue of Ohio University's Perspectives magazine.

Photo of Nicholas Kiersey: Mears Photography.