Photo of Lara Karaian

Lara Karaian

Associate Professor

Degrees:Ph.D. (Gender and Sexuality Studies); MA (Gender and Sexuality Studies), York University; BA Honours (Criminology/Sociology), University of Toronto
Phone:613-520-2600 x 1458
Office:C578 Loeb

Areas of Interest

  • Critical & Cultural Criminology
  • Porn, Media & Cultural Studies
  • Digital Technology, Virtual Intimacy & Cybersex
  • Criminal, Civil & Constitutional Law
  • Censorship, Child Pornography & Freedom of Expression
  • Queer, Feminist, & Critical Race/Whiteness Theory
  • Post/Intersectionality & Assemblage Theory
  • Affect, Emotion & the Senses
  • Posthumanism & Poststructuralism
  • Youth & Adolescent Studies

My research interests are varied however I am generally interested in examining the intersections between the body, sexuality, technology, representation, legal regulation, and popular culture. I have researched and written on topics such as: teenage sexting and child pornography; ‘revenge porn’; accidental incest and ‘technology facilitated’ incest; virtual rape; ‘self-exploitation’; queer pornography; risk management; (self)surveillance; pregnant men and anti-discrimination law; transgender human rights; and, third wave feminisms. I approach these topics empirically and theoretically and employ a post/intersectional lens.

I am cross-appointed to the Department of Law and Legal Studies, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and the Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies. I am also a member of the Sexuality Studies Committee at Carleton and an adjunct faculty member in the department of Socio-Legal Studies at York University.

Current Research

Some of my current research interests include: The ontology of cybersex and virtual rape; the criminalization of emotional and psychological distress; a critical analysis of the discourse of ‘rape culture’ and ‘porn culture’; the pursuit of a positive theory of pleasure and sexuality in law; transformative justice and peacekeeping criminology; narrative criminology.

I am in the process of completing two projects. The first project is a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2012-2015) for my project titled “Selfies, Sexuality, and Teens: A Canadian Study”.  In this study I examine the crime control and legal responses to ‘sexy’ selfies or sexts. I am interested in how the courts, child protection agencies, and crime prevention efforts—such as criminal diversion programs, online Internet Safety initiatives, and televised public service announcements (PSAs)—construct and regulate consensual teenage digital sexual expression. In addition to analyzing the representational and regulatory practices of extra-legal and legal institutions and organizations, I conducted focus groups with teenagers in Ottawa and Toronto and am in the process of writing up my findings from this diverse group of teens’ experiences.

The second project, funded by the Foundation for Legal Research of the Canadian Bar Association, examines judicial interpretations of the ‘private use exemption’ to Canada’s child pornography laws. The resulting report, and an article, will be submitted to the foundation and to a peer-reviewed journal in 2016.


As a result of my research I have been invited to serve as an expert consultant by the Law Reform Committee of the Parliament of Victoria, Australia for their ‘International Consultation on Sexting Inquiry’ (2012). The resulting Report of the Law Reform Committee for the Inquiry into Sexting (Parliamentary Paper No. 230, Session 2010–2013) was released in May 2013. I have also served as an expert witness in two constitutional questions regarding the application of child pornography laws to teenage sexting scenarios as well as for the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on the Status of Women and its study on Violence against Young Women and Girls. In an effort to translate my research findings and to ensure that they are read and understood by front-line policing and social service providers I have acted as an expert consultant for Kids Help Phone during the development of their sexting content and have presented my research at the Ottawa Police GLBT Liaison Committee’s Annual Information Exchange on ‘Cyber Sex and the Law’.


SOCI 5805F: Graduate Seminar: Contemporary Criminological Issues (Team taught)
CRCJ 4001: Special Topics – Policing Sex
CRCJ 4001: Special Topics – Crime, Emotion, and the Senses
CRCJ 3003: Legal Research Methods
CRCJ 1000: Introduction to Criminology and Criminal Justice
FYSM 1502R: Topics in Legal Studies: Law, Sex and Gender

Supervisory Experience

I enjoy working with graduate and undergraduate students. Please contact me to determine if I am available and able to supervise your area of research. I am currently supervising 5 Ph.D. candidates (in the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology and in Law and Legal Studies) and am a committee member on 2 additional doctoral committees (including one at York University). To date I have supervised to completion numerous MA Theses, Major Research Essays, and Undergraduate Theses from across Criminology, Law and Legal Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, and Women and Gender Studies.

Selected Publications (Refereed)

(To read early versions of these publications visit my cite: Final published versions are accessible through Carleton’s MacOdrum Library)

Karaian, L. (2016) “Relative Lust: Accidental Incest’s Affective and Legal Resonances” Law, Culture and the Humanities (Published online before print July 25, 2016, doi: 10.1177/1743872116661271)
Karaian, L.  (2016) “Data Doubles and Pure Virtu(e)ality: Headless Selfies, Scopophilia, and ‘Surveillance Porn’” In Emily van der Meulen and Rob Heynen (Eds.) Expanding the Gaze: Gender and the Politics of Surveillance. University of Toronto Press. pp. 35-55.
Karaian, L. (2015)   “Consensual Sexting and Child Pornography: Legal and Cultural Controversies” In Shira Tarrant (Ed.). Gender, Sex, and Politics: In the Streets and Between the Sheets in the 21st Century. New York: Routledge. pp. 169-184.
Karaian, L. (2015)  “What is Self-exploitation? Rethinking the Relationship between Sexualisation and ‘Sexting’ in Law and-Order Times” In Danielle Egan, Emma Renold, Jessica Ringrose (Eds.) Children, Sexuality and ‘Sexualisation’: Beyond Spectacle and Sensationalism (Praeger, UK). pp. 337-351.
Karaian, L. and Van Meyl, K. (2015) “Reframing Risqué/Risky: Queer Temporalities, Teenage Sexting, and Freedom of Expression” Laws, 4(1): 18-36. doi:10.3390/laws4010018 (free download at
Karaian L. and Tompkins, A. (2015) “Teenage Sexting: Sexual Expression meets Mobile Technology” In Z. Yan (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Mobile Phone Behavior (Volumes 1, 2, & 3). Hershey, PA: IGI Global: pp. 1500-1513.
Karaian, L. (2014) “Policing ‘Sexting’: Responsibilization, Respectability and Sexual Subjectivity in Child Protection/Crime Prevention Responses to Teenagers’ Digital Sexual Expression” Theoretical Criminology.  18(3): 282-299. doi: 10.1177/1362480613504331
Karaian, L. (2013) “Pregnant Men: Repronormativity, Critical Trans Theory and the Re(conceive)ing of Sex, Gender and Pregnancy in Anti-Discrimination LawSocial and Legal Studies 22(2): 211-230.
Karaian (2012) “Lolita Speaks: ‘Sexting’, Teenage Girls and the Law”, Crime Media Culture 8(1): 57-73. doi: 10.1177/1741659011429868
Karaian (2009) “The Troubled Relationship of Feminist and Queer Legal Theory to Strategic Essentialism: Theory/Praxis, Queer Porn, and Canadian Anti-discrimination Law.” In Martha Albertson Fineman et al. (eds.) Feminist and Queer Legal Theory: Intimate Encounters, Uncomfortable Conversations. Ashgate Press.
Karaian, L. and Mitchell, A. (2009) “Third Wave Feminisms.” In Nancy Mandell (Ed.) Feminist Issues: Race, Class and Sexuality (Fifth Edition). Pearson Prentice Hall. pp. 63-86.
Karaian, L. (2006) “Strategic Essentialism on Trial: Transgender Legal Interventions and Social Change” In Krista Scott-Dixon (Ed.). Trans/Forming Feminisms. Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Karaian (2005) “Troubling the Definition of Pornography: Little Sisters, a New Defining Moment in Feminists’ Engagement with the Law?” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law. 20th Anniversary Special Issue. 17(1): 117-133. (free download at
Mitchell, A. Rundle, L and Karaian L. (2001) Turbo Chicks: Talking Young Feminisms, Canadian Scholars’ Press. (Turbo Chicks is the first Canadian anthology on Third Wave Feminism. In 2002 it won the Independent Publisher Book Award).