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:DT 1718 Dunton Tower

Areas of Interest

  • Critical & Cultural Criminology
  • Immersive, Interactive and Intelligent Technologies
  • Cybersex, Virtual Intimacy, & Sex/Crime
  • Porn, Media & Cultural Studies
  • Criminal, Civil & Constitutional Law
  • Censorship, Child Pornography & Freedom of Expression
  • Queer, Feminist, & Critical Race/Whiteness Theory
  • Post/Intersectionality Theory
  • Affect, Emotion & the Senses
  • Posthumanism & Poststructuralism

My research examines the intersections between sexuality, technology, representation, bodily experience, and legal regulation. I have published journal articles and legal reports on topics such as: teenage sexting and child pornography; ‘revenge porn’ and Intimate Image distribution; accidental incest and ‘technology facilitated’ incest; ‘self-exploitation’; queer pornography; risk management and (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 to 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.

Follow Lara on Twitter @LaraKaraian

Read Lara’s blog posts here:

Current Research

My current SSHRC funded research—“Sex/Crime in the Era of Immersive, Interactive, and Intelligent Technologies: A Study of Sextech, Affect and Law” (Insight Grant, 2020-2025)— examines how sextech—new technologies developed or applied to enhance, innovate, or disrupt human sexual experience—affects us, and how these affects sustain or destabilize legal constructions of ‘sex crime’. I asks: How does sextech implicate and alter our body’s physical borders and its affective ways of knowing and being?; How has sextech and its affects been described, conceptualized, and responded to by sextech consumers, digisexuals, mainstream culture, and courts? How do our affective experiences of and with sextech support, subvert, and create new sexual norms, legal knowledge, and modes of regulation? I ground my analyses in an examination of legal and cultural narratives of, and experiences with, sex robots, deepfake pornography, sex in virtual reality, and digisexuality. This qualitative study is informed by cultural and critical criminology theory, legal theory, sexuality studies, science and technology studies, affect theory, posthumanism, and new/feminist materialist theories.

This research builds on my previous SSHRC funded study: “Selfies, Sexuality, and Teens: A Canadian Study” (Insight Development Grant, 2012-2015). In it, I examined how courts, child protection agencies, and crime prevention efforts construct and regulate consensual teenage digital sexual expression. In addition to conducting focus groups with teenagers in Ottawa and Toronto this project analyzed the representational and regulatory responses of extra-legal and legal institutions and organizations responding to youths’ digital sexual practices.

Recently, I completed a smaller project examining judicial interpretations of the ‘private use exemption’ to Canada’s child pornography laws (funded by the Canadian Bar Association’s Foundation for Legal Research). The resulting co-authored article titled “Revisiting the ‘Private Use Exception’ to Canada’s Child Pornography Laws: Teenage Sexting, Sex Positivity, Pleasure, and Control in the Digital Age,” can be downloaded from Osgoode Hall Law Journal’s website:


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’ (Parliamentary Paper No. 230, Session 2010–2013). I have also served as an expert witness for the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on the Status of Women as well as for two constitutional questions and one sentencing decision regarding the application of child pornography laws to teenage sexting scenarios. In an effort to ensure that my research findings are read and understood by front-line state and social service actors, I have also served as an expert consultant for Kids Help Phone (during the development of their sexting content) and have presented my research at the Ottawa Police LGBT Liaison Committee’s Annual Information Exchange on ‘Cyber Sex and the Law’.


I am currently supervising and serving on the committees of numerous graduate and undergraduate students from various departments. I am not taking on new MA or PhD supervisions until Fall 2025. Completed supervisions (past 5 years only) include:

Student Name Project Title Degree Awarded
Alexandra Dodge Punishing ‘Revenge Porn’: Legal Interpretations of and Responses to Non-Consensual Intimate Image Distribution in Canada Doctor of Philosophy in Law and Legal Studies (Summer 2019)
Matthew Johnston Stories of Madness: Exploring Resistance, Conformity, Resiliency, Agency, and Disengagement in Mental Health Narratives Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology (Summer 2019)
Menaka Raguparan “So it’s not always the sappy story”: Women of Colour and Indigenous Women in the Indoor Sectors of the Canadian Sex Industry Doctor of Philosophy in Law and Legal Studies (Winter 2019)
Trevor Milford Lessons from #GamerGate: Complicating virtual harm and reassessing virtual harm assessment Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology (Spring 2018)
Darby Mallory “Safe Schools for Whom? A Review of Policy, Austerity, and ‘Workplace Violence’ in Ontario’s Elementary Schools” Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies (Spring 2022)
Delphine DiTecco

New Technology, Same Old Stigma: An Analysis of Feminist Discourses and Sex Work Stigma in Sex Robot Media Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies (Summer 2020)
Nasreen Rajani Girls, Online Media and Critical Media Literacy: An Examination of Girls’ Engagement with Media Blogs Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies (Fall 2015)
Allysa Czerwinsky Incels and On-line Community Making Undergraduate Thesis in Criminology (Spring 2019)
Alyssa Gregoire School Dress Codes and the Regulation of Students’ Bodies Undergraduate Thesis in Criminology (Spring 2019)
Summer Lewis Sex Robots and the Legal Regulation of Prostitution Undergraduate Thesis in Criminology (Spring 2018)
Alison Houle Revenge Porn: Public Perceptions, Developments in Canadian Law Undergraduate Thesis in Criminology (Spring 2015)
Morgan Rochon Sex Trafficking in the Canadian Context Undergraduate Thesis in Criminology (Spring 2015)

Selected Publications (Refereed)

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

DiTecco, D., Karaian, L. (2022) “New Technology, Same Old Stigma: Media Narratives of Sex Robots and Sex Work,” Sexuality & Culture (On-line pre-pub).
Karaian, L (2022) “Plastic Fantastic: Sex Robots and/as Sexual Fantasy,” Sexualities, online first, June 2022, 1-20. Open Access:
Karaian, L and Brady, D. (2020) “Revisiting the “Private Use Exception” to Canada’s Child Pornography Laws: Teenage Sexting, Sex Positivity, Pleasure, and Control in the Digital Age,” Osgoode Hall Law Journal, 56(2): 301-350.
Karaian, L. (2019) “Relative Lust: Accidental Incest’s Affective and Legal Resonances” Law, Culture and the Humanities 15(3): 806–825. (First published online 2016).
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).