Zahra Stardust is a critical sexuality scholar working at the intersections of culture, media and criminology.
Stardust’s body of work is invested in ending the stigmatisation and criminalisation of consensual sex, building curricula for porn literacy, and taking transformative justice approaches to sexual violence.
Her research has focused on the relationships between law, policing and social movements (including sex worker rights and LGBTIQA+ rights) and the politics of sexual content moderation (including the production and distribution of explicit media). Her current projects focus on the role of digital technologies in facilitating sexual health, rights and justice.
Stardust’s first monograph Indie Porn: Revolutionary Promises, Regulatory Fantasies, Resistance Politics explores the proliferation of DIY porn and will be published by Duke University Press in 2024. Her first co-authored book Sextech: A Critical Introduction is under contract with Polity Books. She is currently editing an anthology Academy of Whores: Radical Writing by Sex Workers on Campus showcasing provocations sex workers are making to academia.
Stardust is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society at Queensland University of Technology, where she works on projects relating to sexual surveillance, algorithmic sexual profiling and the political economy of sextech.
Her previous research has examined sex work stigma, post-work politics, queer femininities, sex positive law reform, trans prison policies, chemsex practices and the policing of protest.
She has studied at the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture and Society at the University of Amsterdam and the Summer Doctoral Program at the University of Oxford Internet Institute, and is on the World Association for Sexual Health’s Sexual Justice Steering Committee and the Editorial Board of Porn Studies.
Prior to academia, Stardust worked in policy, advocacy, legal and research capacities with community organisations, NGOs and UN bodies on numerous human rights and social justice projects. She is admitted as a solicitor to the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia.
She is a former Penthouse Pet, Hustler Honey, Feminist Porn Awards Heartthrob of the Year, and has toured internationally as a pole dance instructor, trapeze artist and sex educator.
Stardust is a promiscuous collaborator and welcomes creative, cultural and interdisciplinary projects on a range of issues, from AI-generated pornography to sustainable sextech.