Cartoon controversies and geopolitics: Archer, animators and audiences

Joe Thorogood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Scholars of popular geopolitics ponder how and why cultural media become important commentaries on real-world events. Cultural geographers are wrestling with technology that mediates the experience of consuming popular culture. I bring these two literatures into dialogue by explaining how audiences and animators of the popular animated cartoon Archer are linked. I begin by outlining the cultural materiality of the animated cartoon through an assemblage-based framework where Archer’s political satire emerges from the relationship between writers, audiences, animators and nonhuman animation technologies. Second, I use this framework to analyse how Archer responded to a real-world event: the rise of the Islamic State in 2014. I show how fans interpreted this decision and conclude that the geopolitical meaning of satirical cartoons – and their ability to resonate and affect audiences – should be understood as a socio-material effect that is emergent, unpredictable and relational.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-379
Number of pages23
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Archer
  • Critical geopolitics
  • materiality
  • mediation
  • production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies


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