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Leadership, Eroticism and Abjection: Star Trek and the Borg Queen

The Physicality of Leadership: Gesture, Entanglement, Taboo, Possibilities

ISBN: 978-1-78441-290-6, eISBN: 978-1-78441-289-0

ISSN: 1479-3571

Publication date: 24 November 2014

Abstract

The sexual and erotic dimensions inherent in leadership’s physicality impact on power dynamics within organizations but have been rendered largely invisible by current scholarship. In organizational practice, leadership is a masculine activity ideally carried out by male bodies, such that women’s leadership is still perceived as problematic. This suggests that the field is fearful of allowing sexual bodies to pollute what should be a functional, cognitive and instrumental activity. This chapter therefore draws on Julia Kristeva’s concept of abjection to explain how and why the sexual body is positioned as the unspoken other of leadership. To do this, I explore the representation of two very contrasting leaders, Jean Luc Picard and the Borg Queen, in the popular film Star Trek: First Contact. The film illuminates how leadership ideally resides in a virile, mastered and distant male body. The sexual female body is represented as disgusting, dangerous, and a source of contamination and so must be cast out and destroyed. Finally, I ask whether the representation of the Borg Queen is useful as a transgressive means to undermine the abjection of the female leader’s body. However, I conclude that to counter abjection, scholars of leadership need instead to build discursive and material practices that revalue the feminine and respect the alterity of self and others.

Keywords

Citation

Phillips, M. (2014), "Leadership, Eroticism and Abjection: Star Trek and the Borg Queen", The Physicality of Leadership: Gesture, Entanglement, Taboo, Possibilities (Monographs in Leadership and Management, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 155-175. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-357120140000006007

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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