Zahra Zsuzsanna Stardust

PhD Candidate, Arts/Media & Law, UNSW

Zahra Stardust is a PhD Candidate at UNSW. Her doctoral research examines the legal regulation of pornography in Australia, the emergence of alternative pornographies as a social protest and political movement, and the implications of criminalising non-normative intimacies. This follows on from her Masters research into conventions and counter-practices among erotic performers.

Over the past decade Zahra has worked in policy and research capacities on human rights projects for NGOs, community organisations, academic institutions, corporate law firms and United Nations bodies, in Australia and internationally.

During this time she worked in areas of HIV prevention, health promotion, safe migration, anti-discrimination, LGBTIQA+ rights, sexual and reproductive health, gendered violence, sexual assault, refugee status determination, homelessness, stolen wages and native title.

Zahra's most recent work is published in peer-reviewed journals Porn Studies, World Journal of AIDS and Research for Sex Work, and edited anthologies Queer Sex Work, Coming Out Like a Porn Star: Essays on Pornography, Protection and Privacy, and The DIY Porn Handbook: Documenting Our Own Sexual Revolutions (forthcoming).

She has spoken at conferences such as the International Bar Association (Tokyo), Sexual Cultures (Brunel University), Erotic Screen and Sound (Griffith University), Trans/Forming Feminisms (University of Otago) and the Feminist Porn Conference (University of Toronto), and has guest lectured or presented at the Universities of Sydney, UNSW, UTS, Curtin University and University of Queensland.


  • 2013–present
    PhD Candidate, Arts/Media, UNSW Australia


  • 2017 
    University of New South Wales, PhD Candidate (in progress)
  • 2014 
    University of Amsterdam, Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture & Society
  • 2011 
    University of Sydney, Master of Arts (Research) (Gender and Cultural Studies)
  • 2008 
    University of Sydney, Bachelor of Laws (Honors)
  • 2004 
    University of Sydney, Bachelor of Arts (Modern History)


  • 2016
    Pornography as Protest: DIY Porn and Direct Action, Madison Young (ed), The DIY Porn Handbook: Documenting and Our Sexual Revolutions, Greenery Press: San Francisco (forthcoming).
  • 2016
    Performer-Centred Pornography as Sex Worker Rights: Developing Labour Standards in a Criminal Context, Research for Sex Work, Issue 15: Resistance and Resilience, Global Network of Sex Work Projects.
  • 2015
    Critical Femininities, Fluid Sexualities and Queer Temporalities: Erotic performers on Objectification, Femmephobia and Oppression, Mary Laing, Katy Pilcher and Nicola Smith (eds), Queer Sex Work, Routledge Studies in Crime and Society: United Kingdom, 67-78.
  • 2015
    Coming Out, Coming Hard: Privacy, Exhibitionism and Running for Parliament, Jiz Lee (ed), How to Come Out like a Porn Star: Essays on Pornography, Protection and Privacy, Three L Media: San Francisco.
  • 2014
    Fisting is Not Permitted: Criminal Intimacies, Queer Sexualities and Feminist Porn in the Australian Legal Context, Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith (eds), Porn Studies, Volume 1, Issue 3, 258-275, United Kingdom: Routledge.
  • 2014
    Sex Work is Work: Sex Worker Human Rights in Australia, International Bar Association: Human Rights Law Working Group News, Volume 1, Issue 2, 30-34.
  • 2012
    Mandatory Testing for HIV and Sexually Transmissible Infections among Sex Workers in Australia: A Barrier to HIV and STI Prevention (with Janelle Fawkes and Elena Jeffreys), World Journal of AIDS, Volume 2, No 3, 203-211.
  • 2010
    Subversion, Activism and Gender Play: The Underground Feminism of Erotic Performance, Laura Finley and Emily Reynolds Stringer (eds), Beyond Burning Bras: Feminist Activism for Everyone, Praeger: California and Oxford, 70-73.

Professional Memberships

  • World Association for Sexual Health
  • International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture & Society (Associate Member)
  • Cultural Studies Association of Australasia
  • Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
  • Australian Women’s & Gender Studies Association