New research publication from the SING:E project:
Reflecting wider debates on the city as a site of coercion and opportunity, Delhi is marked by the coordinates of both cultural nationalism and neo-liberal aspiration. The former positions the city as a site of cultural pollution, at times claiming ‘western lifestyles’ have contributed to gendered assault. In juxtaposition, Delhi’s neo-liberal landscape positions the female body as a valued commodity, iconic of ‘globalised living’, embedded in discourses of autonomy and modernity. This article will argue that these entangled cultural constructs have created a city of threat and discomfort that problematizes women’s access, be it for livelihood or leisure, enclosing women within coordinates not of their making. Yet rather than acquiesce to this urban topology, the agency of the single, middle-aged, middle-class women in this ethnographic study extends our understanding of the agonistic relationships within urban space, and the capacity to negotiate them using practices of avoidance, deception, adaptation, defiance, and care, at times creating their own enclosures in the process that enabled access to the city. Age and class as well as gendered expectations impacted on the available resources and outcomes of these negotiations, revealing the diverse possibilities of urban living that can enable pockets of social and political flourishing even within a difficult city.
Pleased to be holding a ‘conversation’ with Korean film director and activist, Lee Hyuk-sang, at the Korean Cultural Centre, London, 02 November.
Lee Hyuk-sang is part of the Pinks collective of activists and filmmakers, tackling subjects such as LGBTQ rights, workers’ struggles, and state violence against citizens. The London Korean Film Festival is screening three of their most recent works (Two Doors, The Remnants and Goodbye My Hero).
Part of a series of interviews for the HOMING project:
Homing Interview #5: Melissa Butcher
Excited to be working with postgraduate researchers at the Trento Summer School in Urban Ethnography in September:
Re-working encounter: the role of reflexivity in managing difference
Marked by high levels of diversity and gentrification, changing demographics in east London highlight the need for new analytical tools to examine how formerly familiar spaces must now be re-negotiated. Conceptual frameworks of habit and affect have informed the contemporary analysis of how encounters with difference unfold within transforming cityscapes. However, findings from a participatory research project with young people suggest a more reflexive management of classed and racialised encounters is occurring as accumulated cultural knowledge is tested and revised from which new practices emerge. Attention to processes of reflexivity highlighted the capacity of young people to consciously weigh options and choose a range of strategies under conditions of ‘breach’, including: degrees of acceptance of change; re-working space use through avoidance and adapting everyday practices such as dress and food; as well as developing attributes that enable engagement such as empathy. Feelings of judgement appeared as a dominant driver of reflexivity, while disposition and place contextualised and modified responses. Yet, while the possibilities for subjective re-evaluation and adaptation are apparent, the study raises questions of inequality in the expectation that young people are being asked to adapt to new cultural norms not of their making.
Chatting with Laurie Taylor, William Kornblum and Ian Sinclair about the social life of subways.
Presenting on the CHASH project at the second biennial research workshop organised by Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (Wednesday 10 May to Friday 12 May 2017).
“Urban Change” pursues the broad theme of cinema and the city, while addressing more precisely how moving image culture – in all its changing forms and formats, both aesthetically and technologically speaking – has responded and continues to react to the ongoing economic, social and political transformation of urban environments. These environments are understood as physical spaces but also as places to live, work, love and play, both individually and in terms of interpersonal and community relationships. While the cities of Pittsburgh and London remain significant topics for exploration, the geographical and historical coordinates of this workshop are entirely open, and participants will be exploring urban contexts and examples drawn from France, Algeria, Canada, India, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, Denmark and Sweden.
The workshop is open to all, and we will be especially happy to welcome students and researchers working across the range of research areas and disciplines that BIMI is committed to representing as part of its mission: Film and Media, English, History of Art, Languages, Law, History, Philosophy, Politics, Geography, Psychosocial Studies, Applied Linguistics, and Psychological Sciences.
Presenting in the London International Development Centre doctoral training seminar series, 25th January.
How can we promote gender equality in rapidly developing cities?
A one day colloquium at Birkbeck focusing on ethnography as a tool to understand the complexity of urban social life under conditions of hyper-diversity.