Monthly Archives: February 2014

Moving on? Audio-visual Narratives of Housing Insecurity in Coalition Britain

Debbie Humphry//Geography//5th of March//1-2 pm//Arts C133

johnny pushchair view

In this talk I present qualitative research on families’ material and emotional experiences of living in insecure housing in a North London locality. The research findings are contextualised within the current historical-political moment whereby there is a severe shortage of secure affordable housing in inner London, exacerbated by recent government policies that have further eroded security of tenure and threaten eviction from homes, the neighbourhood and the city. This talk also looks at the government discourse that justifies their policies, and examines how parents’ narratives and experiences offer an alternative perspective and politics. This presentation is part of my ESRC-funded PhD research on experiences of social mobility in a mixed-class neighbourhood in inner London, and will include some audio-visual representations of the research.

Debbie Humphry has worked for several years as a researcher in London on various neighbourhood issues. Before returning to education to complete 2 masters degrees she worked as a photographer and journalist, including for the Guardian and Independent newspapers. She is currently an ESRC funded doctoral student at the University of Sussex, and has lectured in sociology, social geography and photography at various universities. Her previous work as a photographer, writer and educator gave her a grounding in social issues, participative community work and visual methodologies. She has published in numerous magazines and newspapers, and academic publications include research reports and a chapter in Home: International Perspective on Culture, Identity and Belonging (2013, Peter Lang publishing).


Beyond Immaturity and Victimisation: Rethinking the asymmetries of the eurozone crisis

Neil Dooley//International Relations//26th of February//1-2 pm//Arts C133


Explanations of the origins of the eurozone crisis tend to rely on narratives stressing the ‘immaturity’ of the peripheral European states. These narratives, found in political, media and scholarly discourses, represent states like Ireland, Portugal, and particularly, Greece as to varying degrees profligate, corrupt, and generally lacking the mature, efficacious and responsible political culture necessary for prudent fiscal governance. On the other hand, more critical explanations have focussed on the various processes of ‘victimisation’ that have rendered the peripheral state as incapable of acting efficaciously in the face of external structural constraints. My research is focussed on challenging such narratives that rely on assumptions of ‘immaturity’ and ‘victimisation’, by taking seriously the need to situate peripheral countries’ experiences in a broader political economy framework, and by recognizing the importance of the dynamics of Europeanization in shaping the policy capacity of the crisis-hit states. My lecture will introduce the cases of Ireland and Portugal, in this way. The overall aim of my research is to find a way in which theories of the eurozone crisis can be sensitive to the role of the periphery in its own history, without ‘pathologising’ that role.

Neil began studying for his DPhil in International Relations at Sussex in 2011. He received his MA in International Relations from Queen’s University Belfast, and his BA in History and Politics from University College Dublin. His primary research interest concerns the asymmetry of the European sovereign debt crisis, such that peripheral states have been more severely affected.

“Daily work in Burundian and Rwandan ‘Aidland’: Seeking Reconciliation and Justice through Training and Sensitisation”

Astrid Jamar//International Development//19th of February//1-2 pm//Arts C133


Astrid Jamar has been researching transitional justice in Rwanda and Burundi since 2006. From 2008 to 2011, she gained field experience working with several international NGOs and local institutions implementing transitional justice processes in these two countries. Reflection upon these experiences in academic and policy-oriented research formed the basis of her doctoral research. Through her PhD dissertation, “Transitional Justice Battlefield in Aidland – Practitioners’ Daily Work in Burundi and Rwanda”, she aims to describe the institutionalisation of transitional justice and aid practices, effects of professionalisation and to highlight silenced colonial and conflict legacies in these daily realities.

Abstract: “Whereas Burundian and Rwandan Transitional Justice processes appear to be very different at first sight, daily practice and daily implementations share many similarities. It has been stated the Burundian process is in a deadlock situation and the Gacaca Courts ruled on more than two millions trials for genocide crimes in Rwanda. The presentation will demonstrate that service providers and deliverables are similar both countries. UN agencies and international NGOs got funding to organise training, sensitisation, lobbying, support to civil society, surveys, legal aid, psychosocial supports, research and monitoring. All these activities are implemented and disseminated through frequent meetings, workshops, study trips and media campaigns. These efforts to train, sensitise and consult the population on TJ concepts have been undertaken in both countries despite different results.

At the exception of lobbying, these interventions can be considered as apolitical as not engaging with the deep sensitivity of addressed matters. Within these complex contexts, bureaucratic and technocratic tasks become an appropriate tool to leave complexity un-tackled. Anecdotes and descriptions of projects will address the following questions: Who has access to these programmes? What are intellectual and material benefits out of it? Who are trainers and what did they train/sensitise on? What is the long term view? What are they supposed to do with the “new knowledge”? This will underline the institutionalised patterns of activities, limits of interventions towards TJ, and the lack of evidence to link interventions with assumed results.”

Labouring Families- Work and Life of Gonds in India

Smita Yadav//Anthropology//12th of February//1-2 pm//Arts C133


Smita Yadav is a Dphil candidate in Social Anthropology. She has worked eight years professionally and academically on rural North India. She also has a bachelors in Physics due to which her interests range from theoretical to empirical research on using discourse analysis, oral histories, archival research, and keen on applying ethnography in other transdisciplines and regions.

For the Dphil lecture series, Smita will present her ongoing dissertation  on Gonds, a tribal community in Central India.  She will share her descriptive fieldwork on the social lives of Gonds of Manor, a labour colony in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh. Gonds’s livelihoods are threatened since the Forest department has restricted their access to Forests thus making the Gonds vulnerable to distressed wages and other forms of exploitative employer/worker relationships. The Gonds seasonally migrate and locally diversify their sources of incomes to keep their heads above water and manage from falling further into inferior conditions of living and also avoid starvation.  Her micro level ethnographic study of the Gonds reveals the protestations and accommodation  of the Gonds to various State led programs like housing, education, and employment which has very limited impact on their lives. She will discuss the various ways Gonds are struggling to meet their daily and basic needs and the consequential changes of gender and kinship within the Gond household as Gond women take charge of running their household by engaging in casual forms of labour and work available to them locally. Smita will also be discussing the Gonds’s forms of social mobility and modern forms of consumption. She will make a case for how that is not to be mistaken with Sanskritisation, a similar form appropriated for upward mobility by Scheduled Caste groups, another marginalised group. Instead, she will argue that Gonds forms of social mobility and aspirations for change  is Rajputisation, which mirrors the dominant Rajput culture of Panna district. Her fieldwork revealed that the State discourse of helping the poor like the Gonds out of poverty also arises from the dominant  Rajput culture and norms.