I am a Research Associate in Politics at the University of Exeter. The project that I am working on with Dr. Robin Durie and Dr. Katrina Wyatt, titled “Researching with Communities: Towards a Leading Edge Theory and Practice for Community Engagement”, is part of the AHRC led Connected Communities programme. The purpose of our scoping study is to investigate the usefulness of complexity theory for understanding the relations between academic researchers and the public communities they engage with, and more broadly, the conditions for successful community engagement. Challenging traditional conceptions of time is of course a central component of complexity theory. Thus if communities are understood as complex systems, and if complexity represents the most effective means for theorising the connectivity within and between communities and academic researchers, how time is conceived and interacted with will play a crucial role throughout the process of engagement.
Aside from this research project, I am also pursuing my interests in time and communities through a monograph that I am writing for Edinburgh University Press (2012). This book, titled History and Becoming: Deleuze’s Philosophy of Creativity, will examine the work of Deleuze and several of his conceptual forebears (Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, Péguy and Braudel) in order to address the following problematic: what is the relation between history and the creation of the new? While much work has been done on the importance of Deleuze’s philosophy of time to his political and social philosophy for change, I hope to demonstrate in this book how an appreciation of his philosophy of history is equally indispensable. You can find out more about my work here.
Craig's Lightning Talk:
I am Research Fellow at the ESRC Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham. I work on two projects: the Real Times qualitative longitudinal study, which examines the continuity and change of third sector organisations over time, and the pilot ‘Street-Walking’ mapping project that aims to find groups and activities that go unregistered (and, subsequently, tend to be neglected in the policy field). By third sector we tend to mean a diverse range of non-profit activities undertaken beyond the market and the state, for example, by charities, social enterprises and less formal community-based groups and associations.
My doctoral thesis was on the third sector’s engagement with government employment initiatives (Sociology, University of Manchester). Before this, I worked on a three-year project that examined the extent of (funding) crises in women’s voluntary organisations. Years later, recalling the frustrations of compiling (often dated) directories in which organisations were pre-defined, I developed TSRC’s ‘Street-Walking Mapping’ pilot study to look beyond formal organisations with institutional structures (that appear on regulatory lists).
With an attempt to suspend definition and preconceived ideas of what these activities might look like, geographic boundaries were used to manage the project. As the title suggests, the project involves going out on the streets in search of (third sector) social activities and groups that use shared space – many of which may not have a name or explicit structure. Understanding community and ‘shared’ space are important features of the research, including the role of space in bringing people together and the tensions that can play out.
I am a Research Fellow at the ESRC Third Sector Research Centre based at the University of Birmingham, where I am responsible for coordinating a qualitative longitudinal research study of third sector organisations and activities called “Real Times”. The team includes my colleague and co-presenter Andri Soteri-Proctor. By third sector we tend to mean a diverse range of non-profit activities undertaken beyond the market and the state, for example, by charities, social enterprises and less formal community-based groups and associations.
As well as having some practical experience of this ‘field’ of activities (as an employee, volunteer, etc.), I have been able to focus my research over a number of years on what I think of as its contested qualitative dynamics – how it works in practice over time. “Real Times” is partly underpinned by this theoretical imagining, and involves following the challenges, strategies, fortunes and performance of third sector activities as they unfold through time. The research is based around a diverse set of case studies, and in the workshop presentation we aim to provide a momentary glimpse of community-based activities in a couple of these settings.
Understanding the interplay of diverse temporalities - for example, around continuity and change; duration, sequence, pace and time expectations; and around memory and anticipation - is a strong feature of the research. We hope to be able to share our reflections on the temporalities involved in community-based action, and to hear other accounts and perspectives of the relationship between time and community.