I am a postgraduate student in sociology at the University of Manchester awarded with a studentship by CRESC. After receiving my MA from Ball State University (USA), I taught sociology in Kyrgyzstan. Some of my subsequent research has been on dynamics of bride kidnapping, youth and technology, and methodological issues of doing research in post-soviet Eurasia. My doctoral researchis a multi-local ethnographic study of the transnational family in contemporary Kyrgyzstan. It aims to focus on the effects of increasing outmigration on those who stay behind. My dissertation will contribute to literature on the sociology of family and transformative processes that are affecting kinship obligations and responsibilities. On a theoretical level, I am interested in examining the changing notions of what constitutes the family today, which is often oversimplified. With geographical distance, families are experiencing new ways of relating to each other, often finding themselves belonging temporarily to multi-localities, stretching social networks across borders, and yet that is becoming increasingly possible due to advancing technologies that enable family members to stay in touch and show care and affection for those who are left behind in ways that was not possible only a few decades ago. Recent studies propose that kinship and family obligations that were common in the pre-soviet and soviet times are today considered “a financial burden” and “a social inconvenience,” transforming the nature of familyhood. Therefore, people’s reactions to improve their economic situation is also boosted by local competitions of keeping up with families in communities where engaging in life-cycle events and activities rendered significant, sticking to social networks and structures of indebtedness.
I have a long interest in eco/feminism, politics, activism, naturecultures, feminist theory, methods, and time manifests in multiple ways in this work.
I have been committed to recording and creating eco/feminist histories and archives, work which happens in the context of a feminism curiously obsessed with time, past, present and future. Feminist histories abound with accounts of the ‘end’ or ‘death’ of feminism; waves; movements; generations and generational conflicts’ legacy; claims for new waves of feminism, ‘third’ and ‘fourth’ waves, ‘new’ feminist materialisms. I am interested in what is disavowed in many of these moves, and how disavowal sometimes happens through placing people and events in the past, in history, by declaring them out of step, out of time. I am currently completing a monograph drawing on research with women environmental activists (The Changing Nature of Feminism: Unnatural Histories of Eco/feminism from Clayoquot Sound).
Stories of ‘burn-out’ from activism have led me to reflect on ways of refiguring politics as radical everyday activism which might sustain activists as well as the planet, and refigure care of the self as a profoundly collective and community-based practice. I am involved in participatory research with a young lesbian and bisexual women’s organic allotment project in Manchester, and I have emerging research interests in radical approaches to food and nutrition, alternative health practices, as well as other embodied practices such as yoga, Alexander Technique, and mindfulness; practices which stress an embodied mindfulness as an approach to being in the world. I am also interested in their take up as a resistance to Western notions of ageing as a degenerative process.
I am also fascinated by questions of time and research. As well having in mind the time involved in doing research with communities, and questions for researchers who are also involved in the communities being researched, of when is community being practiced and when is research being practiced, I am more generally interested in the temporalities of many methods (and disciplines) used in research with communities. Oral history, interviews, ethnography, memory work, genealogy, the generation and creation of archives, often carry implicit notions of history and time and how history is being recorded and researched, but also of how the research is understand to happen in and through time.
Niamh's Pecha Kucha
I am a sociologist based at the Institute of Public Health in Cambridge. My PhD, completed at Goldsmiths, London in 2009, was structured around an ethnographic study of community mental health professionals based in an inner-city borough. Here in Cambridge I am currently engaged in implementing a further small scale, effectively one-person qualitative research project. This takes as its focus a large ongoing population-based, scientific study around genetic and lifestyle factors associated with diabetes and obesity.
There are clearly great differences between these two research landscapes. Yet in each, notions of community and time have played a major role – both in terms of various actors’ explicit articulations of what they are about, and my doubtless often quixotic attempts to discern fresh patterns and insights from their interaction. Despite each concept being taken as the target of philosophical unpacking over recent decades, I have the sense that both time and community are often still too often take-for-granted as self-evident parameters of analysis within much contemporary social science. Whereas a consistent thread within my own thinking involves following the lead of writers like Whitehead and Bergson in probing and destabilising such assumptions, particularly in the case of time.
This is one reason why I’m excited by the coupling of the two notions in the title of the workshop and their problematisation as its theme. I’m intrigued by the formatting of the event and the opportunities presented for the cross-fertilisation of ideas. Manchester in June – who wouldn’t be up for it!
Paul'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.
Yuwei Lin - University of Salford
I'm Lecturer in Future Media in the School of Media, Music and Performance at the university of Salford. Trained to be a sociologist who largely uses qualitative research methodologies and methods and experienced in interdisciplinary research, my main work has investigated user participatory cultures and community-based innovation, especially the socio-technical dynamics in those communities that develop open source technologies and services (hardware and/or software). Membership of these open innovation communities is usually loosely defined, such that whoever share the same interest or a constellation of practices (in the sense of “a community of practice”) can be part of the community. Interactions in these communities are often socio-technical: members not only interact with each other but also with technologies (software, source code, infrastructures, computers, hardware). Also, members of these communities usually are not constrained by geographical locations. As such, inventing, adopting and learning to manipulate new information and communication technologies to facilitate collaboration and communication between members is key to the success of community building. Time is an interesting element in these communities in several aspects and through this workshop I am hoping to develop methodologies and conceptual frameworks for understanding the role of time in this body of work.
Yuwei's Lightning Talk
I was a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton (at Warwick from autumn 2011), working on a project with Prof. Graham Crow which is part of the AHRC-funded Connected Communities research programme entitled ‘Conceptualisations and meanings of "community": the theory and operationalisation of a contested concept'. I have a long-standing interest in urban and community studies, particularly the complex relationships between global processes of socioeconomic change and local contexts of lived experience. My contribution to this workshop will consider the problem of time in relation to community through exploring the topic of ‘rethinking regeneration and prosperity in a time of economic crisis and resource depletion’. My talk will draw on policy debates on regeneration in the UK, as well as empirical research on lived experiences of recent regeneration schemes in the case study of Walker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The notion of ‘time’ will be explored firstly in relation to the short historical memories of city planners about the limitations of past regeneration policies, tracing a wider historical sociology of regeneration policies and practices in the UK. Secondly, the notion of time will be explored through critically analysing assumptions of economic growth and progress embedded in dominant models of arts-and-property-led regeneration in the context of an era of uncertainty, recession and environmental crisis. I argue that regeneration policies should be broadened to focus on the wider picture of employment, public services, sustainable living environments, diversity and social inclusion, and community life.
Lisa Garforth - Newcastle University
I’m a sociologist currently lecturing at Newcastle University. I have a background in cultural theory and an enduring interest in environmental utopianism. I’m particularly concerned with what utopian fiction can contribute to debates about better futures with nature. Seen as expressions of desire for something different and better, rather than simply structural blueprints, utopian narratives can open up critical and creative spaces for imagining otherness and social change.
The disruptive temporalities offered by utopian thinking are more necessary than ever in relation to contemporary environmental problems and politics. Dominant climate change discourses work with a limited set of temporal repertoires: rational modelling and prediction, popular catastrophism, individual techniques of carbon counting and self-discipline. In these contexts, the capacity to imagine and hope for better social-natural futures seems to be receding. The emphasis is on preserving existing social arrangements and relationships rather than responding to how notions of community might be generatively challenged by bringing nature into matters of ethics, politics and human well-being.
I hope this workshop will help develop my thinking about the powerful resources offered by utopianism, its capacity to critique the present and stimulate affective and experiential engagements with alternative temporalities and different kinds of community. And I hope to learn more about how these ideas might connect with diverse research on time and community, especially approaches that cross boundaries between the humanities and social sciences.
I am a PhD student in my third year at the School of Sociology of the University of Nottingham. My research project looks at so-called sub-Saharan African transit migrants in Morocco. The ethnographic fieldwork (2009-2010) included participant observation and interviews with over 40 migrants in Rabat, as well as documentary analysis and interviews with relevant policy makers. Before starting my PhD, I have worked for over 10 years as research assistant, evaluator and development worker in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Maghreb.
My interest in theories on time and space is related to my attempts to explain the state of limbo that migrants in Morocco are experiencing. During my fieldwork I became aware of the negative consequences this has on migrants’ lives. I suspect that “feeling stuck” is a common feature of many migrants’ lives- and not limited to those that are so-called “transit migrants”. Social theories on time and space are helpful in explaining and describing what this actually means both for migrants and the communities they are part of.
Through the workshop, I would like to learn more about the ways in which theories of time can be linked to mobility, migrants’ rights and transnationalism. I am also interested in finding out more about the gendered aspects of time and how they relate to migrants life.
Inka's Lightning Talk
During my time at Sheffield Hallam University (Centre for Education and Inclusion Research) I have been involved in a variety of research projects broadly connected with the wellbeing of young people and/or lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities (regarding health inequalities, health related education/services, and so on). As a Sociologist, I am particularly interested in the social influences on wellbeing (e.g. experiences of heterosexism and homophobia, perceptions of ‘belonging’ and ‘acceptance’, etc.), and specifically the relationship between sexual identities and perceptions and experiences of ‘community’, and the implications of this for health and wellbeing. Within this, changing experiences over time become important: growing (legal) equality in the UK for LGBT communities contrasts starkly with experiences among older LGBT groups who may have experienced criminalisation and/or ‘treatment’ for their sexual identity and/or practices. How do these historical contexts (still) affect people’s ongoing identity development and expression, their wider wellbeing / ‘quality of life’, and the development and experience of ‘community’ and ‘connectivity’ more generally (including political activism, ‘scene’ spaces, and forms of social support)? I am interested in exploring these ideas with regard to broader social wellbeing – which my lightning talk will address – and within the context of wider debates about socio-cultural change, community connectivities, and temporal belongings.
Slides from Eleanor's Lightning Talk
I am a Sociologist at Newcastle, taking up a new post at Warwick in July. My PhD research developed an account of biopolitics and cultures of life, considered in terms of structures and innovations in experience (Biopolitical Experience: Foucault Power & Positive Critique forthcoming 2011, Palgrave).
I argue (drawing especially on Foucault but also Arendt, Benjamin, Simmel and Deleuze) that ideas and imageries of life, lived experience, vitality, growth and evolution are immensely important for the affective force and allure of community-making/authority-making discourses in the contemporary societies. This importance can be understood, in part, as a reconstitution of a qualitatively rich, deep, temporality - or duration/duree - in the present passing moment. Life constitutes a kind of immanent-transcendent plane in which the present moment becomes a quasi-infinite, qualitatively rich, duration (a duration extending through space rather than time, through present affective influence and connections).
With the idea of 'immanent authority' a group of us (the Authority Research Network) are attempting to articulate and explore the intersection of duration-making, experience in the duree, and community making, in the present (and modern) context of radical finitude and contingency. We draw upon classic theories of authority, which suggest that authority makes community by connecting people to a foundational past, and (with a range of post-strucutralist and cultural theorists) consider how similar processes operate in a present that knows no such past. We are undertaking a Connected Communities Scoping Study called ‘Immanent Authority and the Making of Community’.