The Sociologist Postgraduate Newsletter, June 2011
Editorial Scribble .................................................. This issue of summer 2011 marks the change in the editorial team. Inside you will find goodbye and welcome letters from the editors, along with the usual content. We hope you have a relaxing summer, although the weather in Lancaster makes you forget that it is summer!
Your Sociologist Team Jenn Tomomitsu Muzi Pandir Jodie Chapell Lara Houston
We want to hear from you!
Call for Submissions Editorial Farewell Welcome Note PG Profile PhD Comic PhD Congratulations Mystery Guest Interview Lancaster WAC Interview My PhD Office Commentary: Profanations, March 27 Contributor Profiles Calendar of Events
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Call for submissions Next deadline: 31 October 2011 Want to write a review about a book, article or conference? Have a story to tell about doing field work? Is there a bit of advice you’d like to offer other postgraduates in the department? Do you want to comment on specific issues or debates? Submission Guidelines 1) Please email your articles, tips, reviews, stories or rants to thesociologist@live. com. We also welcome research-related photographs/artwork so please send them along.
Established 2008 Unless otherwise stated, the opinions expressed in the Sociologist are solely the author’s and not the editors or the Lancaster Sociology Department.
2) If you are a new contributor, please send in a short biography (1 or 2 lines), and if possible, a photograph of yourself so we can include it in the contributor’s section. 3) If your submission contains images, please email these as a separate attachment and then label them accordingly in the word document. This is because images inserted into a word document will shrink in size and will appear blurry in the final layout.
Farewell Notes Thank you, goodbye and welcome letters from the editors…
Jenn Tomomitsu & Muzi Pandir
Hi everyone: This 10th edition of the Sociologist marks not only a reflection of sorts, but sadly also my last as editor. Unfortunately, Muzi is also stepping down as my partner in crime; however, we are very happy to hand over the reins to Jodie Chapell who will take over as the new editor! Welcome Jodie – we know we leave the newsletter in excellent hands.
such as seminar reviews, tips for managing research, field work accounts and reflective essays. Now, ten editions later, postgrads have come and gone, some still linger, but one thing remains the same: all of them, in one way or another, helped the Sociologist evolve into a reflective, fun, and hopefully engaging forum for postgrads in the department.
Three years ago, the Sociologist began merely as an idea. I didn’t know where it would lead or whether it would even succeed. Initially, the aim was to create a journal where postgraduate students could publish their work and obtain department information in one central space. However, this was a challenging endeavour since the scope of the journal and the kinds of articles students could realistically submit were uncertain. After a few weeks of kitchen conversations, meetings, and consultations with friends/colleagues, a newsletter was proposed as a more relaxed means to keep people informed and allow space to publish. The next challenge was to find someone to design the layout but luckily I shared an office with David who not only possessed user-friendly layout software, but also had experience with design. He graciously volunteered to take on the task.
Being an editor of the Sociologist has been a rewarding journey but none of this would have been possible without a lot of people along the way. First of all, a big thanks to the contributors – some of whom have since graduated – but who took time out from their dissertations to send in articles. I want to say a special thank you to Muzi for all of her hard work and inspiration; I wish her all the best as she finishes up her PhD! Thanks also goes to Lara Houston and David Mansley who each gave up their time as creative and fantastic layout editors. And finally, thanks also to James, Endre (who came up with the title the ‘Sociologist’), Natalie and Allison who, during the early stages, helped edit and provide advice and ideas.
And so, the Sociologist was born. The first 9-page issue was launched in October 2008 thanks to the help of a couple volunteers. Things took flight in the second and third issues when they tripled in size and students began to send in more substantial content
It has been a blast being part of this newsletter and while I am sad to say goodbye, I hope those of you still plugging away at your theses will continue to write for, inform, humour, and support the Sociologist for many years to come. Jenn
A scene from Muzi’s desk
A marathon runner gradually increases the pace in the race and runs the fastest shortly before the finish line. If PhD is a marathon, then the pace of the run has to be increased through the end. This requires dropping out some responsibilities - even the enjoyable ones – in order to concentrate only on the “thing” (yes, I refer to the thesis as “the thing” in order to underline its persistent nature of capturing a PhD student’s life). All this is to say that it is the time to hand over the responsibilities of the Sociologist. This is not a goodbye to the Sociologist as I plan to continue writing as long as I am around, but a farewell to the editorship. I would like to thank everyone who took part in the newsletter with their contributions; we made those issues come alive together. On the other hand I am sure it is bit of a relief for some of you to know that I will no longer be chasing you up in the corridors to convince you to write for the newsletter when you are loaded with many other works. You gotta admit that it had to be done! Another heartfelt thank you goes to the Sociologist readers. It was your support and appreciations that made this job more fun. 4
The last but not the least, thanks to Jenn, who made the Sociologist come to life in the first place and inspired me to be involved in it. It has been pleasure working with you for the last two years and I am sure wherever your postPhD life takes you, you will be amazing with your work discipline, not to mention editing talents. I hereby salute and send my best wishes to the new editor, Jodie. It is comforting to know that the Sociologist is in good hands. One goal of the Sociologist is to give a quick look at how the fellows in the department run their own PhD marathons and deal with common aspects of postgraduate life. I hope we all enjoy the rest of our marathons and remember to keep an eye on the Sociologist whenever we feel the ‘loneliness of a longdistance runner’* Sincerely, Muzi. * The title of an Alan Sillitoe short story, published in the book with the same title.
Welcome Note Jodie Chapell Hi from Jodie Chapell. Despite having officially been at Lancaster since 2004, I have never been in one place long since then due to fieldwork etc so it’s perhaps ironic that I am just saying hello now that I am preparing my post-viva thesis for submission! Nevertheless, for those of you I haven’t met – a very warm hello and I hope I can do a good job of seeing the Sociologist through its transmission period
before Autumn 2011. I am currently ‘in limbo’ myself so I don’t know how long I will remain as editor, and I am hoping to get some newer postgrads involved too! If there is demand over the summer (i.e. if I get some articles – over to you!) I may get out a summer edition too. Looking forward to a long (they say I’m deluded) Lancaster summer!
Research Sketch For each issue of the Sociologist, we promote postgraduate research in the department by interviewing our fellow colleagues. For this issue, we’re happy to introduce Karolina Papros, a first year PhD student in the Sociology Department.
In a few sentences, can you describe what your project is about and why you chose this particular topic? My project revolves around the biopolitics and biosociality of breast cancer. I am particularly interested in finding out what it means to be diagnosed with breast cancer (or with a mutation in BRCA genes) for women living in contemporary Poland. What has been the most enjoyable part about doing research on your thesis? I really enjoy reading about gene sequencing and genetic testing. Molecular genetics is absolutely intriguing! Apart from that, I think that, for me as a woman, broadening my
Sociology research highlights
knowledge about breast cancer, which is a disease that may affect any woman at any time, has been maybe not the most enjoyable, but definitely most useful part of my research.
“I am doing something USEFUL... I feel ENGAGED... I feel GOOD about it” Three words which describe how you feel about your project. First of all, I feel that I am doing something USEFUL. Second of all, I feel ENGAGED in my project. Third of all, I feel GOOD about it. 5
Can you describe a worst and best moment during your PhD?
If you could do another PhD, what topic would you choose?
I struggled very much with narrowing my field of interest and identifying a possible research gap. It was a nightmare. Once I understood what I really want to do and what might be my unique contribution, I immediately felt motivated and ready to work twice as hard. In addition to this, hearing from my Supervisor that my research has potential has been absolutely the best moment for me so far.
If that was possible, I would have probably stayed in the field of applied linguistics and continued my research on motivation to learn English as a foreign language among students in Poland. However, now I wish I had chosen to become a molecular geneticist, so that I could discover a simple cure for breast cancer and do what every Ph.D. student dreams about at the beginning of their career (according to the PhD comic below), namely receive the Nobel prize.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? This is a tricky questionâ€Ś I hope that in 10 years I will be teaching at a university, hopefully in Warsaw. However, first of all, I want to see myself passing successfully my viva in 2.5 years.
What advice would you give to people who are just starting their PhD? I will repeat what I heard from someone I greatly respect: remember that Ph.D. is not about intellectual brilliance but about passion and determination to finish it.
PhD Congratulations! During the past term, there were several successfully completed vivas and many celebrations in the corridor! Big congratulations go to ... Jodie Chapell - Her thesis was “Biopiracy in Peru: Tracing Biopiracies, Theft, Loss & Traditional Knowledge”. James Tomasson - His thesis was “Aga Cookers and Wooden Flooring: Case Studies in Consumption, Routine and Rural Heritage” Jennifer Tomomitsu - Her thesis was entitled “Tinkering with the Object: Investigating Manipulation and Enactments of Seeing in Scientific Imaging Practice”
Tom Roberts - His thesis title was “Tales of Power: Public & Policy Narratives on the Climate and Energy Crisis” and his supervisors were Bron Szerszynski and Brian Wynne. Irene Swarbrick - Her thesis title was “Diffracting and Materializing Safety: A Feminist Account of Practices, Participations and Learning in Medical Work” Misela Mavric - Her thesis title was “Connecting Tourism Mobilities: Networking, Performing and Imagining”
Guest Who? Each issue we will publish a mystery person in the Sociology department. See if you can guess this issue’s mystery interviewee! Who knows, it might be your office-mate, a close friend or someone you’ve never met before. The answer is on the bottom of the last page. Use three words to describe yourself: Creative, obsessive, intuitive Worst habit? Not being able to relax and sit still. What’s your most valued possession? Old photographs and diaries. Favourite food? Anything Japanese. Something you’re good at? Before the MA/PhD: music and creative writing. After the PhD: sitting in front of a computer for long hours and writing emails.
An ideal vacation for you is Hiking, cycling, camping or snowboarding – as long as it’s in the mountains. The world needs a lot less ... Plastic wrap, especially on food items. Recount a memorable childhood moment: Almost drowning in a swimming pool and being rescued by a police officer. Describe a moment in history you’d like to have been there for: When fire was first discovered.
Lancaster Women Against the Cuts Some women in Lancaster have been organised under the name of Women against the Cuts (WAC) since last December, and they continue to understand and also explain why and how women are affected disproportionately and differently than men. Here is the interview with Helen, Marion and Lucy from Lancaster WAC.
Photograph by Jeffrey Keefer, Flickr Creative Commons: Some Rights Reserved Q: Would you please explain what was the reason behind WAC and why is it a separate group different than Lancaster Morecambe against the cuts (LMAC)? Marion: It is separate because, for me, there are two reasons: One, because I think ‘the cuts’ disproportionately affect women. So it is about raising the issue from the way they affect women perhaps differently than they 8
affect men. I suppose the group is to highlight those issues and bring the feminist perspective to the campaign. And another reason is to organise any group of women because I feel more comfortable with a group of women. Helen: I decided the group would be good because 70% of the cuts are coming from the female tax pay pocket. And also I believe ‘the cuts’ are a mask for ideology. They are about
promoting a certain groups’ interests. And the Tory party have said very openly that their plan is have women back into the home which is something I fundamentally disagree with. My male partner would much rather be at home and I would rather be in a job and be earning money. Marion: So it is about having a choice. Helen: Yes, exactly. It is about the choice. The other reason is I think it is good to talk to other women about these issues; it is good to talk to other women about what is wrong. What they think is wrong. Lucy: I work in the public sector and the jobs that are going to be lost in the public sector are almost exclusively going to be female jobs because they are the part-time, more flexible jobs, they would be the ‘first to go’. It is going to disproportionally affect women. I just want to make sure that we do highlight that within the broader campaign. That’s why it is important to have a separate women’s group. Because it is quite often that sort of message could get lost. Helen: I’ve come across a couple of cases where women lost the job after they got pregnant. It might be against the law but it still happens. Because they can always find an excuse to justify it.
“We are talking about a roll back... that’s why feminism is so important now” Lucy: We are talking about a roll back isn’t it? This is why feminism is so important now, because we are rolled back in 1970s. Helen: I actually say 1960s because towards the end of 1970s feminism was relevant. If you reduce women’s financial independence, it means domestic and other abuses become rifer. They end up with no option because while people say that she could just leave, these people are usually not on their own. A lot of these women have their children. A single person can leave more easily than a mother with children because quite often when a mother leaves, they are in poverty. And
it is very difficult to put your children in that position, where you can’t support them.
“The ‘big society’ relies on unpaid care... traditionally that sort of work has been done by women” Marion: I guess for me one of the reasons why cuts are going to affect women particularly is because the idea of “big society” relies on unpaid care so lots of jobs people used to do for money are going to be cut and rely on volunteer work which is hidden and unpaid and traditionally that sort of work has been done by women. Helen: Conservatives always assume that if a man makes a woman pregnant, he is going to support her. Mostly these men do not, which is why CSA was set up in the first place. There is going to be a continuous thing if the woman has a child, she should be supported by a man not by the state. And this completely ignores the fact that the state will not enforce that men look after their own families. There was an initiative in the U.S. when they took a neighbourhood of poor women and taught them how to dress, how to behave and how to catch a husband. They are talking about it in terms of ‘marriage and poverty’; I call it ‘prostitution and poverty’. And the other thing they don’t say is that this is never going to work. Apart from being just disgusting it is impractical, because there are very few eligible males in their ‘class’, when an eligible male is someone who had a job, someone who is still alive, someone who isn’t in prison. Q: What are your plans for the future? Marion: It would be good if we could do something to try and engage women who necessarily think about themselves as feminists, because these cuts are really going to affect them. Lucy: I think that’s our key job isn’t it? To capture those people, to capture their interest, their imagination. What I will be prepared to
do is to petition in town on Saturday. So then you actually do engage with people and talk to them frontally rather than just giving them a leaflet. Marion: We are also planning on making t-shirts, posters and stuff like that. Making our presence more felt artistically. Helen: Perhaps engaging with the media more. Q: WAC is a group where you do feminism within the frame of ‘the cuts’. Does it have any impact on your personal lives? Helen: With the group, I just think about things a little bit more. It made me think about things like my partner did lose his job, and it keeps me engaged. We have fun, we plan actions. There’s less ego involved and everyone gets a say.
Marion: For me, I guess, it is just nice to be not alone with my anger. Because otherwise you can just eat yourself inside. Helen: Yes and then you get angry about nothing, but now you can actually get angry about something important, and use the anger productively. Lucy: For me, I really don’t know many people in Lancaster because I am fairly new to the area so it has been great to meet with some open minded people.
FLOORBALL Try out floorball by joining the weekly game – Tuesdays from 12-1pm in the Minor Hall where colleagues from Sociology, Geography, and other departments come together for a fun game. All you need are running shoes and a sense of adventure (i.e. no skill required).
My PhD office Do you have a story about your office that you’d like to share? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Send us your thoughts as we’d like to learn more about how postgrads create work spaces for themselves. This issue’s postgraduate office belongs to Jen Southern, a third year PhD student.
“If you choose to believe me, good.” (Calvino, 1974:75). This is the room where I work. There’s loads of space, a big desk, bright light and no commute. It is ideal in many ways, but I am easily distracted by noises, cups of tea, books, plants, conversations, emails, cats and Facebook. And that is just the beginning. For me writing is a process of slowly pulling threads out of an (en)tangled mass, with lots of knotty bits that I haven’t worked out how to undo yet. At the back of my desk I have two box files for each chapter of my thesis; one for written drafts and another (or several) for useful papers, publications and other resources. I have folders on my laptop that do a similar thing. When I realised I could do this
it was a relief and allowed me to file things to be read later. It was as if the tangled mass had fallen into several tangled knots to worry and wriggle at separately. Beyond this life-raft of structure my desk is covered in piles of papers, books, objects and images that ebb and flow as I work. The room is also my studio. My art practice is as fragmented as my writing practice. I work in two collaborations, with Chris Speed who is based in Edinburgh, and with Jen Hamilton and Chris St Amand who are both based in Wakefield, near Ottawa in Canada. A lot of the work of collaboration is done in a distributed way, in this room but also through my laptop as
Mumbai ships I email, skype and make images. The images are collaborative communications rather than artworks in themselves. They are not part of the work but part of the (shared) thinking process. You can see the most recent one, with a blue background, on the wall.
A couple of weeks ago I spent a morning flipping between writing part of a chapter, and periodically making a screen shot of the movement of ships near Mumbai. We are doing an exhibition there that opens the day after the deadline for this writing. So I was taking ‘screenshots’ of positions of ships from a live tracking website and then layering them together to see how they might reveal the movements of a shipping lane, and maybe represent a spatio-temporal busy-ness in the business of shipping. Later the image became part of a discussion with Jen and Chris. Our work for the show uses digital imagery of shipping routes combined with a physically built ship-like object, made from shipping pallets (being built, as I write, by Chris St Amand). We are attempting to bring together
the materiality of found objects (like shipping pallets) that are related to the local port, with a ‘found’ digital map of the global shipping routes that those pallets are bound up in. So I spent that morning two weeks ago flipping between taking screen shots, writing emails and doing PhD writing. The room is also what used to be the dining room of my Gran’s house. On this wall there used to be a print of a Van Gogh painting of cornfields and I keep a postcard of the same image on my desk. There was a circular table, folded in half, pushed up against this wall, and a sort of wooden trolley that held a box full of cutlery and a pile of recent newspapers. And in the corner to the right was ‘Uncle Frank’s Music Cabinet’, a slightly flimsy cupboard that had belonged to my Gran’s uncle who used to live in Lower Broughton in Manchester. The records and record player have gone, but the cabinet has moved across the room and now holds craft materials for running workshops and entertaining visiting children. The curtains are hand-me-down’s from the first house my
mum and dad lived in together when they began their careers as research chemists in the early 1960’s. I think they were disappointed that it was the curtains rather than their passion for chemistry that got passed down. And the table in the corner and the rug under my feet belonged to my paternal Grandad. Did I say that I am easily distracted? It might instead be involvement, association and implication. I’ve heard from other PhD students that as they were writing up they had to clear away everything that wasn’t to do with their PhD so that they could focus. I’m not sure I could do that, there is no escaping. This is a room where things accumulate, even in the walls, and as I said it’s where I do the fragmented and distributed thing that I call an art practice. Art practice could never be contained simply by an easel or a thesis by a desk. The room has a window and outside is the garden. Luckily the bit that I can see from here as I write is the most resolved part, it’s
like a paragraph that I’m happy with (for now anyway, it may need editing later). There’s a Cotoneaster, a shrub with small leaves, growing up the wall outside. I assume my Grandpa planted it years ago, as it’s already there in a photograph of a wall that was built outside this window in the early 1940’s as a precaution against damage from a bomb blast. When we moved in I thought the Cotoneaster was a bit dull. Having lived with it for ten years I know that at this time of year it’s always covered in bees. They are only noticeable in motion so what appears to be one or two turn out to be twenty or thirty when you look closely and in the winter the berries feed the birds that haven’t migrated. Sometimes I go to a local cafe in order to focus in a different, caffeine and cake-fuelled, way. On the wall above my desk are, metaphorically, a collection of friends and associates that speak to my PhD research. My research is partially conducted through my own art practice and is concerned with
the GPS tracking of movement and how those tracks are overlaid onto the aerial perspectives of satellite imagery and maps. My papery companions include a photocopy of an ‘arrow’ drawing by the artist Gordon MattaClark (1943-78). The works he is best known for are cuts through buildings, sometimes literally cutting a whole building in half. These cuts deconstruct and radically alter how I understand the permanence of buildings and relationships to their environment. They allow daylight to spill into the solid forms of the building and to cast new shadows. His arrow drawings are for me dynamic images of movement, part choreographed plan or diagram but also notation and description, they are trajectory, possibility, chance, spin-off, intention, accident and direction. There is also a free postcard I picked up a few years ago in Amsterdam. The image is of six people walking in different directions across a cobbled street. Taken from above, their shadows stretch out across the ground. It reminds of Moholoy Nagy’s photographs from the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. His images are more to do with the geometry of architecture than people, but the way that the low evening light casts shadows that spreads the movement and presence of people or buildings across the cobbles is similar.
Airopaidia - Thomas Baldwin
My newest and yet oldest metaphorical friend is a photograph I took of the book ‘Airopaidia’ written in 1786 by Thomas Baldwin. The image is the first published drawing made from a vehicle in flight, in this case an early hot air balloon. In it rivers and fields are partially obscured by clouds, and the route of the balloon is a looping line above both. Baldwin calls himself ‘The Aironaut’ and in the book the mixture of scientific enquiry and emotional response to his first balloon flight is surprising. There are also two recent satellite images from the NASA Earth Observatory website of an Antarctic ice floe and a north Atlantic weather system.
Finally there is a photocopy of my favourite story from Italo Calvino’s fictional work ‘Invisible Cities’ (1974). The book is a series of descriptions of metaphorical cities, told through the fictional voice of the explorer Marco Polo as he talks to Kublai Khan. ‘Thin Cities – 5’ is a city called ‘Octavia’ that hangs between two mountains. I like it because by hanging the material of the city it is inverted and oriented downwards. Seen differently in this way the structure of the city is now in the threads that connect things and form “a net which serves as passage and as support”. I borrowed the first line of Octavia to begin this text and I will end here with its last.
A printed page reminds me that materialsemiotics “maps relations that are simultaneously material (between things) and semiotic (between concepts)”.
“Suspended over the abyss, the life of Octavia’s inhabitants is less uncertain than in other cities. They know the net will last only so long.” (Calvino 1974:75).
Profanations 27 March Christos Stavrou Some favourite photographers, such as Alex Webb, whose work is similarly attracted to the subtle connections of street photography, sites of socio-political tension, and artistic, personal expression, have already stated their peculiar preference: to stay away from the short-lived heat of the event. See for example, Webbâ€™s photographic book Crossings, which is produced after an almost twenty-five year long fascination with the borders between Mexico and US; bringing out facets of cultural, spiritual and economic processes; and then compare this, at the opposite side, with some full-ofaction, straight-drama, and crime and social control on your face type of images by several photojournalists, who tend to patrol the same borders but rather glued to the police reports and the generation of relevant headlines. The difference is huge. It is also known, however, that photographers act on impulse; take for example Samantha Appleton, one of the few remaining ones in the dying breed of photojournalists working in conflict zones, who drove all night from Maine and spent the night at ground zero on 9/11. All this could, maybe, explain how by the night on 26th of March, after watching reports of the big anti-cuts demonstration in London, (an event which for all its obvious news-worthiness had not teased enough my documentary appetite), I had suddenly decided that I really
had to be there with my camera as soon as possible. It was partly because of that captivating emotive force, generated by the democratic claims of thousands of protesters walking together the streets of the capital city. It was also because of a new emerging image, those creative strategies of protesting (based around a campaign for social justice), which were coupled with carnival-like flares, bright colours, imaginative performances and even a home-made Trojan horse. But mostly, I wanted to ask, how much of this is going to remain during the next days? Am I going to find any living traces of its message and spirit by tomorrow? How fast indeed such a massive demonstration can become a swept-away past and what happens immediately after it? Maybe the degree and pace of social and urban cleanliness, tells something about our politics. Of course escaping Lancaster on Sunday is not very wise. Trains do not run until noon, but since I suspected that it would be a race, it seemed that my best chance was a 2:30 a.m. bus. Unfortunately it arrived two hours late and full. After contemplating getting a taxi to Preston that would cost a small fortune, and even bribing the driver of a coach full of French tourists heading to Liverpool airport, I finally found my way through a combination of early morning busses, taxis and trains. 15
All photography in this article by Christos Stavrou © All rights reserved I arrived in central London, sleepless and exhausted just after mid-day, only to find out that a couple of remaining workers were just putting their very last painterly touch in cleaning and renewing that place. And very soon, there was hardly anyone else to be seen around apart from shoppers and tourists. Skilfully and efficiently, as if acted by a weird magician-bureaucrat, the image of the city was transformed so much that someone would have a problem remembering that almost half a million people walked those streets the previous day. Any visual signs of political protest, social unrest, and civil disobedience had simply vanished. I walked up and down Oxford St. and the other central roads, where TV crews were reporting the arrests of hundreds of people just a few hours ago. Almost in vein, the city was mute, reluctant of its own history. In fact, it felt like an archaeologist’s smile in my face, when I discovered a hand-written “whose street? our streets” on a piece of the road; a purple torn piece of fabric from a protester’s flag 16
caught on top of a tall traffic-light post; finally meeting the spectre of the burnt Trojan horse in a crossroad - a dark shadow haunting the indifferent city. Thoughts kept wandering in my mind about Agamben’s (2007) praise of ‘profanations’. For him, the consumerist society, in a process of separation that highlights the religious character of capitalism, is the removal of things and places into the sphere of consumption after separating them from the sphere of common use. So, “to profane means to return to common use”; although because the ‘capitalist religion’, unlike other ones, and entering its extreme phase now, aims at creating something ‘absolutely unprofanable’, whereby distinctions cannot be made, Agamben argues that “the profanation of the unprofanable is the political task of the coming generation” (p.92).
I started moving around looking for whatever was caught in the transition - before the cleaning up, things still appearing and still signifying yesterdayâ€™s use of the city. There was hardly any more than a few obscure and inconspicuous stickers, or some traces of misspelled anti-government graffiti. Although, I also found out a few not working traffic lights which were surreally covered with orange plastic bags - but no one could say if related to the demonstration - they were indeed passing as normal; and of course some broken bank facades - perhaps it was not easy to fix them so quickly like the rest, perhaps a motivated, prolonged visual remainder in order to stain the public memory.
I ended up in front of Fortnum & Mason staring at its beautifully decorated window displays. The previous day this large department store had become the main target for a network of peaceful protesters that campaign across UK against corporate tax avoidance and in favour of social fairness. It led to the arrest of everyone occupying the building despite their claims of this being a politically motivated clampdown on peaceful protesting and activism. An older man with an opulent grey shiny suit and immaculate grey curly hair walked out the side door of the large store, which almost looked like a museum with all those rare decorations and special, wellarranged varieties. A woman ran after him and opened the door of his car. Shoppers and tourists were moving in and out the building - everything seemed to work as normal. â€˜Strangeâ€™ I thought.
“The museification of the world is today an accomplished fact”, writes Agamben (p.83) and by ‘Museum’ he means not only physical places with distinguished collections and exhibitions, but “the separate dimension to which what was once - but is no longer - felt as true and decisive has moved” (p. 84). So, this contemporary ‘Museum’ is “the exhibition of an impossibility of using, of dwelling, of experiencing”, and as such it “occupies exactly the space and function once reserved for the Temple”. Imagine the traditional pilgrims travelling to sacred sites to have been replaced today by tourists. For Agamben it is astonishing that millions of tourists are acting in a practice that involves the irrevocable loss of all use, the absolute impossibility of profaning. Accordingly, Agamben is arguing for ‘the profanation of the unprofanable’ - this is the open question of the future. With these thoughts in my mind I looked back at my camera - there were few very precious but admittedly few photographs made that day; so I turned my eyes to my own reflection currently upon the shop’s windows and created a series of self-portraits. You can learn more about Christos’ work at www.christosstavrou.com.
We need your help... Please help us make next year’s newsletter even better by answering the following questions. You can copy and paste the answers into an email to: thesociologist@live. com 1. What did you like most about the Sociologist? 2. What did you like the least? 3. What suggestions would you offer to improve the publication?
4. Any other comments or suggestions (such as ideas for content)
Guest Who?! Jenn Tomomitsu
Contributors Müzeyyen Pandır
Müzeyyen (or Müzi, as most of you know her) is a final-year PhD student in Sociology. Her research explores European Union discourses with a special focus on the kinds of inclusion and exclusion they produce. She is from Istanbul and she enjoys movies, music, books, tea and coffee. Jenn Tomomitsu Jennifer passed her viva at the end of March in Sociology and Science Studies. Her thesis was on enactments of seeing and the material practices of scientific imaging. She is still hanging around the university enjoying temporary employment and is looking forward to an extended holiday back home in Canada in July. Christos Stavrou Christos uses a camera and a computer to create fiction that encompasses autobiography. He was recently seen making street photographs in town and wondering around the Sociology department. It is not clear if this was related to his arrival in Lancaster last autumn to conduct doctoral research in visual sociology. Some of his previous work can be found on his website: www.christosstavrou. com. and his photoblog ‘lancaster09’.
Jodie Chapell Jodie passed her viva at the end of April in Sociology. Her thesis was entitled ‘Biopiracy in Peru: Tracing Biopiracies, Theft, Loss & Traditional Knowledge’. For her, the best bits were hanging out in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon, and the worst bits are now doing corrections and trying to catch a good postdoc! She can still be occasionally seen hanging around campus and is editing ‘The Sociologist’ in the interim. Ece Kocabicak Ece is a first year PhD student in Department of Sociology, her work is about the gendered division of labour within the transformation of patriarchy in Turkey. Lara Houston Lara is a second year PhD student, studying mobile phone repair shops in Kampala, Uganda. She has recently returned from fieldwork there. She lives in London.
Departmental and Faculty Seminar Schedule Please note: this schedule is still preliminary as speakers, paper titles and dates will change in the upcoming months
DATE 14 June 2011 Time: June 14th-16th
TITLE Nordic Environmental Social Science conference
VENUE Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden
15 June 2011 Time: 2.30 pm
Writing External Funding Applications seminar series ‘Writing Tenders’ and ‘Avoiding the Pitfalls in Bid Writing’
Meeting Room 3 FASS building
16 June 2011
Royal Historical Society Regional Symposium
Department of History, Lancaster University
20-21 June 2011
Theatre and Philosophy LICA Postgraduate Event
23 June 2011 Time: 17.00-19.00
SPEAKER Bruce Bennett, Event website: http://www.stockholmresilience.org/ seminarandevents/ otherseminars/ ness2011/confer encedetails.4.7f0 b194e12b15a0b ce780007404.html
Contact Melanie Bakey to register: m.bakey@ lancaster.ac.uk Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv University), Laura Cull (Northumbria University)
Using the Discourse Historical B62 Furness College Approach to Analyse German Nationalist and anti-Semitic Discourse (1871-1924) 30 June - 1 July Design PhD Conference 2011 LICA Building Event website: 2011 Time: 18:00 http://imagination. 20:30 (Day 1); 10:00 lancaster.ac.uk/ - 16:00 (Day 2) Design_PhD_ Conference_2011/ 4 - 5 July 2011 Sociology Summer TBA Event website: Conference http://www.lancs. ac.uk/fass/events/ sociology/
Lancaster University Department of Sociology Postgraduate Newsletter