Feminist Activisms Summer School 19-22nd May 2015, Centre for Gender & Women’s Studies Lancaster University

Social Abjection


Feminist Activisms: Feminist Media and Cultural Studies Summer school/ MA course, Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies, Lancaster University 19th-22nd May 2015

Enroll online here http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/sociology/event/5178/

Campus Map http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/maps/campus.pdf

Programme At a Glance

Tues 19th May Faraday SR3

9–‐10 Registration and welcome

10–‐1 Session 1: Introduction to feminist media and cultural studies: with Anne-Marie Fortier and Maureen Mcneil

1–‐2 Lunch (self–pay)

2–‐5 Session 2: Media Activisms: A workshop with Debra Ferreday

7.30 Dinner location The Borough (Lancaster city centre, £20 per head, self-pay)

Wed 20 May Faraday SR3

10-1: Session 3: Think before you pink? Feminist health activism: a workshop led by Celia Roberts with Vicky Singleton

Lunch 1-2 (catered)

2-5: Session 4: Opening up (In)Security: Feminist activism against wars on the Other led by Lucy Suchman and Imogen Tyler

7:30: Documentary Screening: ‘Women, Art, Revolution’ at the Gregson Community Centre, Lancaster City Centre…

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Professor Sarah Green: Comments on Imogen Tyler’s Sociological Review Annual Lecture “Classificatory Struggles: Class, Culture and Inequality in Neoliberal Times”

Professor Sarah Green: Comments on Imogen Tyler’s Sociological Review Annual Lecture “Classificatory Struggles: Class, Culture and Inequality in Neoliberal Times”

20 February 2015

[You can hear my lecture here and Sarah’s spoken response here as well. The full and extended text the lecture was based upon will be published as an article in a forthcoming issue of the Sociological Review, thanks to Sarah for letting me print her response to my lecture here and for her thoughtful engagement with my work]

My immediate thoughts after reading Imogen Tyler’s text for this lecture was: of course. It’s obvious, now that you mention it. The pornography of Benefits Street is about blaming the poor, or more accurately, particular individuals who are poor; blaming them for the problems created for them by the rich. We all know, – don’t we? – that the poor continue to be shafted, in full view of the nearest television screen.

Yes, we know. We do. But few mention this obvious and self-evident point; most act as if they didn’t know – which is an act of cynicism, like the one Navaro-Yashin observed in her study of Turkish people’s attitudes towards their always already corrupt governments (Navaro-Yashin 2002). The practice of statecraft in Turkey, as well as people’s responses to it, Navaro-Yashin says, is about cynicism that never becomes unconscious through constant repetition, as Zizek thinks it does; Navaro-Yashin argues cynicism in this case is a conscious, practical solution to a practical problem. People act as if they didn’t know the state is corrupt because – well, because acting in any other way is likely to land you in trouble. As Tyler mentioned, everyone, or almost everyone in the UK, is living a more precarious life these days than they used to do. This adds a twist to the famous comment that Upton Sinclair is credited with making many years ago:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Tyler tracks an intensification of that kind of difficulty in people’s lives, that provocation for people to be cynical: the strong sense of precarity that most people feel nowadays makes it sensible, or at least safer, or so it seems, for many to just walk on by, looking anywhere, especially at the television screen, so as to avoid looking at what is staring at them in the face.

Tyler also notes that the effort to remove all the names attached to this obvious shafting – class, inequality, oppression – has been palpable, and as Tyler outlines, for some politicians such as Tony Blair, it was an explicit effort, right in the open, no disguise or hiding needed. Tyler points out that the emperor is wearing no clothes: many would like pretend that he is wearing clothes, to act as if they did not know he is naked; it is easier that way. But she also notes that she is not the only one doing the pointing: there are some people out there, many even, who are holding up signs, in an act of rage, or frustration or a sense of humiliation, trying to get attention, trying to say: this is not a joke; this is not entertainment; this is not a points-wins-prizes situation; this is our lives.

Tyler’s paper implies that in this media-saturated world, it is perhaps a little more difficult than it once was to distinguish television from people’s lives; sometimes, you need signs to tell you, held out for the cameras to see: if it’s on television, it’s real, in a strange inversion of what we all thought, once, was the way to tell the difference. She is right, along with Bev Skeggs, to point to the importance of television, and to the importance of how the relationship between television and the world beyond it has changed. Quite a few years ago, in the mid-1990s, Marc Augé talked about supermodernity – the word ‘neoliberalism’ was not very popular at the time (Augé 1995). Supermodernity, Augé said, created non-places, places that are the same here as they are somewhere else – McDonalds, airports, motorways, soap operas. He also said, in The War of Dreams, published as long ago as 1999, that the distinction between the media and everyday life has become more complicated. He spoke of:

“a culture dissolving in quotations, copies and plagiarism, of an identity losing itself in images and reflections, of a history which is swallowed up in the here-and-now of a here-and-now which is itself indefinable (modern, postmodern?) because we perceive it only piecemeal, without any organising principle which can enable us to give meaning to the cliches, advertising commercials and commentaries which stand in for our reality.” ((Augé 1999: 10).

It is good to remember that in the pre-broadband age, these thoughts about fragmentation were already in the air, so that it was perhaps not the internet that ushered them in, but something else – perhaps it was what Tyler has identified as a kind of unholy alliance between big business, the dream factories of film and television, and governments. And most people got shafted. They really did.

As I was reading Tyler’s text, I couldn’t help thinking about Greece. That’s not only because of the headlines at the moment; it’s also because Greece is one of my places, one of the places in which I have both lived and that I study for my own research. The bizarre turn of events in Greece over the last five or six years appears a bit like a massively exaggerated version of what Tyler has been describing for the UK: poverty pornography on a national scale, a whole frigging country of scroungers and benefits cheats, being treated by the rest of Europe like the single road in Birmingham depicted in Benefits Street. It’s non-stop entertainment, the story about Greece, with the added value of having larger than life national stereotypes depicted across the screen – the Germans, the French, the bureaucrats in Brussels, the Nordic countries, the Spanish – they’ve all got their bit parts, and everyone can choose the ones they love to hate most. Thinking about the current situation in Greece through the lens of Tyler’s paper made me think of Russian dolls; it made me think that perhaps the phenomenon she’s describing for the UK is just a miniature version of what is happening in Greece in relation to the whole Eurozone. The paper challenged me to make that connection, to make me see the relationship between the cynicism and the entertainment in how the media have been reporting the financial crisis. Before listening to Tyler’s account, I had mostly been thinking about how the financial crisis has shifted the moral axis of Europe from the old Cold War one of West versus East to the neoliberal one of North versus South. Embedded within both those spatial distinctions was always, of course, inequality; there was always an implied moral and economic difference between West and East, and then more recently, between North and South.

Tyler’s lecture provoked me to consider two questions about this. First, how does class struggle work between countries rather than within them? And second, what is the relationship between inequality and location, and how does that relate to the discussion about class? The first question is relatively easy to answer with the help of some post-colonial research, and with more recent research on the dynamics of migration, such as Bridget Anderson’s work as described in Us and Them. Anderson points out that the contemporary story of what makes an upstanding, decent and respectable citizen needs lots of examples of its opposite – the feckless and indecent citizen, who stretches easily from the undeserving poor citizen at one end of the spectrum to the undeserving and undocumented foreign migrant at the other. The moral story is the same: in order to be a moral and upstanding citizen, you need to pay your bills and, perhaps more acutely than at any other time in history, you need to pay for the right to be legitimately standing on a piece of the earth, to be located in one place rather than another. Just as I was intrigued by the way the financial crisis was initially provoked by sub-prime mortgages, which highlighted how people get pushed into impossible efforts to get a foothold on a place to live, I was intrigued by the fact that the Channel 4 program about benefits cheats was about a street. This was not only people who had misbehaved and refused to be dressed in the appropriate manner in their bodies: they had also messed up their street. It used to be beautiful, now it was a rubbish dump. Literally. There has always been an open secret in the UK about the relation between class and location: north-south England, west-east London, Britain had gated communities way before that phrase existed.

That brings me back to the apparent anachronism of words like class struggle and inequality, the sense that such words are from a different century. On the one hand, Tyler’s argument is that no, these words entirely describe conditions today, and the effort to separate the idea of inequality from the idea of class was all part of the whitewashing that has been going on for quite some time now. But she also acknowledges that the kinds of class struggles and inequalities that these words were originally coined to describe have changed: the neoliberal context has generated versions of them that are not the same as the ones that were there before. So Tyler rightly, in my view, argues that the endless attempts to define class, to classify class, and to make class a matter of identities, is a hiding to nothing, for in those terms, the entity keeps morphing, turning into something else. And in any case, that is beside the point: if you focus on class as identity, you turn it into a cultural artefact, a matter of cultural heritage, even; and that misses the most important point that class-as-inequality and class-as-struggle-against-inequality still very much exists, even if what that means in practice has morphed into something other than what it was when Marx and Engels were writing about it.

The thread I am pulling on here – quite tentatively at the moment – is to suggest that the relationship between what Tyler calls class, inequality and struggle is somehow even more intensely involving territory and real estate than it ever was (though it always was, and Marx of course made a very big deal of that). In Tyler’s approach, class identifies something structured, rather than personal or individual going on; inequality names the effects of that structuring; and struggle notes that it is not a done deal, that people are fighting against the pressure to accept that the emperor is wearing a shiny new suit. There is contingency; there is always the possibility that it could be different.

As an aside here, Bourdieu’s complaint against earlier structural approaches that Tyler draws upon was that sociologists were treating models of people’s practices as if they contained a power that was really capable of determining people’s behaviour – whereas Bourdieu insisted that people determine people’s conditions, and that social structures are just conceptual models invented by sociologists. This leaves a space for struggle within the field of practice, as Tyler points out. But it also questions the idea of the determining force of structures.

The point I’m making here, of course, is the question of how class fits into inequality. Bourdieu argued that earlier scholars such as Durkheim and even Lévi-Strauss were mistaking their own models for what determined people’s behaviour, and that this had a doubly bad effect. On the one hand, it missed the point that the world in which people live is an unequal world, that it contains its own structuring structures, that it contains power dynamics that were weirdly not part of these earlier sociologists’ models of social life. And on the other hand, these earlier models apparently dictated how people should behave, which also left no room for struggle. As Tyler points out, Bourdieu wanted to note that practice, and the implicit contingency of practice – that the outcome is not known in advance, which means there is a space for struggle – was a key part of Bourdieu’s approach. What is slightly less clear is how the inequality that class names fits into the structured part of this story. I have the sense that there is something distinctive about the way the whole debate has played out in recent years, and that this has something to do with territory and location.

Just a couple of other final points. The first one concerns the internet, and its relation to television. Marc Augé also argued, way back in 1999, that the difference between all the ‘virtual worlds’ that anthropologists had already been studying for decades – dream worlds, spirit possession worlds, worlds of the deities and so on – and the worlds created by new media technologies is that there is no connection anymore between what Augé called ‘individual imagination and memory’ and ‘collective imagination and memory’. He suggests that the other dream worlds that anthropologists have studied for decades are anchored into the world of experience through ‘collective imagination and memory’. It is that which is missing in the new media technologies, he says: there is just the fictional creation, unmediated by some coherent collective context. And that creates the sense of an unstable, isolated self; a self that is unconnected to anything else. Of course, he was writing before the advent of social media, before the recreation of social connectivity through the internet. And that social media element raises a question: does the social media element of the Internet work in the same way as television? Social media possibly, at least for now, has some wiggle room in which people can create their own dream worlds, in which people can much more effectively express the struggle that Tyler notes than on television.

If there is one thing I appreciated most about this paper is the explicitly political character of the approach. That the analysis of class is a political analysis that is concerned with inequality should not be something that anyone needs to point out, but as Tyler outlines, the politics seems to have dropped out of these concepts in recent years. This is important in a wider sense, for this depoliticising effect has occurred across a range of social theories, even while they claim to continue to be political. For example, we are living in an era of trying to bring hard science back into the social sciences, especially via the analysis of big data and the return to Darwin and a variety of other earlier scientists in some versions of social theory.

Tyler’s paper is a timely reminder that many social theories have always had political intent: theories based in natural science never did.

Finally, one tiny question: while I understand the concept of neoliberalism, I have often wondered why some aspects of what is happening today have not been named neoconservatism. Many of the actions that Tyler describes seem very far from liberal to me.


Augé, Marc. 1995. Non-places: introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity (trans.) John Howe. London: Verso.

—. 1999. The War of Dreams: Studies in Ethno Fiction (trans.) Liz Heron. London: Pluto Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 2014. “Objectification Objectified.” In Anthropology in theory: issues in epistemology, edited by Henrietta L. Moore and Todd Sanders, 151-162. Second Edition. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.

Navaro-Yashin, Yael. 2002. Faces of the state: secularism and public life in Turkey. Princeton, N.J.; Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Feminist Activisms Summer School 19-22nd May 2015, Centre for Gender & Women’s Studies Lancaster University


Feminist Activisms: Feminist Media and Cultural Studies Summer school/ MA course, Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies, Lancaster University 19th-22nd May 2015

Enroll online here http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/sociology/event/5178/

Campus Map http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/maps/campus.pdf

Programme At a Glance

Tues 19th May Faraday SR3

9–‐10 Registration and welcome

10–‐1 Session 1: Introduction to feminist media and cultural studies: with Anne-Marie Fortier and Maureen Mcneil

1–‐2 Lunch (self–pay)

2–‐5 Session 2: Media Activisms: A workshop with Debra Ferreday

7.30 Dinner location The Borough (Lancaster city centre, £20 per head, self-pay)

Wed 20 May Faraday SR3

10-1: Session 3: Think before you pink? Feminist health activism: a workshop led by Celia Roberts with Vicky Singleton

Lunch 1-2 (catered)

2-5: Session 4: Opening up (In)Security: Feminist activism against wars on the Other led by Lucy Suchman and Imogen Tyler

7:30: Documentary Screening: ‘Women, Art, Revolution’ at the Gregson Community Centre, Lancaster City Centre (introduced by Imogen Tyler) 

Thurs 21 May Charles Carter A17

10-1 – Session 4: Feminist Art activism: Imogen Tyler and Rosemary Betterton

1-2: lunch

2-4:- Session 5: student essays/ small group work discussions

Travel to Manchester

17.00 – 19.00: Sarah Schulman, Public Lecture

Friday 22 May County Main SR2

10-1: Session 6: summary workshop/ key ideas: Writing a Feminist Manifesto led by Celia Roberts, Vicky Singleton and Imogen Tyler

Lunch and end


Feminist Activisms: Feminist Media and Cultural Studies MA/Summer School

May 2015, Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies, Lancaster University

Tues 19th May

9 -10: Registration and welcome

10-1: Session 1: Introduction to feminist media and cultural studies: Anne-Marie Fortier and Maureen McNeil

This session will introduce the course, with a special focus on the history and legacy of the ‘Birmingham school’ of cultural studies. After introducing cultural studies and the ‘cultural turn’ in social science, we focus on feminist politics and interventions in cultural studies, and link them to other paradigm shifts in social and cultural research. Staged as a ‘conversation’ between Anne-Marie Fortier and Maureen McNeil, we will travel through generations of feminist cultural studies – ‘where we’re from’, ‘where we’re at’, and where feminist cultural studies might go. We will identify some key themes and issues in the history of feminist cultural studies. We will also draw from our own work as illustrations of cultural studies research.

Required readings:

Franklin, Sarah, Celia Lury and Jackie Stacey (1991/2004) ‘Feminism and cultural studies: pasts, presents, futures’, in  S. Franklin, Sarah, C. Lury and J. Stacey (Eds) Off-Centre: Feminism and Cultural Studies, London & New York: Routledge: pp. 1-4, 11-14 (extracts)

Optional reading (but recommended): 

Bennett, Tony, Lawrence Grossberg, and Meaghan Morris (Eds) (2005) New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Malden, MA : Blackwell.

Brunsdon, Charlotte (1996) ‘A thief in the night: stories of feminism in the 1970s at CCCS’, in D. Morley, and C. Kuan-Hsing (eds) Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. London: Routledge: pp. 276-286.

Chabram-Dernersesian, Angie (1992) ‘I throw punches for my race, but I don’t want to be a man: writing US – Chicano-nos (Girl/Us)/Chicanas – into the movement script’, in L. Grossberg, C. Nelson, P.A. Treichler (Eds) Cultural Studies: A Reader. London and New York: Routledge: pp. 81-95.

Chen, Kuan-Hsing (1998) Trajectories: Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, New York: Routledge

De Lauretis, Theresa (1986) ‘Feminist Studies/Critical Studies: Issues, Terms and Contexts’, in Feminist Studies/Critical Studies, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Fortier, Anne-Marie (1996) ‘Troubles in the Field. The Use of Personal Experiences as Sources of Knowledge’, Critique of Anthropology 16(3): 303-323. Reprinted in a slightly amended version in (1998) ‘Gender, ethnicity and fieldwork: a case study’, in C. Seale (ed.), Researching society and culture. London, Sage: 48-57.

Franklin, Sarah, Celia Lury and Jackie Stacey (Eds) (1991/2004) Off-Centre:

Fortier, Anne-Marie (2000) Migrant Belongings, Oxford: Berg.

Evans, Mary (Ed.) (2000) Feminisms: Critical Concepts in Literary & Cultural Studies, London: Routledge.

Brundson, Charlotte (2000) The Feminist, the Housewife, and the Soap Opera. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press

Brunsdon, Charlotte (1993) ‘Identity and feminist television criticism’, Media, Culture & Society 15(2): 309-320.

Bobo, Jacqueline (Ed.) (2001) Black Feminist Cultural Criticism, Oxford: Blackwell

Additional readings

Thornham, Sue (2000) ‘Conclusion: Narratives of displacement’, in Feminist Theory and Cultural Studies: Stories of Unsettled Relations, London: Arnold: pp. 184-198.

Thornham, Sue (2000) ‘The 1970s: a new consciousness among women’, in Feminist Theory and Cultural Studies: Stories of Unsettled Relations, London: Arnold: 44-70. Feminism and Cultural Studies, London & New York: Routledge.

Gill, Rosalind (2007) Gender and the Media, Cambridge: Polity

Gill, Rosalind and Christina Scharff (Eds) (2011) New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism, And Subjectivity, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Grossberg, Lawrence, Nelson, Cary, Treichler, Paula A. (Eds) (1992) Cultural Studies: A Reader. London and New York: Routledge.Hall, Stuart (1988) The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left, London & New York : Verso

McNeil, Maureen (2007) Feminist Cultural Studies of Science and Technology,London: Routledge.

McRobbie, Angela (2000) Feminism and youth culture (2nd ed.), London: Macmillan

Probyn, Elspeth (1993) Sexing the Self: Gendered Positions in Cultural Studies, London & New York: Routledge

McRobbie, Angela (1994) Postmodernism and Popular Culture, London & New York: Routledge. (see especially chapters 3 and 4).

Ross, Karen, (2012) The Handbook of Gender, Sex, and Media, Malden: Wiley Blackwell. Shiach, Morag (Ed.) (1999) Feminism and Cultural Studies, Oxford University Press.

Tierney, William G. (1997) Academic Outlaws: Queer Theory and Cultural Studies in the Academy, Thousand Oaks (Cal): Sage Publications

Thornham, Sue (2000) Feminist Theory and Cultural Studies: Stories of Unsettled Relations, London: Arnold.

Thornham, Helen and Elke Weissmann (eds) (2013) Renewing Feminisms: Radical Narratives, Fantasies and Futures in Media Studies, London: I.B. Tauris.

Skeggs, Beverley (ed.) (1995) Feminist Cultural Theory: Process and Production, Manchester UP.

Trinh T. Minh-ha (1991) When the Moon Waxes Red: Representation, Gender, and Cultural Politics, New York: Routledge

Weedon, Chris (1999) Feminism, Theory and the Politics of Difference, Basil Blackwell.

Turner, Graeme (2003) British Cultural Studies (Third Edition), London & New York: Routledge.

Williams, Raymond (1988) Keywords: a Vocabulary of Culture and Society(Revised edition). Fontana Press.

Winship, Janice (1987) Inside Women’s Magazines, London & New York: Pandora

Women’s Studies Group, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies(1978) Women Take Issue: Aspects of Women’s Subordination, London: Hutchinson.


  • Cultural Studies
  • Critical Methodologies
  • International Journal of Cultural Studies
  • Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies
  • Cultural Critique
  • Configurations
  • Social Text
  • Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society
  • Feminist Media Studies
  • European Journal of Cultural Studies
  • Cultural Studies

1-2 Lunch (self-pay)

2-5pm Session 2:  Media Activisms: Debra Ferreday

This session will look at digital feminist activisms, to explore how activists are using social media to challenge cultures of violence. We will focus on two main areas of feminist campaigning: feminist responses to online trolling, and global feminist campaigns against sexual violence, with particular reference to Indian feminism. We will use this to reflect on our own experience as feminists, and to think about the ways in which digital media makes new forms of organisation possible, but also involves its own forms of oppression.

Required Readings:

Emma Jane (2014) ‘“Your a Ugly, Whorish, Slut” Understanding E-bile’ Feminist Media Studies 14, 4. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14680777.2012.741073#.VPWxjfmsV8E

Please be aware that this reading contains extremely graphic descriptions of sexual violence. If you prefer not to read these, please just prepare the Losch article.

Elisabeth Losch, ‘Hashtag Feminism and Twitter Activism in India’, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 10-22. http://social-epistemology.com/2014/11/03/hashtag-feminism-and-twitter-activism-in-india-elizabeth-losh/

Additional readings

Nancy K. Baym (2006), “The Emergence of On-line Community”, S. Jones (Ed.) Cybersociety: communication and community, Newbury Park, CA: Sage., pp. 35–68

Radhika Gajjala (2013) ed. Cyberculture and the Subaltern: Weavings of the Virtual and Real, Lanham, Lexington Books.

Rapp et al (2010) ‘The Internet as a Tool for Black Feminist Activism: Lessons From an Online Antirape Protest’ Feminist Criminology  vol. 5 no. 3 244-262

Ann Travers (2003) ‘Parallel Subaltern Feminist Counterpublics in Cyberspace’ Sociological Perspectives vol. 46 no. 2 223-237

Kristyn Gorton , Joanne Garde-Hansen  (2013) F’rom Old Media Whore to New Media Troll’ Vol. 13, 2.  288-302

Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow-White, eds., (2012) Race After the Internet, Routledge.

Susan Herring, Kirk Job-Sluder, Rebecca Scheckler & Sasha Barab (2002) Searching for Safety Online: Managing Searching for Safety Online: Managing “Trolling” in a Feminist Forum The Information Society: An International Journal Volume 18, Issue 5, 371-384

7.30 Dinner at the Borough – Lancaster City Centre

Wed 20 May

10-1: Session 3: Think before you pink? Feminist health activism: Celia Roberts and Vicky Singleton

The Women’s Health Movement has challenged the biomedicalisation of women’s bodies, collating and sharing women’s experiences of health and illness. As we consider the history of the Movement we will reflect upon how feminist activists have negotiated new relationships with biomedical professionals, the pharmaceutical industry, scientists and other activists.

Our case study will be breast cancer activism. We will look at how activists changed the experience of being diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer through cultural practices including art, lobbying, fund raising and awareness campaigns. We will watch a film, Pink Ribbon Inc., about the commercialisation of the pink ribbon and discuss the neo-liberal capture of feminist health politics.

Read: Murphy, Michelle (2012) Introduction, Seizing the Means of Reproduction: Entanglements of Feminism, Health, and Technoscience, Duke University Press, 1-24

Additional resources

Clarke, Adele E. and Olesen, Virginia L. (eds) (1999) Revisioning Women, Health and Healing: Feminist, Cultural and Technoscience Perspectives Routledge: New York and London

Davis, Angela (1990) ‘Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: The Politics of Black Women’s Health’, in Evelyn C. White (ed) The Black Women’s Health Book, the Seal Press, Seattle, pp. 18-26

Davis, Kathy (2007) in The Making of Our Bodies, Ourselves: How Feminism Travels Across Borders, Duke University Press

Ehrenreich, Barbara and English Deidre (1978) For Her Own Good : 150 years of experts advice to women London: Pluto Press

Gibbon, Sahra (2007) Breast Cancer Genes and the Gendering of Knowledge, London: Palgrave Macmillan

Lorde, Audre, (1997) The Cancer Journals, San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books

Lorde, Audre (1988) ‘A burst of light: Living with cancer’ in A Burst of Light: essays by Audre Lorde, Firebrand Books: Ithaca, New York

Klawiter, Maren (2004) Breast cancer in two regimes: the impact of social movements on illness experience, Sociology of Health & Illness 26 (6)L 845–874 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9566.2004.421_1.x/abstract;jsessionid=158E6619E3FFC05B3120E40183EEE82D.f01t02

Klawiter, Maren (2008) The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer: Changing cultures of disease and activism, University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis and London

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2011/10/31/how-audre-lorde-made-queer-history/ http://web.archive.org/web/20071218231238/http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/Pages/PrettyInPink.html

Martin, Emily (1989) The Woman in the Body: a cultural analysis of reproduction Milton Keynes: Open University Press

The Boston Women’s Health Collective (1973) Our Bodies, Our Selves, Simon and Shuster: New York.

Wilkinson, Sue (2000) Breast cancer: a feminist perspective, in Jane Ussher (ed) Women’s Health: Contemporary international perspectives, BPS Books, Leicester, pp. 230-237

Price, J & Shildrick, M (1999) Feminist Theory and the Body, Edinburgh: Edinburgh U.P

Alison Hann (1996) The Politics of Breast Cancer Screening, 1996, Avebury, Aldershot.

Gayle Sulik (2011) Pink Ribbon Blues: How breast cancer culture undermines women’s health, Oxford University Press

Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger, “Towards a Feminist Approach to Breast Cancer” in Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger (eds), Women and Health: Feminist Perspectives, 1994, Taylor and Francis, London, pp. 124- 140.

Krieger N. (2002) ‘Breast cancer: a disease of affluence, poverty, or both? The case of African American women,’ American Journal of Public Health; 92:611-613.

Bix, Amy Sue (1997) ‘Diseases chasing money and power: Breast cancer and AIDS activism challenging authority’ Journal of Policy History 9(1): 5-32.

Samantha King (2006) Pink Ribbon Inc.: Breast cancer and the politics of philanthropy, University of Minnesota Press

Wells, Susan (2010) Our Bodies, Ourselves and the work of writing, Stanford University Press.









The National Breast Cancer Coalition website, http://www.natlbcc.org/

The UK Breast Cancer Coalition website, http://www.ukbcc.org. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14680777.2012.741073#.VPWxjfmsV8E

Lunch 1-2 (catered)

2-5pm : Session 4: Opening up (In)Security: Feminist activism against wars on the Other: Lucy Suchman with Imogen Tyler 

This session will focus on anti-drone and anti-war activism, but seeks to draw out also these activisms in relationship to broader wars against the Other. How can feminist analysis help us to understand the integrated circuits of remotely-controlled warfare and border controls?  What are the generative possibilities for combining street protests and other forms of resistance at the borders and from below, with journal publication in projects of social transformation?  Drawing from indicative cases of activism informed by feminist theory and practice, this session will examine diverse modes of intervention into contemporary regimes of militarism ‘abroad’ and border enforcement ‘at home’.


Thobani, Sunera (2007) White wars: Western feminisms and the ‘War on Terror’. Feminist Theory 8: 169-185.

Rachel V. Kutz-Flamenbaum (2007) ‘Code Pink, Raging Grannies, and the Missile Dick Chicks: Feminist Performance Activism in the Contemporary Anti-War Movement’ NWSA Journal, Vol. 19, No. 1, Feminist Activist Art (Spring, 2007), pp. 89-105 http://www.jstor.org/stable/4317232?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

see also

Tyler, Imogen (2013) ‘Naked Protest: The Maternal Politics of Citizenship and Revolt’ Citizenship Studies 17 (2): 211-226 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13621025.2013.780742#.VQl4701yapo and as a chapter in Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain (Zed, London) – discusses transnational inter-relations of protests in different border zones with reference to immigration detention, niger delta and code pink

Additional readings:

Benjamin, M. (2012). Drone Warfare: Killing by remote control. New York and London: OR Books.

Butler, Judith (20090 Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?, (Verso)

Cockburn, Cynthia, and Dubravka Zarkov, eds. (2002) The Postwar Moment: Militaries, Masculinities, and International Peacekeeping. London: Lawrence & Wishart.

Davis, Angela (2003) Are Prisons Obsolete? (Seven Stories Press,)

Enloe, Cynthia (1989) Bananas, Beaches and Bases:  Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Univ. of California Press.

Enloe, Cynthia (2000) Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Feltz, Renee and Baksh, Stokley  (2012) “Business of Detention,” in Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis, ed. Jenna M. Loyd, Matt Mitchelson, and Andrew Burridge (Athens: University of Georgia Press)

Gilmore, Ruth Wilson  (2007) Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, 1st ed. (University of California Press).

Harvey, David (2005) The New Imperialism (Oxford  ; New York: Oxford University Press). See esp. Chapter 4: Accumulation by Dispossession.

Thomas Gregory (2012) Potential Lives, Impossible Deaths, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 14:3, 327-347.

Jenna M. Loyd, Matt Mitchelson, and Andrew Burridge ‘Introduction: Borders, Prisons, and Abolitionist Visions’ Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis, Edited by Jenna M. Loyd, Matt Mitchelson, and Andrew Burridge, UGA press.

Miller, Laura (1998) Feminism and the Exclusion of Army Women from Combat. Gender Issues 16: 33-64.

Mountz, A. and Loyd, J. (2014) ‘Transnational productions of remoteness: building onshore and offshore carceral regimes across borders, Geogr. Helv., 69, 389-398, doi:10.5194/gh-69-389-2014,.

Muhammad, Khalil Gibran  (2011) “Where Did All the White Criminals Go?: Reconfiguring Race and Crime on the Road to Mass Incarceration,” Souls 13, (1): 72–90, doi:10.1080/10999949.2011.551478.

Dylan Rodríguez (2008) ‘”I Would Wish Death on You…”Race, Gender, and Immigration in the Globality of the U.S. Prison Regime’ S&F online, 6(3): http://sfonline.barnard.edu/immigration/print_drodriguez.htm

 Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic Report Living Under Drones.  Available at http://www.livingunderdrones.org/

Smith, Evan and Marmo, Marinella (2014) Race, Gender and the Body in British Immigration Control: Subject to Examination (Palgrave)

Suchman, Lucy and Jutta Weber (forth) Human-Machine Autonomies.  Draft prepared for a collected volume coming out of the symposium ‘Autonomous Weapons Systems – Law, Ethics, Policy’, 24-25 April, European University Institute, Florence, available at https://www.academia.edu/10738030/Human-Machine_Autonomies_revised.

Weber, Cynthia (2014) Queer International Relations.  International Studies Review 16: 596-622.

Young, Iris Marion (2003) The Logic of Masculinist Protection: Reflections on the Current Security State. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 29: 1-25.

7:30pm: Documentary Screening: ‘Women, Art, Revolution’ at the Gregson Community Centre, Lancaster City Centre. Introduced by Imogen


Thurs 21 May

Session 5: Feminist Art Activism: Imogen Tyler with Rosemary Betterton

This week we will consider feminist art and art activism and its central role in feminist movements. What can art activism achieve?

Rosemary will begin with a talk about feminist art activism/ body art from the 1970s and 1980s in the UK. Imogen will focus on art that directly engages with sexual violence and rape culture. The material we will consider in this session is upsetting and sometimes graphic. Despite the difficulty with working through this material, the aim of the session is to explore and examine an incredibly rich and important feminist archive. The material produced by feminist artists and activists as they have sought to directly intervene in social myths about sexual violence and rape for over 40 years.

In 2002, in an essay titled ‘Toward a New Feminist Theory of Rape’ Carine M. Mardorossian argued that ‘Sexual violence has become the taboo subject of feminist theory today’. What Mardorissian claimed is that issues of sexual violence had become relegated to empirical social science, whilst feminist theoretical work on culture, visual culture and aesthetics had become increasingly detached from lived experiences of sexual violence, focusing on ‘more ambivalent expressions of male domination such as pornography and sexual harassment’. ‘Rape’ she concludes, ‘has become academia’s undertheorized and apparently untheorizable issue’. This session examines and troubles this claim through a focus on feminist art activism around sexual violence and rape produced over almost forty years, and in doing tracks a resurgence in anti-rape activism, which has accompanied a seeming intensification and proliferation of ‘rape culture’ within popular culture and the public sphere.

Artists work we will consider includes: Ana Mendieta, Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz, Sue Williams, Nancy Spero, Kiera Faber, Nan Goldin, Donna Ferrato, The Guerrilla Girls,  Girls, Emma Sulkowicz, Christen Clifford, art projects include ‘Myths of Rape’ (1977/2012) and activist projects such as the clothes line project, slutwalks and protests against the proliferation of “popular cultures of rape” through to online activism such as @countdeadwomen and @everydaysexism. This weaving together feminist art projects and feminist activism will allow us to to consider the ways in which feminist political aesthetics can contest, disrupt and activate alternative political imaginaries about sexual violence within public spaces.

Required Readings

Vivien Green Fryd ‘Suzanne Lacy’s Three Weeks in May: Feminist Activist Performance Art as “Expanded Public Pedagogy” NWSA Journal, 19 (1): 23-38.http://www.jstor.org/stable/4317229

Lacy, Suzanne. ‘‘Three Weeks in May’: Speaking Out on Rape, a Political Art Piece.’ Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 2, no. 1 (Spring 1977): 64-70. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3346109?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Carole Stabile (short blog piece) (2014) ‘The Rusty Taste of Shame’ Ms Magazinehttp://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/02/14/the-rusty-taste-of-shame/

see also

Sharon Irish (2010) Suzanne Lacy: Spaces Between, University of Minnesota Press.

Extra Reading

Mary Jo Aagerstoun and Elissa Auther, `Considering Feminist Activist Art` NWSA Journal, 19 (1), Spring 2007, pp. vii-xiv

Additional Reading List

Feminist Art Background Reading

Goldin, Nan, David Armstrong, and Hans Werner Holzwarth, eds.(1996) I’ll Be Your Mirror. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art and Zurich: Scalo Publishers, 1996.

Hilary Robinson (ed) (2001), Feminism-Art-Theory: An Anthology 1968-2000,Oxford, John Wiley

Rosemary Betterton (2014) Maternal Bodies in the Visual Arts,  Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Rosemary Betterton (1987) Looking On: Images of Femininity in the Visual Arts and Media, London: Pandora Press

See Katy Deepwell (2011) ‘n.paradoxa’s 12 Step Guide to Feminist Art, Art History and Criticism’ [excellent overview of key literature on women art feminism –in West http://www.ktpress.co.uk/pdf/nparadoxaissue21.pdf

n.paradoxa:  international feminist art journal ‘Feminist Art Manifestos and Feminist Manifestos’

Feminist Art Activism: A chronological list of feminist art manifestos and feminist manifestos which have had an impact on the women’s art movement and the creation of feminist art. http://ktpress.co.uk/feminist-art-manifestos.asp and watch http://www.ica.org.uk/video/feminist-art-seminar-manifestos-feminist-art

Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution (2007) website, exhibition and bookhttp://sites.moca.org/wack/

FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture http://upsettingrapeculture.com/ see art actions http://upsettingrapeculture.com/artists.php

Media debates about whether Rape Culture exists—for example

Kitchens ,Caroline (2014) ‘Its Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria’, Time Magazinehttp://time.com/30545/its-time-to-end-rape-culture-hysteria/

Katherine Krueger, (2013) “Letter Serves as Ugly Reminder of Rape Culture on Campus,” Badger Herald, November 5, http://​badgerherald.​com/​oped/​2013/​11/​05/​letter-serves-ugly-reminder-rape-culture-campus/​.

David Hookstead, (2013) “‘Rape Culture’ Does Not Exist,” letter to the editor, Badger Herald, November 4, http://​badgerherald.​com/​oped/​2013/​11/​04/​rape-culture-does-not-exist/​.

Feminism, Rape, Sexual Violence: Selected Readings (from across political & theoretical spectrum)

Alcoff, Linda, and Laura Gray (1993) “Survivor Discourse: Transgression or Recuperation?” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 18(2):260–91.

Baumgardner, Jennifer (2000) “What Does Rape Look Like?” Nation, January 3, 20–23.

Baker, Carrie N. 2007. “The Emergence of Organized Feminist Resistance to Sexual Harassment in the United States in the 1970s.” Journal of Women’s History19(3):161–84.

Blocker, Jane. Where is Ana Mendieta? Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.

Buchwald, Emile, Pamela R. Fletcher and Martha Roth, eds. Transforming a Rape Culture, rev. ed., Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2005.

Baumgardner, Jennifer, and Amy Richards. (2000). Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

———. (2004). “Feminism and Femininity; or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Thong.” In All About the Girl: Culture, Power, and Identity, ed. Anita Harris, 59-68. New York: Routledge.

Black Women’s Blueprint. (2011). “An Open Letter from Black Women to the SlutWalk.” http://www.blackwomensblueprint.org/2011/09/23/


Bourke, Joanna, (2007) Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present, London: Virago Press.

Bourke, Joanna, (2007) Rape: Sex, Violence, and History, London: Virago Press.

Susan Brownmiller (1975) Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape , New York: Simon and Schuster.

Emile Buchwald, Pamela R. Fletcher and Martha Roth, (2005) ‘Are We Really Living in a Rape Culture?’ in Transforming a Rape Culture, rev. ed., eds. Emile Buchwald, Pamela R. Fletcher and Martha Roth (Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions.

Gavey, Nicola, (2005) Just Sex? The Cultural Scaffolding of Rape, Routledge.

Haag, Pamela (1996) “‘Putting Your Body on the Line’: The Question of Violence, Victims, and the Legacies of Second‐Wave Feminism.” differences 8(2):23–68.

Hannon, Elliott. 2011. “Indian Women Take SlutWalk to New Delhi’s Streets.” Time World, August 1. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2086142,00.html

Helliwell, Christine (2000) “‘It’s Only a Penis’: Rape, Feminism, and Difference.”Signs 25(3):789–816.

Hengehold, Laura (2000) “Remapping the Event: Institutional Discourses and the Trauma of Rape.” Signs 26(1):189–214.

Horeck, Tayna (2014) “#AskThicke: “Blurred Lines,” Rape Culture, and the Feminist Hashtag Takeover” Feminist Media Studies

Higgins, Lynn A. and Brenda R. Silver, eds. (1991) Rape and Representation. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lacy, Suzanne. (1977) ‘‘Three Weeks in May’: Speaking Out on Rape, a Political Art Piece.’ Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 2, (1): 64-70.

Lacy, Suzanne (2010) Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics 1974-2007. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.

LeeAnn Kahlor & Matthew S. Eastin (2011) ‘Television’s Role in the Culture of Violence Toward Women: A Study of Television Viewing and the Cultivation of Rape Myth Acceptance in the United States’ , Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 55 (2): 215-231

Lesage, Julia (1978) “Disarming Film Rape” Jump Cut 19 (December): 14–16.

Marcus, Sharon (1992) “Fighting Bodies, Fighting Words: A Theory and Politics of Rape Prevention.” In Butler and Scott (eds) Feminist Theorise the Political: 385–404.

Mardorossian, Carine (2002) ‘Toward a New Feminist Theory of Rape’ Signs 27 (3): 743-775

Meyer, Michela (2014) “#Thevagenda’s War on Headlines: Feminist Activism in the Information Age” Feminist Media Studies

Mills, Jane (1995) “Screening Rape.” Index on Censorship 24(6):38–41.

Nguyen, Tram (2013) ‘From SlutWalks to SuicideGirls: Feminist Resistance in the Third Wave and Postfeminist Era’, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly , 41 (3-4): 157-172.

Pearson, Lisa, ed. (2010) Torture of Women. Los Angeles: Siglio Press.

Projansky, Sarah. Watching Rape: Film and Television in Postfeminist Culture. New York: NYU Press, 2011.

Roth, Moira (1988) ‘Suzanne Lacy: Social Reformer and Witch.’ TDR 32( 1):  42-60.

Rothenberg, Diane (1988) ‘Social Art/Social Action’ TDR 32 (1): 61-70.

Poulami Roychowdhury (2013)”The Delhi Gang Rape”: The Making of International Causes” Feminist Studies, 39 (1): 282-292

Rentschler, Carrie A (2014) ‘Rape Culture and the Feminist Politics of Social Media’Girlhood Studies, 7 (1): 65-82.

Rentschler, Carrie A. (2015) ‘#Safetytipsforladies: Feminist Twitter Takedowns of Victim Blaming’ [online only at time of writing], Feminist Media Studieshttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14680777.2015.1008749#.VOsoUk0fz4g

Roiphe, Katie (1993) The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism on Campus. Boston: Little, Brown.

Saltzman, Lisa and Eric Rosenberg, eds. (2006) Trauma and Visuality in Modernity. Hanover, NH and London: University Press of New England.

Sielke, Sabine (2002) Reading Rape: The Rhetoric of Sexual Violence in American Literature and Culture, 1790-1990, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Tanner, Laura E. (1994) Intimate Violence: Reading Rape and Torture in Twentieth-Century Fiction, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Sheila Schwartz, ed., (1993) The Subject of Rape: ISP Papers, No. 4 New York: Whitney Museum of Art.

Sommers, Christina Hoff. Researching the “Rape Culture” of America.

Rozee, Patricia. “Resisting a Rape Culture”. Rape Resistance.http://www.raperesistance.org/research/rape_culture.html

Steffes, Micah (2008). “The American Rape Culture”. High Plains Reader [online].

Ferrato, Donna (1991) Living with the Enemy. New York: Aperture Foundation.

Fryd, Vivien Green (2007) ‘Suzanne Lacy’s Three Weeks in May: Feminist Activist Performance Art as ‘Expanded Public Pedagogy.’’ NWSA Journal 19(1): 23-38.

Goldin, Nan, David Armstrong, and Hans Werner Holzwarth, eds. (1996) I’ll Be Your Mirror. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art and Zurich: Scalo Publishers.

Heiferman, Marvin, Mark Holborn, and Suzanne Fletcher, eds. (1986) The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. New York: Aperture Foundation, Inc.

Higgins, Lynn A. and Brenda R. Silver, eds. (1991). Rape and Representation. New York: Columbia University Press.

1-2: Lunch

2-3.30pm: Discussion of essays (MA) and relevance to research (PhD and others)

Travel to Manchester

17.00 – 19.00: Sarah Schulman, Public Lecture

“Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair”

“It is not only that we may not choose with whom to cohabitate, but that we must actively preserve the unchosen character of inclusive and plural cohabitation; we not only live with those we never chose and to whom we may feel no social sense of belonging, but we are also obligated to preserve their lives and the plurality of which they form a part. In this sense, concrete political norms and ethical prescriptions emerge from the unchosen character of these modes of cohabitation.”

-Judith Butler, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism

“Shunning is so often the go-to tool of people dealing with problems or conflict in queer communities, which only contributes to cycles of dehumanization and abuse. It’s the easy, simplistic response too often deployed for all manner of interpersonal and inter-community conflict.”

-Cooper Lee Bombardier  – Facebook Post, January 2015

“I want people to be open to the little power that they do have.”

-Lisa Henderson, personal conversation, 2015

Venue: John Casken, Manchester University

19.00 – 20.00: Wine Reception, Venue: Café Muse

Friday 22 May

10-1: Key Ideas Summary workshop

1-2 Lunch

The Business of Immigration Detention: Events and Conference Programme

Conference Programme:

The Business of Immigration Detention: Activisms, Resistances, Critical Interventions.

Lancaster University, January 22-23 2015

Sponsored by the ESRC, the North West DTC and the Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe)


5.30-6.30pm  Public Lecture: Professor Alison Mountz, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.

‘”The business of detention, the death of asylum and the life of activism.”

Chair: Dr Imogen Tyler

Venue: Marcus Merriman LT, Bowland North

7-8pm                   Public Performance: Ice&Fire

‘Asylum Monologues’

Venue: Chaplaincy Centre, Lancaster University

After the Ice&Fire performance the WAST choir will sing and there will be a wine reception and vegetarian buffet in the Chaplaincy Centre along with a book stall (Blackwells).


Lancaster University FASS building rooms 2/3, 9.am- 5pm (building 21 on campus map)

9-9.30am    Registration with tea/coffee

9.30–10      Welcome

Professor John Urry, Director of CeMoRe

Dr Imogen Tyler, conference organiser

WAST choir sing to open the event

10-12.30     Activisms in and around detention

Chair: Professor Anne-Marie Fortier

20 min presentations followed by roundtable discussion:

Christine Bacon, Artistic Director of Ice & Fire

‘Using Human Rights Performance to Inspire Action’

WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together)

Women Asylum Seekers in Greater Manchester, sharing their experiences and their campaigning work, in particular the current “ Shut Down Yarl’s Wood campaign“.

Pa Modou Bojang (Prince) from MaMa

Talk about experiences of immigration system and detention and activism with Liverpool Migrant Artists: Mutual aid.

Eiri Ohtani, Detention Forum.

‘How immigration detention “works”‘

John Grayson, activist and Independent Researcher SYMAAG.

‘How to use housing to hurt people – ‘soft detention’ in G4S asylum housing’

12.30-1.30pm      LUNCH (provided a hot lunch and drinks)

1.30-3.30    Research as Resistance

Dr Celia Roberts

20 min presentations followed by roundtable discussion

Professor Alice Bloch, Manchester University.

‘Living “illegality”: Multiple exclusions and uncertainties’.

Dr Alex Hall, York University.

‘Borderwatch: Cultures of Immigration, Detention and Control’

Dr Maja Sager, Lancaster University / Lund University.

‘A continuum of constraints. Migrants’ experiences of constrained mobility and community building in the UK’.

Professor Gillian Whitlock, University of Queensland.

‘The Hospitality of Cyberspace’

Dr Sarah Turnbull, University of Oxford

Methodological and Ethical Challenges of Studying Immigration Detention’

3.30–4pm             COFFEE BREAK and cakes provided

4-5.30       Closing Keynote. Dr Jenna Loyd, University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

‘The business of detention and wages of innocence: Ending detention without exception’

Chair: Professor Lucy Suchman



 Professor Alison Mountz, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.

‘The business of detention, the death of asylum, and the life of activism’

Jan 22, 5.30-6.30pm

This talk explores contemporary landscapes of asylum through the lens of offshore border enforcement and the detention of migrants and asylum-seekers on islands. There and elsewhere, the death of asylum and the business of detention unfold in concert. The paper draws on research on Australia’s Christmas Island, Italy’s Lampedusa, and US Pacific islands of Guam and Saipan. These sites are used to inhibit human migration and paths to asylum. The islands serve as material platforms for detention, where isolating forces engulf people, creating islands within islands. They also serve as key nodes in transnational activist networks designed to counter the isolation of remote detention. The death of asylum is contested by the life of activism.

Dr Jenna Loyd, University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

‘The business of detention and wages of innocence: Ending detention without exception’

Jan 23, 4-5.30pm 

The categories that activists and advocates use to contest detention, deportation, and imprisonment can reproduce the very systems we’re trying to confront. This talk considers how claims of innocence (“we’re not criminals”) or respectability (“asylum seekers or immigrants don’t deserve to be detained”) shore up carceral logics: that there is some criminal or law-breaker, and that they deserve to be locked up. In discussing efforts to move beyond walls and cages in the United States, I focus on the role of anti-Black racism in constructions of guilt and innocence, victim and aggressor that uphold carceral citizenship. What wages do we (as organizers, as aggrieved and grieving communities, as advocates) expect from these terms, who may never claim them, and what else might be done?

Roundtable ‘Activisms in and around detention’

Jan 23, 10-12.30

 Christine Bacon, Ice & Fire

‘On using performance to raise public awareness of human rights issues about detention’

 WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together).

Women Asylum Seekers Together in Greater Manchester talking about their empowering self-help support group and their dynamic and brave campaigning work, in particular their current “Shut Down Yarl’s wood campaign”.

Pa Modou Bojang (Prince), MaMa (Migrant Artists: Mutual Aid).

Talk about experiences of immigration system and detention and activism with Liverpool Migrant Artists: Mutual aid.

Eiri Ohtani, Detention Forum.

‘How immigration detention “works”’

Despite some NGOs’ criticism of its devastating impact on immigrants’ lives, immigration detention continues to grow in size and scope. It asks why and how this most pressing human rights and civil liberty issue in the UK today remains largely unchallenged. The talk will also explore how immigration detention is differently framed by various actors in the field and identify contradictions observed in detention advocacy work which could generate potentially conflicting and confusing narratives.

John Grayson, activist and Independent Researcher SYMAAG.

‘How to use housing to hurt people – ‘soft detention’ in G4S asylum housing’

Since 2012 most asylum housing in the UK has been contracted to international security companies G4S and Serco. Neither company had any experience in providing social housing but both had extensive experience in the UK detention estate and international asylum markets.

Asylum housing tenants, researchers and StopG4S campaign groups have systematically exposed the appalling conditions in G4S contract areas in a series of reports and briefings for Parliamentary hearings and select committees.G4S has been fined for its negligence on the contracts and heavily censured and criticised by both the Home Affairs Committee and Public Accounts Committee.

G4S retains the asylum housing contract at present to 2017,but  resistance continues; now in a context of rising numbers of ‘dispersed’ asylum seekers, election racism and open hostility to asylum seekers in the media and on the streets.

Roundtable ‘Research as Resistance’

Jan 23, 1.30-3.0

 Professor Alice Bloch, Manchester University.

‘Living “illegality”: Multiple exclusions and uncertainties’

This paper will focus on undocumented migrants, who are not physically in detention, but live under the shadow of detention and deportation. Drawing on data from an ESRC funded project Undocumented Migrants, Ethnic Enclaves and Networks: Opportunities, Traps or Class Based Constructs? (ES/1037490/2) the juxtaposition between invisibility in relation to the state apparatus of internal border controls and the necessity of being visible in some contexts will be explored. The ways in which exclusions are experienced, managed and understood as constraints and choices in relation to being undocumented will be considered.

Dr Alex Hall, York University.

‘Borderwatch: Cultures of Immigration, Detention and Control’

This paper will discuss the acts of looking and watching that are inherent in the securitised detention centre. For staff working in the IRC, the modes of surveillance in which they are engaged tend to de-personalise and de-individualise the detained people under their control. The act of watching, and being watched, is constantly at stake in the everyday struggles between staff and detainees. Drawing on qualitative research among staff in a UK IRC, the talk will reflect on the experience of doing ethnography (itself a kind of surveillance) within IRC and the critical potential of other styles of visual practice in securitised environments.

Dr Maja Sager, Lancaster University / Lund University.

‘A continuum of constraints. Migrants’ experiences of constrained mobility and community building in the UK’.

This presentation is based on material from an ethnographic study with groups and networks organised by and for irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Manchester, UK. The paper draws on two recurring themes in the material: constrained mobility on the one hand and support practices on the other hand. I analyse how a set of legislative, administrative and social mechanisms in the British asylum reception system constrains mobility and hence effect isolation in the everyday life of migrants seeking asylum. I argue that these mechanisms entail a continuum of constrains running from inside the actual immigration detention centres to outside in the community. I also reflect upon the ways in which migration rights advocacy organisations respond to the conditions of constrained mobility and consider the significance of community building and mutual support in this context.

Professor Gillian Whitlock, University of Queensland.

‘The Hospitality of Cyberspace’

In this talk I will consider the maritime voyages filmed and narrated by asylum seekers, where they become ‘producers’ of their own testimonial narratives that are then disseminated through both conventional and new media.  Social media offers new venues and opportunities for the dissemination of testimony generated by the asylum seekers, from within the boats, trucks and planes that transport them.  Much of the current writing on social activism and new media turns to the uprisings of the Arab Spring that was inspired and energized by new technologies and the dissemination of dissent. Asylum seekers are not citizens seeking democracy in the public spaces of their own homelands, to the contrary, they are stigmatised as the barbarians at the gates of ours, and as a threat to the security of the nation. However in their hands smartphones and social media enable new forms of testimonial narrative, from within spaces of detention. Can we speak of the hospitality of cyberspace on behalf of the dispossessed?’

Dr Sarah Turnbull, University of Oxford.

‘Methodological and Ethical Challenges of Studying Immigration Detention’

In this talk I will draw on my recently completed ethnographic fieldwork across four British immigration removal centres (IRCs) to discuss a range of methodological and ethical challenges I faced. IRCs are difficult sites to research because they are institutions characterised by constant flux, and conditions of radical uncertainty and vulnerability can make it difficult to build relationships of trust with participants. Tensions exist in maintaining research access while building a critique of current conditions and practice. This presentation explores these issues by drawing on my discussions with detained individuals about the value of research and the question of resistance to the practice of immigration detention.


Christine Bacon, Ice&Fire

Christine Bacon is Artistic Director of ice&fire, the only theatre company which places the human rights issues of the day at the core of their work. Before joining ice&fire, Christine completed an MSc in Forced Migration at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University. Her thesis (subsequently published by the RSC as Working paper No.27) looked at how the privatisation of the detention estate in the UK had affected the evolution of the detention regime. At ice&fire, she oversees the coordination of Actors for Human Rights, a national actors network made up of over 700 professional actors that tours rehearsed readings of testimony-based plays such as Asylum Monologues (chronicling the experience of three individuals going through the UK’s asylum process) across the UK, with an explicit agenda of inspiring audiences to take personal action. Directly inspired by this work, a German Actors for Human Rights is now in operation, with over 200 German actors and musicians involved, touring their own version of Asylum Monologues. Christine will speak about her work in relation to the themes of the conference.

See: www.iceandfire.co.uk

Alice Bloch

Alice Bloch is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester. Recent publications include, Sans Papiers: The social and economic lives of undocumented migrants in the UK (Pluto Press with Nando Sigona and Roger Zetter). She has recently completed an ESRC funded study (2011-14), with Professor Sonia McKay from London Metropolitan University, ‘Undocumented Migrants, Ethnic Enclaves and Networks: Opportunities, traps or class-based constructs’ and is currently working on a project, ‘Children of refugees in Europe: Aspirations, social and economic lives, identity and transnational linkages’ with Milena Chimienti, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland and Professor Catherine Withol De Wenden Sciences Po Paris.

John Grayson

John Grayson is an independent researcher and adult educator. He was Senior Tutor for research at the Northern College for residential adult education until 2006 and taught Housing Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. He lives in Barnsley and is an activist and campaigner with SYMAAG (South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group, see www.symaag.org.uk). John has published widely on anti-racist issues for the Institute for Race Relations news service; and on immigration issues, especially on privatisation and asylum housing. He has been involved with the transnational ‘Stop G4S’ activist network.

See: http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson

Alex Hall

Dr Alex Hall is a lecturer in Politics at the University of York. Her research focuses on the international securitisation of mobility and contemporary border politics in the west, drawing on interdisciplinary work from international relations, anthropology and critical security and border studies. She has conducted research into the everyday production and experience of security within immigration detention, and the rise of ‘smart’ e-border targeting systems in the UK and Europe. Alex is currently conducting research on the role of discretion within smart border targeting programmes, as a way of understanding the contemporary working of sovereign power at the border and the international governance of mobility.

Jenna Loyd

Dr Jenna Loyd is an Assistant Professor in Public Health Policy at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, as well as a prison and detention abolitionist activist. She is the author of Health Rights Are Civil Rights: Peace and Justice Activism in Los Angeles, 1963-1978 (2014) and co-editor of Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis (2013). Beyond Walls and Cages takes an explicitly abolitionist and transnational political approach to issues of detention and forced imprisonment. Inspired by Jenna’s activist-scholarship, we are seeking to emulate the philosophy of Beyond Walls and Cages at this conference, with scholars, activists, artists, and the formally imprisoned speaking together form a range of disciplines, experiences and perspectives—from local struggles against immigration detention and strikes and protests against the privatisation of policing and prison-services, to trans-national networks which seek to expose and undo the increasing hold of global securities companies within the fabric of the state.

Alison Mountz

Alison Mountz is professor of Geography and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada. Professor Mountz’s work explores the tension between the decisions, displacements, and desires that drive human migration and the policies and practices designed to manage migration. She is author of Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border (2011) and leads the ‘Island Detention Project’ http://www.wlu.ca/page.php?grp_id=2599&p=21545

Pa Modou Bojang (Prince)

Pa Modou Bojang (Prince) is the Director of Kibaaro Radio, a journalist, writer and refugee. Prince is also a former immigration detainee and a founding member of Migrant Artists Mutual Aid, a Liverpool based activist organisation comprised of migrant and ‘citizen’ artists, poets, writers and performers.

See: http://migrantartistsmutualaid.wordpress.com/

Eiri Ohtani / Detention Forum

Eiri Ohtani is the Co-ordinator of the Detention Forum in the UK and an independent consultant in the voluntary sector. She has worked with migrants and asylum-seekers for over a decade. A graduate of LSE, she also holds postgraduate degrees from SOAS and Birkbeck, University of London.

The Detention Forum is a network of over 30 NGOs who are working on immigration detention issues. We are working together to build a momentum to question the legitimacy of immigration detention which has become such a normal part of the British immigration system. We are now a membership-based network, a collective of organisations who want to work together to challenge immigration detention. One of the aims of our work is to engage more politicians about this issue. We now host regular Parliamentary Network Meetings on immigration detention twice a year, have written joint letters to influence and individually lobbied local MPs to be more vocal about detention issues.

See: http://detentionforum.wordpress.com

Maja Sager

Dr Maja Sager is a COFAS Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Gender Studies, Lund University and, between 2012 and 2015, a visiting researcher at the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK. Her PhD ‘Everyday Clandestinity: Experiences on the Margins of Citizenship and Migration Policies’ (2011) is based upon an ethnographic study with irregular migrants and migration rights activists and discusses how national belonging, citizenship and social organising are practiced and represented in the Swedish welfare state. Maja is currently undertaking her postdoctoral research with migrant activist groups in the UK, Sweden and Denmark.


Sarah Turnbull

Dr Sarah Turnbull is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. Her current research examines immigration detention and deportation with specific focus on issues of identity, home, and belonging in the context of multicultural, postcolonial Britain. For more information, please see http://bordercriminologies.law.ox.ac.uk/.

WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together),

Over the past year and a half WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together) and MISOL (Manchester Migrant solidarity) with SAFETY4SISTERS have organized “SHUT DOWN YARL’S WOOD“ demonstrations and have taken over some of the main squares in Manchester to make our voices heard. These demonstrations and the ongoing fight to highlight the injustice of Yarl’s Wood is in the WAST (10 year) tradition of sharing our experiences, empowering and supporting each other, fighting for our rights, raising awareness about the issues that force women to seek international protection and the effects of the injustices of the UK immigration system.

The WAST choir has always been an important campaigning tool for the group as well as a self-healing positive, sociable and joyous part of the group. The asylum process is set up to be a dehumanizing, isolating and disempowering system for women and WAST, in particular the choir, helps reduce isolation, depression and other mental health problems but has most importantly given members the opportunity to share their amazing talents for singing and harmony with all those who hear them perform.

The latest work of WAST campaigning group is “Still We Rise” which is a performance of dance song, spoken word and drama, the stark realities of life, and the injustices faced, by women seeking sanctuary in the UK. It is written, produced and performed by members of WAST and MISOL, (many of whom have been locked up in Yarl’s Wood themselves) and directed by Magdalen Bartlett. The women of WAST & MISOL express their resilience and resistance to the ultimate inhumanity experienced within the asylum system at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

see http://www.wast.org.uk/

Gillian Whitlock

Gillian Whitlock is a Professor at the University of Queensland, and her scholarly work focuses on life writing and postcolonialism, with an emphasis on contemporary writing. She is currently an ARC Professorial Fellow in the School. The ARC Fellowship (2010-2014) focuses on the archives of asylum seeker letters held in the Fryer Library at the University of Queensland. An interdisciplinary research team is now focusing on these archives and in June-July 2011 a special exhibition at the University of Queensland Art Museum, called ‘Living Archives’ and featuring the work of Professor Ross Gibson, will be on display in association with the research project. Gillian will be speaking at the conference about her work on maritime voyages filmed and narrated by asylum-seekers from within the boats, trucks and planes that transport them.

Life on the Dole for ‘Benefit Broods’ on the Screen: Poverty Porn and the War on Welfare – by Tracey Jensen


In August this year, Iain Duncan-Smith announced his intentions to get ‘even tougher’ on the welfare system and to further reduce the Household Benefit Cap. The Cap formed a key plank of the Welfare Reform Bill 2012, was endorsed in Parliament in 2013 and finally implemented in April 2014.  It limits the total amount of benefits any household can claim to £500 per week for households with children and £350 for a single adult and is the Coalition’s single most popular policy.  According to a YouGov poll in January 2013, 76% of people surveyed agreed with the Benefit Cap.  Continuing with his project to reduce welfare spending, Duncan-Smith has promised to reduce the Cap even further after the next election if the Conservatives win.

Duncan-Smith positions himself as the courageous reformer of a bloated and out-of-control welfare state, stating in an interview that the previous government ‘spent thirteen years…

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Are critics of Benefits Street censoring the truth? – By Rob MacDonald and Tracy Shildrick


This week a senior Channel 4 executive, in charge of the making of programmes like Benefits Street and Skint, accused critics of so-called ‘poverty porn’ of ‘a form of censorship’ and declared that: “I defend our right – and the necessity – to tell the stories of some of the distressed parts of our society.”

To us, this has a very odd ring to it. We have been critics of Benefits Street. But we had not considered ourselves in the business of censorship – or to be on the wrong side of a moral claim about the right or necessity of reporting the problems or social distress of people who may be on benefits.

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“Being Poor is Not Entertainment”: Class Struggles against Poverty Porn – By Imogen Tyler


The fate of groups is bound up with the words that designate them (Bourdieu, 1984)

Aust[ralian] election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy. Others nations to follow in time. (Rupert Murdoch tweet 2013)

Benefits Street, made by Love productions, is a six-episode reality television programme first screened on the 6th of January 2014 on Channel Four. The ten-second opening sequence begins with a camera panning over the rooftops of a row of terraced houses, a generic ‘view from above’ which establishes from the outset ‘the voyeurism of one class looking at another’ (Higson 1996:152, see also Lovell 1996 and Tyler 2011). As the shot pans across the roofs, a woman’s voice calls out the word ‘unemployed’ in a soft Birmingham (Brummy) accent. The shot then cuts to street-level, a young woman, dressed in a hooded top, jeans and a baseball…

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Rethinking the Sociology of Stigma in the transition to postwelfare states

I am delighted and honoured to have been awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize, which means that from September 2015 I will have some relief from my day job (teaching and administration) for three years to focus on my new research project on stigma and inequalities (click on link to see my previous longer blog ‘The Stigma Doctrine’ which explains some of the ideas and impetus behind this new project).

Why research stigma today?

All the major institutions of ‘free-market’ capitalism have warned that escalating inequalities (of income, health and education) pose the gravest threat to future social and political stability. The premise of this project is that to combat this threat we require a much better understanding of relationship between stigmatisation, inequalities and capitalism—that is we urgently need to theorise stigma as a cultural and political economy.

Stigma is one of the most frequently used but least developed concepts in the social sciences. Although stigma is employed to describe a vast array of scapegoating practices and shameful identities, deeper theoretical understandings of stigma are frequently absent from sociological analysis. Erving Goffman’s Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (1964) was pivotal in the emergence of a sociology of stigma, yet it is striking how little understandings of stigma have developed in the intervening 50 years. Further, the centrality of stigma in producing economic and social inequalities has been obscured ‘because bodies of research pertaining to specific stigmatized statuses have generally developed in separate domains’ (Hatzenbuehler, 2013). In short, stigma is widely accepted to be a major factor in determining life chances, yet research on stigma is fragmented and dispersed across academic disciplines. This research project will produce a new theoretical account of stigma, to address this lacuna and to consider the relationship between growing inequalities and ‘heightened stigmatization in daily life and public discourse’ (Wacquant, 2010). The project has the following aims:

  • develop a new social theory/sociology of stigma
  • examine the relationship between stigmatisation and escalating inequalities
  • consider ‘behaviour change’ policies through the lens of stigma
  • deepen understanding of the role of stigma in generating a ‘post-welfare’ consensus

Outcomes from this project will include:·

  • The establishment of an interdisciplinary research network on Stigma & Inequality
  • A monograph: The Stigma Doctrine (provisional title)·
  • A special journal issue: ‘Sociology of Stigma’ (to be edited with Tom Slater)
  • Three peer-reviewed articles

What distinguishes this project from existing research is its explicit focus on stigmatization as a central dimension of neoliberal state-crafting. The project will focus in particular on welfare reform, the neoliberal de/recomposition of class, poverty, work and dis/abilities.

In due course there will be a new wordpress site with blog updates, events and findings from this research project as it develops.