UCL Department of Geography


Silvia Binenti

Research Title

Mundane objects of popular geopolitics: an ethnography of activist t-shirts

More about Silvia


  • PhD in Human Geography: University College London (2020 - ongoing)
  • MPhil in Social Anthropology: University of Cambridge, St John’s College (2019 - 2020). Final dissertation: "Shopping in the time of COVID-19: Consumption and panic buying in Italian and English supermarkets"
  • MSc in Global Migration: University College London (2016 - 2017). Final dissertation: “Branding Remembrance: The Symbolic and Material Imaginaries of the Poppy
  • BSc in Political Economy: King’s College London (2012 - 2015). Final dissertation: “The social performance of the border between ‘us’ and ‘them’: The case study of Lampedusa”

Honours and Awards

First Prize in the Research Images as Art / Art Images as Research Competition – UCL Doctoral School (Jun 23).

  • LAHP Research Support Fund – Arts and Humanities Research Council (Dec 2022).
  • LAHP PhD Studentship – Arts and Humanities Research Council (2020-2023).
  • Elected to MPhil Scholar based on academic merit – St. John's College, University of Cambridge (Oct 2020).
  • MPhil Prize for distinguished academic performance – St. John's College, University of Cambridge (Oct 2020).
  • Departmental Bursary Award – Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (2019-2020).
  • Santander Graduate Scholarship – King's College London and Santander (Feb 2016).
  • Study Abroad Scholarship – King’s College London (Jan-May 2014).
  • College on Wheels Project with the University of Delhi – King’s College London (Sept 2013).

Teaching and Mentorship

  • Exam Tutor – Department of Geography
  • Teaching Assistant for Space and Society (GEOG0150) – Department of Geography
  • Methodological Advisor (qualitative methods) – UCL Bentham Brooks Institute
  • Teaching Assistant for “Comprehending COVID-19” (ANTH0212) – Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences.
  • Postgraduate Mentor – UCL Connect.ed Society.

Relevant training

  • "Summative Marking"– Department of Geography, UCL (Sept 2022)
  • “Induction to Assessment and Marking” – Department of Anthropology, UCL (Nov 2021)
  • “Arena One: Teaching Associate Programme (leading to AFHEA)” – UCL (Sept 2021)
  • "From research student to undergraduate teacher. Moving into research-led training" – LAHP (Jan 2021)
  • "Storytelling skills for teachers and presenters" – UCL (Nov 2020)
  • "Arena One: Gateway Workshop" – UCL (Oct 2020)

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • Binenti, S. (forthcoming). Cosmopolitanism as an empirically grounded framework in urban ethnography. In N. Rapport and H. Wardle (eds.) Cosmopolitan Moment, Cosmopolitan Method.  Abingdon: Routledge.

Opinion pieces

Binenti, S. and Dittmer, J. (2022) Italy’s fantasy politics: A possible answer to the shamelessness of UK politics. Politico, July 18th.

Working papers and Online articles

Press Coverage


  • RGS-IBG Annual International Conference – Royal Geographical Society (London, Sept 2023)
  • “Aesthetics and Politics” Conference – Arts and Humanities Faculty, King's College London (London, Nov 2022).
  • PhD Upgrade Conference – Department of Geography, UCL (online, Jun 2021).
  • “Memories of the Future” Conference – School of Advanced Study (London, Mar 2019).
  • Public Annual Conference – Veterans for Peace UK (London, Nov 2018).
  • “Between Borders” 6th Annual Conference – UCL Migration Research Unit (London, Jun 2017).


Talks and Public Engagement

  • Interdisciplinary PhD Research Panel – UCL Connect.ed Society (online, Feb 2021).
  • Lightning Graduate Talks – St John’s College, University of Cambridge (Cambridge, Jan 2020).
Research Interests

Many large e-commerce sites now have a section dedicated to activist products – clothing in particular – signalling a growing market for “wearing” political views and communicating politically through purposefully designed garments and accessories. In this context, public opinion on geopolitical matters can be seen as an animated battleground of competing objects. Through a multi-sited ethnography, my research aims to study the popular geopolitics of commodities of everyday activism – such as t-shirts with political prints – and explore their ability to shape political affect, discourse and action.

Research Questions

  • Q.1 How is political merchandise designed, produced, distributed and used?
  • Q.2 How does political merchandise act and interact to form and perform political subjectivities?
  • Q.3 To what extent do these objects modulate affect, discourse and action?
  • Q.4 How does the circulation of these objects claim, resemiotise and politicise bodies, private and public spaces?
  • Q.5 How does political merchandise contribute to our understanding of assemblages of popular geopolitics and everyday resistance?