Racism and Racialisation PhD group
The Racism and Racialisation PhD group, hosted by the Sarah Parker Remond Centre, is comprised of UCL postgraduate research students working on issues surrounding race and racism. This student-led network welcomes postgraduate researchers from all departments and schools across UCL. The group offers a space for reading and discussion groups, work in progress presentations, writing and social spaces, and political and intellectual debate. If you are interested in joining the group, please email Luke de Noronha and Paige Patchin.
- Toyin Agbetu
- Toyin Agbetu is a community-educator at Ligali, a UK based, Pan African, human-rights based organisation. As an activist collective, Ligali adopts a scholar-activist approach to challenging Afriphobia and the misrepresentation of African people, culture and history in the media and public spaces.
Toyin is an independent filmmaker and neo-museologist dedicated to social justice, critical pedagogy, decoloniality and actively reframing Britain’s cultural institutions as powerful engines of radical social transformation.
He studied social and cultural anthropology at UCL and his research interests include education and community development, cultures of protest, gentrification and governmental/institutional forms of activism.
He joined the Racism and Racialisation PhD Group to help oppose the ongoing intellectual, political and cultural wars being waged against society by advocates of institutional racism within and outside the academy.
- Gabriel Bristow
My research is focused on Don Cherry (1936-1995), a multi-instrumentalist best known as a jazz trumpeter. In my thesis I trace the arc of his music across the 1960s-1970s—from the birth of ‘free jazz’ to experiments in ‘world music’ avant la lettre—attempting to understand it in relation to the social, cultural, and political shifts of the period. More than a missing piece of the historical puzzle that stands for nothing but its own particular truth, Cherry’s music shines a thin ‘beam of lyrical sound’ onto world history (Ralph Ellison). Or to put it in Theodor Adorno’s words: ‘Objective is the fractured landscape, subjective: the only light in which it glows.’
- Christie Cheng
PhD: Migrating Optics. Radical documentaries on labour.
Accessible digital media and screening circuits have enabled activist filmmakers to document more intimate and grounded perspectives on migrant struggles and amplify their demands for better labour and living conditions. These shifting documentary visibilities also attest to concurrent developments of precarious migration taking place beyond the excessively mediatised scenes of crisis migration in Europe and the US. My research examines the rise in radical documentaries on migrant labour that emerged during this post-2015 context of precarious migrant hypervisibility and how they provide alternative optics to understanding the ways in which migration and border regimes have intensified. It looks at documentaries on Syrian migrants who wind up rebuilding post-war Lebanon; deportee labour in Tijuana’s growing call centre industry; “illegalised” sex workers and their demands for the autonomy to migrate and work in Europe and so on to understand how these regimes are set up to govern mobile subjects as racialised labour rather than their violent expulsion from the sovereign territories of a nation state.
- Camille Crichlow
- My research interrogates how the historical and socio-cultural narrative of race manifests in today’s facial recognition and surveillance technologies. Informed by an emergent body of critical scholarship on racialized biases produced in machine learning and artificial intelligence, my work specifically aims to connect nineteenth century colonial regimes of biometric racial governance to twenty-first century assumptions through which the black face is rendered both hypervisible and undetectable in contemporary fields of surveillance culture. I contextualise performance of today’s “neutral,” and “objective” big-data assemblages in a history of racialist logics ranging from 19th century blackface minstrelsy to racializing histories of the photograph in scientific fields across ethnography, anthropology, phrenology, physiognomy, and craniology. Methodologically, I adopt both a historiographical and intermedial approach to mine colonial archives, including politico ontological discourses across techno-science, historiography, philosophy, and visual culture. Engaged with philosophical critiques of “universal,” yet hierarchical, configurations of the human founded on faulty ontologies constituting the face as a sign of otherness, my research will significantly contribute to interventions that both challenge and reframe mechanisms by which racialism is compulsively re-codified in the algorithmic logics of facial recognition technology.
- Saffron East
- Saffron East is a historian of modern Britain, researching Black political identity in C20th (South) Asian-majority activist organisations. Her PhD, which is in its final stages, uses archival material and Oral History to explore Indian Workers’ Associations, the Asian Youth Movements and Southall Black Sisters in the 1970s. She is the creator of the Olivette Otele Paper Prize at the Institute of Historical Research’s postgraduate seminar, History Lab, and is more broadly interested in tackling racism in academia (as well as outside of it!). She is also PGTA Rep at UCL-UCU. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss experiences, methodologies, pedagogy, collaboration in activism, etc.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | UCL PGTA Campaign: @UCLPGTAs
Recent article on contemporary antiracism: Rejecting political Blackness isn’t an excuse to erase solidarity between South Asian and Black communities, gal-dem, March 2021
- Bea Gassmann de Sousa
PhD: Nigerian early modernism and its epistemological foundations
UCL History of Art with Prof Tamar Garb
In 2015 Gassmann de Sousa had the opportunity to engage with the family archive of the Enwonwu Foundation in Lagos, Nigeria which has sparked an ongoing multi-disciplinary engagement with re-positioning West African art. In September 2017 she co-programmed the conference “Positioning Nigerian Modernism” at Tate Modern, with Kerryn Greenberg. She has published on the topic in 2018/19 a/o. Third Text, Tate magazine, for museum global K20 and presented new approaches to archival work on cultures, which are perceived to be on the periphery of Eurocentric studies in Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth 2018 and Speculative Forensics UCLA 2020. Her approach is questioning and reaching beyond post-colonialism and decolonisation. She is currently part of MAM (Multiplying Artistic Mobilities), a networking project founded in 2018 on itinerant Afro-Germanic art exchanges involving a/o. the Universities of Zurich, Vienna, Abomey-Calavi and Lagos, Nigeria.
- Finn Gleeson
- My PhD is a history of East London’s heritage industry, c.1973-2008. I’m trying to take a new approach to historicising heritage, and in doing so, to think about the formation of imperial memory in Britain.
Historians of Modern Britain have used heritage to show the way the past has been applied to support particular political projects. ‘Elite’ Professional museums are imagined as supporting a Conservative historical narrative, whereas ‘grassroots’ or ‘community’ heritage is seen as contesting the exclusion of the historically and politically marginalised. East London was home to the ‘first port’ of the British Empire, and so was a site of the interaction between local ‘community’ and elite national histories. It can help to rethink these binaries, and consider Empire’s enduring legacies within the British Isles. My thesis tries to understand how Empire’s relationship to the British interior was remembered and misremembered, on the left and right, in the decades after decolonisation.
- Carlos Gómez del Tronco
- Carlos Gómez del Tronco is a PhD candidate at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, where he writes about the normalisation of Islamophobic political discourse and anti-Muslim prejudice in Czechia. His project combines a thematic analysis of semi-structured qualitative interview data and the critical analysis of political discourse through a Discourse-Historical Approach. In addition, he is an Early Stage Researcher in the FATIGUE programme, which looks at the rise of illiberalism and populism in Central in Eastern Europe.
- Natalie Lucy
- Anarchic Spider-Man: The legacy of Anancy and the creation of new identities in the work of Black British writers of the Caribbean diaspora
The focus of this study is the way in which the Anancy trickster from Caribbean folklore continues to inform the imagination and choice of literary themes for many Black British writers of Caribbean ancestry, particularly those writers who are termed ‘Second Generation’.
The West African Anansi tales served numerous functions, including a means to name and explain the world, and in providing a forum in which to comment upon the excesses or tyranny of the powerful, behind the dual masks of animal characters and humour. The tales were transported to the Caribbean on the slave ships where they were adapted to serve the harsh conditions of slavery. Through the antics of the principal protagonist who was brazen and at times absurd but whose linguistic agility and superior intellect resulted in his repeated triumphs against the analogous slave master, Tiger, the tales suggested a means of resistance. However, they also offered a necessary means of escapism through storytelling sessions in which the tales were punctuated by visual or auditory elements, including music and gesture, features from an African oral tradition, which added to the sense of the performance and theatre.
Anancy has continued to influence writers in the Caribbean but, as a motif, it has also emerged in the writing of Second Generation Black British writers from its diaspora. In this project I wish to examine the ways in which Anancy has been invented at critical political points and the reasons why he continues to suggest an aspirational motif for contemporary writers. One of the possible reasons relates to his fluid identity which evades traditional classification. In contrast with the singularity of voice which has traditionally been asserted in British literature, Anancy signifies the potential richness of hybridity, or multiplicity of ‘voices.’ It is my thesis that a recognition of the potential creative power of composite experiences is both relevant and timely within multicultural Britain, particularly as it acknowledges the literary impact of the storytelling traditions of the Caribbean which have helped to construct ideas of Britain and Britishness.
- Jacqueline Mabey
- My PhD research project, This Must Be the Place: Mapping Artistic Kinship and Economic Change in Downtown New York, 1973–1987, explores the relationship between the artistic community of Downtown New York and the transformation to a FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) economy. The central research question of the project is: How was this artistic community both resistant to and complicit with the nascent neoliberal political project? A combination of secondary sources and theoretical texts on the topics of race, place, counter-publics, kinship, and labour guide my analysis of archival materials. My research project emerged from a decade spent working as a curator in New York. Most recently, I balanced my roles as Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon Co-founder and Assistant Curator at the galleries of Rutgers University – Newark. My project is supervised by Stephanie Schwartz in the Department of History of Art and funded by UCL’s Graduate and Overseas Research Scholarships.
- Les Newsom
- British and German Children’s Informative Introduction to Racism, Nationalism, Militarism, and Colonialism Through Education and Play, 1871-1918
My research project is a comparative study of British and German childhood at the height of European Imperialism. My project looks at how children from both nations were exposed to racist, nationalist, colonial and militarist ideologies through toys, games, and children’s literature. Race, racialisation, and racism underpin all these ideologies and can be identified in children’s playthings, literature, and educational material throughout this period in both the British and German imperial metropoles.
Much of the material and the messages it propagates still exist in European society over one-hundred years later either through deeply ingrained ideas created during a child’s informative years or sentimental attachment to childhood stories and toys. I plan further exploration of this problematical legacy as part of the SPRC Racism and Racialisation PhD Group.
- Rolake Osabia
- Rolake Osabia is an artist and PhD researcher in the English Language and Literature department at UCL. Her research explores the nuances of Blackness, feminism, and escapism with concentrated thematic focuses on isolation and kinship in contemporary Black British women’s literature. Drawing on works by Yrsa Daley-Ward, Bernardine Evaristo, Winsome Pinnock, and Zadie Smith, her thesis examines how the writers construct representations of loneliness and Black communities/friendships/intimacies in their respective texts. She intends to locate varied depictions of Black women and non-binary characters through the exploration of these themes. Rolake also leans into her artistic practice by using her paintings and illustrations as a research method to accompany literary and theoretical analysis.
- Alice Riddell
Alice Riddell is a first year PhD candidate in Digital Anthropology at UCL. Alice’s research explores a live-streaming street crime app, called Citizen, and its impact on neighbourhoods in New York City. She is interested in exploring how lateral surveillance apps affect processes of segregation and gentrification, facilitate protest mobilization and impact anti-police sentiments and racial injustice in the U.S.
Alice also produces teaching and homework resources for AnthroSchools, an initiative working towards decolonising the A-level curriculum, improving the accessibility of anthropology as a discipline, and introducing younger students to the social sciences through free and open-source materials. She also works for SHS Decolonising the Curriculum, organising conferences structured around the decolonisation of social and historical sciences while also chairing and mediating webinars for PAPER: Power and Politics of/in Ethnographic Research, a seminar series that interrogates the ongoing decolonisation of ethnographic fieldwork, with aims to instigate pedagogical progress within anthropology.
- Kalvin Schmidt-Rimpler Dinh
Kalvin Schmidt-Rimpler Dinh is an MPhil/PhD candidate in Art History at UCL, working under the supervision of Professors Tamar Garb and Paul Gilroy. His doctoral thesis aims to trace, analyse and compare various notions of ‘Afrosurrealism’, with a focus on US-American contexts from the early twentieth century onwards. Kalvin completed his BA and MPhil in English at the University of Cambridge, and his wider academic interests include word and image studies, race and representation, postcolonial theory, surrealism and music videos.
- Joel Stokes
- I am a first year PhD student, working with the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies and Institute of Archaeology. My research explores the intersection between archaeology, identity, racism and settler-colonialism in contemporary Israeli-Palestinian society as well as the often overlooked role of historic archaeological engagement in contemporary stakeholder claims of heritage ownership. My specific interests lie in the study of how Israeli and Palestinian heritage stakeholders at the sites of the City of David and Village of Silwan negotiate the contested space, which sits in occupied East Jerusalem.
I have chosen to participate in the ‘Racism and Racialisation' PhD group as I believe there has never been a more crucial time than the present to facilitate cross-disciplinary knowledge sharing on issues of race. However, predominately, I am here to listen, learn, share when it is appropriate, and explore the ever more complicated issues of race in our society.
- Nathaniel Télémaque
- Nathaniel Télémaque is a North West London born & raised visual artist, writer & PhD researcher who photographs and writes about ‘everyday things’ in various urban settings. His Project ‘Everyday Things: Visualising Black Millennial Experiences On The White City Estate (Geography Practice-Related PhD)’ visualises the experiences of a kinship group of Black millennials living on the White City Estate in Shepherds Bush, West London. The project combines two main methodologies. The first is an archival focused work, aimed at recovering the estate’s former imperial and colonial site, the Great White City Exhibition (1908) but also more recent histories of the estate. The second is a form of co-produced photographic research undertaken with Black millennials (aged 23 to 32) currently living on the White City estate. His practice-related research facilitates site-specific dialogues focused on archival visualisations associated with the estate and Black millennial experiences.
Photography & Research Website: https://pesovisuals.com/
- Marieta Valdivia Lefort
- Marieta Valdivia Lefort is a PhD student at the UCL Institute of the Americas. Her research project is titled (tentative) “State Project and Education: The construction of National Identity and the legitimation of an europeanising memory in Chile”, which aims to analyse, through the revision of specific education policies for the teaching of local and global history since independence to date, the implicit influence of political ideologies and different state projects on the construction and legitimisation of a europeanising imaginary of national identity in Chile. Marieta is interested in the study and analysis of political and social issues mainly in countries of the Global South, and her main topics of interest are history, education, public policy, race, ethnicity, gender, migration, collective identities, nationalism, the study of whitening (cultural and political), and racism.
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