Held in Humanity

An old one from my field notes:


There is a group of Eritrean women who come to the choir I attended for a period of time, one of whom halfway through a song takes a call, which later on it transpires is from her two friends whom she was inviting, and who turned up a little later. They are all seemingly good friends, the shared language is no doubt a huge help for this particularly in a group (and a country) whose language they do not yet speak much of.

In the 5 minute break we are allowed, they are huddled around a plastic bag outside in the corridor, tucking into some food one of them has cooked and brought with them. I walk through the door, coming back from the toilet and they see me and smile and beckon me over, fingers red with food. “Come come! Have!” “Oh!” I say, going over to them, “are you sure?” “Of course!” they reply, with that facial expression that says ‘why would we not offer you our food?’ and I move towards the plastic bag (I’ve never eaten food out of a plastic bag before and it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten with my hands, especially something which is being shared by many people, and so there is an initial uncertainty in my belly which is a result of my long history of learning individual, utensil-centric habits). But I tear off some of the bready pancake (injera I later find out is its name, from going to an Ethiopian restaurant in manchester and attending a talk about food from around the world, one of which was about Ethiopian food) and wrap it around some of the orange stuff, and try and mop up some of the red stuff as well. “Potato”, is all I am told, and it’s totally delicious. “More, more!” They say, happy to be sharing it with me. “That’s so kind” I tell them, as I tear off some more pancake and wrap it round some more delicious Eritrean morsels. “How long in Glasgow?” I ask them, as we chew. “7 months”, they tell me, “6 months, me” say two of them. “Same as me!” I say, “7 months”. “Ah!”, we laugh at this shared newness and unfamiliarity with the city. I go to say more, but we are called back in to the room, so I squeeze one of the women’s shoulders in thanks and go and wash my hands.


Small Acts of Resistance


Hello! I know I know it’s been a while…I have a couple in the pipeline but I’ve been frantically finishing my interviews and coding the data and going here and there (long distance relationships are no mean feat) but here is an oooold one for you that I’ve dug out of the drafts box and dusted off. My flatmate has since started her PhD (hooray!) and I’ve moved into the third year of mine (more on that later). But here it is for you:


I was chatting through my research with my dear flatmate the other night. She is currently doing a Masters and is going on to do a PhD next year, and is great. Her research is about Islamophobia and racialisation, and we’re both drawing on similar thinkers to make sense of the work we are doing; Les Back and Stuart Hall are both making an appearance in our own work. Their work on the everyday, the complexities of identity and representation, and doing research as ethically as possible are both really important to our different subject matters.

So every now and then we will come together and talk about how our stuff is going, what we need to do, problems we’re having, that kind of thing. And we always come away with mind-maps scrawled on the back of envelopes-! (Thanks, Shiela’s Wheels – other insurance providers are available). It was a conversation about the news which kicked it off. She’d been away from the world at a festival for the weekend, and was saying that she looked at the news upon her return but then instantly regretted it, as the faces of the victims of the Orlando shooting spread across her screen.


Brexit and Belonging

So flying back from Menorca to a broken Britain was unpleasant to say the least. Although while I’d been away I’d created this image of carnage and chaos taking over the streets in my head, things are kind of just carrying on in people’s everyday as they were, just with the ever increasingly cold realisation that nothing will ever be the same again.

It’s fascinating because depending on who you ask, what you believe and what you are fighting for (or indeed against), you will have a completely different perspective on what Britain leaving the EU actually means. So here’s my two cents on how this creates a fascinating, and troubling backdrop to my research into the ways in which migrant, refugee and asylum seeking women make the city their home through the things they do in their everyday lives.

The seemingly politically condoned public racism which ensued following the referendum result has been vile to see. This post by Dr. Anna Matthews for the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network blog talks about this, and similarly relates it to her own research, which I intend to do in this post.


Glasgow Welcomes Refugees March, June 2016 – photo taken by me

And now you’re back (from outer space…)


So in the last 3 weeks I’ve been in Leicester, Manchester, Menorca, Manchester, Leicester, Bradford until finally returning back to the flat in Glasgow.

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Really detailed map illustrating my recent travels…

It’s been a rollercoaster ride of leaving things behind by accident, nearly missing trains, and being many multiple formations of myself in different places at different times. I’ve been a daughter, a girlfriend, an old best pal, an ex, an auntie, a cousin, a student, a new friend and an aquaintance, and it’s been fascinating to reflect on how I am me in those different spaces, all of which have been home for me at different times in my life.

Making Pictures, Making Progress…

Hello! It’s been a while, and here’s what I’ve been up to in the meantime:


…I presented at my first conference!! Boy, what a hoot! Turns out I love public speaking (for those of you who know me this is probably not surprising-!) but it was also just great to hear a brilliant and inspiring bunch of folk from all over doing all kinds of things that are working to understand ideas of multiculture in many different forms, and from many different disciplines. It was weird and nostalgic and great to be back where I did my undergrad and started on this journey, and my dear old Dad would have been so proud of me!

The babe that is Les Back came to my talk which was really exciting, and his keynote was so inspiring – he is testament to the fact that you can be both a brilliant academic and also really humble. Presenting also enabled me to consider career paths which I may not have done before for fear of not being successful at them. Fear has been holding me back for too long and presenting at this conference was the boost I needed to continue and encourage me to be more proactive at exploring multiple possible career paths such as film-making, teaching or community work.

I also presented at a conference in Manchester, which although was less exciting for me than the one at Goldsmiths – my old stomping grounds – was all good practice and I got some good feedback from people who attended that talk too. It’s great to be able to be talking about what sensory methods have to offer to the social sciences, but also a big responsibility to do them justice; illuminate both their pitfalls and their benefits; and all in the space of 15 minutes-!

Love Hawk – In Praise of Here

A blog post to come (I know it’s been a while) but I’ve just been on Mull for a weekend for a research retreat and I got back to this email, which I feel really resonates with the weekend and the work I’m doing on the whole. I love this guy; David Hale aka Love Hawk , he’s such a beautiful artist and I want to get a tattoo by him before I leave this world behind me. He’s in the God Squad, which I’m not, but I take from it what resonates with me, as lots of his work does.


I’ll leave you with his words for now though.

– here –

This place is woven with stories and reminders that create a mythology called “Place” or “Home” or in reverence, “Ikunu ‘tchaka” the “Beloved Land.”

– here, I rescued a Black Rat Snake and gave it new life -here is where an old Red Oak fell and  I cut it and felt its weight in my long arms – here is the place I remember my son walking the woods and I have witnessed the two growing together – here is where I learned I would be a father – here is where I learned my mother’s father had passed -here is where my wife would sit and nurse my soft son and nourish him with life – here is the place where a fox looked deeply into me and my dear friends’ eyes – here is where the full moon struck a circle at the most opportune time -here I had great Vision- here I washed my sins in the River-  here we helped a Bluebird raise her young – this is the place I sat on the forest floor in my darkest hours and cried –  here I was quiet – here I saw the Grace of my Wife – here I opened my Heart and sang to my Father’s pain and the love in his eyes- here I stood – here I sat- here i walked – here i laid- here i loved-  here –

Filled with all these stories, I mark them down on surfaces placed before me.  These serve as markers, like tags each hung on thousands of tangents that radiate out from me.  All of these people, locations, creatures, experiences, and so-called “things” have tangents which extend back and are anchored in Ancestry.  There are tied taut to the Ancestors; the Ones that have come before; of the People, the Land, the Creatures, and all those So-Called “Things.”

Then, unfurling out from this great Mythology are endless tendrils, growing like Muscadine Vines.  Some find your eye and reach you there, some find your hands and reach you there, some find your home and reach you there, a special few find your flesh and reach you there.  Like a web being woven these Stories extend out from there, knots tied in the Hearts they reach along their Course.  The strongest bonds are made in this way, for the Creator, the great Web Weaver is given Container to tie taut these knots.   From here you carry these tendrils, more tangents, creating a silvery web connected through so many Hearts.
And so, I give thanks for -here-

Welcome, sunshine

On a sunny day, walking up through the city, to a viewing point, I notice gentle inscriptions into the stones beneath my feet.

The word ‘welcome’ is written in many different languages, and next to these I notice inscriptions of poems, which I assume have been written by people who live locally as part of a community project, but I’m not sure.

Standing there in the sunshine, with some height and distance from the city, the view reaching above high rises to the long majestic row of mountains in the distance, populated by snow, windmills and walkers I don’t doubt on a day like today, you get the pleasing, and for me necessary, sense of perspective that so much more lies beyond this network of towers and bridges and tenements. I am reminded of the importance of senses in understanding and feeling our way through, round, within the places we live. That familiar smell of marmite on toast sweeps in from the east as I look out, imagining walking up those majestic mountains that lie beyond the city.


“The soft breeze

The lovely flowers

The sound of buses

The lovely sun shining on me

A great view of the dear green place

Rumbi Gore”

Marks of Memory

I’ve got a few posts overdue here, lots has been going on, and I’ve been talking, thinking and writing a lot recently. I’ve been meeting some amazing women, and have been doing a couple of interviews here and there, as well as setting up some for after the Easter break.


As well as this I’ve also been trying to take photographs, so here is a wee selection from a day I spent walking around the city centre, mostly, taking pictures.

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I often find myself on Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street, curving down onto Argyle street. These are the main shopping streets in central Glasgow, and always provide an absolute sensory overload almost. Key hubs of the city, there are always swathes of people walking up and down at different speeds, loaded with different types of goods, speaking multiple languages, wearing an array of different clothes, spending time, getting presents, meeting for coffee, smoking, reading different newspapers. I’m planning on recording a soundscape of it next time I am there, and taking some more photographs of people wandering up and down it. Punctuated by a variety of street performers, the musics bleed into one another as you walk down the main drag; accordians, folk guitar, bagpipes, sitars, classic rock all waft through the air, intermingling to create new, unintentional blends of genres, like some kind of bizarre, chaotic ‘world music’ festival.

Consuming, both out of necessity and desire, is a popular recreational activity. As choice has exploded, capacity to buy things from different parts of the world, and present yourself to those around you through the choices you make. Providing spaces for people to gather and spend time together, streets such as Sauchiehall are truly testament to the idea of the street as a stage.

But more on this later, plus soundscape.


For now, here are some pictures

‘Always fresh cake’: on ethnography and the ‘exotic’

Ethnography, anthropology, classically brings the distant, the strange, the unusual to audiences and tries to lay it out to them, explain, represent, and make make sense for


In my own work, the women I am working with are confronting the strange, unusual, new, everyday, as am I for that matter


In England, a ‘cunt’ is a vagina, but in Glasgow a ‘cunt’ is just a person?


Migration problematises ideas of the alien, the local, the ‘indigenous’ culture, as people in one place daily negotiate the new, the unusual, the ‘exotic’


Dad! The beaches are like in Spain! I’d never been that far fae Glasgow before


As myriad cultural practices, values, and meanings are made and expressed on the same streets, buildings, cities, the familiar is thrown into strange light in relation to the strange, and vice versa


I am not a hen! I am a human!


Gulls; lit from below



I’m working at home today

Working from home

Working at home

What’s the difference?


In home /

at home /

from home.

I look out of my bedroom window, through the beautiful lungs that are the tree skeletons outside, where small sleepy furry buds shy away from the cold they have emerged into too early, at the rare blue sky whose sun has warmed me this afternoon.



The sun made me feel lighter, easier, and it made me realise the weight that single whit-grey sheet of sky bears when its worn like a cloak by a place for a long period of time. I’m from a city whose skies are regularly overcast, but the sheer soaring, melting feeling I get when the sun comes out never ceases to amaze me.

I stood in the sunshine on a quiet residential street, smiling up, meeting its face with my viatmin D-starved own.

It’s 5 oclock and it’s still light, guys, it’s light. It’s 5 oclock. Light. 5.


Gulls float through the sky like a moving photograph framed by my window, careless and quiet as clouds, above the setting sun,

lit from below.

Their harsh Glaswegian calls which ring out by day are silent now, and there is a new calm grace to their existence, gliding as though by the sea, and content to be so.

Their soft white-brown wings are immaculately smooth-edged and stark agains the backdrop of the darkening blue sky, as the ink of dark creeps slowly slowly through the sheet, dyeing it gradually black; but never true black in a city; rather the kind of purple black that comes with the illumination of a thousand thousand street lamps and car headlights.

And as they swim across my window, their bellies are burnt a beautiful golden brown that only that delicious late winter evening light can give things, my Dad’s favourite kind of light. It seeps into their feathers, drenching them with a pitiful warmth, but a glorious colour.

I think about how gulls’ cries puncture the soundscape of so many cities, and how comforting I find the sound. I makes me feel close to the sea, and reminds me of the feeling of sand between my toes.

Sounds bring places and times closer to us, immersing us in them, bring about that disjointed feeling that this nostalgia triggers.


I smile, remembering this soaked feeling from earlier in the afternoon, my skin tingling with glee at the memory of the sunshine.


And for a while I am lost in a reverie,

looking up at the gulls,

lit from below.