3 is the magic number…

Another late post! Letting it all slip a bit as I get my head as far into writing as possible (not always easy…) I’ve now finished all three analysis chapters (wtf, I know, right?) in 3 months and am bashing away at my redraft literature review, then I’ll do my methodology, then intro / conclusion, then edit the whole thing, submit to supervisors to read, then edit one last time before submitting in November…!! So bloody close now. Can’t wait to see what’s around the bend as well! So here are some musings from last month.



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

Shopping Centres, Objects, Consumption and Value

Recently I was spending the afternoon with a Polish woman and her son who I met back in June. We went to an activities for kids in the church she goes to, and then strolled through the park to get some lunch, talking all the while about Poland, Glasgow, moving to a new place, Polish traditions and such.

Walking through the shopping centre (great places to spend time in Glasgow, particularly when it’s raining and for people watching), I came across one of the Open Museums’ travelling exhibits for the first time, pictured below.

IMG_5146 IMG_5147 IMG_5148 IMG_5150 IMG_5151 IMG_5149 IMG_5145

I thought it was fascinating, unusual, and brilliant.

Trifling exclusions / to be ‘of’ somewhere

As I walk further down the track of this PhD through the dense woods of thoughts, theories and conversations, I have moved away from believing that although, yes, there should be some element of the researcher’s own experiences in the work (particularly in Anthropology), that it shouldn’t ring out a clear bias, presenting the data in one way or another, to quite a different ideology (this post is a bit of a stream of consciousness, so you’ll apparently have to wait until the end before I tell you what this ideology is-! Apologies on behalf of consciousness-streaming Ruth). As I have begun to research what I have identified as mainstream heritage representations in the city of Glasgow, I am increasingly frustrated by voices which are routinely excluded in these various mainstream places (museums, city marketing etc) which supposedly claim that they are telling ‘the’ story of ‘the’ people ‘of Glagsow’.

The city has a Black and Minority Ethnic population of around 12%, many of whom were born in the city and many of whom, I am sure, would say they feel they are ‘of’ Glasgow, and yet those voices are much quieter in mainstream representations of Glasgow’s heritage than the ‘indigenous’ white population (I’m obviously not saying their being ‘of’ the city is invalid by any means, although we are all immigrants at some point down the line…simply that the imbalance should be addressed).

Speaking from my own experience; my parents are from Birmingham. I was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire. As I have got older and moved away from my hometown and childhood home, my sense of being ‘of’ Bradford, or certainly Yorkshire, has strengthened, grown and those roots have dug themselves in deeper each year, and with every new person that I say should go to Yorkshire, and every time someone correctly identifies me as Northern (or incorrectly identifies me as Southern…). I’ve written a song about it and everything, called ‘home’.

‘This soaring, roaring wild land will always call me back up”

Walk Slow, Pay Attention

Pakistani Tori – £1-99 kg

Network Rail’s Plans for Moray Place – Public Meeting

Clothing Bank – Islamic Relief

You Can’t Top Tunnocks – Darnley Mini-Market

New Victoria Gardens

Quality Halal Meat, Poultry, Asian Veg, Fruit, Grocers

Quality Halal Butcher


Khan Associates – Immigration, Nationality and Education Consultant

Pollockshields Church of Scotland

East Meets West        –           The Sun          Azad Newsagents

NHS Scotland                         Anas Sarwar              LABOUR

IMG_2314 IMG_2316 IMG_2317 IMG_2318 IMG_2327 IMG_2331 IMG_2334 IMG_2337 IMG_2338 IMG_2344

Musing on Maps

I’m listening to this programme on this sunny afternoon as I work in my turret in Leicester – and thinking about place. (More interesting stuff about memory, place and sound from this brilliant man, Chris Watson, sound recordist here)

I’ve just finished a research proposal assignment for the Research Design and Practice module I took last semester – and it’s forced me to really think about:

a) what am I actually doing this research on?

b) what will it look like?

Although there is still much work (and reading, yes there is that) to be done, and although I need to maintain flexibility and fluidity in this process if things don’t work or things fall through, there is always a need to be able to adapt to change, but as I’ve thought about the design of this project, the themes, ideas and connections explored within this short piece, I’ve become more and more drawn to the ways in which place-making practices through everyday participation change across first and second / third generation immigrant groups in Glasgow.

In the second thing I linked to at the top, we hear an interview with Chris Watson in which he muses on the relationship between sound, memory and place. Thinking about whether the memory of place can be attached to the fabric environment, he talks about intangible ‘atmospheres’ of place. He describes a trip to Venezuela, in which he talks to Wahiro indians about places they regard as special – discovering through this trip and many travels through recording wildlife sounds – the connections that people have universally to landscapes, often, he argues, represented by the acoustics of a place.

Each person’s soundscape of place will be informed by the places they go, the activities they partake in, the languages they speak, their embodied experience of being in place, and the privileging of sight over every other sense means that these soundscapes which illustrate our existence are mostly overlooked, and rarely consciously thought about. Watson advocates more careful listening, so that we can build a picture of the environment we live in, be more aware of the sounds that swirl around our heads, what sounds get swept away beneath the traffic and chatter. Indeed, paying attention is one of the New Economic Foundations’ 5 Ways to Wellbeing

Reflecting my thoughts about interpretation, representation and presenting information to a variety of audiences, as I’m eating lunch Watson stops me in my tracks as I listen saying:

“in order to get people to listen and engage with it, it needs to presented properly…if you want people to listen to it…you need to present it properly, and then people get it. You don’t need any great artistic justification” Chris Watson

Prior to this, I thought I should probably engage in a bit of place-based play myself, in advance of more in-depth methodological experimentation, with fellow researchers and participants in the project itself.

So I pulled out a map of Bradford and Leeds that I’d bought just before christmas in my local brilliant Age Uk charity bookshop / cafe that is filled to the rafters with gems of all genres.

Beginnings – Conversations in Glasgow

In Dialogue with Glasgow

I recently returned from my first visit to Glasgow, (not counting the week’s holiday a couple of years ago which saw me apply for this PhD in the first place), and it seems that this is as good a place as any to embark on musings for this blog. The three days lit the fire in my belly with the excitement at the prospect of moving there at the end of June next year to carry out fieldwork for the 2nd year of my PhD.

I spent the visit meeting a variety of people all with different perspectives of the city and different lenses to see it through (from community arts practitioners to council members), and walking around following the famous model of the ‘flaneur’ or aimless wanderer, as practiced in so many places by Walter Benjamin. This wandering took me from central to the West End, and South of the river to Govanhill, all of which felt very different to the other, and with different groups making up the local population. (Govanhill has historically been comprised of a large immigrant population; from the Irish in the early 1800s escaping famine, and with a second wave arriving in the 60s, immigration from the Indian sub-continent, Pakistan in particular, in the 60s and 70s, to the Roma population which began to grow since Slovakia and the Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004. This has resulted in a huge range of food vendors, restaurants and cafes, smells and sounds, and I definitely felt the echoes with my hometown of Bradford with its similarly mixed community.)


Govanhill Community Baths – where I met with Jim, who told me about the 13 year long struggle to regain community ownership following its closure in 2001. It has now been opened again for 2 and a half years. He showed me around this majestic (and cold!) building and talked to me about plans, projects, including a vision to eventually have community allotments in the cubicles under the huge glass roof, where people would be able to grow and eat their own food. 


A mural using recycled bottle tops, cerated in collaboration with children in a local school, sits in the garden outside the baths.