Chapter 2 – People

I am actually onto my third analysis chapter now, but here is an old post about the second analysis chapter…oh how time flies!


The sun is positively BEATING down here in Glasgow, ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ is blasting from the building site, and memories of loch swimming and 6Music Festival gigs are only recently fogging in my mind’s eye from the weekend…

It’s been a while since I’ve written and my brain is a little fuzzy today (turns out your natural alarm clock isn’t always the best thing to rely on…) so rather than wake up and ‘carry on writing my PhD’ I thought I’d have a bit  of free-writing-esque on this here blog, let you know where I’m at, that sort of thing.


Those who do, those who don’t

Hello! Happy New year, hope you had a restful festive season and a good start to the year, I’ll write a bigger post soon but just a quick thought which continues on from the last post about Daniel Bedingfield (….Daniel Blake).

I’m reading some stuff to put into my context chapter, and I’m looking at the Government’s lovely fluffy Immigration Act to find some stuff from the foul horse’s mouth about ‘hostile environment’ policy.

Crikey. the witch Theresa May holds no punches. I knew that already but it’s always chilling to read it first hand.

Here, she essentially talks about how those who come to the UK illegally (I mean, how many other options are we giving people to come here really…we’ve hardly put on any luxury cruise liners at a reduced rate have we…) are wholly undeserving of access to any of the resources they might need such as basic healthcare, employment and housing. Flippin’ heck, Theresa, you do not take after your elderly nun name-sake in your generosity of spirit do you? Again, knew this already but always good to remember who the enemy is. (Not Theresa herself, but rather she is a voice of a bigger disgusting, racist, xenophobic, nationalist system…)

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.

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”

Glasgow in June

Morning all!

This post is going to be about the recent trip I made to Glasgow to talk to a vast array of brilliant, helpful, interesting, exciting and excited people. I had a blast, was very tired and a little ill at the end of it, but I came out of it with a couple of possible collaborations and a flat-! So not a day goes by where I don’t fantasise about my beautiful new house on the hill with its glorious view to the hills beyond the city. I love a view, I grew up with one so moving into a gorgeous home with a new view feels like coming home, but in a new city.

So. Let’s talk about Glasgow. I arrived after the obligatory 5 hour train journey from Leicester (bumachesville), travelled to the place that would be my base for the next week-and-a-bit. I have lots of friends who live in Glasgow which a) means I’m moving to an established network of ace folk which is GREAT and b) means there’s always been somewhere to lay my head whenever I’ve gone to visit. I was staying in the West End, which is a predominantly quite affluent part of the city, and at the subway was welcomed by this piece of public art:

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To Belong

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View of Bradford from my bedroom window, old badge found in a charity shop in Newcastle by a friend, and badge made by a friend, Bradford artist Jo Billingsley

Here are some words I scribbled in my scrapbook for this project a wee while ago:

What does it mean: ‘to belong’…?

I belonged in you, Bradford, for a while. My heart sang with the changing of the buildings’ coats to that blackened sand, upon the smell of murky fresh air enveloping me as I descended the train that had held me hostage in space devoid of all meaning; a big, expansive grey green question-mark. No home of mine, no place I knew.

But arriving to you, Bradford, it always felt like getting into bed after a long day, tired and placeless but oh, so content. I was younger, things were in place – family, boyfriend, friends, fresh memories and nights out at the 1 in 12 in the holidays; one of my many ‘homes’ in the city. I owned a share in all these places, my participation guaranteed my comfort there.


Do you know, now, I actually I feel I belong wherever I have dear friends. I feel at home in Leicester – because of my big ol’ grown up turrent-house, but also the knowledge of the number of people to share and explore the city with.

Yes, none local.

This does make a difference. I am effectively a long-term tourist, it shifts your spheres of participation, only spending time with other PhD students. The odd night at pottery, though it is only through the repeated and regular rhythm of returning to these that we establish networks, begin to sprout roots.

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.

Mind-Mapping, or Introducing Whiteboard – my new best friend

NB – if you have any thoughts or responses to my ramblings here or at any point in posts to come, please let me know / send articles my way / feel free to email me for more…

In spite of aching arms following a difficult trek up from town to my flat with this beast, it is now happily perched on my windowsill (blocking a fairly significant amount of light) filling with thoughts, ideas and words in an array of colours, all with the ridiculously pleasing function of being able to be rubbed out, moved around and played with.



(Ideally I would have an interactive wall onto which I could scribble huge mind-maps which I could then save onto the hard drive and bring up whenever I needed to look at it – as I must admit wiping it off having taken photographs and printed it out is still pretty terrifying.)

My reading so far has resulted in a mind-map which has the words






all scrawled in large letters, with lines connecting them into some kind of network of dialogue between each theme. I find the process of standing to think massively helpful, and it becomes particularly electric after a caffetiere of strong, black coffee. Thoughts and ideas and connections buzz around my freshly wired brain, as I grab different coloured pens and, in between chewing the ends and pacing around my flat (ideas flow better with movement I find), I connect people to themes, and themes to other themes. But, I’m getting distracted. Clearly the whiteboard has been a little too exciting. Here are where my thoughts are so far, having handed in my first literature review last week (yessss):