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.

 

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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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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.)

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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. 

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

http://www.govanhillbaths.com