When teaching is over and marking is finally finished, the Sociology team are often asked what they get up to between June and September. Well, besides writing and updating modules, clearing, admissions, and some well-earned time off, the summer provides a bit of time and space for our own writing and research. In this blog post, three members of the Sociology team write about their current research projects and their plans for the coming months.
I have recently been thinking about how Brexit and the rise of right-wing populism has shaped the way we think and talk about race. I organized an international symposium on responding to right-wing populism earlier in the year and have an article forthcoming with the Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies in which I try to understand how and why antiracism has become associated with political elites. In this academic year I have been lucky enough to be invited to Helsinki in Finland and Reykjavik in Iceland and I will spend some of the summer working with Nordic and European colleagues on a new book project that addresses these issues.
The main thing I’ll be working on over the summer is an ongoing research project (and subject of my next book) that explores how we are increasingly drawing on ideas about the prehistoric human past to make sense of our present and future. I’m speaking at a conference later this month about how contemporary human beings relate to Neanderthals, an extinct human species to which we are more closely related than we might at first imagine!
Two years ago I hosted a conference on ‘tourism and the night’ with colleagues from the Marylebone campus. Andrew Smith (a reader in Tourism) and I are now editing a special journal issue featuring some of the papers from the conference. My own paper in the collection is about the tourist/ resident binary and the ways it’s challenged by recent mobilities and ways of belonging in big diverse cities like London. In the paper I argue that belonging at night is shaped by gender, class, and religion, as well our cultural capital and investment in leisure and leisure spaces. The issue includes other interesting papers on pilgrimage and light festivals in France, conflict between British tourists and local residents in Madrid, and how hospitality workers get home late at night in Brussels.
I’m then going to be working with our former colleague Dorrie Chetty on a project we started last year called Routes to Roots. The project is about hair salons open late at night and we’re looking at the ways they function as important community spaces. Dorrie’s work on migration and migrant spaces and my work on the night come together here and we’re finding lots of interesting things about time-use patterns, configurations of here and home, and the ways communities are formed through local and international connections. The goal is to finish all our primary research in August before working on a couple of journal articles to be finished by the end of the year.
Emily (who also moonlights as a human geographer as well as a sociologist) will be spending a lot of the summer thinking about Rhythm and Rhythmanalysis.
Rhythmanalysis is a collection of essays by French sociologist and Philosopher Henri Lefebvre, who believes that the concept of rhythm is crucial for understanding how we inhabit time and space in urban society. Think about your daily commute on the tube- how does your body fit into space at crowded times, avoid others as we step off the escalator, queue, shuffle and stop, queue, shuffle and stop. How are these rhythms interrupted and disturbed by deviant behaviour? Why is any of this important to us as sociologists?
I recently attended a methods training workshop at the University of Kent on ‘Doing Rhythmanalysis’, which got me thinking about how daily rhythms and disruptions are crucial to understanding social moments of connection, disconnection and belonging. I will be meeting with a group of international scholars to think about future research projects that can use Rhythmanalysis to think about these points of connection- especially in my ongoing work on men and loneliness (and choir singing!). I hope to present some of these initial ideas at the Royal Geographical Conference in August 2019 in London.
Meanwhile, I will also hopefully be attending a walking conference run by the Sociological Review and Goldsmiths University: Thinking on the Move: The Possibilities and Problems of Walking Sociologically so watch this space for more sociological walking tours coming to you soon!