Read the latest Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies updates in our bulletins, which include working papers, events and news.

These bulletins are sent to our mailing list. If you would like to be added, subscribe to SCCS at JISCM@il.

Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies Bulletin Issue no. 3: Spring and Summer 2024

Welcome to the third issue of the SCCS bulletin. Contained in this bulletin are two working papers, an account of what we’ve done and what we have coming up.

Working papers

For this bulletin we have three brilliant working papers:

The first is a working paper from the Abolitionist Book Club with details of their sessions to date, open-ended reflections, solidarity, care and accountable spaces, an invitation to grow the collective along with a nicely curated Abolitionist Playlist and Abolitionist Book Club Zine. The Abolitionist Book Club Working Paper [PDF 1.29MB]

The second is a paper by SCCS member Dr Nedia (Nadia) Buyse on their fantastic work with BIMM’s Dr David Deacon on the Italian private social clubs and centres Circola Arci, touching on the clubs’ history, and detailing Nedia and David’s recent research trip and early findings. Giornata contro 41 bis Activism, Resistance, and the ARCI Network [DOCX 691.33KB]

The third paper is by one of the editors of this Bulletin, Dr Silvina Silva Aras and explores the subject of Japanese Folk Toys. The paper reflects on themes such as the symbolic meaning of folk toys in Japan, different ideas taken from western concept about “toys”, artisan production, cultural hegemony, tradition vs. modernity tensions in different historical narratives of crisis in the field of crafts, and questions about patriarchal models challenged in the arts and crafts apprenticeship scene in Japan. Folk Toys from Japan by Silvina Silva Aras [DOCX 9.84MB]


Last term (spring term 2023-24) looked like this for SCCS:

The Uses of a PhD in Cultural Studies

On 14 February, we welcomed Dr Leonor Cutileiro (PhD in Cultural Studies from Sussex, 2017) who spoke about the research that led her to implement a resettlement project for Syrian refugees at a university town in Portugal and how her PhD let to her involvement with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Her talk was titled: ‘The Uses of a PhD in Cultural Studies: From reading and writing alone, to learning what a community is’.

The Rise of Persecution Capital

On 19 April, this talk introduced the concept of ‘persecution capital’, defining it as a specific form of symbolic capital that draws on experiences of victimization or persecution in the competition for symbolic status within a specific field. It is particularly relevant in public arenas centered around social and political movements, emphasizing an individual's persecution by the movement’s shared object of contention (e.g., a dictatorial regime), personal sacrifices made for the movement (especially political imprisonment or torture), or other forms of victimization related to the movement's struggles or grievances.

Roots Garden Reggae Sound System - Interactive Workshop and Dance

On 26 April, Jon Morray-Jones, the owner and operator of Roots Garden, and legendary MC Trooper taught us how to set up and operate a reggae sound system. The participants selected and played records and listened to the unique sound of the Roots Garden Reggae Sound System. We discussed the history of reggae sound systems in Brighton and the UK.

The workshop was followed by a reggae dance, featuring leading new Brighton artists including:

  • Roots Garden Sound System w/ selector Jon Jones & MC Trooper plus guest DJ/selectors & singers.
  • DJ/Selector Ites Vibration ft Clara Wägeli-Byrne on the mic
  • Heavytone Hi-Fi (2 x selectors & MC)

Continuing and Forthcoming Events

Playthings and Playtimes

Thursday 23 May 2024, 9.30am-5.30pm 
University of Sussex, Arts A108 (or online) – tickets are available via TicketTailor.

This one-day symposium brings together scholars from Australia, Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom and the USA who are involved in the latest research from the world of children’s play. The speakers will talk about their research on toys, games, architecture, and literature from various geographical and historical locations. From work on cold war toys in Argentina to the role of kindergarten architecture in Kuwait and on to the virtual realm of computer gaming, the day promises to be a scintillating look at the very latest work in play studies. The event is free for both online and in-person attendance.

Abolitionist Book Club
Thursday 16 May 2024
Venue TBC - please keep an eye on SCCS emails for updates.

We hope to see you for our final session on The Alternative and Abolition! 

That there were and are alternative forms of freedom to the ones offered in racial capitalism is not generally up for debate, at least in critical branches of scholarship and popular culture. Nonetheless, how and where alternatives have persisted in culture is less clear. In this session of the Abolitionist Book Club, we are going to be talking about what the alternative is, how it got lost, where we might find it, and how it relates to contemporary abolitionism.

Revolutionary Praxis - Small Acts
Friday 7 June 2024, 7-11pm
The Rose Hill, 70 Rose Hill Terrace, Brighton, England

A night of small acts: short stories, music, dance, song, readings and performance, which through their ordinariness or extra-ordinariness gesture towards a freer, more liberated, alternative or utopian way of life – what in a small way we might speak of as revolutionary.


Get involved. SCCS is a collective and we encourage the shared ownership of it. If you have an idea for a working paper or would like to put on an event, please get in touch with Ben via B.Highmore@sussex.ac.uk and Malcolm via Malcolm.James@sussex.ac.uk 

Please send us copy for the next issue (no. 4) by the end of December 2024.

This issue was put together by Ben, Rob and Silvina.

  • Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies Bulletin Issue no. 2: Winter 2024

    Welcome to the second issue of the SCCS bulletin. Happy new year and let’s hope that 2024 can be a year where Raymond Williams’ invitation to ‘make hope possible rather than despair convincing’ has at least some chance of success.

    Contained in this bulletin are a working paper, an account of what we have been doing and what we are about to be doing, and some invitations to get involved with the bulletin!

    Working papers

    For this bulletin Rob Sharp writes about his new research which he is developing with support from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust on European solidarity and refugee recognition in the context of the Ukraine refugee ‘crisis’ [DOCX 18.58KB].


    Last term (winter term 2023-24) looked like this for SCCS:

    In October SCCS, along with the Centre for Modernist Studies and the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence put on a symposium on Psychoanalysis, Culture and Political Life with guest speakers from the Institute of Psychoanalysis (Catherine Humble), St Mary’s University (Jacob Johanssen) and the University of Strathclyde (Hannah Proctor). The symposium was very well-attended and showed how much psychoanalytic perspective could contribute to exploring some of the more intractable political and cultural issues of today.

    In October a group of us met for a ‘fantasy bid writing workshop’ facilitated by Lizzie Thynne. It was a great way to pool ideas and share working methods and we will organise other events like this in the future. In the meantime, please do get in touch with Ben Highmore or Malcolm James if you have any ideas for funded research projects that would benefit from SCCS involvement in some way.

    Storm Ciarán at the start of November meant that we had to postpone Professor Ben Carrington’s (Associate Professor at the University of Southern California) talk on ‘What Was/Is Black Studies? A retrospective mapping of Black Studies scholarship in a moment of crisis’. We very much hope that Ben will be able to visit Sussex soon to deliver this talk in the near future.

    Continuing and Forthcoming Events

    Last term saw the birth of the Abolitionist Book Club (ABC) sponsored by SCCS. The SCCS Abolitionist Book Club is a collective exchanging knowledge around abolitionism; or a call to abolish institutions of state carceral and coercion such as Police, prisons, and detention centres. It hopes to provide space for those wanting to think, learn and act together. The sessions will run once a month and comprise of reading, information sharing, discussion and workshops. They are open to anyone searching for tools to create a future in which state violence, coercion, incarceration and criminalisation does not exist. Be a part of the collective.

    The next session (session two) is going to be held on January 26, 2024, 16.00-18.00 in Fulton 214, University of Sussex – and will investigate intersections of cultural activism and abolitionism. Cultural activism in its simplest form is the production of cultural signifiers and actions with intention to disrupt or rupture systems of oppression or promote social change. This session will investigate the practice of cultural activism with a presentation and workshop facilitated by Nadia Buyse. As always, there is no actual mandatory reading or texts being directly discussed, but rather knowledge and experiences being shared. Here are some suggested resources from our facilitator and ongoing conversations you can engage with if you want to:

    We do this till we Free Us - Mariam Kaba

    Freedom is a Constant Struggle - Angela Y Davis

    Read and Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism - Nadya Tolokonnikova

    Riot Days - Maria Alyokhina

    Look out for more ABC meetings via email updates! If you want to contact the ABC email n.buyse@sussex.ac.uk

    Visit from a Cultural Studies alumni.

    Silverstone 302, 14 February 2024, 16.00-17.30

    The Uses of a PhD in Cultural Studies: From reading and writing alone, to learning what a community is (and then go out of academia and do something with it).

    In this session Leonor Cutileiro will be talking about how her doctoral research on campus conviviality conducted ten years ago at Sussex led her to imagine, design and implement a resettlement project for Syrian refugees at a small university town in Portugal. Picking up on a few texts from radical thinkers of different times and geographies, Leonor will ask if reading, writing, research and teaching are really the only options left for current and future generations of academics. The session will be an opportunity to collectively reflect on the meaning and purposes of a university education today, and particularly an education in Cultural Studies.

    The session will be chaired by Ben Highmore, co-director of the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies. We hope that as well as discussing Leonor Cutileiro's resettlement project we can open this up to a larger discussion about where cultural studies research can take you and the opportunities that lie outside of an academic career. All PGRs and faculty welcome.


    Get involved. SCCS is a collective and we encourage the shared ownership of it. If you have an idea for a working paper or would like to put on an event, please get in touch with Ben via B.Highmore@sussex.ac.uk and Malcolm via Malcolm.James@sussex.ac.uk (Naaz is currently recuperating from surgery and will be out of action for a while). We really encourage the participation of PGRs. A collective roundtable of PGRs on what it means to do a PhD in Cultural Studies in 2024 would make for fascinating reading – would anyone like to take the lead on this?

    Please send us copy for the summer issue (no. 3) by the end of May 2024.

    This issue was put together by Ben, Rob and Silvina.

  • Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies Bulletin Issue no. 1: Summer 2023

    Welcome to the first issue of the new Bulletin/Newsletter of the SCCS Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies.

    It is with a lot of excitement that we reach your e-mail boxes this time with our news.

    Cultural Studies has a long history here in Sussex, communicating with people, on popular culture, on local/international stories and real-life historical experiences interpreted and analysed through a multifocal, political and poetical view.

    We want to continue making Cultural Studies relevant in the 21st century, reaffirming its importance as a discipline in action.

    We want to share what we are doing at the Centre and we hope to reach out to you as a reader, using this medium as a forum as well.

    Our sections are:

    Working papers: Where researchers can show in a glance what they are working on.

    Events: Agenda for future events and conclusions from events developed in between Bulletins.

    News: Relevant to the Centre or other Cultural Studies Centres.

    Working papers

    Ben Highmore talks about his work from his recently published book: Lifestyle Revolution: How taste changed class in late 20th-century Britain, Manchester University Press, 21 February 2023 in Lifestyle Revolution [PDF 95.78KB].

    Malcolm James tells us about humanist concepts in cultural and postcolonial studies owards the ecological with the case study of La Janda, Andalucia, Spain in The Alternative and the Planetary as Told Through La Janda Wetland (Cádiz Spain) [PDF 860.57KB].


    In 2022/23, the Centre held five major events:

    In Autumn 2022, Background Music Culture. A Conference by the Visiting Fellow to the SCCS Prof. Heikki Uimonen (University of Eastern Finland) in discussion with Prof. Michael Bull (University of Sussex).

    In April 2023, a conversation between Louise Purbrick (University of Brighton) and Pollyana Ruiz (University of Sussex) about Purbrick' s new book: H-Blocks: An architecture of Conflict in and about Northern Ireland (Bloomsbury Academic, 2023).

    In May 2023, Chant Down: A Symposium on Sport, Physical Cultures and Multicultural Sound, with Nik Dickerson (Loughborough University), Dr Joy White (University of Bedfordshire), Dr Dan Burdsey (University of Brighton), Dr John Doyle, Prof Michael Bull and Dr Malcolm James (all three from University of Sussex).

    In March, Roots Garden Reggae Sound System: An interactive workshop. With Jon Morray-Jones, owner and operator of Roots Garden; MC Trooper - legendary reggae lyricist, and Malcolm James. "Strictly roots & culture Reggae music for your heart & soul" Roots Garden select the very best of Roots Reggae, Dub and Dance from the latest releases & exclusive promos to classic oldies, rare revival and one-away Dubplates. Dubwise since 1995." We had the chance to select and play records, and listen to the unique sound of the Roots Garden Reggae Sound System. We also discussed the history of reggae sound systems in...

    Revolutionary Praxis - Small Acts. The idea for the event, which we started during the strikes, is to share small acts (a short story, a piece of music, a dance, a song, a reading, a memory, etc) which through their ordinariness or extra-ordinariness gesture towards a freer, more liberated, alternative or utopian way of life - what in a small way we might speak of as revolutionary.

    In the strike version of this, we had a Sikh hymn on obligation to the stranger, an Irish protest song, a story about the musician Little Simz, and story and audio footage of Paul Robeson singing in Yiddish in Moscow.

    The acts can speak across each other, be allegorical to each other, contest each other. There is no requirement for neatness. But the idea is that their performance or voicing in the same space helps us know them, and maybe connect them. Maybe slightly more grandly it helps us tell each other stories of small acts of freedom and tell them to others too.

    This will be a fairly intimate series. The first session will be curated, before it (hopefully) organically takes shape.

    We'd like to thank all those involved in organising these events, and those who attended.


    We'd like to welcome our new Research Associates 2023-2024:
    Dr Baljit Kaur, Dr Joy Stacey and Dr LN Squire-Smith.

    We'd also like to extend our solidarity to our colleagues at the University of Brighton. SCCS opposes these redundancies. This is an unjust attack on higher education, particularly the humanities, that must be stopped. Please support our opposition by signing their petition.

    The SCCS Away Day will will be 2-5pm, 26 June 2023 on Sussex campus - Silverstone 302 (and potentially outside if the weather permits):

    • We will reflect on the ongoing relevance of cultural studies for society society - potentially through engaging with a short reading.
    • We will hear about the work of members.
    • We will look back at the work of the Centre this year, and collect ideas for what we will do next year.
    • We will hear from some of the working groups (Brighton and SE, International, PGR and early career) and invite interest in others.
    • We will discuss the organisation of the Centre, and how we finance its activities and labours.
    • Afterwards, we will go for a drink.

    We look forward to talking with scholars from other Universities, in the UK but also abroad, for possible mutual collaborations, activities or events. If interested, please contact the SCCS co-directors: Malcolm.James@sussex.ac.uk or n.rashid@sussex.ac.uk

    More in the next issue!

    This Issue has been Co Edited by: Rob Sharp, Ben Highmore, Malcolm James aaa Silvina Silva Aras.