Events archive

Browse the list below to see a selection of our previous events:

  • Psychoanalysis, Culture and Political Life

    Wednesday 18 October 2023

    This event will explore the connections between psychoanalysis, culture and political life across the twentieth century and into the present day. 
            Catherine Humble – ‘Women in the Shadow of Psychoanalysis’
            Jacob Johanssen – ‘Psychoanalysis and Resistance Today: Another Age of Hysteria?’
            Hannah Proctor – ‘The Bolshevik Unconscious: Nathan Leites' Operational Code of the Politburo’    
            Speakers will present papers for 15-20 mins each with time for questions and discussion at the end. Further details about the speakers and their talks can be found below.
            This event is co-sponsored by the Centre for Cultural Studies, the Centre for Modernist Studies, the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence, and the English Colloquium. 
            Everyone is welcome! 
            Catherine Humble – ‘Women in the Shadow of Psychoanalysis’  
            Dr Catherine Humble will read from the introduction of her forthcoming book Women in the Shadow of Psychoanalysis. Sabina Spielrein, Lou Andreas-Salomé and Joan Riviere are often remembered for the famous men—including Freud, Nietzsche, and Jung—who loved, mentored or exploited them. But these women were groundbreaking intellectuals in their own right: the lost first generation of psychoanalysts, whose intersecting lives and transgressive ideas about sexuality, trauma and consciousness disrupted Vienna and beyond, resonating to this day. 
            Bio - Dr Catherine Humble works at the Institute of Psychoanalysis as Executive Editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. She holds the posts of Honorary Associate Lecturer at the UCL Psychoanalysis Unit and Short Course Tutor in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University. Her first book, Women in the Shadows of Psychoanalysis, will be published by Faber in the UK, FSG in the US and in other territories in 2025. 
            Jacob Johanssen – ‘Psychoanalysis and Resistance Today: Another Age of Hysteria?’  
            If in political vocabularies, resistance is the passage to freedom, for psychoanalysis, it is repetition, blockage, blind obeisance to crushing internal constraint. … In this vocabulary, then, resistance is not the action of the freedom fighter, the struggle against tyranny, the first stirring of the oppressed; it is the mind at war with itself, blocking the path to its own freedom and, with it, its ability to make the world a better, less tyrannical, place. (Rose, 2007, p. 21) 
            My talk takes the above quotation from Jacqueline Rose as a starting point to think about the status of resistance today as a psychosocial formation that could be seen as symptomatic of wider socio-cultural change. At first glance, resistance, denial and disavowal are everywhere: from climate change denial to right-wing narratives against migration and many other forms of public discourse. From a different perspective, resistance is also seen as progressive action of speaking truth to power, fighting against different forms of discrimination and ideologies. While resistance can mark a productive moment in the consulting room which patient and analyst can work with, if left unexamined, it may constitute intense pain or blockage for the patient. Resistance is thus an ambivalent notion. In this talk, I am interested in thinking about resistance today in combination with the concept of hysteria. One of the central early building blocks of psychoanalysis, Freud saw hysteria as a symptomatic response to the repression of (female) sexuality. A problematic and complex idea which has largely fallen out of fashion in and beyond the clinic, hysteria is nonetheless useful to further unpack the specific dynamics of some moments of resistance today. I focus on two examples to do so: hysteria in relation to the growth of ‘thinspiration’ and eating disorder content on TikTok; and hysteria of the incel and femcel online communities as resistance to contemporary ideas of heterosexuality. Both show how questions of identity are shaped by the digital and negotiated on social media. While both embody hysterical modes of performance and existential dynamics of an absent / present body, they also point to questions of resistance of the present conjuncture and a desire for recognition.  
            Rose, J. (2007). The last resistance. London. Verso. 
            Bio - Jacob Johanssen is Associate Professor in Communications at St. Mary's University in London. His research interests revolve around digital media and psychoanalysis. His most recent books are Media and Psychoanalysis: A Critical Introduction (Karnac Books, with Steffen Krüger) and Fantasy, Online Misogyny and the Manosphere: Male Bodies of Dis/Inhibition (Routledge). 
            Hannah Proctor – ‘The Bolshevik Unconscious: Nathan Leites' Operational Code of the Politburo’ 
            In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War just as the Cold War was beginning, a cluster of research projects funded by US institutions were set up to analyse the ‘Soviet mind’. Many of the social scientists involved in these projects pivoted from working on Germany or Japan to focus on the new enemy, while others were emigres from the USSR. Anthropologist Margaret Mead received funding from the RAND Corporation for the project Studies in Soviet Culture. Unable to conduct research in the USSR she and her team of researchers instead relied on what they called 'anthropology at a distance'. Two psychoanalytically informed publications emerged from her group: The People of Great Russia by anthropologist Geoffey Gorer and the Kleinian analyst John Rickman and The Operational Code of the Politburo by Nathan Leites (who was the project's co-director). Gorer and Rickman argued that contemporary Soviet authoritarianism could be made sense of via an analysis of culturally specific swaddling practices in early infancy. This paper will focus on Leites' less well-known text, The Operational Code of the Politburo. Leites offered a psychoanalytic reading of works by Lenin and Stalin, which he argued gave insights into Bolshevik mentality, which he characterised as paranoid, compulsively attached to order and terrified of annihilation. Though this might sound like an eccentric and methodologically flimsy historical artefact, Leites' work was seen as offering insight not only into the 'Soviet mind' specifically but the 'Communist mind' more broadly. The text was distributed to armistice negotiators in Korea. This paper will return to Leites' strange text, situating this peculiar anti-Communist application of psychoanalysis within the context of the early Cold War.   
            Bio - Hannah Proctor holds a Wellcome University Award at the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare, University of Strathclyde where she is working on a project called 'Depathologising dissent' about the international repercussions of revelations of the psychiatric abuse of dissidents in Soviet psychiatric hospitals, situated in the context of the Global Cold War. Her second book, Burnout: The Emotional Experience of Political Defeat is forthcoming with Verso in 2024.

  • Chant Down: A Symposium on Sport, Physical Cultures and Multicultural Sounds

    Wednesday 24 May 2023

    Speaker: Dr Nik Dickerson and Dr Joy White (Keynote speakers); Dr Dan Burdsey, Dr John Doyle and more

    Chant Down: A Symposium on Sport, Physical Cultures and Multicultural Sounds is a one-day, in-person event that brings together expertise across sport, sound and multiculture. The Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies will host the event on the Falmer campus of the University of Sussex on Wednesday 24 May 2023 in the Sussex Humanities Lab.

    The symposium will explore the roots of sound cultures within sporting spaces and examine how the sounds of sport have developed into multicultural spaces. From cricket sound systems, street sport soundtracks, the sonics of yoga, musical ring-walks and virtual sporting sounds, to the more familiar and traditional sounds of international sporting stadiums, the symposium will explore contemporary and historical multicultural sporting sound cultures in all their varied forms.

    Following on from the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the symposium offers a space to reflect on how sporting mega events allow a wide range of sporting sounds to be broadcast around the world. The fan chants and popular music associated with traditional sporting soundscapes offer insights into contemporary culture and society.

    Yet there are other hidden and subtle spaces where physical and sound cultures insect that also allow a consideration of how contemporary multiculture is enacted, lived and represented. These spaces offer alternative experiences and perspectives to emerge that are often absent from mainstream accounts and which allow spaces for multiculture to be both celebrated and critiqued.

    Building on recent work in this area (Burdsey & Doyle 2022) and institutional expertise in sound cultures; the symposium is particularly well situated within the Sussex Centre of Cultural Studies and will include contributions from a range of disciplines.

    This is a free, in-person only event. Find details through this Eventbrite link.

  • H Block: an architecture for conflict in and about Northern Ireland

    Thursday 27 April 2023

    Speaker: Louise Purbrick Pollyanna Ruiz

    Part of the series: Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies seminar series

    H Blocks: an architecture of conflict in and about Northern Ireland (Bloomsbury Academic, 2023) was published this spring. It is based on activism and research that its author, Louise Purbrick, began over thirty years ago.

    An analysis of the material culture of conflict, and in particular of power and resistance within an architecture of British occupation, it explores how images of H Block cells and their republican prisoners circulated through streets protests that took place far beyond the jail.

    The analysis of the real and symbolic force of political activism is indebted to Pollyanna Ruiz's work on contemporary social movements, from the Women’s Peace Movement to Black Lives Matter.

    In this seminar Louise and Pollyanna discuss the connections between their research and writing.

  • Reggae Sound System Workshop with Roots Garden

    Thursday 30 March 2023

    Speaker: Jon Morray-Jones, MC Trooper and Malcom James

    Part of the series: Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies Presents

    "Strictly roots & culture Reggae music for your heart & soul”

    Roots Garden select the very best of Roots Reggae, Dub and Dancehall from the latest releases & exclusive promo's to classic oldies, rare revival and one-away Dubplates. Dubwise since 1995.

    Please join us for an interactive workshop with Roots Garden Reggae Sound System.

    Jon Morray-Jones, the owner and operator of Roots Garden, and legendary MC Trooper will teach us how to set up and operate a reggae sound systems. You will have the chance to select and play records, and to listen to the unique sound of the Roots Garden Reggae Sound System We will also discuss the history of reggae sound systems in Brighton and the UK.

     (Ear plugs provided)


     You are welcome to come to any or all of the event:

    10.00-11.00am – Setting up ‘stringing up’ the sound system.

    Learn how to set up and connect the speakers, amplifiers, record decks and effects boxes of a reggae sound system.

    11.00-11.30 – First DJ/MC session.

    Play a vinyl record, have a go on the mic, and to listen to the unique sound of a reggae sound system.

    11.30-12.00 – Q&A with Jon Morray-Jones and MC Trooper

    Learn about the history of reggae sound systems, its practices and meanings, from 1970s blues parties to the Brighton dances of today.

    12.00-1.00pm Lunch

    1.00pm-1.30pm – Second DJ/MC session.

    Play a vinyl record, have a go on the mic, and to listen to the unique sound of a reggae sound system.

     1.30pm-2.30pm – Q&A with Jon Morray-Jones and MC Trooper

    Learn about the history of reggae sound systems, its practices and meanings, from 1970s blues parties to the Brighton dances of today.

    2.30-3pm – Take down.

    Learn how to disassemble the reggae sound system.

  • Background Music Cultures

    Monday 21 November 2022

    Part of the series: Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies Seminars

    Please join Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies Visiting Fellow Prof. Heikki Uimonen for a discussion of Background Music Cultures.       

    Background Music Cultures is the first concise ethnomusicological and sound studies oriented analysis of background music. Addressing background music from the perspective of producers, people working in background music filled environments, and city dwellers, Background Music Cultures takes the sonic materiality of background music practices seriously, and studies these as a part of sonic environments and their socio-spatial contingencies. 

    Background Music Cultures sheds light on the functionality of background music beyond the more general notions of sales promotion and customer persuasion.  Background music cultures is part of ACMESOCS. Auditory Cultures, Mediated Sounds and Constructed Spaces (1. Sept. 2019–31.Dec.2022) research project financed by the Academy of Finland. 

    The discussion will be chaired by Prof Michael Bull.

  • Rave today!

    Thursday 10 June 2021

    Part of the series: Sussex Festival of Ideas

    Join a panel of Sussex students and scholars online as they explore the rich and varied relationships between UK rave and academic research: from sonic intimacies to subcultural studies, artists’ memorials to DIY methodologies.

    Speakers include: Dr Ben Burbridge, Dr Malcolm James, Professor Lucy Robinson, and Dr Chris Warne.

    Organised in collaboration with the Subcultures Network and the Museum of Youth Culture. 

  • 'The Stories We Tell Ourselves' with Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi

    Wednesday 9 June 2021

    Part of the series: Sussex Festival of Ideas

    Join the Stuart Hall Fellow in Residence, Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, online for a keynote talk introduced by Gilane Tawadros, Chair of Trustees of the Stuart Hall Foundation. Rebecca will discuss her career in journalism, which includes a Stuart Hall fellowship that facilitated the work of young writers from working class backgrounds and promoted thinking on the need for collaboration across disciplines, sectors and communities to use storytelling as a form of survival and interrogation. This talk will be followed by a Q&A on storytelling, journalism, access and inclusion in times of challenge and inequality

  • Media, Authoritarianism and Resistance in South Asia

    Tuesday 18 May 2021

    The Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies (SCCS) and SASG (South Asia Solidarity Group) are delighted to co-host a half day symposium on media, authoritarianism and resistance in South Asia. 

    The region has seen the rise of authoritarian politics and this symposium aims to engage with both the role of the media in this as well as the impact on it - from direct curbs on media freedom in the form of overt censorship and attacks on journalists to the role of Bollywood in the battle for cultural hegemony in India.

    The symposium will consist of three panels. The first will provide the context in Bangladesh, India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka; the second will centre the voices of those whose freedom and professional integrity has been under attack as a result of this authoritarian drive; the third panel will look at the different ways that people have been organising resistance including the use of music, photography and art. 

    The event will be in the form of a webinar and further details will be sent once you have registered. 

    Please check the Eventbrite page for details.

  • Nationalism and Left Dreams

    Friday 19 February 2021

    Speaker: Sivamohan Valluvan, Daniel Trilling, and Catherine Donaldson

    Part of the series: Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies Seminars

    Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies presents ‘Nationalism and Left Dreams’.

    Chaired by Malcolm James, Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies.

    Over the last decade we have witnessed the full usurping of the Right by the nationalist imperative, and an ever-hardening aversion towards those who do not belong. The Left too has submitted to these themes recycling an assortment of nativist myths and hectoring about terrorism and the problems of immigration. 

    Please join academic Dr Sivamohan Valluvan, writer and journalist Daniel Trilling and film maker Catherine Donaldson to discuss these themes, and to consider what anti-nationalist dreams the left still might hold in this moment of nationalist assertion. 

    After the panel we will be celebrating the launch of Sivamohan Valluvan’s new book The Clamour of Nationalism: Race and Nation in Twenty-First-Century Britain – Manchester University Press.

    Sivamohan Valluvan is a scholar of racism, ethnicity and cultural theory with a particular interest in the rise of contemporary nationalism. He is the author of The Clamour of Nationalism: Race and Nation in Twenty-First-Century Britain, and a contributor to Salvage, Red Pepper and a range of academic journals. He is Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Warwick.

    Daniel Trilling is a journalist, editor and author. He writes about migration, nationalism and human rights and is the author of Lights in the Distance: Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe and Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain's Far Right. He is regular contributor to New Statesman, The Guardian and the London Review of Books among other titles.  

    Catherine Donaldson is a documentary and fiction filmmaker. She has works with community, arts and educational groups producing films around the themes of asylum, migration, borders and nationalism. She has also worked on the themes of sexuality, sexual exploitation and everyday life. She produced and directed her first feature documentary, Beauty and Brains, in 2010 with the support of the World Bank. In 2016 she returned to fiction with the series His Girl. She a Lecturer in Film Making, and a PhD student at University of Sussex. She is the founder of Eggplant12 Films Ltd.

    Find details on Eventbrite.

  • Book launch of "Sonic Intimacy"

    4 December 2020

    Book Launch for 'Sonic Intimacy' by Malcolm James

  • Investigations from below: Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi talks about her work

    Wednesday 29 January 2020

    Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi is an independent reporter, editor and writer. She co-edits Shine A Light, an award-winning investigative journalism & storytelling platform on and is writer-in-residence at Lacuna, a human rights magazine. Her journalism has been twice shortlisted for the George Orwell Prize for political writing, and her reporting on the treatment of migrant women fleeing domestic violence won a Refugee Council award and a Write to End Violence Against Women award. Rebecca sits on the Women’s Budget Group management committee and is a trustee of the Orwell Youth Prize. In 2018 she co-founded the Race Beat, a collective for journalists of colour. 

    Rebecca is the Stuart Hall Fellow in the School of Media, Film and Music for this term. The seminar will be an opportunity to find out about her work to date and what she'll be doing during her Fellowship. It will also help foster connections with MFM staff during her time at Sussex and, hopefully, beyond.

  • Whiteness, Race and the Seaside

    Whiteness by the sea book ecoverWhiteness, Race and the Seaside

    3 July 2019 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

    Speakers - Malcolm James, Amy Zamarripa Solis, Dr. Daniel Burdsey.

    Amid its liberalism, the whiteness of Brighton often goes under scrutinised.

    The event explored questions of whiteness and orientalism in Brighton and in other south coast seaside resorts, and addressed how whiteness and Oriental fetish inform these sites of pleasure and leisure.

    Further information

  • 1948: Seventy Years On

    1948: Seventy Years On

    Dried milkFriday 9 November 2018, 9.00-5.30 followed by Reception
    Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Sussex

    It is a lifespan, ‘three score years and ten’, since 1948. Meanwhile, with events sometimes bizarre, often dire and cumulatively unsettling, 2018 stumbles to a close, marking perhaps the end of the post-war social contract that has framed all of our lives.

    A clutch of 70 year anniversaries has been striking: in Britain, nationalisation of the health service, and the arrival of the Empire Windrush; globally, the establishment of North Korea, the formal adoption of apartheid by the Nationalist government in South Africa, the independence of Burma (Myanmar) from British colonial rule and the creation of the state of Israel and Nakba (exodus) for Palestinians.  Additionally, contemporary news stories reveal the legacies of many events, decisions, laws and policies from 1948, whether in terms of issues still in play (such as Israel/ Palestine), narratives of loss (the NHS and the Welfare State), undermined (a USA led international order) or gaining fresh appeal (the renationalisation of core industries in the UK).

    We might ask whether a ‘return’ to 1948 is a process of looking ‘back to the future’? Does a return to when some things seemed to ‘start’ help throw into relief some of the specific and troubling dynamics of the present? Or maybe recalling events and the mood of 2018 – in some ways at least – echoes and/or inverts that of 1948? 

    The aim of this day conference was to give attention to 1948 and its legacies, a year (in the UK context at least) that merges into the  ‘age of austerity’ or ‘years of the Attlee Labour government’, i.e. 1945-51. It is also to place the two time frames and two very different conjunctures of 1948 and 2018, side by side, in order to be able to look across them.  After all what might be remembered, what seems pertinent about a past time depends in some ways on the specific dynamics, difficulties, fears, hopes and mood of the now. Reflecting on 1948 in 2018 is a different exercise than if the perspective is  from a ‘youthful’ and ‘revolutionary’ 1968, or from a strike-ridden, ‘winter of discontent’ in the UK of 1978.

    Framed by and speaking to the bigger events of both 1948 and 2018, our speakers imaginatively interpreted the event’s title. Engaging with the cultural, social and economic, everyday life and the personal, technology and politics, they explore cultural artefacts from film, art, media, the built environment, technology, law, and politics. Case studies related to the US, the West Indies, Pakistan, Czecho/slovakia, Italy, Britain and Europe more widely.


    Lucy Bland  (Anglia Ruskin University)

    Charlotte Brunsdon (University of Warwick)

    Rosalind Brunt (Sheffield Hallam University) 

    Lizzie de Cacqueray (University of Toulouse)

    Robert Lumley (University College London)

    Maureen McNeil (University of Lancaster)

    From the University of Sussex: Caroline Bassett, Munira Cheema,  Katherine Farrimond,  Ben Highmore, Kate Lacey, Claire Langhamer, Maria Lauret, Andy Medhurst, Monika Metykova, Lizzie Thynne, Alban Webb, Janice Winship.  

    Programme and Abstracts

    Bare Cupboard Bake Off

    The conference also included the Bare Cupboard 'Bake Off' competition.

  • Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies PhD Symposium

    Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies PhD Symposium 2018

    Friday 29th June 2018

    Building on the success of recent years, the Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies (REPS) symposium provided an intimate forum for PhD research students to exchange ideas, present new work, receive constructive feedback from scholars and work collaboratively with peers across disciplines and institutions. Leading academics in the field chaired sessions including Sivamohan Valluvan and Professor Gurminder Bhambra was the keynote speaker. Past chairs included: Claire Alexander, Les Back, Chetan Bhatt, Caroline Knowles, Anshuman Mondal, Paul Gilroy, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Michael Keith, Nirmal Puwar, Liza Schuster and John Solomos, among others.

    Submissions were based on recently completed, in progress or planned research broadly related to issues and debates in race, ethnicity and post-colonial studies, including (but not limited to) state racism, (im)migration and everyday bordering practices, nationalism and xeno-racism, race and militarization, anti-Muslim racism, empire and colonialism, black feminism, race, multiculture and conviviality, race and materiality, and anti-racism and resistance. 

  • B/Orders: Fence Nationalism, Racial Technology and Everyday Life

    B/Orders: Fence Nationalism, Racial Technology and Everyday Life

    Friday 17th March 2017, 16:00-18:00.

    There are more than 50 new national border walls and fences proposed, under construction, or finished since 2001. The resurgent popularity of walls and fences is an important characteristic of neoliberal ascendency—a form of both internal and external “security” measures to protect speculative interests in the planetary search for new commodities, markets, and services. This nomos marks out contemporary contours of racial capitalism—the spatial, violent, and visual manifestations of economic and political rule. Racism is at the foundation of this arrangement; it is not merely an artifact of otherness produced or represented by these edifices.

    These racial arrangements have implications for border culture which becomes articulated from an in-between location (for example on the US-Mexico border), created by and for division, but that is also generative of complex and multidimensional experiences and sensibilities. Living, writing and producing art at the border becomes an experience of racial, cultural and historical cuts, and of everyday transgressions – walking through jingoistic, separatist, and nationalistic foolishness; bearing witness to the tragedy of the border and the everyday life that thrives in its shadow.

    However, borders are not only maintained at the frontier of the state. Their racial technologies, found in class room registers, biometric data, NHS assessments and in the gaze of strangers violently permeates everyday life. If a defining feature of the contemporary moment is the proliferation of border walls, another is the deep reach of border technologies, and bordering, into previously unregimented social and psychic spaces. In the context of ongoing war and the crumbling Western/European project, the need to define racial and nationalist belonging has sharpened and with it the compulsion to monitor, administer and exclude racial others.

    The speakers were Dagoberto Gilb (Writer and Executive Director of CentroVicoria at the Univ of Houston), Dr Olivia Mena (University of Texas) and Dr Georgie Wemyss (University of East London).

  • Echoes of Fascism in Contemporary Culture, Politics and Society

    Friday 26 May 2017

    This year’s annual Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies urgently explored the growing traces of fascism that have been emerging across the world in recent years. Dr Angela Neale started the day with a thought-provoking keynote considering how online spaces, such as 4-Chan, originally designed to enable democratic participation have become grounds for the development of alt-right groups and conversations. Her paper explored the complex relationship between the liberal intentions with which such spaces were created and the alt-right individuals who now consume them. She suggested that whilst the outcomes both groups desire might be radically different, they share similar perspectives regarding the current state of political affairs. Neale’s paper raises difficult questions for those who might consider themselves politically liberal and implies that to critique fascism, we might also need to introspectively turn to a re-evaluation of left-wing ideals too.

    Echoes 5  Echoes 2

    Throughout the day’s panel discussions, thoughts were directed to the ways in which cultural texts, such as music (Benjamin Bland), poetry (Savannah Sevenzo), television (Anna Graefer and Milena Popova), the digital (Hannah Lammin) or popular film (Wendy Timmons and Popova) might enable us to learn lessons about the past or help promote authoritarian or fascist ideals. Much of the concern, here, was that popular texts might encourage spectators to buy into authoritarian values without explicitly seeming to be fascist texts.

    Another important strand across panels was the exploration of the ways in which fascism is embedded in contemporary politics and society. Professor Jason Lee questioned the extent to which Neo-Nazism, traditionally against internationalism, might be more transnational than it at first seems, exploring the similarities of different global movements. Whilst Dr Aristotelis Nikolaidis from Goldsmiths considered the way the neoliberal crisis in Greece inspired the rise of the Nazi party Golden Dawn and Georgios Karakasis examined the potential legitimisation of far-right groups given their support for the Assad regime in Syria. Turning his attention to authoritarian populism and popular authoritarianism, Dr Malcolm James explored how these tendencies are rooted in popular, everyday British culture today through London’s Olympic Development, questioning whether it is only those organisations that clearly advertise themselves as far-right that should concern those of us looking to critique the echoes of fascism in contemporary society. 

    Gholam  Speaker

    The two further key notes of the day by Dr Gholam Khiabany, and Professor Arlene Stein and Dr Sarah Tobia, both took a comparative approach to consider the relationship between historical and contemporary forms of fascism. Khiabany focused particularly on the ways economic crises have been, and are currently, blamed on migrant communities and the ways in which this serves to divide the majority and displace the blame of national financial issues. Stein and Tobias considered the relationship between historical anti-Semitism, particularly during the Holocaust, and the Trump administration’s so-called ‘Muslim ban’ through the lens of the current American president’s Holocaust memorial day speech, which omitted any reference to Jews and was presented on the same day that the travel ban directed towards Muslim-majority countries was announced. Both of these key notes suggested we consider whether we can indeed learn lessons from history, and if we can what lessons we can learn, and how we can learn from them. Most importantly, perhaps, as educators, these papers encouraged us to think how we can teach others to think about the past and the present simultaneously.

    The day wrapped up with an important round table led by Sussex academics Professor Kate O’Riordan, Dr Rachel O’Connell and Dr Samuel Solomon about the tension between freedom to speak and freedom of speech in the university. Each speaker presented their own concerns as researchers and teachers in today’s contradictory climate in which university executives emphasise the importance of freedom of speech, whilst Government-enforced initiatives, such as Prevent require staff to report anything that might be considered to promote extremism. The discussion that followed highlighted that staff are unclear about what might be considered extremism in today’s climate and whether particular prestigious but controversial academic writing might be taken off reading lists in fear of potential consequences for academics, particularly for the more vulnerable early career researchers and teachers. 


    Echoes of Fascism - Programme

    FRIDAY MAY 26TH 2017, University of Sussex (School of Media, Film and Music)

    Keynote speakers:

    Dr Gholam Khiabany (academic and political journalist, author of Blogistan)

    Angela Nagle (author of Ireland Under Austerity and Kill All Normies)

    Professor Arlene Stein (author of Reluctant WitnessesThe Stranger Next DoorSex and Sensibility)

    Dr Sarah Tobias (feminist theorist and activist, author of Trans Studies)

  • Rights of Passage: A talk about LGBT asylum seekers in the UK

    by playwright and lesbian comiedienne Clare Summerskill

    Clare playing guitar

    Wednesday 15 February, 1-2 pm

    In this presentational talk Clare discusses issues which her play Rights of Passage addresses, including the situation of LGBT rights internationally, legal criteria which allow LGBT people who are persecuted in their home country to seek asylum in other nations, and Home Office interview questioning methods which ask people to ‘prove’ that they are gay.

    Rights of passage

  • Gendered Orientalism

    Gendered Orientalism poster10 February 2017 – Gendered Orientalism?: Counter Terrorism and the Gendering Anti-Muslim racism - USS Stratford.

    It would be difficult to deny that anti-Muslim racism forms part of contemporary racism in the UK, Europe and the US. The evolution of this racism is, as with early iterations, an explicitly gendered process. Muslim women are bearing the brunt of anti-Muslim discrimination and racial violence in the form of ‘burka rage’. At the same time, Muslim men are the modern day folk devils, ever at risk of radicalisation and regarded as culturally predisposed to commit sexual violence. State interventions combined with inflammatory media depictions of Muslim differentiate between the victimhood of Muslim women and the unique patriarchy of Muslim men. The policy landscape of counter terrorism provides a legitimating backdrop as a range of social problems are conflated under its umbrella – violence against women, sexual grooming, to learning English as a second language. This session will examine this emergent gendered Orientalism (Abu-Lughod 2013).

    In this seminar we will be exploring these issues with Dr Naaz Rashid, Dr Nadya Ali and Dr. Waqas Tufail

  • Trump, Brexit and the Rise of Authoritarian Populism

    Poster for Trump, Brexit and the Rise of Authoritarian Populism roundtableFriday 2 December 2016, 4-6pm 

    In Brexit and the election of Donald Trump we have seen the rise of Authoritarian Populism in Britain and the US. Figures such as Trump, Farage and Johnson are not alone. Marine Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Vlaams Belang in Belgium appeal to individuals’ dissatisfaction with neoliberalism using national, racial and authoritarian language.

    This has precursors through history, not least in Thatcherism, for which Stuart Hall coined the term. What makes Brexit and Trump significant is they come at a time when neoliberalism has started to turn in on itself. Its liberalisms cannot withstand its inequalities, its façade of democracy cannot withstand its disenfranchisement. In this transition, popular appeals to racialised violence and security have made substantial headway, often across assumed political, ethnic, class and gendered divides.

    There is an urgent need to develop the right questions, language and action to address what is happening. This roundtable invites you to come and discuss your ideas and air your concerns on Brexit, Trump and the rise authoritarian popularism.

    The roundtable will begin with a series of short provocations from academics and students working in the areas of race and racism and postcolonial studies. From here the floor will be opened for debate.

    Short provocations have been invited from: Simi Dosekun (Sussex), Malcolm James (Sussex), Helen Kim (UEL), Savannah Sevenzo (Sussex SU), Rob Topinka (Sussex), Aaron Winter (UEL)

  • Graphic Scholarship: Theory and Practice

    Graphic Scholarship PosterBritish Consortium of Comics Scholars Event:
    A one-day symposium at Sussex University Saturday 4th June 2016, 12-6

    How is scholarship being done via the medium of comics?  Comics can enable scholarship to be disseminated in accessble, reworked form for a wider audience; and can aid in ‘making learning fun’ for younger students or interested amateurs — but how does graphic narrative work as a way of thinking, as a way of data gathering, as a way of organising and enacting the research itself: a tool for scholars?

    We will explore this question with speakers from the Applied Comics Network  Graphic Medicine  and in a practical workshop with other comics creators. Book via EventBrite for this exciting and free event

    This event is generously supported by the University of Sussex Doctoral School Researcher-Led Initiative (RLI) Fund and Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies (SCCS).

    For further details visit

  • New Racisms II: Neoliberalism and its Others


    Full programme downloadable as PDF

    Day 1 – Thursday 9th June

    09:00 – 09:50  Registration and coffee (Social Space, SB, 3rd Floor)

    09:50 – 10:00 Introduction: Naaz Rashid & Malcolm James (SB121)

    10.00 – 11.30  Film – ‘Everyday Borders’ and discussion with Rita Chadha (RAMFEL), Don Flynn (MRN), Richard Williams (Sanctuary on Sea) (SB121)

    11:30 – 12:30  Plenary 1 – ‘Islamophobia as an Ideology of Empire’, Arun Kundnani (NYU) (SB121)

    12:30 – 13:15  Lunch (Social Space, SB, 3rd Floor)

    13:15 – 14:45 Panel 1 – Racisms, Refugees and Borders (SB121)

    Shirin Hirsch (University of Glasgow) - Racism, borders and the refugee ‘second generation’ in London

    Nina Mickwitz (London College of Communication) - Patrolling Borders and Constructing Fences: the construction of Others in European television drama

    Kostas Maronitis (Leeds Trinity University) - The Migration Crisis and the Racialisation of the Neoliberal Order

    Malcolm James (University of Sussex) – Everyday care and cruelty: the intertwining of racism and humanism in Chios, Greece

    14:45 – 16:15  Panel 2 – Neo-nationalisms / Anti-Muslim Racisms (SB121)

    Sivamohan Valluvan (University of Manchester) - The Ideological Multiplicity of New Nationalism

    Ariana Solé i Arraràs & Martin Lundsteen (University of Barcelona) - Islamophobia, anti-Muslimness and neoliberalism in Catalonia (Spain)

    Narzanin Massoumi, Tom Mills & David Miller (University of Liverpool and University of Bath) - Contesting racialisation: Islamophobia, social movements and the practice of the state

    Manal Massalha (LSE) - Into the abyss – Is Israel’s institutionalised and normalised racism a problem of far-right chauvinism?

    16:15 – 16:45  Tea (Social Space, SB, 3rd Floor)

    16:45 – 17:45  Plenary 2 – ‘Argumentum ad Misericordiam – the Critical Intimacies of Victimhood’ – Sally Munt  (University of Sussex) (SB121)

    19:30  Conference Dinner (optional) – Lucky Star, Trafalgar Street, Brighton  


    Day 2 – Friday 10th June  

    09:00 – 09:30 Tea and coffee (Social Space, SB, 3rd Floor)

    09:30 – 10:30 Plenary 3 – ‘Racial Capitalism’ – Gargi Bhattacharyya (University of East London)  (SB121)

    10:30 – 12:00 Panel 3 – Neoliberalisms (SB121)

    Raven Brown (Milano School of International Affairs, New York – The inevitability of crisis: alternatives to the hegemony of capitalism and democracy

    Gareth Mulvey and Neil Davidson (University of Glasgow) – The British state, neoliberalism, immigration and EU Referendums

    Terese Jonsson (University of Portsmouth) - Feminist politics and racial neoliberalism in Britain

    Ben Pitcher (University of Westminster) – The racial politics of welfare in neoliberal Britain

    12:00 – 12:45  Lunch (Social Space, SB, 3rd Floor)

    12:45 – 14:15  Panel 4 – Anti-Muslim Racism and Gender  (SB121)

    Naaz Rashid (University of Sussex) - Veiled Threats? Producing the Muslim woman in the UK public policy imaginary

    Virinder Kalra (University of Manchester) - Phobias and Phantasms in Rochdale: Gendered Violence under Racial Neoliberalism

    14:15 – 14:45  Tea/Coffee (Social Space, SB, 3rd Floor)

    14:45 – 15:45    Plenary 4 – ‘The continuities of apartheid and neoliberal imperatives in South African higher education: Some thoughts on decolonizing curriculum’ – Tamara Shefer (University of the Western Cape) (SB121)

    15:45– 17:45     Film – ‘The Hard Stop’ and discussion with Adam Elliott-Cooper (University of Oxford) and Fahim Alam (Dir. Riots Reframed) (SB121)

    18:00                Wine reception and launch of Cosmopolitan dharma: ‘race’, sexuality and gender in British Buddhism (2016) (eds) Sharon E Smith, Andrew Kam-Tuck Yip and Sally R Munt (2016)  (Social Space, SB, 3rd Floor)

  • Walking Bass

    Poster for Walking Bass seminarFriday, February 5, 2016 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm

    In this REPS seminar Fumi Okiji & Dhanveer Singh Brar will be delivering a lecture-performance based on their shared commitment to the black radical tradition, experimentalism and diasporic social life. Whilst their lecture-performance does not have a pre-determined end point, they will be moving through a variety of audio-visual materials and reference points including Charles Mingus, Actress, Walter Benjamin, Nathaniel Mackey, David Marriott, Bryan Wagner, Ella Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, William Pope L, New Orleans Second Line, Cedric Robinson, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Topsy Washington, John Coltrane, Fred Moten, Angel-Ho and Chino Amobi. All are welcome to come and join and add to what hopefully will be a joyful - but could be an unbearable – noise.


    Fumi Okiji's research focuses on the black radical tradition. She is particularly interested in how expressive work can provide alternative forms of knowledge and models of progressive social organisation. Okiji is currently working on a proposal for a research project, How to Love Black Things: Expressive Work as Black Epistemology, which contributes to the debate concerning the nature of the intramural social life of black people. Recently awarded a doctorate from Royal Holloway, University of London, she wrote a dissertation arguing that jazz, in its embodiment of seemingly contradictory positions (on one hand, fostering human distinction, and on the other, embracing community), can be shown to provide an important, though precarious, model of what Theodor Adorno calls ‘reconciliation.' Okiji has recently completed a manuscript: Think All, Focus One: Jazz, Adorno and the Critical Potential of African American Expressive Form, based on this study. As a performer and maker of sound works, she is committed to exploring ways to develop her academic work to be better equipped and more empathetic in its engagement with art and expression.

    Dhanveer Singh Brar is a theorist of black studies, in its intersections with critical theory and cultural studies. The research he undertakes encompasses black diasporic sonic culture from the mid-twentieth century to the present, the history of the black radical tradition and the politics of black critical thought. He has published in the journal Popular Music and has an article forthcoming in Social Text. Currently Dhanveer is writing a book on black electronic dance music entitled Teklife, Ghettoville, FWD>>: The Sonic Ecology of Blackness in the Early Twenty-First Century. He lectures in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Kingston University.

  • Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies (REPS) Seminar 1 – grime/rap/racism/prisons
    REPS Seminar posterCo-organised by UEL School of Social Sciences and Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies

    Monday, 7 December 2015 from 18:00 to 21:00
    US G.19 - University Square Stratford Building. 1 Salway Road . London E15 1NF GB
    (Please note change to room venue)

    The event will be at UEL Stratford. We are delighted to have two incredible speakers who will present their current work on the intersections of popular music and race. Our speakers and topics are: 

    Monique Charles
    Monique will explore the social and cultural formation of grime music in relation to values (moral, political and aesthetic), spaces (schools, social media and performance venue), and politics (responses to policing, 696 and dominant discourse/practice).

    Richard Bramwell 
    Richard will be discussing  'institutional racism', the policing of the black body and black culture in high security prison. He will be exploring how black prisoners respond to their conditions of incarceration, in two maximum security prisons, through equality monitoring procedures and rap culture.

  • Cultures of sound and the war without end
    culture of sound and the war without endTuesday, 2 June 2015, 11am-6pm

    Digital Humanities Lab, School of Music, Film and Music, Silverstone Building, University of Sussex


    Public Culture Hub and Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Sussex invite you to attend in a half-day symposium exploring cultures of sound and the war without end.

    Marking the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Barack Obama announced the latest phase of the war without end – a bombing campaign of unspecified duration that would take in both Syria and Iraq. Weeks later they were joined by the British Armed Forces.

    Under the sign of ‘terror’, this unending war has shaped the places that have been bombed and places that have done the bombing. The estimated 500,000 dead in Iraq and what Claire Alexander has referred to as “the rise and rise” anti-Muslim racism in Britain are but two examples of this. However, other dimensions of cultural life have also changed, including the cultures and circuits of sound.

    Cultures of sound have long been intertwined with cultures of war. The vocoder, originally developed to disguise military communications, found its way into popular culture through the work of Moog, Kraftwerk, Grandmaster Flash, Stevie Wonder, 2Pac and Daft Punk among others. In aerially assaulted settlements across the Middle-East and Asia, the sound of bombing, inseparable from everyday life, is sold as entertainment – with games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops earning over $1 Billion in worldwide sales.

    In the development of weapons, sound (and music) forms part of the US repertoire of “advanced interrogation” (or torture) techniques, while in the UK’s urban wars Compound Security produces the high-frequency Mosquito device to exclude young people from public space; a device re-invented by young people as the Teen Buzz – a downloadable, Bluetooth-able, sound file that produces a continuous high-pitched sound to target adult authority.

    War is known about through sounds. Through soundscape of the Blitz or Operation Protective Edge the ear is trained. Sounds, or their absence, trigger fear, trauma and relief. War, sound and memory interlink. Bugles, anthems and the voices of the dead are audible through the colonial framing of remembrance. At the same time the voices and sounds of colonial soldiers are silenced. Disrupting and re-tuning these cultures of sound then becomes an important post-colonial intervention, as Nirmal Puwar has demonstrated in Noise of the Past.     

    As Les Back, Paul Gilroy and others have noted, alternative cultures of sound have provided struggles against and demands beyond war at home and abroad. While this is the case, commercial hip hop now provides sound tracks for war and anti-colonial intimacies of former urban music cultures have been fragmented through digital communication.

    Through a series of talks and installations, this symposium will explore these and other cultures of sound as connected to unending war.

  • Comics Day and Tea Party

    Comics Tea Party flyerBritish Consortium of Comics Scholars Day and Tea Party 
    Saturday 30 May 2015
    University of Sussex
     in association with Sussex Centre of Cultural Studies, University of Sussex Doctoral School and School of Media, Film and Music with support from Laydeez do comics

    PLEASE NOTE: Audience will be encouraged to document the day through drawings, writing and photographs for inclusion in a printed BCCS publication that will be circulated after the event.


    11:30-12:00  Registration The Moroccan Tent

    12:00            Welcome, introductions and lunch Nicola Streeten, University of Sussex 

    12:30-13:20  British comics in relation to the international platform: A report from Angouleme International Comics Festival  The Moroccan Tent
    Chair: Prof. Roger Sabin, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London

    • Dr Candida Lacey, Publisher and Managing Director, Myriad Editions
    • Pen Mendonça, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London
    • Professor Roger Sabin, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London
    • Nicola Streeten, University of Sussex

    13:20-13:30 Break

    13:30-15:30 Comics and research Fulton Lecture Theatre
    Chair: Paul F. Davies, University of Sussex

    • Professor Will Brooker, Kingston University My So-Called Secret Identity
    • Dr Matt Green, The University of Nottingham “Frankly, I’m getting like, real heavy déjà vu about this path”: On comics and universities and worlds in crisis
    • Janette Parris, Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London Arch Comic - Bringing Art and Life Together
    • Dr Ernesto Priego, City University London Comics Grid and Unconference

    15:30-16:00  Tea and Cake Fulton Social Space

    16:00-16:10 A reflection on cake Fulton Lecture Theatre
    Sarah Lightman, University of Glasgow and Nicola Streeten, University of Sussex

    16:10-18:00  Life experience in comics form Fulton Lecture Theatre
    Chair: Nicola Streeten, University of Sussex

    18:00-19:30  Wine Reception Fulton Social Space

    WEBSITE: TWITTER: @ukcomicscholars


    Interested in making or talking comics, feminism, life, cultural studies?

    This day is for you! Enjoyment guaranteed and everyone is welcome. 



  • Irigaray Lecture 2014

    Luce Irigaray guest lecture posterLuce Irigaray is a French feminist philosopher who is known internationally for her work on sexual difference. This lecture was an opportunity to see a world-class intellectual speaking in English on a subject that is key to thinking about representation and culture, gender and politics.


    Luce Irigaray Lecture 2014

    Luce Irigaray guest lecture. Jubilee Large Lecture Theatre, 5th Nov 2014


  • AHRC Cultural Values Project 2014i

    Life in the UK project

    Go to the Life in the UK project website

    This project seeks to understand the value located in a range of arts/cultural activities to refugees, a group new to British cultural life who are often marginalised from ‘mainstream’ cultural activities, but who are simultaneously expected to adopt a hegemonic national identity of Britishness and henceforward espouse British cultural values.

    This is a research project that is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and forms part of the AHRC Cultural Value research cluster.

  • Feminist Cultures

    The Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies monthly lunchtime Feminist Reading Group

    Wednesday 29 October, 1 – 2pm

    Wednesday 19 November, 1 – 2pm

    Wednesday 10 December, 1 – 2pm

    The Creativity Zone, Pevensey III, Room C7

    For details of guests and readings visit

    Contact: Nicola Streeten

  • New Racisms: Forms of Un/Belonging in Britain Today

    Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies in partnership with DEMOS presents a day conference:

    New Racisms: Forms of Un/Belonging in Britain Today

    FRIDAY 9 MAY 2014

    Les Back, Goldsmiths College, University of London
    Melanie Friend: photographer, University of Sussex
    Prof. Mary Hickman, St Mary's University, London
    Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future
    Refugee Action
    The Refugee Council


    The publication of the Parekh Report on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (Runnymede Trust 2000) sparked intense debate in Britain. In response to the report’s suggestion that Britishness carries ‘systematic, largely unspoken, racial connotations’, much of the ensuing debate focused on the extent to which Britain is an inherently multicultural and even hybrid nation. Britain was re-cast as being a ‘nation of immigrants’, where cultural diversity strengthens and enriches the nation (Fortier 2005).  Hall has described this as ‘multicultural drift’ (Back and Hall 2009), a sense that British society has irreversibly and incrementally moved away from its stable and mono-cultural foundations; and yet there remain deep and irreconcilable ambiguities towards some cultural differences and minority groups. New ‘hierarchies of belonging’ have emerged in which minority communities are positioned differently and afforded greater or lesser degrees of tolerance and inclusion (Back, Sinha and Bryan 2012). For example, new migrants can be depicted as ‘benefit tourists’, asylum seekers as a threat to national security, and even long settled Muslim communities are increasingly subject to scrutiny and suspicion as potential terrorists and a threat to British way of life. This conference seeks to explore these processes of ordering, and to attend to debates around inclusion/exclusion, belonging / unbelonging, equality/inequality, power/resistance.  To what extent are the new forms of globalised migration different from the colonial and post-colonial migration of the past, and how is this giving rise to racisms which are different from the past?

    Since 2004 acquiring British citizenship has been tied to compulsory integration measures: migrants must demonstrate their English language skills and knowledge of British cultural values. This represents a re-framing of integration away from the rights-based conceptualisation of the 1990’s, where the focus was on legal equality, security of residence and social and political participation, to an identity issue with migrants having to prove their willingness to commit  to the ‘common values’ and cultural traits of the host country. In these debates there is assumed to be a set of dominant and clearly defined British values (as articulated in the Life in the UK citizenship test). These are set in opposition to migrant values which are left unexplored, but generally depicted as of concern. But how is this expectation to adopt a British identity, and espouse British values, viewed and experienced from the perspective of the migrants themselves, and how is cultural hybridity, or conflict, managed or avoided?

    ‘Super-diversity’ and the ‘diversification of diversity’ brought about by migration (Vertovec  2007), has resulted in the multiplication and increasingly complex axis of identification and difference. This is not just about the addition of further variables of difference; it is also about ‘new conjunctions of interactions of variables’ (Vertovec 2007:1025). Complex migration and asylum regimes further contribute to diversification by giving rise to multiple legal statuses and varying states of precariousness to more groups of people for longer (Zetter 2007). Identities are more complex and fluid reflecting shifting allegiances and interests, and giving rise to new issues and challenges. This has led some commentators to call into question the relevance of ethnic categories and to argue that they no longer have analytical purchase in the dynamism of today’s urban multiculture.  Instead, it is argued that super-diversity brings the need for a new politics of identity which transcends static ethnic categories (Fanshawe and Sriskandarajah 2010).

    We welcome papers on the following topics:

    • Immigration, migration and the media
    • New forms of racism, new figurations of ‘race’
    • Emergent ethnicities and belonging
    • The rise of political parties and re/sentiments such as UKIP
    • Re-examinations of cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism/diversity
    • Stereotypes, visual images, and narratives of asylum, migration and refuge
    • Cultural formations and religious formations that deploy ‘race’
    • Complex political victims
    • The affects of racism

    Papers should be no longer than 15- 20 minutes; please send 250 word proposals to by 31 March 2014.
    Proposals may be in Word, PDF, or RTF formats with the following information in this order:

    • author(s)
    • affiliation
    • email address
    • title of abstract
    • body of abstract

    We welcome creative pieces, to discuss please contact Conference Directors and
    For any other queries about the conference please contact conference organisers: We look forward to welcoming you to Brighton in May!

    This conference is supported by Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies, and the AHRC Cultural Values Project: Cultural Values from the Subaltern Perspective: A Phenomenology of Refugees' Experience of British Cultural Values.

    This conference is being organised in conjunction with a Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies event in honour and memory of Stuart Hall, which will include a screening of John Akomfrah's film 'The Stuart Hall Project', and a panel discussion

    Stuart Hall's work, with Dr Nirmal Puwar (Goldsmiths) and Professor Avtar Brah (Birkbeck). This will take place from 2-5.30pm on Thursday 8 May, and will be followed by a drinks reception

  • Autobiographical Performances of Memory
    28 January 2015

    Place: Fulton 201
    University of Sussex

    A joint Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies and Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research event.

    This three-part talk will look at performances of memory in film, writing and oral history. We examine the ways in which the narration of personal memory reveals aspects of gendered social and cultural histories from the post-war period to the UK women’s movement of the 1970s and 1980s. We focus on how subjectivity is formed and performed through the construction of narratives of family history, particularly in relation to material objects – photographs, clothes, places, home movies.  Material explored includes Stories We Tell (Polley, 2012) Clothes Pegs, (Thomas, 2013) (an autobiographical text on class and identity as recalled through clothes) and interviews from 'Sisterhood and After: The Women’s Liberation Oral History Project' (a major oral history project led by Margaretta Jolly, archived at the British Library).

    Further details

  • NGender Conference

    NGender Conference posterWe’re delighted to announce that on Tuesday 13 May 2014 at the University of Sussex, NGender will host its first annual conference.

    NGender has been running as a seminar series during the Spring term at Sussex for 5 years, and we are pleased to build on this success by launching the first NGender conference. Generously supported by the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Sociology, the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies, and the Centre for the Study Sexual Dissidence. This inaugural conference will bring together gender and sexuality researchers from across the University of Sussex.

    As well as offering the opportunity for new interdisciplinary links between researchers, this conference aims to promote the diverse, exciting, and original work being carried out in areas relating to sexuality and gender across departments and schools.

    Registration is free, and open now to all Sussex Postgraduates. To register and for more information please visit

  • Cultural Geography and Landscape Representation

    Doctoral Research Reading Group

    Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies and The Centre for Visual Fields
    Spring/Summer 2014

    Thursday 13 February 2:30-3:30, Fulton 207
    Initial meeting to plan and discuss further ideas as well as some dates for future meetings.
    The research reading group will meet every three weeks during the spring/summer terms. At present dates for future meetings include:

    Thursday 27 February, 2-3, Arts A04
    Dr. Ciao Maciel, visiting research fellow, School of Global Studies, will be presenting his research about the rhetoric of landscape in the constitution of modern understandings and meanings of Sertão – the dry Northeastern backlands of Brazil.

    Thursday 20 March
    Sally Bream, Ph.D. Creative and Critical Practice, School of Media, Film and Music, will present some of her current photographic images taken at Pevensey Levels in the south-east of England, where she is documenting some of the signifiers of climate change.

    Further meetings are planned for:
    10 April
    15 May
    5 June

    If you are interested in joining the reading group, presenting your research, or would like to receive email updates about future meetings, contact:

  • Reflecting and Remembering the work of Stuart Hall

    Stuart Hall event posterThis SCCS event took place in the afternoon of on Thursday 8 May 2014, and included a screening of John Akomfrah’s film: THE STUART HALL PROJECT followed by  a panel discussion of Stuart Hall’s work and legacy with AVTAR BRAH, DAVID MORLEY and NIRMAL PUWAR.

    STUART HALL, the renowned sociologist and cultural theorist,  died in February 2014. He was Director of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham and played a leading role in the development of the field of media and cultural studies. Later, as Professor of Sociology at the Open University he reached a wider public in his broadcasts and media appearances, discussing the inequalities of race and class. His analysis of the Thatcher years in Britain has never been surpassed, and his comments on the current neoliberal conjuncture were incisive. He was a public intellectual in every sense, and as such stands out as a leading thinker in post-war Britain. For these reasons the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies organised an event in his memory and honour. The event attracted a large audience of Sussex students, Faculty and members of the public who were clearly moved and engaged by the film and the speakers’ comments. Prof Brah spoke on Hall’s intellectual trajectory and relationship with Marxism. Prof Morley discussed Hall’s contribution to media and cultural studies including his seminal piece ‘Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse’ (1973) which Morley argued had been misrepresented by media studies scholars. Dr Puwar discussed the significance of Stuart Hall as a public intellectual drawing on a piece she published on this topic in Open Democracy after his death. The discussion focused on Hall’s role as a politically committed public intellectual and how this can inspire activists and academics in neoliberal times.

    John Akomfrah, the film-maker was born in Ghana in 1957. He fled with his family to Britain after a coup in 1966. He graduated from Portsmouth Polytechnic in Sociology in 1982, and with Stuart Hall’s encouragement formed the Black Audio Film Collective. Later he co-founded Smoking Dogs Films. His films include: Handsworth Songs (1986); Testament (1988); Who needs a Heart (1991); Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993); The Last Angel of History (1996); Call of Mist (1998); Speak Like a Child (1998); Riot (1999); The Nine Muses (2010); The Stuart Hall Project (2013).

    Avtar Brah is Professor Emerita of Sociology, Birkbeck College, London. Her books include Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting IdentitiesHybridity and Its Discontents: Politics, Science, Culture (edited with Annie Coombes); Thinking Identities: Racism, Ethnicity and Culture and Global FuturesMigration, Environment and Globalization (both edited with Mary Hickman and Mairtin Mac an Ghail). She is the Feminist Review Collective’s longest serving member; Feminist Review 100 was inspired by her 1999 article: ‘The scent of memory: strangers, our own, others’ and included a piece by Stuart Hall: ‘Avtar Brah’s cartographies: moment, method, meaning’. At this event

    David Morley began his career at the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, under the direction of Stuart Hall, and is now Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths College, London. He is the author of Everyday TV: Nationwide (with Charlotte Brunsdon) The Nationwide AudienceFamily TelevisionTelevision, Audiences and Cultural StudiesSpaces of Identity (with Kevin Robins); Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (co-edited with Kuan Hsing Chen); British Cultural Studies (with Kevin Robins) Home Territories: Media, Mobility and IdentityMedia and Cultural Theory (edited with James Curran) and Media, Modernity and Technology: The Geography of the New.

    Nirmal Puwar is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Goldsmiths College, London. She is the author of Space Invaders: race, gender and bodies out of place, and has led several creative collaborative projects, including ‘Noise of the Past’, a public intervention in war and memory, launched in Coventry Cathedral on the 8th November 2008. She is Director of the Methods lab at Goldsmiths and co-editor with Les Back of Live Methods

    Avtar Brah, David Morley and Nirmal Puwar who spoke at the SCCS event in honour and memory of Stuart Hall on May 8th 2014

    Avtar Brah, David Morley and Nirmal Puwar who spoke at the SCCS event in honour and memory of Stuart Hall on 8 May 2014.

  • Normal - Real Stories from the Sex Industry

    Professor Nicola Mai with MFM MA and PhD students after the screening and discussion of his film  'NORMAL - Real Stories from the Sex Industry' on November 28th, 2013.

    Professor Nicola Mai with MFM MA and PhD students after the screening and discussion of his film  'NORMAL - Real Stories from the Sex Industry' on November 28th, 2013.

    In November 2013 in collaboration with the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research SCCS organised a screening of the documentary film NORMAL - REAL STORIES FROM THE SEX INDUSTRY. The event took place on the evening of Thursday 28 November and attracted an audience of around 40 MA, PhD and undergraduate students, Faculty and members of the public. The Director PROF NICOLA MAI  introduced the film and answered questions after the screening.

    Prof Mai is an Italian ethnographer and filmmaker who has worked as Professor of Sociology and Migration Studies at the Working Lives Research Institute of London Metropolitan University and at LAMES - the Mediterranean Laboratory of Sociology of Aix-Marseille University. In September 2015 he will take up a Professorship at Kingston University. His academic writing and films focus on the experiences and perspectives of migrants selling sex and love in the globalized sex industry. Through experimental ethno-fictions and original research findings Nicola Mai challenges the humanitarian politics of representation of the nexus between migration and sex work in terms of trafficking, while focusing on the ambivalent dynamics of exploitation and self-affirmation that are implicated.

    After the screening there was a lively discussion of Prof Mai’s practice as a documentary film-maker, particularly in relation to ethics and the use of actors in the film, as well as the issues raised by the subject matter in the fields of life histories and oral histories, especially of marginalised groups; sexuality and gender studies; queer theory and migration studies. The film and discussion were of particular interest to students on the MA Media Practice for Development and Social Change, MA in Digital Documentary and MA in Journalism and Documentary Practice.

  • Multiculturalism: Where Do We Go from Here?

    ECREA’s Diaspora, Media and Migration section
    in co-operation with Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies

    28 – 29 March, 2014
    School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex, Falmer, Great Britain

    The ‘crisis’ of multiculturalism has been on the agendas of European countries for the past decade. Politicians all over Europe talk about the ‘failure’ of the multicultural project, a few even refer to the ‘nightmare’ of multiculturalism. We have witnessed some attempts to map the state of multiculturalism in contemporary societies and the workshop seeks to consolidate these and develop new directions of research for our field. What is the actual state of multiculturalism in contemporary societies? Does the term retain an analytical and political value? What policies exist at various levels of governance aimed at managing ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, and how have they shifted during this period of supposed crisis?

    We welcome proposals for papers dealing with policies and everyday practices that characterize living in contemporary multicultural societies and those that explore the intersections between such policies and practices. How have migrant-led groups and anti-racist networks responded to the intensive politicization of multiculturalism? What impact has this insistence on crisis had on media actors, and what roles have they played in affirming or challenging dominant narratives? The idea of everyday ‘lived multiculture’ is often opposed to the ‘nightmare’ scenarios of the past decade, but what does this idea mean in ethnographic terms, and in media activity? How have media institutional policies and practices negotiated multiculturalism’s heightened politicization? How have transnational, participative digital media networks impacted on national debates and events?

    Programme for Friday 28th and Saturday 29th March

    Abstracts (in alphabetical order)

  • Normal - Real Stories from the Sex Industry

    Professor Nicola Mai with MFM MA and PhD students after the screening and discussion of his film  'NORMAL - Real Stories from the Sex Industry' on November 28th, 2013.

    Professor Nicola Mai with MFM MA and PhD students after the screening and discussion of his film  'NORMAL - Real Stories from the Sex Industry' on 28 November 2013.

    In November 2013 in collaboration with the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research SCCS organised a screening of the documentary film NORMAL - REAL STORIES FROM THE SEX INDUSTRY. The event took place on the evening of Thursday 28 November and attracted an audience of around 40 MA, PhD and undergraduate students, Faculty and members of the public. The Director PROF NICOLA MAI  introduced the film and answered questions after the screening.

    Prof Mai is an Italian ethnographer and filmmaker who has worked as Professor of Sociology and Migration Studies at the Working Lives Research Institute of London Metropolitan University and at LAMES - the Mediterranean Laboratory of Sociology of Aix-Marseille University. In September 2015 he will take up a Professorship at Kingston University. His academic writing and films focus on the experiences and perspectives of migrants selling sex and love in the globalized sex industry. Through experimental ethno-fictions and original research findings Nicola Mai challenges the humanitarian politics of representation of the nexus between migration and sex work in terms of trafficking, while focusing on the ambivalent dynamics of exploitation and self-affirmation that are implicated.

    After the screening there was a lively discussion of Prof Mai’s practice as a documentary film-maker, particularly in relation to ethics and the use of actors in the film, as well as the issues raised by the subject matter in the fields of life histories and oral histories, especially of marginalised groups; sexuality and gender studies; queer theory and migration studies. The film and discussion were of particular interest to students on the MA Media Practice for Development and Social Change, MA in Digital Documentary and MA in Journalism and Documentary Practice.

  • People and Places in Limbo

    A one-day research networking workshop

    Friday 24 May 2013

    We see this one-day intensive research workshop as an opportunity to bring together in productive dialogue researchers from Sussex University and elsewhere. The aim is to begin to establish an effective research network and map out key issues prior to designing possible future publications and/or research bid. We are interested in interdisciplinary and comparative projects. We want to investigate the resilience, transition, transformation and un/making of people and places in an era of emerging crises through the theme ‘People and Places in Limbo’.

    We believe that Sussex has a unique opportunity in combining the faculty and researcher expertise from a range of research centres, including the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies, the Sussex Centre for Migration Studies, the Centre for World Environmental History and the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies.  

    We envisage a meeting aimed at opening up new directions and emerging research fields. The one day workshop will aim at a participation from senior as well as early career researchers and scholars with leadership potential from Sussex and other UK/European universities. The relatively small scale in terms of people involved (about 40 participants) will provide an ideal platform for focus on the topic and for all participants, as appropriate, to contribute to discussions and plan follow-up collaborative work. 

    We are pleased to announce that speakers from Sussex and other UK institutions have now been confirmed to complement and enhance our debate. Speakers from Sussex and other UK institutions include:

    - Professor Yvette Taylor, Head of the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research, London South Bank University: “Fitting Into Place & other Queer Encounters”

    - Dr Rebecca Bryant, Senior Research Fellow, Anthropologist of politics and law, London School of Economics: “States in Limbo: Sociality and Non-recognition in Cyprus and Elsewhere”

    - Professor Alan Lester, Director of Research theme ‘Global Transformations. Historical geographer, Sussex: “Humanitarianism and the In-betweenness of the Colonised: Indigenous Engagements with the Port Phillip Protectorate of Aborigines in Australia”

    - Dr Monika Metykova, interests in transnational media, cultural and media policies, and migration, Sussex: “Beyond the Radar: The Roma and Their Media in Europe”

    - Ms Claire Bennett, ESRC Centre for Population Change, Southampton University: “Living in limbo’: The experiences of lesbian asylum seekers”

    - Dr Evi Chatzipanagiotidou, Anthropologist, Queen’s University, Belfast: “From 'no man's land' to 'everyone's land': Re-territorialisation of the border in Cyprus among British Cypriots”

    A full programme detail is available here


    9.00-9.30       Registration – Refreshments

    9.30-11.00     Paper Presentations & Discussion

    Dr Rebecca Bryant ‘States in Limbo: Sociality and Non-recognition in Cyprus and Elsewhere’

    Dr Evropi Chatzipanagiotidou ‘From 'no man's land' to 'everyone's land': Re-territorialisation of the border in Cyprus among British Cypriots’

    Dr Anastasia Christou and Domna Michail ‘Diasporic Youth Identities of Uncertainty and Hope: Dynamics of Transnational of ‘Home’ Spatialisation and Gendered Representations in the Second Generation’              

    11.00-11.15   Refreshments

    11.15-12.45   Paper Presentations & Discussion      

    Dr Monika Metykova ‘Beyond the Radar: The Roma and Their Media in Europe’

    Professor Alan Lester ‘Humanitarianism and the In-betweenness of the Colonised: Indigenous Engagements with the Port Phillip Protectorate of Aborigines in Australia’

    Professor Sally Munt ‘Mental illness, Spirits and Family Histories’

    12.45-1.00     Respondent            

    1.00-2.15       Lunch Break

    2.15-3.15       Paper Presentations & Discussion

    Ms Melanie Friend ‘Border Country exhibition: Immigration detainees in limbo’

    Ms Claire Bennett ‘living in limbo’: The experiences of lesbian asylum seekers’          

    3.15-3.30       Refreshments

    3.30-4.30       Paper Presentations & Discussion

    Professor Yvette Taylor ‘Fitting Into Place & other Queer Encounters’

    Dr Geert De Neve ‘Money, Marriage and Morality: Moral evaluations of love marriages in a south Indian industrial town’

    4.30-4.45       Respondent

    4.45-5.30       Discussion, ways forward

    5.30               Drinks and Discussion continues at IDS Bar

    Presentation Sessions include individual presentations (approximately 20 minutes each) followed by a discussion (20-30 minutes) at the end.


    Session Chairs:

    Ms Janice Winship

    Professor Ben Rogaly

    Professor Sally Munt

    Dr Anastasia Christou

  • Queer, Feminist and Social Media Praxis Workshop 2013

    17 May 2013 – University of Sussex, Brighton

    Download the programme

    16 May 2013

    6.30pm Queer film screening: The Owls, Duke’s at the Komedia, plus Q&A with producer Alex Juhasz (supported by SusNet (Sustaining Networked Knowledge),  Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence & in collaboration with Eyes Wide Open Cinema)

    - followed by dinner and drinks in Brighton (Please note that the film ticket, dinner and drinks are not included in the registration fee).


    17 May 2013

    8.30-9.00 Registration

    9.00-9.15 Introduction

    9.15-10.45 Parallel Panels 1, 2, 3

    Panel 1: Sexuality in online and offline spaces

    • Karina Eileraas Sex(t)ing the Revolution, Recasting Ecstatic Icons: Sexuality, Cyberspace, and Religious Symbolic Politics
    • Keren Darmon Studying SlutWalks in Toronto and London: A case study of framing (neo) feminist protests in the new media ecology
    • Ingrid Vanderhoeven & Greta Gober Hollaback! Community circle project against street harassment
    • Collective ‘COUNTERPUBLICS: Queer Activism, Nationalism, and the Public Space’ 2013, the Abjective Years

    Panel 2: Identity, transformation & social media

    • Olu Jenzen & Irmi Karl Empowerment through (Virtual) Care? Social media and LGBTQ Youth Engagement
    • Tobias Raun Screen-Births: Trans Vlogs as a Transformative media for Self-Representation
    • Holly Pines Gender stereotypes & self-representation in photography blogs

    Panel 3 Herstories: archiving and remembering

    • Lizzie Thynne and Margaretta Jolly Remembering Mary McIntosh 1936-2013: Foremother of feminist and queer praxis
    • Celia Vara Early feminist videoart in Spain: Background and state of question (1970-1980)
    • Yew-Mien Lor Short Films Screenings and Conversations on HerStories in Contemporary Malaysia
    • Sam McBean Being "There”: Archiving Contemporary Queer East London

    10.45-11.15 Coffee Break

    11.15 – 12.45 Keynote Speaker Alex Juhasz

    Discussant: Caroline Bassett

    12.45-13.15 Lunch

    13.15 – 14.45 Parallel Panels 4, 5, 6

    Panel 4 Digital Storytelling & feminisms

    • Sigrid Kannengießer Digital Storytelling as a Method of Women’s Activism
    • Jodi Nelson Social/Digital  Storytelling in the online feminist space
    • Izzy Fox Ireland’s Facebook Feminists: Social Media and Feminist Activism in Ireland

    Panel 5 Activist practices & digital media

    • Aristea Fotopoulou Queer and feminist politics media lived
    • Legacy Russell Digital Dualism and the New Glitch Feminist Manifesto
    • Magda Albrecht #Outcry.Who Cries (Alone)?
    • Mayu Iida Reading Karen Barad: Affect, Technoscience, and Nuclear Crisis

    Panel 6 Parenting: stories & methodologies

    • Jessica Ann Vooris Ghostly Gay Children, Homophobic Hauntings, and Fabulous Futures: Story-telling and Community-Building on the Blog Raising My Rainbow
    • Rachel Thomson Making mothers: capturing, animating and sharing ordinary days
    • Laing Ming Wong Disavowing the Paternal: Formulating Methodologies

    14.45 – 15.15 Coffee Break

    15.15- 16.30 Parallel panels, workshops, screenings & performances

    ROOM 1 Panel 7: New media bodies: desire & disgust

    • Johanna Samuelson & Anna Gibson Seeing Red Project
    • Anna Ricciardi & Orsolya BajuszDesire, Disgust and New Media: Re-visiting Laura Kipnis’ ‘Reading Hustler’
    • Diana Georgiou & Giulia Casalini CUNTemporary

    ROOM 2 Performance:

    Hel Gurney & Ross Higman Lashings of Ginger Beer Time: Radical Queer Feminist Burlesque Collective

    16.30 – 17.30 Roundtable

    Radical art, technology Radical art, feminism, new technologies and performance

    with Maria Chatzichristodoulou (a.k.a. Maria X), Kira O’Reilly, Kate O’Riordan (UCSC/Sussex), Joanna Zylinska (Goldsmiths)

    Discussant: Sally-Jane Norman (Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts)


    After the end of the workshop, participants are encouraged to attend the free screening at:

    19.30-21.30 (15 min Intro) Film Screening: Circumstance (107 mins), followed by Q&A,

    which is part of the second annual conference of the International Feminist Journal of Politics, (Im)possibly Queer International Feminisms, 17-19 May 2013.

  • Trash Conference 2012

    A one day postgraduate conference at the University of Sussex

    Friday 14 September 2012

    Trash operates as a physical and symbolic manifestation of consumer society and its associated debris; it celebrates the filthy, excessive and grotesque; and it expresses how power communicates and classifies abject bodies. It not only describes the devaluation of trash culture, but it also refers to the material practices and processes through which we deal with ‘waste’ in all its forms.

    In this one day postgraduate conference we propose to rummage through the trash heap of history, art, media, culture, politics, and society in order to uncover new scholarly approaches and methods that continue to appropriate and recycle theories of trash.

    To coincide with TRASH at the University of Sussex the conference organisers will also be curating an evening of art, film and music in central Brighton on Thursday 13 September. The evening will be the welcome event for the conference and it will also provide the opportunity to engage with and network around the theme of trash outside of the academy.

    Find out more

  • Staging Illusion: Digital and Cultural Fantasy conference 2011

    Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies and the Centre for Material Digital Culture present: Staging Illusion: Digital and Cultural Fantasy, December 8th and 9th, University of Sussex.

    Keynote speakers: Professor Vanessa Toulmin (Director of the National Fairground archive), Dr Sarah Kember (Goldsmiths) and Professor Sally R Munt (Director of the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies).

    Plenary speakers: Dr Astrid Ensslin (Bangor), Dr Melanie Chan (Leeds Met), Professor Nicholas Till (Sussex), and Dr Jo Machon (Brunel).

    From magicians and mediums to immersive media, and from the circus to cyborgs, the celebration and/or mistrust of illusion has been a central theme across a range of cultures. Notions of fakery and deception remind us that our identities that are performative. The figure of the ‘mark’ of the fairground scam remains culturally ubiquitous, perhaps more so than ever, in an era of (post) mechanical reproduction. Is new technology a flight from the real or merely a continuation of older cultural forms? Is it necessary, or even possible, to define reality in relation to the illusory? What realms of ‘otherness’ remain to be embraced? This international conference will discuss staged illusions across a spectrum of historical, geographical and cultural contexts, featuring original and exciting papers and performances.

    Panels interrogate staging illusion from diverse perspectives, including: 3D cinema, the paranormal, the music hall, digital trickery, the fairground, magicians and illusionists, theatre, science, the museum, the magic of cinema, the gothic, digital gaming, social networking, the circus, advertising, illusory bodies and genders, theme parks and digital animation. Over two days the conference will also showcase illusory performance pieces, installations and magic.

    Panel speakers so far confirmed: Jon Armstrong, Adam Bee, Victoria Byard, Diane Carr, Eleanor Dare, Cristina Miranda de Almeida with Matteo Ciastellardi, Lane DeNicola, Yael Friedman, Aristea Fotopoulou, Kate Genevieve, Jonathan Gilhooly, Dr Rachael Grew, Birgitta Hosea, Jacqueline Hylkema, Jane Insley, Lewis Johnson, Laura Ellen Joyce, Frances A. Kamm, Ewan Kirkland, Chara Lewis with Kristin Mojsiewicz & Anneke Pettican, Liang-Wen Lin, Joe Marshall, John Carter McKnight, Jenny Munro, Constantino Oliva, Professor Deborah Philips, Burcu Yasemin Şeyben, Jayne Sheridan, Peter Sillett, Frances Smith, Marian St. Laurent, Nozomi Uematsu, Owen Weetch, John Wills.

    Download the programme

    Keynote speakers  

    Vanessa Toulmin: Taking Up the Ghost– From the Ghost Show to the Dark Ride: A Journey through Time

    Sarah Kember: When is a hoax not a hoax? The mediation of life in techno-scientific culture

    Sally R Munt: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous: Paranormal and Queer

    Plenary Speakers

    Nicholas Till - First-Class Evening Entertainments: Technology, Magic and Illusion in a Mid-Victorian Music Hall Programme

    Astrid Ensslin - "Staging" illusion: Metalepsis as a transmedia phenomenon

    Jo Machon – Immersed in Illusion: Marisa Carnesky’s Ghost Train

    Staging Illusion Conference Report by Rachel Wood

    Max performs his magical flying table trick at the Staging Illusion conference party, assisted by Sally Munt.Max performs his magical flying table trick at the Staging Illusion conference party, assisted by Sally Munt.

    From magicians and mediums to immersive media, and from the circus to cyborgs, the celebration and/or mistrust of illusion has been a central theme across a range of cultures.

    Staging Illusion: Digital and Cultural Fantasy was a two day international conference funded by Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies and the Centre for Digital Material Culture. Held at the University of Sussex in December 2011, the conference brought together speakers from a range of disciplines to interrogate staged illusions across a spectrum of historical, geographical and cultural contexts. In addition the event featured the work of a number of creative practitioners of illusion and magic.

    Keynote speaker Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of the National Fairground Archive opened the conference with her paper ‘Taking Up the Ghost– From the Ghost Show to the Dark Ride: A Journey through Time’. We were delighted to welcome Vanessa to Sussex, and her keynote brought together the key conference themes in a thrilling, illustrated history of ghostly illusions.

    After the first parallel session the delegates were brought together again for the plenary panel on practise and performance: Kate Genevieve, Eleanor Dare, and Chara Lewis and Anneke Pettican from Brass Art showcased their innovative digital art. On Thursday afternoon Professor Nick Till from Sussex gave a plenary paper on ‘First-Class Evening Entertainments: Technology, Magic and Illusion in a Mid-Victorian Music Hall Programme’, discussing the performance of science in Victorian popular culture.

    The evening meal on Thursday at Indian restaurant Rasa in Brighton provided more opportunity for lively discussion. We were excited to have four professional magicians attending the conference, two of whom performed at the Thursday meal. Jon Back invited the participation of audience members to pull off a complex trick, and Jon Armstrong’s spoon bending mind magic left the delegates amazed.

    The second day opened with a plenary panel from our invited speakers Astrid Ensslin and Jo Machon. Astrid’s ‘“Staging” Illusion: Metalepsis as a transmedia phenomenon’ explored illusion and digital narrative and Jo’s ‘Immersed in Illusion: Marisa Carnesky’s Ghost Train’ provided a political memory perspective on a famous ghost ride. The Friday afternoon saw keynote papers from Sarah Kember and Professor Sally Munt. Sarah’s paper, ‘When is a hoax not a hoax? The mediation of life in techno-scientific culture’ drew on diverse case studies, from the work of Philip K Dick through to the realms of Astrobiology and the search for life on Mars, to explore how the means to mediate science, illustrate concepts and gain impact with the wider public has an impact on the way science is perceived. Professor Sally Munt, director of Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies, gave the final keynote paper on ‘Paranormal: from the Sublime to the Ridiculous’. Sally’s moving exploration of personal and political history gave insight into the rupture of the everyday by the paranormal and provided an affective, concluding perspective to the conference.

    Parallel panel sessions across the two days featured speakers discussing illusion from diverse perspectives, including: 3D cinema, the paranormal, the music hall, digital trickery, the fairground, magicians and illusionists, theatre, science, the museum, the magic of cinema, the gothic, digital gaming, social networking, the circus, advertising, illusory bodies and genders, theme parks and digital animation. Discussions in the panel sessions were lively and memorable, as delegates made connections and debated from a range of disciplinary perspectives.

    The university conference centre provided fantastic food all the way through the 2 days and made us feel really welcome. Staging Illusion concluded with a festive christmas wine reception. Professional magician Max Schneider performed a number of classic magic tricks with humour and flair. The conference delegates were suitably amazed as Sally Munt took part in a table levitating trick.

    Feedback for the conference in the following months has been incredibly positive and enthusiastic. Delegate comments included the following:

    ‘It was genuinely inspiring to be a part of such a thought-provoking, wide-ranging conference that brought together so many disciplines and illuminated new approaches to the subject of illusion. The sessions I attended, the conversations I had with other delegates and the contacts gained have all been a great help to my work’ Kate Genevieve

    ‘What a fantastic conference. An amazing program of excellent speakers - so hard to choose which to see! The two days were excellently organised and we were all well catered for. I came away with my brain buzzing with thoughts, ideas and new areas of research to pursue as well as making some great contacts’ Sarah Sparkes

    ‘I'm sure I am not the first to congratulate you on what I thought was an excellent event. The initial idea was appropriate and timely and I can understand why the conference was so well subscribed. The programme flowed efficiently, the panels were skilfully put together, the catering was highly appetising, and you created a collegial and welcoming forum for people of varying academic backgrounds to share ideas. I learnt a great deal, had many ideas clarified, confirmed, or challenged, experienced intellectual stimulation at the end of a hard term, met some interesting people and generally found it worthwhile in every way’ Nigel Morris

    ‘Many thanks to you and your team for organising the Staging Illusion conference. It was a fascinating programme, and I had a wonderful time speaking and performing at the meal. Please bear me in mind if you ever need some more psychological magic performed!’ Jon Armstrong

    SCCS would like to thank everyone who entered into the ‘spirit’ of the conference so enthusiastically, making it so memorable for all of us.

  • Paranormal Cultures 2010

    The Centre's third conference, on the first really hot Summer's day, explored the cultural context and functions of the paranormal and the supernatural in popular culture, literature and visual culture and in everyday life. The recent increase in popularity of all things paranormal across literature, art and popular culture suggests not only a reinvigorated interest in notions of the paranormal but possibly also new functions and pleasures of these fascinations and pursuits that this conference sought to engage with. 

    para 4

    The feel of the day was really friendly; many of the participants were drawn from paranormal cultures themselves who were keen to bridge the gap between the university and independent scholars. Discussion and interaction was relaxed and supportive.


    In the evening Scott Simpson of The Spirit Parlour took us all on a highly entertaining and enjoyable walk through haunted Brighton, introducing historical buildings and spaces in a completely different light. Then we all went on to Rasa for South Indian food and significant quantities of cold beer.


    Conference review

  • Queer Spiritualities 2009

    In March 2009 the Centre co-hosted in conjunction with the Brighton and Sussex Sexualities Network [BSSN] a one-day conference on 'Queer Spiritualities' which brought together the eleven researchers that had been working on the 'Queer Spiritual Spaces' project over the year, with research participants from the case studies, as well as invited keynote speakers Prof Stephen Hunt (University of the West of England) and Dr Robert Vanderbeck (University of Leeds).

    Conference abstracts

    The project took in a wide scope of religious and spiritual practices and belongings that brought to the conference a diverse range of presentations addressing broader concerns relating to attitudes to non-normative sexualities and Buddhism (Sharon Smith) and Islam (Amna Khalid), sexuality debates within Global Anglicanism (Robert Vanderbeck) as well as more particular interrogations concerning 'Queer Quakers' (Sally R. Munt), spiritualities at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (Kath Browne) and Sexual Identity amongst New Agers at Findhorn (Liz Dinnie).

    qss5   qss4

    Two further papers focused on queer spiritualities and online cultures (Heather White and Patrick James). Andrew Yip's keynote addressed some overarching critical reflections on the practice of researching sexualities and spiritualities offering a context to the case studies within the project.

    Then turning attention to some points of friction in debates about sexuality and the church, Stephen Hunt unpicked 'The Secular Rhetoric and Strategies of the Christian Anti-Gay Lobby'. Conference debate was lively and inclusive. Afterwards, Sally Munt hosted conference participants with a party at her house, ending with a convivial evening.


  • Class and Culture Now 2008

    Dr Anita Biressi and Prof Heather Nunn of Roehampton University

    Our one day inaugural symposium in February 2008 celebrating the launch of the centre, had presentations by Professor Carolyn Steedman (Warwick), Dr Anita Biressi and Professor Heather Nunn (both Roehampton) and the journalist Lynsey Hanley from The Guardian.

    The first paper at the conference by Biressi and Nunn highlighted key questions of gender and class with relation to health, notions of self policing and imperatives for social mobility as they pan out in recent examples of lifestyle television. Clips from reality shows shaming parents by synthesising their children's future embodiment were particularly memorable.

    That was followed by an inspiring talk by Steedman entitled 'The Histories We Have. On The Law, Poetry, and a Pair of Stays', drawing on fascinating historical and biographical material relating to the lives of people working in domestic service.

    Prof Carolyn Steedman (Warwick) and Prof Jenny Taylor (Sussex)

    The third paper of the afternoon was given by the journalist Lynsey Hanley talking about the social politics of  council estates drawing on research for her recently published book 'Estates: An Intimate History'. Moving from the postwar ideal of spacious houses and gardens built to house workers' families, through to the budget tower block housing complexes of the 1960s and 1970s, Hanley outlined the spatial politics of social exclusion.

    The well attended day was concluded by publisher Ashgate's wine reception to launch Prof Sally R. Munt's new book on class, sexuality, and shame: Queer Attachments: The Cultural Politics of Shame




  • Seminar Series

    The SCCS Seminar series has included the following talks:

    • Alana Lentin - 'Post-race, post-politics: the paradoxical rise of culture after multiculturalism'
    • Sally R Munt - 'Resilient Identities'
    • Janice Winship - '"Green seals" and "spare parts", "Lutons" and "wardrobes": A problem of "buying" at Marks & Spencer in the mid-1990s?'
    • Simon Coleman - 'The Charasmatic Gaze'
    • Peter Pick - 'Reading the signs - caution, triangle people ahead'
    • Ben Highmore - 'Re-visiting culture is ordinary'
    • Stella Sims & Rosemary Shirley - 'The Rockabilly Revival and Representing the 1950s' and 'Keep Britain Tidy: Litter, paranoia and the non-metropolitan everyday'
    • Margaretta Jolly - 'Activist life writing and the political life course'
    • Sue Currell - 'Garden City Breeding: implementing eugenics in the suburbs'

    In 2009 the Centre held a series of five research seminars on Cultural Embodiment, which included papers by invited speakers from Lancaster University, The University of Brighton and The University of Sussex:

    • Prof Maureen McNeil – 'Classy Subjects:  British feminist working-class autobiographical texts of the 1980s and 1990s'
    • Dr Katherine Johnson - Visualising Queer Mental Health: A LGBT photography project in Brighton
    • Dr Thomas Austin - Damaged Bodies in Documentary: Black Sun and Murderball  
    • Olu Jenzen & Sherri Foster - The Queer Uncanny and Queer Twins
    • Prof Simon Coleman – ‘The Charismatic Gaze’
  • The Comforts of Crisis: Multiculturalism in Western Europe

    Gavan Titley, giving a seminar at the Sussex centre for Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex on 12 March 2009 on 'The Comforts of crisis: Recited Multiculturalism in Western Europe'.

    This paper is part of a wider project on Questioning the European 'Crisis of Multiculturalism':

    Please go to the The Death of Multiculturalism? blog to hear the podcast of the seminar: