NEW BOOK: Understanding Statelessness

In 2017, Katherine Tonkiss (CCISC), along with Tendayi Bloom from The Open University and Phillip Cole from the University of the West of England, brought together twenty-four scholars, practitioners and artists to produce a new book, Understanding Statelessness (Routledge 2017).

This book interrogates accepted wisdom on statelessness, suggesting a new direction for thinking about this topic. In particular, it makes two conflicting suggestions. First, that ‘statelessness’ needs to be put on the agenda across academic disciplines, and across policy areas. Second, that the problems associated with statelessness may well not be about the lack of citizenship itself, but about the lack of rights to which this currently gives rise.

The book is currently featured as part of the Open University’s Year of Mygration (

The book is available from Routledge. Readers can receive a discount by using the code FLR40.


Professional journalistic practices in comparative perspective: the view from Central and Eastern Europe

The path to media freedom in almost all countries of the Eastern bloc has been very uneven. Political events and developments of the last few years have added further twists. In Ukraine the media landscape has become more diverse after the 2014 Euromaidan, while Russian and Hungarian journalists are facing new challenges to press freedom.

The workshop will bring together material recently collected in the field, and will dissect and explore the latest developments of how journalistic practices play out in different post-Communist countries and contexts.


Date of the workshop: 7 February 2018, 2-6pm

Venue: Aston University (Birmingham)

2pm: Welcome & coffee/tea

2.30pm: Session 1 (MB246A)

-Ilya Yablokov (University of Leeds) ‘Russian and Hungarian Journalist Communities in Comparative Perspective’

-Taras Fedirko (Cambridge University) ‘Talking Heads: Ukrainian Journalism’s Economy of Unfreedom’

4-4.30: Break

4.30: Session 2 (MB146)

-Natalia Roudakova (Erasmus University, Rotterdam) ‘Losing Pravda: The Press in Post-Truth Russia’

The project is jointly funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust and Aston University’s Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC).

If you have any queries, please, email:

Dr. Ilya Yablokov at
Dr. Elisabeth Schimpfössl at


Contemporary Sikhism

Aston University’s Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC) is pleased to invite you to an inter-disciplinary symposium on Contemporary Sikhism, on Friday 9th March, 1:15-5pm at Aston University, Birmingham.

The symposium is organised by CCISC members Dr Sarah-Jane Page and Dr Demelza Jones as part of the Centre’s Religion and Belief theme of work.

The event will include keynote talks from Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar (Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, University of Wolverhampton) on Sikhi & the Sikhs: Responses to challenges and issues in contemporary British society; and Dr Jasjit Singh (Research Fellow, University of Leeds) on the idea, context, framing & realities of ‘Sikh radicalisation’ In Britain.

There will also be a panel session and discussion of Sikhism, gender and sexuality with contributions from Dr Jagbir Jhutti Johal (Senior Lecturer in Sikh Studies, University of Birmingham) on Sikh Dharam – gender equality, cultural change and ‘breaking glass ceilings’; and Mandeep Sehmi (PhD candidate and Research Assistant, Coventry University) on the Sikh LGBT community and Anand Karaj (wedding ceremony).

The event is free with tea, coffee and cake provided. Academics, students, practitioners and members of the public are welcome. Places are limited – to book please contact

Researching and Making an Impact with ‘Hard to Reach’ Groups

Workshop open to Academic Staff and Postgraduate Students
Wednesday 29th November 2017
2pm-4pm in the Cadbury Room (10th floor of North Wing)


Speakers: Dr Sharron FitzGerald (Distinguished Visitor, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich); Dr Katy Pilcher (Aston University) & Dr Demelza Jones (Aston University)

This workshop will draw from Dr Sharron FitzGerald’s research in which she has interviewed human traffickers, women who have been trafficked, as well as dedicated NGOs, anti-trafficking and prostitution police units, state prosecutors and judges, regarding their approach and understanding of the legal prosecution process in Germany. Dr Katy Pilcher will reflect upon her research with sex workers; performers and spectators in erotic dance venues marketed towards women customers in the UK; and practitioners of ‘orgasmic meditation’ in London and New York. Dr Demelza Jones will speak about her research with migrants and other politically marginalised groups.

The workshop will include discussions surrounding issues of access and gatekeeping, the research process, and the ethics and political implications of characterising people as ‘hard to reach’ or ‘vulnerable groups’ in constructing research agendas, during the research process, and in impact and dissemination activities.

The workshop is interactive – please come along ready to share insights from your own research or future research ideas.

Places are free but registration is essential as space is limited, please RSVP for a place to Dr Katy Pilcher: ASAP.

Invitation to the School of Languages and Social Sciences Distinguished Visitor Lecture

Monday 27th November 2017, 5pm, in G63
Lecture begins at 5pm, refreshments will be available.
Performing the Victim Label:
Trafficked Women, Resilience and the Spaces of German Criminal Law
Dr Sharron A. FitzGerald

Abstract: In this paper, I discuss my qualitative study of German law and policy responses to human trafficking and prostitution. The data I present in this article are a subset based on in camera participant observations of judges deposing women who are witnesses in criminal proceedings against their traffickers. I use my analysis to develop and inform an different account of trafficked women’s experiences–one that prioritises the material and discursive insights offered by focusing on their narrative accounts of their ‘lived’ experiences of trafficking. By concentrating upon trafficked women’s words, I contribute to interdisciplinary, feminist work that acknowledges the complex interconnections of vulnerability and agency in their lives but rejects essentialised accounts of their identities as ‘victims’. My approach concentrates on how the criminal law’s construction–and privileging–of gendered notions of ‘real’ and ‘ideal’ victims of trafficking is both a site of trafficked women’s subordination and a source of their agency. Normative discourses about ‘real’ trafficked women created a specific narrative environment shaping how my research participants could speak about their lives. And yet, I argue they did not completely define it. Drawing on Judith Butler’s analysis of the complex transactions between subjectification and subversive agency and emerging debates in the health arena in psychosocial theory on resilience I ask: How do my research participants engage with and manipulate the law’s own institutional gender logic to assume representational authority of their identity? In order to answer this questions, it is necessary to unravel the delicate equilibrium between things they must convey to the judge and those things that must not be spoken before the court if they are to ensure continued state support as victims of trafficking. I argue the process of arranging their performance of self provides an archetype of Butler’s (1993; 1997, 2000) interpretation of assujetissement–the process of becoming subordinated by power and well as the process of becoming a subject. This process illuminate how my research participants construct their narratives in the context of a particular times and places using particular themes and plot lines. I submit the ability to be responsive to the court’s expectations from within its own hegemony is an expression of their agency and developing resilience.

Biography: Dr Sharron A. FitzGerald teaches in gender and migration studies at Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, Germany. She is a Research Fellow at the International Victimology Institute at Tilburg University, The Netherlands. Her research interests are interdisciplinary, including gender, human smuggling and trafficking, prostitution, social justice, neo-liberal governance and securitisation. Sharron is a member of EU funded project ‘ProsPol’ that examines features and effects of prostitution policies at the European, national and local levels.

Dementia and Cultural Narratives Symposium

University of Aston, UK, Friday 8th – Saturday 9th December 2017

The dementia and cultural narrative symposium will explore the growing body of cultural representations of dementia across a range of texts and contexts. The symposium’s contributions reflect the developing research culture that explores, interrogates, and evaluates the ways in which forms of dementia are being used in media such as TV, film, literature, the visual arts and theatre. The symposium will bring together scholars and other professionals from a variety of fields to discuss the implications of the narrativisation of dementia. Continue reading

Dementia and Cultural Narratives Symposium

Call for Papers
University of Aston, UK, 7-8 December 2017
Dementia and Cultural Narratives Symposium

In recent years we have witnessed a significant increase in the number and range of cultural representations of dementia (cf Swinnen and Schweda 2015). This is part of the growing visibility of age-related cognitive impairment in cultural and political life. As many critics have observed, this increasing visibility can have ambiguous impacts, as seen in the contemporary obsession with cognitive health in older age, or what Stephen Katz describes as ‘neuroculture’ (Katz, 2012). Similarly, warning of the dangers of ‘neuroagism’, Margaret Gullette argues that the diagnosis of dementia is often used as a totalising label that turns any sign and form of cognitive disorder into one pathological condition (2016). In the face of these concerns, a growing research culture is emerging that explores, interrogates, and evaluates the ways in which forms of dementia are being harnessed for diverse symbolic, aesthetic, and narrative purposes in TV, film, literature, the visual arts and theatre. Continue reading

Bourdieusian Field Analysis Training: Theoretical Basis and Empirical Applications

Bourdieusian field analysis continues to make a key contribution to both the theory and methodology of cultural sociology. The approach not only utilizes a relational sociological analysis of complex cultural patterns of cultural participation, it also enables researchers to develop national and cross-national analyses of power dynamics among different actors and institutions. Bourdieu defines fields as “structured spaces of positions’ and ‘the network of objective relations between positions’. Field analysis offers an alternative to “variable based” approaches to social life and helps researchers to illustrate the links between actors’ volume and composition of capital and their interests, strategies and beliefs. Continue reading