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Research Projects

The Global Lives Research Centre engaged in the following projects in the 2020-21 academic year: 

Grenfell and beyond: Exploring differences in digital technology interactions between residents and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council for well-being during Covid-19, led by Ana Canhoto 

 

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This project investigates the use of digital technologies and its perceived implications for residents’ sense of well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, we focus on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and its residents, considering potential differences in experiences between residents within 500 metres of Grenfell Tower and other council residents. This project is restricted on those residents who have access to the Internet and will explore the use of digital technologies for sharing information between councils and residents, accessing council services, and connecting with other residents.

The aims of this project are:

  • To understand how the council engages its residents through digital technologies, and how it supports residents’ access to, and capability for using, digital technologies. 
  • To understand residents’ access to, and expectations and experiences of using, digital technologies during Covid-19 to interact with the council about Covid-19, Grenfell and other council-relevant topics.

Leader

Dr Ana Canhoto, Brunel Business School, CBASS

Co-Lead 

Professor Danae Manika, Brunel Business School, CBASS

Other Brunel researchers involved 

Dr Geraldine Cohen, Brunel Business School, CBASS
Dr Emma Wainwright, Department of Education, CBASS

 

 

 

‘Grown Up’ Children from Military Families: reflections on experiences of childhood and education, led by Anne Chappell

 

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This pilot project is exploring the childhood and educational experiences of ‘grown up’ children from military families. These ‘grown-up’ children are currently overlooked in research, policy and practice, as the focus continues to be on serving members of the military, veterans, and their families, including school-aged children. The Office for Students recently noted that children from military families face ‘very specific and complex barriers’ and this has been recognised in the government’s Service Pupil Premium funding, provided to schools since 2011.

 

Although research has been undertaken with school-aged children, we know very little about the childhood and educational experiences from those now grown up. This pilot project will provide additional knowledge about how childhood and education are experienced and understood on reflection, and the implications of this. The stories from this unique group of adults can be used to provide support for school-aged children that cannot be elicited from anywhere else. This project will start to provide knowledge about this group that can be used to support an external funding application, as well as to begin to influence policy. The stories elicited will be used to create resources to be used in practice, most specifically to support current school-aged children and their families, as well as offering guidance about the support that can be provided to ‘children’ as they move to university and other contexts, making their transitions into adulthood.

Leader

Dr Anne Chappell, Sociologist, Department of Education, CBASS

Co-Lead 

Dr Christopher Ince, Educationalist, Department of Education, CBASS
Dr Ellen McHugh, Human Geographer, Department of Education, CBASS

External collaborators

Nicola Fear and Rachel Gribble (King’s College London).
Edlynn Zakers (Community Development Officer, RAF Northolt).
Colleagues from the Service Children’s Progression Alliance that we were recently invited to join.

 

Stranger than Fiction?: the Writing of Crime, led by Andrew Green

 

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This work of the proposed cluster will consider the textual 'position' of the detective in Golden Age detective fiction, contemporary crime fiction and in writing about true crime. The cluster will explore the different ways in which the figure of the detective can be construed in 'educational' terms as writer-teacher and reader-learner. The cluster will consider a variety of ways in which such constructions affect the alignment between readers, writers and detectives and the 'spaces' of the literary texts they share and how these constructions might in their turn go on to affect societal views.

Leader

Dr Andrew Green, Education,  CBASS

Other Brunel researchers involved 

Dr Max Kinnings, English & Creative Writing, CBASS

Non-Brunel researchers involved 

Dr Roger Dalrymple, Oxford Brookes University
Prof Fiona Peters, Bath Spa University
Dr Jamie Bernthal, Institute of Continuing Education, Cambridge University
Martin Edwards, Chair of The Detection Club and General Editor of the British Library Crime Classics series

Scoping Study for British Film Institute Archive Project Bid, led by Paul Moody

 

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The British Film Institute National Archive hosts one of the largest and most important collections of film and television in the world. Working with the archive’s Curator of Fiction Film, Brunel University London will explore three important fiction film collections, to reveal insights into the working methods of some of Britain’s most significant filmmakers.

 

Leader

Dr Paul Moody, Sociology & Communications, Social Sciences CBASS

Non-Brunel researchers involved 

Dr Josephine Botting, Curator of Fiction Film at the British Film Institute

 

Crises in Digital Spaces: The Covid-19 pandemic and the emergence of anti-lockdown identities, emotions, cognitions, and motivations, led by Ozge Ozduzen

 

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Anti-Corona project views anti-lockdown protests as part of the rise of radical right-wing discourses and protests such as the recent Capitol riots in the US in January 2021. It proposes a novel perspective in understanding online anti-publics, studying the broader narrative, expression and visual representation of a recent and popularised political mobilisation, with an aim to understand the social factors including marginalisation, ontological discomfort and moral outrage intertwined with online drivers that turn grievance and alienation into right-wing activism. Evidence from social psychology and cognitive sciences bolster studies in online expression on social media platforms, as these disciplines suggest that people have underlying motivations, beliefs and intuitions driving their preferences and decisions, which, in turn, feed their online self-presentation.

 

Anti-Corona will investigate how social groups can shape radicalisation of individuals and enforce shared group norms, beliefs, and stereotypes and how these social groups expose their unifying ideologies on online platforms and in public spaces. We hypothesise that ontological comfort moralises prudential concerns. Anti-lockdown protesters are morally outraged by the lockdown imposed on them. Anti-Corona investigates to what extent moralising ontological comfort and marginalisation can be considered moral, as it infringes on the freedoms and health precautions of others. To investigate ontological discomfort, social exclusion and marginalisation, Anti-Corona produces a solid empirical base using digital, visual, and survey methodologies.

Leader

Dr Ozge Ozduzen, Social Science and Communications, CBASS

Co-Lead 

Dr Nelli Ferenczi, Psychology, CHMLS

Non-Brunel researchers involved

Bogdan Ianosev, Glasgow Caledonian University

Identity in crisis – Taiwanese migrants Covid-coping experience in the UK, led by Dorothy Yen

 

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This research intends to explore Taiwanese migrants lived experience and identity crisis during UK Covid pandemic from the theoretical perspectives of coping and acculturation. Three waves of qualitative data are collected with 20 Taiwanese migrants through online interviews in April 2020, November 2020 and April 2021. The data are analysed using Nvivo and the findings will cover areas of Taiwanese migrants’ lived experience, coping behaviour, and debate between ethnic as well as national identities. The findings will contribute to the literature field of coping and acculturation. Managerial implications will be provided to help policy makers to better understand and support this particular cohort of minority migrants. 

 

Leader

Professor Dorothy Yen, Brunel Business School, CBASS

Other Brunel researchers involved 

Dr Steve Pickering, Politics and History, CBASS

Non-Brunel researchers involved and Instituti 

Professor Benedetta Cappellini, Durham University 

Deep fakes: A scoping study of the evolution and use of the technology over time, led by Anita Howarth

There is a growing public debate and concern among key stakeholders in governments, civil liberty organizations and industry about the rapid proliferation of lifelike audio and video clips online of real people doing and saying things they never did or said. The so-called ‘deep fakes’ combine image manipulation with AI and machine learning algorithms to produce content that is as realistic as possible. Over the past 18 months, deep fakes have become associated with a range of social harms from revenge porn to the manufacture of political statements and the duping of CEOs to sign off large sums of money.

However, current debates are problematic in two ways. They are ahistorical and singular in the presentation of the technology as entirely new therefore divorced from its precursors in the form of image manipulation that originate with the advent of photography or its evolution in the film production. The singularity is manifest in the neglect of the pioneering work done in film to track and clone facial performances including the use of computer manipulations to bring dead actors back to life on the screen. The consequence is that current debates risk be skewed. Our premise is that the technology is Janus-faced and both the sinister and entertaining need to be considered and historically located if governments looking to regulate are to moot appropriate responses.

Secondly, the academic debates are problematic. Most studies of deep fakes and its variants have been in computing and digital forensics and concerned with detection. Most social science/humanities studies on disinformation have focused on fake news as words rather than visuals and most film studies research on CGI has looked at animation rather than cultural and social significance of the technology.

In mapping the evolving uses of the technology over time, we aim with funding from the Centre for Global Lives (2019-202) to contribute to current public debates on it and to set a foundation for more solid academic theorisation. We propose to set the basis for the work through a scoping study of existing source materials that support humanities and social science perspectives.

Leader

Dr Anita Howarth Brunel Business School, CBASS

 

 

The Global Lives Research Centre engaged in the following projects in the 2019-20 academic year: 

Working-Class Lives as Global Lives, led by Nick Hubble

 This project aims to establish an an AHRC Network Bid for a ‘Working-Class Writing Network’, led by Nick Bentley at Keele, with Hubble as a CI and a network event at Brunel themed around the topic of working class lives as global lives (focusing on autobiography, other forms of life writing and self-reflexive fiction).

HUBBLE Hart, Mary 4 Charabanc


 

Parental Alienation and the Family Courts, led by Adrienne Barnett

 

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Parental Alienation (PA) is recognised by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) as ‘when a child’s hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent’. A researcher at Brunel University London examined all 40 reported and published private family law judgments in England and Wales, from 2000 to 2019, in which parental alienation was raised. They found that PA has become part of a shrewd rhetoric in custody battles concerning children, including those who experienced domestic abuse. These cases may be the tip of the iceberg because the vast majority of private family law judgments are not published in the law reports.

 

 

The US Embassy-Hollywood Complex, led by Paul Moody

 

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Dr Moody’s latest project investigates primary sources from the U.S. National Archive and Records Administration (NARA), to reveal the relationship between the U.S. Department of State, its global network of embassies, and Hollywood during key examples from the Cold War. He will question what these examples uncover about the development of Hollywood in the latter half of the twentieth century and its receipt of state support, providing a novel challenge to existing theories of globalization which present state sovereignty in decline vis-à-vis ‘globalizing’ media companies. The project will suggest that instead, these examples show how the U.S. government has supported Hollywood’s economic interests in other countries using a variety of strategies and tactics, and while not always successful, this activity problematizes attempts to explain Hollywood’s cultural dominance solely as a product of its wide public appeal or as a result of laissez-faire economic policy.

Full details of the project can be found here.

 

The Global Lives Research Centre engaged in the following projects in the 2018-19 academic year

Care for the Future: The Legacy of the Newbolt Report, led by Andrew Green

This cluster was funded in 2017/2018 but is ongoing:

Cluster leaders Andrew Green and David Aldridge convened a symposium, ‘100 Years After Newbolt’, at Friends’ House in July 2018.  It is approaching 100 years since Sir Henry Newbolt was commissioned to write his report ‘The Teaching of English in England’. Following closely on the heels of Fisher’s Education Act, which sought in the immediate wake of the First World War to extend the duration, availability and quality of educational provision and also the establishment of the first English Literature tripos at Cambridge, Newbolt sought to establish a new function and direction for English as a subject in the twentieth century.

The report anticipated contemporary educational debates, observing that ‘others, urging that knowledge is power, load the youthful mind with more than it can properly assimilate’, that ‘Learning by doing is another concurrent educational gospel’, and that ‘there is a danger that a true instinct for humanism may be smothered by the demand for measurable results, especially the passing of examinations in a variety of subjects…’ Newbolt called for a reconception of ‘the full meaning and possibilities of national education as a whole’ and advocated the central role of literary education in bridging ‘the social chasms which divide us’.

Keynote speakers included Professor Will Self, Professor Robert Eaglestone of Royal Holloway London, Dr Chris Hanley of Manchester Metropolitan University, and Dr Alka Seghal Cuthbert.  Speakers presented their personal responses to Newbolt and their sense of the extent to which his report has shaped and continues to shape contemporary thinking about English teaching in schools and in Higher Education. The event stimulated lively debate about ‘where we are’ in terms of English Education, how far English Education has developed since Newbolt, and how far this in fact reflects the needs of English in the twenty-first century.  The symposium has resulted in the formation of a network of researchers interested in exploring the legacy of the Newbolt report, as well as a related special issue of the journal English in Education.  The symposium also served as a launch event for the new Routledge Literature and Education book series, edited by Brunel colleagues Andrew Green and David Aldridge. 

 

Craft in a Digital Age: Cultural Value and Mainstream Computer Animation, led by Caroline Ruddell

The upcoming AHRC Centre for Cultural Value speaks to the current preoccupation in society, industry and academia with how we value the arts. This is a multi-faceted and deeply complex problem and one that requires interdisciplinary approaches. With a particular focus on animation practices in the mainstream industries, the network events proposed here are intended to begin scoping out the issues that animators face in the current climate of ‘CGI fatigue’ and how their work is valued. Recent work suggests that while craft has historically been seen as inferior to ‘art’, the rise of digital culture has positioned craft and handmade practices as more ‘authentic’ than that which is produced digitally. These are deeply problematic distinctions and concepts that have been explored elsewhere (see Ruddell & Ward, forthcoming). The focus of the network meetings proposed here is to formulate a research plan that will enable us to answer some key questions, and to begin widening the network of stakeholders. The central aim is to better understand mainstream animators’ relationship to their craft (both handmade and digital), how they value such practices, and how their skills are valued within the industry they work in and beyond. While some work has been done in exploring more independent and experimental animation in relation to craft-based practices, this remains unexplored in the mainstream. The main objectives are: to begin making connections between historical research into craft as a concept and the contemporary context of mainstream animation by bringing together historians, scholars, practitioners, industry personnel, curators and other stakeholders; to begin facilitating an international, comparative perspective on the key ideas, issues and questions around the role of craft in mainstream animation; to consider how best to investigate how gender politics intersect with craft-based practices in the mainstream.

Critical policy analysis of the 1988 Education Reform Act: The implications for higher education in England, led by Kate Hoskins

The proposed pilot study aims to provide critical policy analysis of the 1988 Education Reform Act (ERA) to show how the act opened up higher education to neoliberal market influences through changes to the structure, delivery, accountability and regulation of the sector and any tensions these changes created for the social justice, widening participation policy agenda. To guide our research, we have developed the following research questions:

  1. To what extent does successive government’s higher education policy since the 1988 ERA reflect an increasingly hybrid mix of neo-liberal and social democratic aspirations to improve social justice access and outcomes in higher education?

To address this research question we will deploy critical policy analysis guided by Foucauldian principles, supported by empirical semi-structured interview data, to analyse the hybrid mix of policy that we argue has developed since the 1988 ERA.

  1. Through critical policy analysis of key policy moments since the 1988 ERA, how have regimes of power, control and regulation of higher education in England been reconfigured through the 1988 ERA? 

To explore this research question we will analyse nine key frameworks (outlined in the design section) since the 1988 ERA with a focus on examining how power, control and regulation within the sector has been reconfigured over time to allow third sector providers into higher education in England.

  1. What has been the long-term significance of the 1988 ERA on social justice issues of access to particular forms of higher education for historically marginalised groups (women, working class, minoritized and mature students)?

To address this research question, we will draw on empirical data involving semi-structured interviews with up to 12 university leaders from a range of higher education institutions, to examine their perspectives and institutional experiences of enacting social justice policies since the 1988 ERA to diversify their student bodies, particularly through the widening participation agenda.

In addressing these research questions, we will provide a nuanced and critical policy analysis of the 1988 Education Reform Act in terms of the implications for the structure, delivery, regulation and accountability within the higher education sector.

Open Data and Investigative Journalism in the UK, led by Jingrong Tong

Over the recent decade, the UK has been at the forefront of the open data movement. The initiatives of the UK government to make government data publicly available have greatly spurred the movement. Open data has provided investigative journalists with enormous data sources to hold power to account, although which may not be the goals of government initiatives. Investigative journalism has evidently (re-)emerged in the UK, in parallel with the rise of the open data movement. A considerable number of socially and politically influential investigative reports published in recent years, such as the MPs’ expenses scandal (by the Daily Telegraphand the Guardian) in 2009, more recently the revelation of consultants overcharging (foreign aid budget) (by the Times) in 2016, the disclosure of the impact of refuge funding cuts on vulnerable women (by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism) in 2017 and the Guardian’s series of rape and sexual assault reports in 2018, confirm the return of investigative journalism to the UK media landscape. Open data is at the centre of these reports, which are based on data-driven investigation. The investigation of journalists in turn pushes governments to open up public data, as exemplified in the 2016 MPs’ expenses scandal. All of these raise an important question as to whether and how investigative journalism benefits from and meanwhile influences the open data movement in the UK. This research project aims to examine how British investigative journalists use open data in their (data-driven) reporting. It also explores whether and to what extent this type of use of open data by investigative journalists helps push public data holders to open up data in the UK.

Teaching and learning children’s rights and integration through play, led by Mariza Dima

This cluster explores the use of a mobile game as a tool for helping migrant children learn about their rights, reflect on the values of the society in which they find themselves and in this manner, encourage their smooth integration. Migrant children are really vulnerable. Together with all other initiatives to provide them shelter and education, it is imperative to empower them while encouraging their true integration in the society. Bringing together experts in international minority rights law, children’s rights, game-based learning, and game design,and in collaboration with the Network for Children’s Rights in Athens (Greece), the cluster will develop a prototype mobile game that aims at both empowerment and integration. It will do so through a series of activities and game development with the actual contribution of migrant children currently supported by the Network. It is lead by Dr Mariza Dima from Media Department and Prof Alexandra Xanthaki from Brunel Law School.

The Vagina Network, led by Sara De Benedictis

Sensationlist discussions on the vagina through the mainstreaming of pornography, the 'designer vagina' or female genital cutting are increasing in public discourse. However, the vagina is still shrouded in a sense of mystery and the complexities of how menstruation, childbirth, age, sexuality and illness, 'etc' intersects with vaginal understandings are rare, which has far reaching consequences for women's wellbeing. The Vagina Network will bring together academics, artists, creatives and activists to discuss the multi-faceted angles of the vagina. The aim being to foster collaborations with vagina experts to create a broader project that will create alternative understandings and images of the vagina to challenge dominant discourses of this much misunderstood body part.

The Crossing Borders, led by Alison Carrol

Issues of borders, heritage, identities, migration, and belonging reflect pressing challenges currently facing global society, as social and political discussion increasingly focuses upon the reinforcement of boundaries, questions of migration and immigration, and issues of belonging and the ‘other.’ It is our contention these issues generate questions which require an interdisciplinary answer.

This cluster brings together Brunel researchers from across the College of Business, Arts and Humanities. Our members share an interest in the central questions of borders, heritage, migration, identities and belonging, and our cluster aims to cultivate dialogue and generate new answers to these questions by means of interdisciplinary exchange. Through a series of workshops and network meetings, we will address the following research problems:

  • How have border crossings and migratory flows been recorded, understood, represented and narrated?
  • How have these crossings framed identities (of crossers and those they encounter)?
  • How does the past shape current experiences of place and of movement?
  • How do interactive experiences embody and mediate narratives in the performance of cultural heritage?
  • What is the relationship between the local and the global in framing these experiences?
  • Who mediates such experiences?

By crossing disciplinary borders our aim is to facilitate innovative research, foster and promote exchange, and to create research networks, funding bids, and support academic and industry outputs that offer strategic interventions in our fields. We aim to generate new ways of thinking about the role of borders in contemporary society, at a moment when global political attention is focussed upon their reinforcement and closure.

Male (Un)Bonding: Men, Masculinities, and Homosocial Troubles, led by Broderick Chow

A Research Development Workshop and Interdisciplinary Networking Event, 13-15 June 2019, London

In 2019, the relations between men—homosociality and its troubles and attractions—demand urgent interrogation. Acts, relations, and performances of male bonding can reify patriarchal power, as we have seen in the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, or amplify and even produce highly destructive forms of racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic in-grouping (as with phenomenon such as the Alt-Right and neo-Nazi Proud Boys). At the same time, positive homosociality holds strong attraction for contemporary culture, with male intimacy being suggested as a strong corrective to “toxic masculinity.”

Male (Un)Bonding is a three-day workshop and networking event bringing together a select group for researchers working on the study of contemporary and historical masculinities from multiple disciplines and scholarly backgrounds to consider the urgent question of the relationality of masculinities. How might we move past masculinity as identity to think through the relations that produce and support it? How might destructive forms of masculinity be interrogated via the concept of relationality? Can we identify forms of homosocial interrelations outside the hetero-homosexual binary, and how might these model new ways of being together? Over the course of three days, researchers will be “in residence” at a central London venue. Researchers will take part in round-table discussions, project and funding sandpits, and other activities, as well as having sustained and focused time to work on a piece of writing. The workshop will conclude with a half-day symposium of work-in-progress. 

Dr Broderick Chow (Arts and Humanities, Brunel University London) and Dr Eero Laine (Theatre and Dance, University at Buffalo SUNY) will lead and facilitate the workshop, which will also launch their new collaborative research project, Bros: Obvious Masculinity and Homosocial Performance.

Play your research: Games and research impact, led by Andra Ivanescu

“Play your Research” is entering its second year as a Global Lives funded research cluster. The aim of the cluster is to use digital games as a method for portraying and disseminating academic knowledge to a wide audience. By drawing on previous research into games-based learning and games for change, which have demonstrated how games can be successfully used to communicate and disseminate knowledge, the cluster has already produced three games based on research being conducted across the university. So far, we have succeeded in connecting research outputs from Theatre and Sociology, to the well-developed capacity to make games within the staff and student body of the Games Design division. Groups of student volunteers worked on the three projects, both as part of the Octopus 8 summer project, and during intensive game jams. Each of the three games was then developed using a holistic and iterative approach in order to best represent each research project in terms of scope, tone, and accuracy. All the games are now near completion, which brings us to the next stage in this process.

As part of the continuation of the project, we aim to test the results of the first year and share them both within the university and with the larger public. We will be inviting students and members of staff, first internally and then externally in a larger event, to play the games and offer their feedback. If you would like to join our project, either through playtesting, or by proposing your own research as a future games project, please let us know. For more information contact Andra Ivănescu at andra.ivanescu@brunel.ac.uk.

 

The Global Lives Research Centre engaged in the following projects in 2017-18 academic year: 

Cultural and Creative Industries, led by Photini Vrikki

Roundtable CCI EventThe Cultural and Creative Industries cluster organised a workshop with the title: Who sets the Public Agenda? The Cultural and Creative Industries in the era of populism on the 8th June 2018. The event set the grounds for the creation of a research network of BUL academics from different disciplines and career stages (particularly ECRs), practitioners, activists and industry professionals. We also initiated and facilitated an on-going conversation about the role(s) of the CCIs in the contemporary political world, while we are currently planning a special issue based on the papers presented during the workshop.

The workshop dealt specifically with the intense and accelerated political shifts that have marked the global political landscape in recent years and which have been met with a rise of voices from the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs). Celebrities, singers, actors and industry representatives have spoken out against—or for—the rise of far-right and conservative leaderships encouraging people to incite social and political change. For example, this has been visible from mainstream movie stars and pop singers bandying together; grime artists backing #Grime4Corbyn to remixers like Cassetteboy; celebrities standing against Trump; the ‘populism’ of the Royal family; game developers producing games that deal with contentious issues that ignite social change, to name only a few examples.
 
We argued that the convergence of these diverse populist tactics in the CCIs has created new modalities, leading to a point whereby CCIs are more than ever shaping the public agenda. The workshop also pointed to the multi-dimensional role the CCIs play in ‘going political’, as well as to the ways that this is shaping current political movements, warrants further academic attention.

Eventbrite
Photo 08-06-2018, 11 35 57
Participants
Shelley Cobb, University of Southampton; Sabrina Moro, Nottingham Trent University; Laura Clancy, Lancaster University; Eleftheria Lekakis, University of Sussex; Andra Ivănescu, Brunel University London; Toby Bennett, Solent University; Ruth Adams, King’s College London; Rosa Carbo-Mascarell, Games for the Many; Shelley Cobb, University of Southampton; Anamik Saha, Goldsmiths University London; Sara De Benedictis, Brunel University London; Mariza Dima, Brunel University London; Photini Vrikki, Brunel University London

Play your research: Games and research impact, led by Andra Ivanescu

Wireframe Cultured Meat Game
Play your research: Games and research impact developed its first three games based on research being conducted across the university. The research cluster received funding and support from the Research Centre for Global Lives to harness the persuasive power of games in order to find new and innovative ways in which to disseminate and promote academic research. The project brought together staff and students from Games Design with three scholars from Theatre and Sociology, developed three games that showcase three distinct research projects.

Groups of student volunteers worked on the three projects, both as part of the Octopus 8 summer project, and during intensive game jams. The development process began with briefing and brainstorming meetings, introducing the academics involved to the games development process, introducing the students to the research projects, and finding a starting point for each game. Each of the three games was then developed using a holistic and iterative approach in order to best represent each research project in terms of scope, tone, and accuracy.

Drawing on procedural rhetoric and other distinct ways in which games can communicate ideas, the project created unique and engaging experiences related to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the development of cultured meat, and the March for Science. The three games differ significantly in terms of size, aesthetics, and genre, and provide distinct modes of dissemination for the research tackled. All the games are near completion and will be made available shortly on a dedicated website.

The members of the cluster – Dr. Andra Ivănescu, Dr. Mariza Dima, and Justin Parsler – are expanding Play Your Research into a larger research project, and are looking for interested academics from across the university who are keen to disseminate their research in this playful and innovative manner. For more information contact Andra Ivanescu.

Birth, The Body and Performance, led by Sara De Benedictis

Birth, The Body and Performance JPEGThis academic year the Birth, The Body and Performance cluster organised a one-day symposiumin June 2018. The symposium was split into two panels; birth and performing arts and birth and everyday life. The day showcased a diverse array of multidisciplinary speakers discussing birth and art (Helen Knowles, Birth Rites), photography (Natalie Lennard, Birth Undisturbed), theatre (Lucy Halton, B!RTH), performance (Emily Underwood-Leeand Lena Simic, University of South Wales) television (Julie RobertsTelevising Childbirth, University of Nottingham), documentary (Toni Haman, Microbirth), social media (Nicola Washington and Sarah Gregory, Make Motherhood Diverse) and the everyday (Evelyn Callahan, University of Brunel). The speakers were a mixture of academics, artists and activists from Brunel and beyond. They brought different knowledge and expertise to the day to broaden our knowledge about birth and performance. Despite a rise in different types of birth performances in recent times, many talks probed at the politics of birth in the cultural sphere, raising questions around censorship of birth and silencing of certain birthing subjects. They were a range of delegates in attendance, such as students, academics, artists/activists and midwives.

Global Consumer Lives, led by Christine Riefa

The research stream led by Christine Riefa (and working in collaboration with Dr Severine Saintier from Exeter University) put together a workshop where experts dissected the problem of access to justice for vulnerable consumers. Experts from the UK, Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Israel and South Africa shared experiences and looked at ways to improve access to justice for consumers. The workshop features academics as well as practitioners and grassroots organisations. The main finding of the workshop was that among all the vulnerabilities consumers may face (for example, physical or mental disability, lack of education, low income, age, use of technology, etc) perhaps the most significant factor was that access to justice remains a very big hurdles for consumers.

Dr Christine Riefa also runs a regular writing workshop for legal scholars at Brunel to encourage the production of high quality outputs.

Touching Past Lives, led by Holly Maples

Our symposium Touching Past Lives explored the growing trend of immersive performance to engage audiences with local, regional and national heritage. We particularly looked at how sensorial and affective techniques are being utilized by the heritage industry through performative, digital, and participatory means. The symposium was interdisciplinary and international in scope. We had 22 speakers from the academic fields of Theatre Studies, Literature, Games Design, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Sound Design,  as well as theatre artists and museum curators. Our speakers discussed heritage performance projects occurring in Scotland, England, Cornwall, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Australia (with academics from all of those. We had an additional 20 audience members made up of academics and a significant number of heritage industry curators from the Wallace Collection, the Black County Living Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum, and local county councils. We also received interest from a number of living history and archival collection curators to document and submit our research report to them, indicating a broad area of interest in our research, as well as a growing area of interest amongst the heritage industry in immersive techniques.

Our symposium interrogated the current affective and immersive turn in the heritage industry to facilitate individual and communal acts of remembering, engaging, emulating, re-visioning, and refuting the past. Heritage England in 2017 identified heritage as a key part of the UK 'brand' and central to the UK economy. With increasing innovations to both virtual and live immersive experience design, recent scholarship has emphasized the importance to examine the role of the senses in public response to heritage sites. Our symposium asked how immersive and interactive experiences embodying, engaging and mediating new narratives in cultural heritage performances, spaces and installations. Our speakers were a combination of practitioners, scholars, and members of heritage industry who explored both the practicalities of what the challenges, techniques, and diversity of techniques available in the field, as well as interrogating and challenging the meaning making and perceived benefits to audience engagement with history facilitated through immersive heritage performance.

The speakers explored a wide range of topics  including artist reports and research on a number of Heritage Lottery Fund projects from Paston Footprints in Norfolk, the Black County Museum, the Cornwall Man Engine pilgrimage, the “man behind the glass” World War One centenary project in Belfast,  the Burnley Lesbian Liberation commemoration, as well as a number of other projects including immersive audio projects at Alexandra Palace, Hoxton Hall, and the Thomas Hardy house; Smithfield Market’s sensorial relation to the cityscape; a “dark tourism” performance of colonial Australia, and a mixed reality digital heritage project of the 19th century North Atlantic cable project. Historian Victor Morgan looked at how to use immersive techniques in the university history classroom, while artist/scholar Roger Wooster interrogated the limits of immersive techniques for the documentation of historical archival material.