Launching Goldsmiths Press

The new Goldsmiths Press aims to recognise and mobilise the need for new forms of academic publishing in the digital age.

These debates in part emerge out of the increasing desire for modes of circulating academic work that don’t depend on words alone. How, for example, might practice research be disseminated? To what publics? How might a focus on the process as well as outputs of research change publishing and ways of ‘reading’ and interacting with published work?

To facilitate the exploration of such questions, the Press will publish print books as well as ebooks, apps and online resources.

Goldsmiths Press has launched with Les Back’s book, Academic Diary: Or Why Higher Education Still Matters.

And Director of the Press, Professor Sarah Kember’s inaugural lecture  – Why publish? The politics of communication in perishing times – asks how a new generation of independent and university presses can reinvent what counts in scholarly and artistic practice.


Upcoming events at Goldsmiths

In typical Goldsmiths style, there are two great events on Wednesday 23rd March of interest to visual sociology.

The Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process is relaunching as the Centre for Invention and Social Process, under the new Directorship of Marsha Rosengarten, Michael Guggenheim and Alex Wilkie:


The Feminist Research Centre is also hosting a panel discussion on Feminists Work on Work, with Sophie Chapman (artist), Karrie Jefferis (artist), Lorraine Lesson (University of Westminster), Professor Angela McRobbie (Goldsmiths) and Heidi Hasbrouck (Goldsmiths).  6-7.30pm, LG01, Professor Stuart Hall Building (PSH), followed by a reception.

Migrating Dreams and Nightmares exhibition

Nirmal Puwar and Mariam Motamedi Fraser of the Methods Lab, Sociology Department, have curated an exhibition as part of a wider series of events on the theme of Migrating Dreams and Nightmares.

The exhibition is inspired by the book, The Seventh Man, by John Berger with photographs by Jean Mohr.  The book explores what it means to be a migrant worker; the exhibition involves a collaboration between the artist Antoinette Brown and Nirmal Puwar, to re-enact the words and images of the book, as they spill onto the walls of the academy.

The exhibition is in the Kingsway Corridor, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths, University of London, until 3rd March 2016. More information on the Migrating Dreams and Nightmares exhibition here, and on the series here.

It’s Not Us – Dominique Barron

This post includes some work by a graduate from the MA Visual Sociology, Dominique Barron:

It’s not us examines citizenship through the lens of Black women in public space. Frustrated and inspired by my and my friends’ daily experiences with misogynoir and microaggressions, I wanted to explore what we mean by the term ‘citizenship’ and what are the limitations of being a ‘citizen’ when the concept is applied to Black women. Using misogynoir as the backbone of this research was a very deliberate act. The term ‘misogynoir‘, coined by queer Black scholar and activist, Moya Bailey, refers to the specific anti-black racism and misogyny that Black women face. Through It’s not us, I wanted to explore the ways our experiences were shaped not just by us being Black or woman, but specifically by our position as Black women.

The biggest challenge to the project was not finding examples where I experienced misogynoir, but determining a way to capture and further examine these experiences. By using autoethnographic audio recordings and turning such recordings into audio soundscapes, I present one way by which to disrupt the assumed ‘intangibility’ of misogynoir. Through listening to this recording, audiences are able to get somewhat of a glimpse into my inner thought process as I try to grapple with and understand the experiences I’ve had. Finding ways to make tangible what is assumed to be intangible is one way through which I hope to call attention to and challenge the microagressions and experiences with misogynoir that challenge my ability to be a full, free citizen when I am in public spaces.

Dominique Barron is a visual sociologist, artist, and facilitator based between Chicago, USA and London, UK. Her research incorporates multi-sensory methodologies and falls at the intersections of Black feminist theory, Black geographies, and diaspora studies. Other projects have explored social mobility, place-making, resistance, and free space. For more information and to check out her work, visit

It’s Not Us was created for the Inventive Sociological Practice course, which in 2014-15 ran on the theme of Citizenship and Belonging. The course involves students making sociological objects that are exhibited in an end-of-term group exhibition.

In 2015-16, the course theme is Repetition: Exercises, Rehearsals, Training, Tests. The exhibition will open on Friday 18th March – more details to follow soon.


Experimenting with strike actions – Rose Delcour Min


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This post includes examples from Rose Delcour Min’s MA Visual Sociology dissertation. Rose graduated from the programme in 2015 with a Distinction.

Rose’s project was titled, Experimenting with Strike Actions. She developed practices to make visible, and to resist and protest against, the emotional labour involved in customer service work. Rose writes:

I have worked in customer service for nearly ten years and my experiences of anger, frustration, and embarrassment made me think about why service work is so de-valued, de-skilled, and low status. I have been involved with trade unions in these spaces for nearly six years and so wanted to consider ways of withholding the labour that employers and customers take for granted that could be considered as strike action. I looked to the existing methods of the refusal of work from the industrial model to ask if strike action can accommodate the refusal of labour such as care and patience. I wanted to make more visible the invisible labour, such as emotional labour, involved in customer service, and pose this process itself as an act of resistance. 

The customer service drag persona I developed was intended to reflect the gendered performativity of customer service, and to reveal the fragility of the construct of pleasant femininity that customer service demands.  I wanted to pose different ways of considering strike action as small, fragmentary experiments. She was filmed performing boredom, irritation, and wilful lack of interest as potential methods of protest. She lip synced to a distorted version of 9 to 5 in an effort to expose the actual conditions of delivering customer service, challenging the “happy to help” image that employers sell to customers whilst also no longer suppressing and managing personal feelings – a key method of learning customer service. I also recorded her email replies to customers which, in their reversal of the emotional labour, refused the work that is usually asked of her. The emails sought to connect the visual of abject femininity of the customer service drag persona with the written refusal of accepting the role of the nurturing, caring mother figure. 

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The MA Visual Sociology dissertation is a practice-based piece of sociological research. Students work closely with an individual supervisory to develop a multi-media project that addresses a sociological problem that they have identified and defined. Alongside supervisions, we hold group ‘crit’ sessions, where students present work in progress and gain constructive feedback that feeds into the next iterations of their work.

Dissertation topics vary widely and have included: hacking and 3D printing; memory, affect and the Holocaust; mapping Black women’s free spaces in London; sensory methods for studying music festivals; visual pollution in Sao Paolo, Brazil; women’s perceptions of risk and fear in walking home at night in Oslo.

IVSA 2013 at Goldsmiths

In 2013, the Centre for Urban and Community Research, Sociology Department, Goldsmiths organised the International Visual Sociology Association conference, on the topic of ‘The Public Image’. This post draws together some of what happened at the conference.

Inspired by Michael Burawoy’s concept of ‘public sociology‘, the idea of the ‘public image’ was intended to explore the ways that visual sociology can meet Burawoy’s challenge to bring a sociological understanding of social life to a vibrant, active and diverse public. Public sociology endeavors to bring sociology into dialogue with audiences beyond the academy, an open dialogue in which both sides deepen their understanding of public issues.

Accompanying the conference was an exhibition, Visualising Affect. Les Back discusses his experiences of the exhibition here:


The conference also helped to launch the MA in Visual Sociology, which began in September 2013. Bernd Kraeftner, gave a plenary talk, ‘Incubbating a Syndrome – Crossmedial Sociology?’ which is podcasted here. The session was chaired by Michael Guggenheim and Nina Wakeford.


Michael Guggenheim’s blog post, ‘What was visual sociology?‘, reflects on the status and significance of visual sociology in the context of the conference.

You can find more information on the conference at the CUCR blog, which also includes a lot of work from and relevant to the Sociology Department’s other postgraduate practice programme, the MA in Photography and Urban Cultures.



How to do Sociology with…

In March 2015, the Sociology Department ran an event to coincide with the Postgraduate Open Evening called How to do Sociology with…

The event brought together a range of staff and postgraduate students to give short talks on the materials, media, objects and devices that they practice sociology with – from buildings, to film, to music, to costumes.

Many of those involved with the MA in Visual Sociology participated. Here are some of the videos of these talks. You can access more on our MA Visual Sociology Vimeo page.

Thanks to Britt Hatzius for filming and editing!