Current PhD Students


Dele Adeyemo - The Last Dark Continent

Dele Adeyemo - The Last Dark Continent

This thesis examines the position of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea as a frontier geography that throughout history has been critical to the transformation of global capital and the production of space. I hypothesise that the contemporary forces of planetary urbanisation are driven by logistical calculations that reveal an imaginary of Africa's Guinea coast as a logistical coastline, that has been present since our system of global trade coalesced into being out of the greed, filth, and intimate violence of the transatlantic slave trade. My research seeks to centre the African predicament in the logistical turn of capital within a wider field on black studies. Adopting a transdisciplinary approach my practice led research creates intersections between the discourse on critical urban studies, genealogies of logistics, and black feminist theory, to provide a framework for architectural analysis and experimentation in black aesthetic and political practice.

Helen Brewer - Border Intimacies

My research examines the infrastructural assemblages of Britain’s dispersed border. I navigate through its regime of (in)visibility by attending to the intricacies and intimacies of borders that are felt but not seen, exploring the racial architectures that render people as exposed and isolated bodies. I demonstrate how the organisation of border space is ideologically and materially grounded in racial capitalism and imprinted by Empire. Britain’s borders do not stop at its shores, nor after persons deemed 'undesirable' are removed, their legacies continue to wear down those who have been exposed to its neo-colonial violence. I will be investigating post-deportation infrastructures in West Africa, tracing lines of flight along the deportation route from the UK and back. I will underpin this study through my involvement in anti-oppression activism asking what modalities of care, resilience and resistance imagine worlds beyond borders and actively participate in its dismantling. Chase-AHRC Studentship.

Mustapha Jundi - Beirut Coastal Dynamics

Mustapha Jundi - PhD Project

My research focuses on the processes of the built environment in its larger context and more specifically, in regards to its relationship with nature. I employ different mediums including video, text and objects. My PhD project highlights the various modes of scientific measuring processes tackling the weather and the sea in the context of Lebanon. It considers the coastal dynamics as a site for the entanglement between regulations, capitalism, politics and social / spatial / construction practices.

Margarida Mendes - Deep Sea Imaginings

Deep Sea Imaginings

Bridging acoustic ecology studies with oceanography and environmental theory, this project reflects about our understandings of the ocean as a dynamic milieu that challenges environmental politics. Rendering the sonic ocean, I will analyse the technologies for mapping, sensing and capturing the oceanic space,reflecting how varying forms of spectral analysis lead to different ecosystem constructs. This project further aims to speculate how forms of oceanic counter-literacy, such as modes of sonic resistance and conservation can operate with precautionary measure by creating a practical work group with a coalition of NGOs in the North Atlantic, while aiming to deconstruct the extractive mentality and the partitioning of the environment by politics and epistemologies.

Sam Nightingale - Spectral Materialism

A Crystalline World (2017), photographic salt print

Spectral Materialism is an original theoretical concept and visual approach that seeks to re-imagineand re-image the encounter between time, technology and materiality of site. I explore how time-based media can be enacted as a mediating technology that opens up the possibility for another (counter) visuality to come to presence – one in which the visible, invisible, material, immaterial, human and non-human have equal standing. Spectral Materialism opens up the possibility for what Nicholas Mirzoeff calls a ‘countervisuality’: an aesthetics that is counter to the visual regimes that produce subject-object and nature-culture separations complicit in the rise in the Anthropocene.

Tomas Percival - The Right to Insecurity

Thermal Imaging Surveillance

My practice-based PhD emerges from the urgent need to both understand and challenge the ways in which the complex logics of security have transformed spaces, bodies, and rights. Over the last two decades, we have witnessed the proliferation and intensification of various security assemblages in the UK, from the ‘hostile environment’ policies to the ubiquity of surveillance infrastructures. This PhD examines these heterogeneous and defused systems of control, alongside forms of activism and fugitivity that have emerged in response to these punitive geographies. In doing so, the thesis seeks to develop the notion of the ‘right to insecurity’ as a critical framework for intervening into the nexuses of securitisation. I am investigating these conditions through a series of UK-based case studies.

João Prates Ruivo - Soil Politics

Ruivo_Colonial Soil Archive Lisbon

This research project investigates the mobilisation of soils as a laboratory for economic, juridical, and environmental experiments that enabled the transition from colonial forms of power towards neoliberal governance. From the perspective of what I term “soil politics”, colonisation operates through the land, and continues to materialise in the present with the modification of soil’s chemical properties. In particular, I focus the project on the global soil surveys initiated after the Second World War by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as a defining moment in the transformation of land from earthly matter into a techno-scientific assemblage, invested with the capacity to organise and unsettle modes of life. Through a combined analysis of cartographic and archival sources, interviews, and field work I examine the consequences of the implementation of the surveys’ directives at different scales in the present-day, to inquire into what the Soil Map of the World represents when experienced from the ground.

Anna-Sophie Springer - The Nature of Investment: Natural History, Forests, and Finance in the Malay Archipelago Since 1835

Anna Sophie Springer

My research investigates the changing modes of investment in tropical nature arguing that zoological and botanical scientific objects offer an under-examined archive for tracing the complex geopolitical legacies of environmental and colonial violence and their attendant visual economies. I link colonial practices of “collecting” to current strategies for “banking” nature. I also trace practices of forest modification from the invention of Prussian forestry to the ongoing monocultural plantations of oil palm in Indonesia. My analysis of colonial scientific practices in Nusantara—through specimen collecting and forest modification—provides the historical basis against which I go on to investigate contemporary modes of investing in nature through “species banking” and “forest financialisation.” Chase-AHRC Studentship.

Riccardo Badano - Untamed Borders

Untamed Borders is an investigation into the weaponisation of environmental conditions put in place to hinder migrants’ circulations across the alpine arc. By directing migration trajectories outside urban areas, European border agencies intentionally stage the encounter between asylum seekers and the harsh physicality of the Alps: in the last years, hundreds of those who have attempted border crossings, often without any food, water and proper equipment have been severely injured in the confrontation with extreme temperatures. Responsibility for those accidents has been systematically re-directed toward the ‘wilderness’, a shifting definition conceived for the occasion as a ‘space’ outside the domains of politics. This research looks at the interplay between the materiality of the alpine landscape and migration policies to re-position the un-taming of the Alps – the mobilisation of nonhuman actors such plants, animals, and biophysical elements in the making of the border – as a mode of deterring secondary movements of migrants within the European Union.

Aslı Uludağ - Sustainable Grounds

The dichotomy of Life and Nonlife, Povinelli states, fuels late liberal geontopower (2016). This delineation governs the devastated environment of the Büyük Menderes Graben, the Denizli Graben and the Gediz Graben in Turkey through geothermal energy production. This project focuses on the toxic manifestations of this process to complicate notions of ‘sustainable technology’ and ‘renewable resource’ and reveals how sustainability is utilised to make the Anthropocene and the climate crisis productive for late liberal governance. Through a performative and aesthetic practice of sensing, I follow the manifestations of the deep subsurface on the surface (toxic or otherwise) to explore the practices and the worlds that have emerged from the particular surface/deep subsurface relations in these grabens. This allows me to conceptualise the ground as a matter-space that is in constant flux and imagine a sustainability that engages with the deep subsurface through its agency in making worlds.

Leila Sibai - Haunting Assad's Syria

By looking into instances of state violence and dissidence in Syria since 2011, ‘Haunting Assad's Syria’ proposes to explore the relationship between body, voice, dissent, and state violence, and the role of language in registering related events, conditions, and imaginaries. This research project looks into governmental practices which have, as their rationale, the production of uniform political subjectivities and examine the mechanisms through which they hold the potential to nullify dissenting voices and generate dominant narratives. In translating to and from Arabic, this research practice attempts to develop linguistic and performative strategies to challenge established power dynamics and activate the transformative potential of language in connecting the self and the collective. Chase-AHRC Studentship.