Current PhD Students


David Burns - Spatial Politics of Refusal

Research Architecture image

As part of an informal austerity movement, the current conservative government in Australia has signaled that the responsibility of providing subsidies to remote communities will be transferred from the federal to state level. These aggressive moves by the government have reignited the debates regarding the rights of Aboriginal and indigenous communities over their traditional lands. Actions have been directly linked to mining in Western Australia, to development revenue in New South Wales, and to broader issues of control and land rights precedents in the Northern Territories. In each scenario land ownership and architecture are central to the ongoing struggle, defining an emerging spatial politics based on refusal.

Ariel Caine - Spatial Photography

Kite trejectory and point cloud of Al Araqib

Is the shift from pixel to point-cloud photography changing the condition of the photograph itself from image plane to three-dimensional architectural space? How can this transformation of photography into architectural space allow it to function as counter-cartography within the context of Israel and the occupied territories? I wish to formulate an approach to what I perceive as a new emerging condition of photography, one which I term ‘Spatial Photography’. This new condition calls not only for an analysis and redefinition of the apparatus, the image, the distribution, reception, and universe of photography, but may also offer the potential for a radically different ethical and activist possibility it opens up from within itself.

Ifor Duncan - Undercurrents

Hidroituango Hydropress in Colombia

My PhD reads historic and contemporary violence through the cultural constructs and materialities of rivers as archives. This project considers a watery turn away from allegory or abstraction in favour of employing water as a multi-dimensional materiality. The turn to water, whether oceanic or hydrological intends to reconsider received ‘discursive models’ constructed for terrestrial or land-oriented thought. From flood to drought, trace to erasure, I apply this watery epistemological and ontological turn to explore two riverine sites of violence. This thesis offers a new approach to the spatial histories of violence through the technologies, processes, materialities and epistemologies of contemporary riverine environments.

Stefanos Levidis - Nyktopolitics; Flight in the Black Aegean

Stefanos Levidis

During the long summer of migration, in 2015, the Aegean sea, with its territorial waters, contiguous and contested economic zones, patrol areas and shorelines, was crossed more than a million times by people migrating to Europe on unseaworthy vessels. It is since narrated as a space of death, diaspora, displacement and liminality, a barrier separating two continents; Europe and Asia. Throughout my research, I attempt to map out fissures; disjunctions in the EU border apparatus and the registration and detention regimes it engenders. The hidden, the undocumented, and the aquatic fold into my work, as I attempt to negotiate a strategy for imperceptibility, and, ultimately, for flight from the territorialising forces of the sovereign state. Onassis Foundation Scholarship

Hannah Meszaros Martin - Outlawed Earth

Hannah Martin: Outlawed Earth

My PhD research investigates the systematic and legally sanctioned eradication of the coca plant in Colombia, which is paradigmatic of the ways in which legal reclassifications produce new objects of contestation and new forms of violence. The project examines the transformations that have outlawed nonhuman life as well as the human societies and cultures that intersect these life-worlds. A focal point of the research examines the threshold space where the farm meets the forest, a blurred-boundary crucial for cultural and political struggle. The project documents resistance movements that use this mode of agriculture as their mode of political struggle, and in doing so, place the right to cultivate at the core of their political demands. Chase-AHRC Studentship.

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.

Mirna Pedalo - Finance as Colonisation

Mirna Pedalo

My research explores a phenomenon of recent proliferation of religious architecture in Bosnia-Herzegovina, following the 1992-95 war, and the impact it is having on current urban, demographic and political landscape of the country. Often facilitated by various governmental policies, legislations and foreign investments, I argue that religious architecture is being used as a political tool and has become complicit in ongoing processes that underpin and entrench the divisions created during the last war. The effects of such processes will be explored through mapping and the use of film and photography. Funded by the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies, Oxford University Centre for the Environment.

Joao Prates Vital Ruivo - Histories of Soil

Cinema in Angola

The combined use of the military apparatus with urban planning is driving the formation of new technologies of governance that are shaping the territory at different scales. Departing from the Angolan government’s plans to redevelop Luanda, this research project aims at unravelling the thread between urbanisation, violence and surveillance, to demonstrate how urbanisation has become the continuation of war by other means. In particular I exmaine the ways in which resistance movements shape the bio-politics of the land.

Francesco Sebregondi - Operational Urbanism: Abstract Machines and Concrete Violence in the Gaza Strip

Research Architecture image

My research examines the built environment of the Gaza Strip since the withdrawal of Israeli army and settlements in 2005. Does the continuous making and unmaking of Gaza's urban fabric constitute a new model of urbanism? By tracking the ebb and flow of concrete in and out of the enclave, as its patterns of distribution, aggregation, and disintegration, my research traces the intricate diagram of power that crisscrosses the Gaza Strip. The notion of "operational urbanism" is proposed here to designate the machinic framework that binds together computational logistics, monitoring technologies, and military targeting to generate an urban environment of total control. Chase-AHRC Studentship.

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.

Füsun Türetken - Alchemic Dialogue

Füsun Türetken - Alchemic Dialogue

My PhD research provides a reading of capital and conflict through metals.2 It includes amongst other chapters an analysis of a key financial marketplace for trades on metals, the London Metal Exchange, and links its mode of operation to thoughts deriving from Alchemy, which allows for the investigation of the agency, construction and use of metal, atoms and compounds in cases of political conflict. Spanning from the role that Rare Earth Metals (REMs) play in the production of the visual culture of consumer electronics, to their crucial complicity within the military and its vision technologies, national security and (defense) weapons that trigger larger geopolitical cases of state violence. Consequently, contemporary and future labor politics will be complicit with metals.