Current PhD Students


Simon Barber - Maori Geometries

Simon Barber

I am interested in the way in which a set of abstractions, peculiar to Europe but by no means hermetically produced there, arrive and are instantiated in the indigenous place now known as Aotearoa New Zealand. How they radiate a certain geometry that attempts to actualise itself as the colony. How that geometry is distorted and worked against by the specificity of the place and prior inhabitants. The peculiar abstractions being: money, wage labour, commodity fetishism, the value form; monotheistic God, that big gold coin in the sky; the patriarchal family or settler breeding unit; racial science and attendant hierarchies of spiritual, cultural and evolutionary progress; spatialised time, and homogenous space, teleology, History; the individual, private property, law, territory, sovereignty.

David Burns - Spatial Politics of Refusal

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Western Australia although the cornerstone of the Australian economy is home to only 2.5 million residents including hundreds of remote, sparsely populated Aboriginal communities. As part of an informal austerity movement, the current conservative government 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 Australian 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.

Daniel Fernandez Pascual - Ambiguous Lands, Profitable Margins: Circumventions in the Housing Crisis

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My research focuses on real estate speculation, demarcation of spatial boundaries, calculated ambiguity, and the architecture of financialization within the housing crisis. It takes the Spanish shoreline and the idea of eminent domain as pillars to investigate the real properties of immovable space. Margins, both in spatial and financial terms, are considered as key components of an ambiguous configuration that acts as a a form of governance. Through different case studies along the coast and circumventions to debt and evictions, this research looks at how ambiguity is not only used as a form of control, but can also be used as a form of resistance. La Caixa Foundation Fellow 

Helene Kazan Risk (De)constructed, through the Image of Home

Helene Kazan: (De)constructing Risk

My research explores risk, as a human-made mechanism for affecting control over the uncontrollable nature of our lived environment. This process, which attempts to calculate, imagine and manage potential threat, becomes a mode of knowledge production that colonises the future through projected realities that affect the present situation. My research focuses on this mechanism for affecting control, as it manifests materially in the formation of the domestic space in Lebanon, arguing that within this context the architecture of the home operates as a platform that registers multiple perceptions of risk, particularly in relation to finance, human conflict and climate change. Examining further, as risk observed as an abstract calculus (real-estate), and as a tangible, bodily threat, breeds a tension that both constructs and deconstructs the image of home as site of security. Chase-AHRC Studentship.

Daniel Mann - Shooting Home: Domesticating the Image

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My research examines how snapshots and videos that frame domestic life are circulated through social media as the extension of authority and state power. Focusing specifically on how the Israeli army utilizes visual media, the realm of the home or the ‘household’ is conceptualized through a particular visuality by which regulations of emergency and exception are rehearsed and reenacted. Tracing the implicit kinship between ‘home movies’ and operational images, the 'domestic image' is articulated here through its power to reframe technologies of separation and to reevaluate the relations between privacy and security. The research is co-supervised between the Centre for Research Architecture and the Media and Communications department at Goldsmiths. Kirsh Foundation PhD funding.

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 in turn initiate new forms of violence. The project examines the political-legal 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 lies within the threshold space where the farm meets the forest, a blurred-boundary crucial for cultural and political struggle. Using film and photography, 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.

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

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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. How might we rethink the conceptual and practical tools of the architectural project when the data dashboard has replaced the masterplan as the primary matrix of built forms? 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. I argue that zoological and botanical scientific objects offer both the researcher and curator 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: nineteenth century European specimen collections are thus read as precursors to contemporary primary rainforest investment zones. I also trace practices of forest modification from the invention of Prussian forestry in the eighteenth century 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.”

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. The raw physicality of its liquid body is the where the European border apparatus looks to outsource the violence that it cannot be seen to perpetrate, as well as the responsibility for the deaths that the official narrative chooses to deflect. At the same time, the very shores of the Aegean archipelago assume the role of a living, disquiet archive, a testament to the kinds of life and death that are produced around and, precisely, by the borders of the EU. 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