Current PhD Students

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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.

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

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.

Rachel O'Reilly - Planetary Dysgovernance

Rachel O'Reilly Drawing Rights

When struggles around infrastructure developments appear in public against the limits of the land, water and social reproduction, the imperialism of structural adjustment by infrastructure appears takes the plain view, also in the recruitment of community into grassroots installs of corporate investment socialities. The sheer scale of present-day developments across the planet, combined with the gap left by increasing value uniformity, neutral branding, and singular vocabularies of extinction-oriented ‘best practice’, creates epistemic-political rifts and gaps of symbolic opportunity, where religious, environmental, new labour, indigenous and subaltern communities have been able to differently occupy, and challenge, in turn, the ‘fundamentalist’ dimension of late capitalist developmentalism, thus querying the category of the infrastructural itself.

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.