01: Lines on a map


Episode one of Goldsmiths' thematic audio series telling the stories behind our latest research.

For its maiden voyage, New X Change brings you ‘Lines on a map’, with five chapters on a subject that couldn’t be more relevant right now – migration.

You can’t have failed to notice the unfolding humanitarian disaster that has become known as the European Migrant Crisis, a part of what the UN recently described as the largest displacement of people since records began.

The Crisis has come to embody many of the fears that 21st century western governments are only too eager to pass on to their citizens, whether it’s the spectre of terrorism and the threat of radical Islam, or economic instability.

Here we bring you stories that contextualise the current obsession with protecting national borders in an increasingly globalised and connected world. We hear from world-leading social scientists, media theorists and creative practitioners, as well as migrants themselves. 


“The voices of my husband and daughters filled the room…it was all I could do not to cry as I sat listening to their news”

Anna Burns talks to Dr Mirca Madianou about how successive revolutions in communications technology have changed the way families separated by oceans and continents stay in touch. From handwritten letters and cassette tapes, to Skype and social media, discover how new technologies are not only facilitating long-distance communication, but shaping relationships between parent and child. 

Dr Mirca Madianou co-convenes the MA Media & Communications in Goldsmiths' Department of Media and Communications.

Thanks to contributors Samantha Portillo and Samuel Cabbuag. Extracts read by actors from the book Migration and New Media by Mirca Madianou and Daniel Miller.

“The dream happens to him”

Al Riddell and Harriet Onyett delve into a recent exhibition responding to the seminal 1975 book, A Seventh Man, by John Berger and Jean Mohr.

The Migrating Dreams and Nightmares exhibition was curated by Goldsmiths’ Methods Lab – a pioneering group of sociologists exploring new ways of doing social research. It brought together artists and academics to respond to the book and the theme of migration through new artworks and public talks. 

Featuring Dr Nirmal Puwar, reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths.

“You’re always an outsider, but you are free…”

Chris Delaney, Harriet Onyett and Louise Tjaerandsen collaborate with dramaturge Dr Fiona Graham to weave a non-linear, layered tale of belonging in New Zealand and London.  

Members of the Maori community in London reflect on their complex sense of cultural identity in fragments cleverly juxtaposed with Fiona’s discussion of the nature of her theatre performance work. 

Dr Fiona Graham is the convenor for the MA Writing for Performance and Dramaturgy in the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths

“Her ridged posture screamed ‘Foreigner, know your place!’”

A young man boards a plane, but he’s not travelling for business or pleasure, he’s being deported. As he fastens his seatbelt, his phone vibrates. Expecting a heartfelt parting message from friends, he instead reads a text from the UK Border Agency, wishing him farewell and a good journey.  

In this story, Tyler Hill talks to sociologist Professor Les Back about his long-term project exploring how different people establish a sense of belonging in London.

Find out how technology makes us more connected and mobile than ever before, but is also implicated in increasingly sophisticated ways of separating us.  

Les contributes to the MA in Social Research and teaches undergraduate courses in the Department of Sociology, such as Cultural Politics and Globalisation.

Thanks to contributors Charlynne Bryan, and Shamser Sinha.

“These who’re coming in now begrudge you…I dread to see what comes of it”

We’ve recently witnessed mainstream politicians in the UK using the language of biblical plagues where refugees become ‘swarms’ ready to sweep across the country from a camp in Calais known as ‘the Jungle’.

And we’ve seen the term ‘migrant’ become increasingly toxic under the burden of sensationalising headlines that the Prime Minister has been only too eager to evoke in the House of Commons.

Adela Earlington and Tom Hill collaborated with sociologist Dr Michaela Benson to explore the fundamental question ‘Who is a migrant?’ We hear from academics, students and older generations of migrants who reflect on this complex question in which their sense of self and belonging are bound. 

Michaela runs and teaches undergraduate courses in the Department of Sociology, including Practising Urban Ethnography and the MA module Theory, Concept and Method.