FellowMyrto Tsilimpounidi
Project NameSociology of Crisis: Visualising Urban Austerity
Host organisationInstitute of Sociology
Duration of the project01.10.2015 - 30.09.2018

Abstract
The global financial crisis has demonstrated the impact and implications of late capitalism and its bedfellow, globalisation. In the European context, crisis is seen as a threat to the stability of the region, rather than a local or national concern. Post-2008, crisis is social and political, rather than merely financial, as Western countries witness the consequences of consumption, growth and profit. Sociology must develop new approaches to examining rapid shifts in the social landscape, since crisis is not merely reflected in balance sheets, but is mediated through spectacular imagery of loss, deprivation and increased vectors of marginalisation. The pervasiveness of crisis has implications for how researchers approach these subjects in order to avoid a discursive crisis, with the imperative to avoid replicating the model of measuring, labelling and seeking simplistic solutions. Sociology of Crisis: Visualising Urban Austerity is a timely investigation into core sociological perspectives on crisis and austerity: time, the ‘Other’, contagion and urban space; resistance and future(s). Using methods from visual and urban sociology, it tackles the dual crisis of representation: both the political crisis of loss of faith in representative democracy as well as arguments about the partial, time-bound, subjective frame of photographic representations. The project provides valuable insight into the pressing problems of lived experience in Slovakia, Greece and the UK in relation to the wider spheres of nation and at the level of the European Union. The approach is firmly located within a critical sociological appeal to reflexivity, taking as its core data source the rich seam of analysis provided by visual representations. Sociology of Crisis is timely in its engagement with the problem of crisis at a macro-level, in dialogue with the everyday experiences of crisis on a micro-level.

Project Summary with Interim Results

Sociology of Crisis:  Visualising Urban Austerity is a  timely  investigation  into core sociological  perspectives  on  crisis  and  austerity:  time,  the ‘Other’, contagion  and urban   space;   resistance   and   future(s).   Using   methods   from   visual   and   urban sociology, it tackles the dual crisis of representation: both the political crisis of loss of faith in representative democracy as well  as  arguments  about  the  partial, time-bound,  subjective  frame  of  photographic  representations.  The project provides valuable insight into the  pressing  problems  of  lived  experience  in  Slovakia,  Greece and  the  UK  in  relation  to  the  wider  spheres  of  nation  and  at  the  level  of  the European  Union.  The approach is firmly located within a critical sociological appeal to  reflexivity,  taking  as  its  core  data  source  the  rich  seam  of  analysis  provided  by visual  representations.  Sociology of Crisis is timely in  its  engagement  with  the problem of crisis a at a macro-level, in dialogue with the everyday experiences of crisis on a micro-level.


Summary description of the project objectives for year 1

This initial year in position, I began to learn about the social, political, and scientific context of Bratislava and have structured activities that immediately engage me in building constructive collaborative relationships with colleagues. I planned public engagement activities  early  on  and  maintained  regular  contact  with informant  groups  and  potential collaborators. Moreover, I eagerly pushed forward my publications and after concise advice with mentor and the Institute of Sociology have developed and submitted applications for research grants. Please see below, a summary of the project’s objectives in Year 1 and further down a detailed analysis of how I met the aims and objectives in this first year in post.  

 

Fieldwork and monograph Sociology of Crisis:

7-8 months fieldwork in Bratislava

2-3 months fieldwork (mobility requirement/ member-checking)

 

Research drafting and producing chapters for publication:

Monograph Sociology of Crisis (throughout)

Graffiti book development of initial stages (throughout)

 

Communicating scientific research effectively/ Local public engagement initiatives:

Organising, Hosting and presenting a series of seminars/ workshops

This also correlates with integration into the training programme with PG students in the Institute.

 

External fundraising and networks:

Containers/ Leverhulme Network meetings 1 –3 (European partners, mobility and Knowledge transfer).

                      

Description of the work performed since the beginning of the project
My initial year in position I familiarised myself with the context in Bratislava and I pushed forward a tangible plan of scientific outcomes and publications. Below I provide a summary description of how I responded and implemented in my working schedule the aims and objectives of Year 1 of the project.

Fieldwork and monograph Sociology of Crisis:
I have successfully completed the proposed fieldwork for the purposes of one of the main outputs of this project, the monograph Sociology of Crisis. Furthermore, I have realised key contacts in Bratislava for further collaboration in research outputs (journal papers in international, impactful journals). Some of these contacts include Dr Pavel Suska of the Institute of Geography who provided a list of readings in order to understand the context and indicated interest in publishing work in collaboration; Dr Miroslav Hlinčíková and Dr Soňa G. Lutherová of the Institute of Ethnology who also invited me at the conference they are organising in Smolenice (Ethnology in the 3rd Millenium: Topics, Methods, Challenges) on order to expand my network of colleagues in the field and to present my work.

Research drafting and producing chapters for publication:

I have completed the writing of my monograph Sociology of Crisis: Visualising Urban Austerity for Routledge, series of Advances in Sociology, which is due to be published in 2017 (please see attachments for a copy of the work). I am in the stage of initial discussion of managing publication rights for the translation of the monograph in Slovak as well. Moreover, I achieved to deliver an edited volume in which I am the co-author entitled Graffiti & Street Art: Reading, Writing and Representing the City, which is also due to be published by Routledge in 2017 (also refer to attachments for a copy of the work). Finally, in terms of publishable journal articles I have co-written an article entitled ‘Dear TINA: Protesting Institutions in Times of Crisis’ with Dr Aylwyn Walsh of the University of Leeds, published by the international peer-reviewed journal Qualitative Inquiry (Sage). Future plans include further journal articles in internationally peer-reviewed journals and I have produced drafts of the following: ‘Containers as Social Landscapes’ for the journal of Visual Studies; and ‘Picturing Crisis: A Critical Reflection on Methods in Visual Sociology’ for Qualitative Inquiry.

Communicating scientific research effectively/ Local public engagement initiatives:

Seminar: ‘Sociology of Crisis: Visualising Urban Austerity’

25th November 2015, Institute for Sociology, Bratislava

This seminar was an introduction of my work to my colleagues at the Institute for Sociology. The aim was to introduce my work and explore the possibilities for similar research interests among my colleagues, in order to built a research profile and also explore future potential collaborations.  The seminar was successful as it worked as the starting point of common exploration both inside the Institute and also with colleagues from different Institutes.

 

Guest Lecture: ‘Europe in Crisis: States of Emergency or Emergence?’

This guest lecture was kindly organised by Prof. Silvia Mihalikova at the Faculty of Social and Economic studies for her students. The aim of the guest lecture was to introduce the students to the multiple layers and meanings of the current crisis in Europe, and the ways this is altering the European political arena and social fabric. It served as a great opportunity to familiarise myself with the student body and obtain an understanding of their potential needs. Thus, next year I am planning to deliver a seminar on urban and visual research methods for the new PhD students at the Institute and other young researchers interested in the topic.


Participation as invited speaker to international conferences (Istanbul, Moscow, Prague, Lesvos)

External fundraising and networks: 

I aim to keep a successful track-record of fundraising and thus in my first year I submitted the following applications:

  1. Principal Investigator for the project entitled ‘Methodologies in (a Time of) Crisis: From a State of Emergency to a State of Emergence’ submitted to the Research Centre for the Humanities, results to be announced on the 31 October 2016 (please refer to attachments for a copy of the application).
  2. Scientific Collaborator for the project entitled ‘DeFences’ submitted to Visegrad Fund in collaboration with colleagues from Ulster University (Belfast), Royal Academy of Arts (Antwerpen), and Institut für Rechts und Kriminalsoziologie (Wien). Application submitted on the 1st September 2016 (please refer to attachments for a copy of the project).
  3. Co-Investigator for the project entitled ‘Weaving Europe’ submitted at the IdeasCamp of the European Cultural Foundation. Application submitted on the 19th September 2016 (also refer to attachements for a copy of the application).

Finally, for the next years of the project I am planning to draft an application for a Starting Grant by the European Research Council. I have established communication with the contact points in Slovakia and aim to focus on producing a first draft by the end of my 2nd year.