My research is concerned with invention. This takes the form of studies into mobilities (particularly cycling), digital cultures, gender relations and grassroots hands-on DiY and DiT (Do-It-Together) technology communities. I am particularly interested in mundane everyday materials and practices; the use of found, purchased and resourcefully adapted materials and improvised methods to re-imagine understandings of and relationships to technology and society.
Making and engaging are integral to my work. My practice is informed by my interest in different ways of ‘telling about society’ (Becker 2007). This means my creative interdisciplinary approach, methods and modes of transmission take many forms – from websites, blogs, machines, films, printed materials, photographs, exhibitions, performances, installations and even, most recently, costume (and sewing patterns). These varied ways of investigating and telling about society entangle diverse audiences and provide new perspectives into my work.
I am a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. I teach on a range of undergrad and MA courses: Visual & Inventive Practice, Key Debates for Visual & Inventive Practice, Sensory Sociology, Visual Sociology, Digital Sociology, Privacy Surveillance & Security, Critical Readings, Theorising Contemporary Society and Branding, Communication & Culture.
Prior to this I held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2010-11) in the Sustainable Mobilities Research Group at the University of East London on the ethnographic ESRC-funded project Cycling cultures in a mass motorised society: a multi-method case study of four English urban areas. I have a PhD in Sociology from Goldsmiths College (2009) for an ethnographic study of the culture of wireless technology networks. My interest in practice-led multi-dimensional ethnographic research draws on a BA Communications at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia (1993) and an MA in Visual Culture at the University of Westminster, London, UK (2003).
I regularly give talks and run public engagement activities such as hacking and sewing workshops, in a range of places such as London Science Museum ‘Lates’, V&A Culture Salon, Feminism in London Annual Conference, London Bike Kitchen, Somerset House, London Cycle Campaign Transport Policy seminars, The New School (NYU), College of Art (Edinburgh), Institute of Textiles (UK), Institute of Design Projects (Warsaw), Digital Cultures Research Lab (Lüneburg).
Grants and projects
I am working on two new books, both due out this year. An edited collection from my ESRC grant called Transmissions: critical tactics for making and communicating research will be published by MIT Press. I am also preparing a manuscript of Bikes & Bloomers: cycling, sewing and suffragette storytelling to be published by Goldsmiths Press/MIT Press.
I was awarded a Goldsmiths Public Engagement grant to finalise and launch a series of downloadable open source PDF sewing pattern packs inspired by 1890s women’s patents for inventive cycle wear and produced during my ESRC funded Bikes & Bloomers research project.
I was the PI on an experimental AHRC Design Development grant in 2015 for a ProtoPublics ProtoProject which aimed to prototype new kinds of interdisciplinary research collaboration that engage creative and cultural practice with socio-political communities. The interdisciplinary team was made of a sociologist (me) and designers from Goldsmiths (Duncan Fairfax & Alex Wilkie) and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee (Jen Ballie). We also worked with the Civic Workshop (Cassie Robinson).
I continue to give talks and tinker on the research that was supported by an ESRC Knowledge Exchange grant that I led from 2013-14 for Transmissions and Entanglements, a project that explores making, curating and representing knowledge. It includes a new piece of research about the history of cycling, dress and women’s Freedom of Movement (also known as Bikes & Bloomers).
For the last decade I have worked as an ethnographer exploring digital cultures for a range of interdisciplinary technology and design companies, most notably for Intel’s Interaction and Experience Research Group (Portland, Oregon US). This work has been located in Australia, Asia, Europe, the US and UK. Projects and outputs have been diverse, but they generally coalesce around the many ways local cultures and digital practices shape technology use.