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Research Seminars

3rd November 2021 Dr Paolo Ruffino, University of Liverpool [online]

‘Union organising and workers’ visibility in the Videogame Industry’ 

In this talk, Paolo Ruffino will introduce his research surrounding the labour union IWGB Game Workers, the first and largest union of the UK videogame industry. The videogame sector has been traditionally averse to unionization. Its compulsory network sociality, and the belief that game-work should be passion-driven, limit the expression of discontent and proposals for structural change. Drawing on 2 years of participatory observation and interviews with board members, Ruffino will discuss how the union IWGB Game Workers has been introducing strategies that allow members to be more closely in control of their visibility with bosses and peers, and the implications of union organising in a sector that relies on the promotional cultures of social media.

 Bio

Paolo Ruffino is Lecturer in Communication and Media at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of Future Gaming: Creative Interventions in Video Game Culture (Goldsmiths and MIT Press, 2018), editor of Rethinking Gamification (Meson Press, 2014), and Independent Videogames: Cultures, Networks, Techniques and Politics (Routledge, 2021). His research focuses on independent videogame development, labor unions in the videogame industry, and the emergence of nonhuman and posthuman play in the digital age.

 

17th November 2021 Dr Ali FitzGibbon, Queen's University Belfast [online]

The devaluation of the artist in theatre and theatre policy, evolving or recurring?

Much has been written about the precarity of the artist and their dependency on institutions. Precarity is a de-economisation of individual artists on which the economy and public policy of theatre relies. This working paper tries to bring together pre-COVID and Rapid Response research. It suggests that the separation of the artist from the language, public policies and policymaking, financial mechanisms, business practices and decision-making of professional subsidised theatre represents a structurally complicit and unethical faultline within the form. The creative and aesthetic processes on which professional theatre depends for its value must be re-embedded within its value systems. COVID19 interrupted and transformed production and delivery and also sent this research in a new direction. How does one avoid a return to an unethical system? What lessons can be taken forward?

Dr Ali FitzGibbon is a Senior Lecturer and Subject Lead for Arts Management and Cultural Policy at Queen’s University Belfast. Her research focuses on decision-making and the ethics and ecologies of contemporary cultural production. particularly performing arts and freelancers/artists. Her doctoral research on the artist as stakeholder was shortlisted for the 2020 ENCATC Research Award and she has published in a range of international journals. She has over 25 years’ experience as a multi-arts producer, programmer and consultant, including conceiving the world’s first Baby Rave in 2005. In 2020, she worked as a creative consultant to the Department for Communities (NI) on proposals for a Arts & Cultural Recovery Strategy, leading to the establishment of the Arts, Culture & Heritage Taskforce. She is Co-Investigator on ‘Freelancers in the Dark’ (ESRC) and ‘Future Screens NI’, part of the UK Creative Industries

 

24th November 2021 Dr Mafalda Dâmaso, Kings College London [online]

Can cultural policy be transnationalised? The case of the European Union

States are no longer autonomous entities. Increasingly, they collaborate in the definition of strategies and pool their resources with other states. However, this is rarely reflected in the cultural domain. Rather, culture continues to be understood as connected to a state’s identity, and the latter to be defined in an exclusionary way. However, the case of the EU suggests the emergence of a new approach – albeit with limits, since the subsidiarity principle defines culture as being mostly the responsibility of its member states. This presentation connects previous and ongoing research on the European Union’s cultural policies and strategies. I will summarise the findings of recent primary research focused on EUNIC’s (European Union National Institutes for Culture) 2019-2021 European Spaces of Culture pilot projects around the world, and connect this with previous research on the European Council’s Work Plan for Culture and other research and policy work regarding the scope for action of the EU to support artists and cultural workers. In doing so, I will argue that the transnationalisation of cultural policy requires a fundamental shift in how culture is understood and supported.

Dr Mafalda Dâmaso is Lecturer in Creative Industries and Policy at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her researches examines the processes through which cultural policies and practices support or reject the movement towards transnational forms of participation, governance and belonging, bringing cultural policy into dialogue with political theory and international relations scholarship. Mafalda is also Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Culture, Media and Creative industries at King’s College London and a 2019-2021 Research Fellow at the Centre on Public Diplomacy of the University of Southern California. Additionally, she was the lead researcher on a project on 'The situation of artists and cultural workers and the post-COVID cultural recovery in the European Union’ co-authored with Cultural Action Europe for the European Parliament. Previously, among other roles, she worked as expert for the German Institute of Foreign Cultural Relations.

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Based in the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, Dr Mafalda Dâmaso's recent publications are:
(2021) with Andrew Murray. The EU’s Dualistic Regime of Cultural Diversity Management: The Concept of Culture in the Creative Europe Program (2014-2019; 2021-2027) and in the Strategy for International Cultural Relations (2016–), Journal of Cultural Management and Cultural Policy.
(2021) with Culture Action Europe. The situation of artists and cultural workers and the post-COVID-19 Cultural Recovery in the European Union: Background Analysis and Policy Recommendations, Research for the CULT Committee of the European Parliament.

 

1st December 2021 Dr. Maitrayee Basu, London College of Communication [online]

Mediation, Affect, Solidarity: Frozen Narratives to Wayward Narratives in Aman Sethi’s A Free Man

Aman Sethi is a journalist, editor and author of the literary non-fiction book, A Free Man (2011) based in New Delhi, India. The title of this article draws upon Sethi’s main interest which drove him to write A Free Man and which he articulates in an interview with me (2015): “It all began with an attempt to write differently about labour. I felt that the narratives that we were used to in our writing about labour had now gotten frozen.” In her book, WayWard Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2019), Hartman sidesteps the narrative limitations of investigative journalism, documentary, or sociological writing about poverty by deploying tools from fiction writing in order to explore the ‘wayward’ and mobile lives of the urban poor Black women. Within the notion of vagrancy and waywardness she reconstructs the fluid creative journeys that the subaltern resort to in order to avoid capture and incarceration. When Sethi embarks to interview construction workers in Delhi to gather quotes to fit into the article which he admits that he had already written, he notices the protagonist of his book, Ashraf, as a “terrible interview subject”. In persisting and subsequently entering Ashraf’s world as well as worldview leads Sethi to shake loose some of the narrative forms and assumptions in mainstream writing about the urban poor, work, freedom, mobility and what documenting a life entails. In this talk I explore some of the ways in which lived experiences of Sethi’s characters in A Free Man might challenge the assumptions of neoliberal masculinism and social mobility which forms the basis of the stigmatisation of the poor. In centralising the affects of moving through the city while being poor, homeless and evading state control, this narrative mobilises radical solidarity around the experiences and agencies of the marginalised outside of state control.

Dr Maitrayee Basu, a Lecturer in Communications and Media at London College of Communication. Her research focuses on transnational activism, representations of marginalised bodies and experiences, and digital identities from the global south.

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