Guest Lectures & Events

“Race, Surgery and the Bride of Frankenstein”

Professor Marie Mulvey-Roberts, University of the West of England

Date and time: 2 May 2017, 16-18

Room: F012 (Unitobler)

Host: Professor Virginia Richter

"Gendered Productions of Plutocratic Life and Neighbourhood in a London Suburb"

Professor Caroline Knowles, Goldsmiths, University of London

Date and time: 3 May 2017, 10:15-12:00

Room: F-105 (Unitobler)

Host: Professor Crispin Thurlow (as part of the "Elite Discourse" seminar)


Untangling fragments of a spatially calibrated dialogic between wealthy lives and the landscapes on which they are enacted describes this paper’s central aim. Exploring the dynamic between plutocrats and their neighbourhood exposes the social and built architectures of both: in the process revealing who plutocrats are and how they live, plugging an important gap in the literature on elites. Insisting on the significance of London as a major centre for expanding and parking global capital in its latest Wealth Report (2015) the estate agent Frank Knight makes an important point: capital lives in ‘luxury houses and apartments’. No abstract fraction of accumulated assets as elite scholars imply, capital works through bodies and emotions; and it eats, sleeps and pleasures itself in London’s wealthier neighbourhoods. The rising fortunes of the ultra wealthy are one of the defining issues of our time and yet their impact on city neighbourhoods is largely ignored. In this paper I show how wealth is gendered, lived and worked, arguing that women are significant architects of wealthy domestic lives and neighbourhoods.

More information about Professor Knowles:

"Will Nepal's Future Elites be Female?"

Dr Stefanie Lotter, Research and Teaching Fellow in South Asia, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London

Date and time: 9 May 2017, 10:15-12:00

Room: F-105 (Unitobler)

Host: Professor Crispin Thurlow (as part of the "Elite Discourse" seminar)


Transformation is prominent in Nepal, a country that recently suffered a decade of civil war (1996 – 2006), abolished its Hindu monarchy to become a secular republic (2007), suffered two major earthquakes (2015), wrote a new constitution (2015) and is currently working on the implementation of federalism. Women in high office have become a new norm in politics, with a quota guaranteeing 33% women in the Legislative Parliament and with currently a female president as well as a female speaker of parliament. But have women political elites been able to challenge traditional patriarchal privileges in Nepal? Do categories of old and new elites apply to women political elites? And has their economic, cultural, ethnic and educational capital an effect on their role in public office? This presentation will challenge the concept of political elites as a superior part of society, exercising legitimate power.

More information about Dr. Lotter:

"From Shore to Shore: Marathon Swimming, Waterfronts and the Spaces in between"

Dr Karen Throsby, University of Leeds

Date and time; 10 May 2017, 10:15-12:00

Room: F023 (Unitobler)

Hosts: Professors David Britain, Annette Kern-Stähler, Virginia Richter and Crispin Thurlow (as part of the FM lecture "On the Waterfront")


Marathon swimming is the sport of swimming a long way slowly in accordance with tradition-oriented rules; swimmers can wear only a regular swimming costume, cap and goggles, and are not allowed to touch either the accompanying boat or another person as they swim from shore to shore, often over 10 or even 20+ hours of swimming. Much of a marathon swim takes place out of sight, well away from the waterfront, with support crews, official observers, GPS tracks, photographs and videos left to bear witness to a crossing. But the waterfronts are also key sites of the embodied work of marathon swimming. The water’s edge is a place of nervous beginnings and (sometimes) triumphant endings; it is a site of swimming spectatorship and spectacle; it is a place of conWlict, jostling for safe swimming spaces with other water-based leisure activities; and it is an extraordinary zone of transition where swimmers train, change, recover, share food, tell stories and construct social belonging. Drawing on (auto)ethnographic research, this paper explores the social worlds and practices of marathon swimmers at the waterfront, and argues that the water’s edge is a powerful site of social becoming and belonging, but which is also circumscribed by relations of gender, race, class and (dis)ability.
Short Biography:

Karen Throsby is an associate professor in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds (UK), where she also the Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (CIGS). Her research centres on the intersections of gender, technology and the body, particularly in relation to bodily transformations; she has explored these issues in the context of assisted reproduction, the surgical management of obesity, and most recently, in relation to extreme endurance sport. She is the co-editor (with Flora Alexander) of Gender and Interpersonal Violence: Language, Action and Representation (Palgrave, 2008) and the author of When IVF Fails: Feminism, Infertility and the Negotiation of Normality (Palgrave, 2004) and Immersion: Marathon Swimming, Embodiment and Identity (Manchester University Press, 2016).


"Between Mastery and Surrender: A Spatial Phenomenology of Elite Cosmopolitans in Geneva"

Prof Dr André Jansson, Karlstad University, Sweden

Date and time: 16 May 2017, 10:15-12:00

Room: F-105 (Unitobler)

Host: Professor Crispin Thurlow (as part of the "Elite Discourse" seminar)

Ulf Hannerz once outlined cosmopolitans as people who are willing to immerse themselves in other cultures, while at the same time displaying their skills in handling them – a peculiar interplay between mastery and surrender. Following Hannerz’s characteristic, skilled professionals within the UN sector come close to the cosmopolitan ideal type embodying a cosmopolitan ethic while at the same time building their careers on global mobility and obedience to institutionalized rotation policies. How are these orientations played out in cultural settings that are not commonly understood as “other”? How do the spatial practices (including residential choices) and modes of communication of elite cosmopolitans play into to the sociocultural transformations of places that are seen as relatively familiar? This paper presents a phenomenological, inside view of social trajectories and senses of belonging among Scandinavian expatriates employed by UN organizations in Geneva. The interview material (gathered during two periods of fieldwork in 2014) shows that the cosmopolitan outlook to a great extent is set aside when confronted with the local textures of Geneva. The city is often typified as a “non-place” without cultural specificity and sarcastically described as “good for those who are inclined to suffer from homesickness” (because of its relative proximity to Scandinavia, culturally and geographically). But there are also examples of resistance to these dominant modes of spatial appropriation, especially among expatriates oriented towards cultural capital and more alternative inner-city lifestyles, who want to seek out the “real life” of Geneva. These individuals, however, must also cope with the ambiguous experience of knowing that they, due to their residential advantage, are part of gentrification processes that are actually at odds with their cosmopolitan ideals. The study thus exposes different spatial articulations of elite cosmopolitanism and underscores the situated and oftentimes ambivalent experience of cosmopolitan privilege.

More information about:
André Jansson's research is oriented towards questions of media use, identity and power from an interdisciplinary perspective. His work links various theoretical strands from social phenomenology, human geography and sociology of culture. A particular interest regards the relationship between mediatization processes and the production of social space. Jansson has studied this relationship in relation to a number of contemporary phenomena, such as the post-industrial city, tourism, expatriate lifestyles, surveillance culture and the urban-rural divide. Jansson currently leads the research project Kinetic Élites: The Mediatization of Social Belonging and Close Relationships among Mobile Class Fractions, funded by the Swedish Research Council (2012-2015).