RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019

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148 Time and Austerity: Troubled pasts/hopeful futures? (1)
Affiliation Social and Cultural Geography Research Group
Participatory Geographies Research Group
Convenor(s) Stephanie Denning (Coventry University, UK)
Sarah Marie Hall (The University of Manchester, UK)
Ruth Raynor (Newcastle University, UK)
Chair(s) Sarah Marie Hall (The University of Manchester, UK)
Timetable Thursday 29 August 2019, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Room 120
Session abstract In September 2018, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May claimed that 'austerity is over'. This announcement was made after a decade of austerity policies, the everyday effects of which geographers have explored. These sessions engage with the question of time and austerity: they consider how, after the naming of an ‘end,’ austerity will endure, and continue to be endured. Over two sessions, we take stock of current research on austerity in human geography and consider where it is heading.

In the first session, lightning talks of 5 minutes and interactive displays will showcase creative practice approaches to austerity research. These will generate discussion with session participants about the place of participatory, activist and socially engaged research in the geographies of austerity.

For the second session, 15 minute conference papers will question the multiple and complex durations of austerity. Is austerity ending? What might be next to come? This session will include projects that are in their preliminary stages of research, and those which focus on the future of austerity.

Together these two sessions will enable us to explore time and austerity: bringing together hope and trouble in the past, present and anticipated futures of austerity.
Linked Sessions Time and Austerity: Troubled pasts/hopeful futures? (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2019@rgs.org
Life on the Breadline: Lived Experiences of Austerity
Stephanie Denning (Coventry University, UK)
Over the last decade of UK austerity, Christian groups and churches have been prominent actors in responding to rising UK poverty. Whilst Christian responses to poverty are not new, what has been notable is the level of this response in the last decade, particularly compared to the relative lack of response from the government. This lightning talk and interactive display makes use of research with a church and a foodbank responding to austerity in Birmingham. The church uses an asset-based response to austerity by building up community assets through multiple projects, whilst the foodbank follows a model of provision in response to need. Alongside participant observation and interviews, volunteers and project participants/service-users at the church’s projects and at the foodbank took photographs of their everyday experiences in responding to austerity and living on a low-income. These photographs were then shared and reflected on in focus groups. In the ‘Time and Austerity’ session, a selection of the photographs will be exhibited to facilitate reflections not only on people’s lived experiences of austerity, but also the challenges of using visual participatory methods in sensitive research settings. In the future, these will be displayed alongside photographs from Christian projects in Manchester and London at a photographic exhibition at Coventry Cathedral. The exhibition will aim to engage policymakers with people’s lived experiences of austerity, and also encourage reflection amongst the general public visiting the exhibition on how austerity has affected people differently, perhaps challenging people’s perceptions of poverty.
Peer-support as a (precarious) resource for researching inclusively in austere times: Lessons on managing research participation with adults with learning disabilities
Andrew Power (University of Southampton, UK)
Ed Hall (University of Dundee, UK)
Melanie Nind (University of Southampton, UK)
Alex Kaley (Lancaster University, UK)
Hannah MacPherson (University of Southampton, UK)
Personalisation and co-production are at heart of UK social care policy. At the same time, austerity has prompted extensive cuts to local authority social care and support provision. While for many there is uncertainty and insecurity, in some areas of the UK people with learning disabilities are drawing on and co-constructing local community peer-support networks and activities (e.g. 'friendship circles', 'speaking up groups'). Self-advocacy organisations and self-advocates are often key to helping to sustain these initiatives during austerity and can offer an important resource for researchers seeking to listen to and respect the agency of people with learning disabilities. However, many of these groups are themselves becoming more precarious and subject to closure, confounding the empirical challenges of participatory research approaches. This paper reflects on recent creative endeavours to respectfully engage and delicately manage the relationships with the people involved.
Everyday Austerity
Sarah Marie Hall (The University of Manchester, UK)
As the everyday impacts of austerity come to be realised in homes, families and communities in the UK, there appears to be an appetite for further community engagement about research findings on/in the current economic context. This short talk gives an insight into the motivations, methods and moral questions raised in different forms of creative and participatory engagement: exhibitions, 'zines and community-activist research training. I also explore some questions about the role of academics in the neoliberal university and in the context of the impact agenda, with austerity as the unchanging backdrop.
Alternative Futures: Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle
Ruth Raynor (Newcastle University, UK)
Animation, junk modelling, glass-making, story-telling, and song-writing are just some of the ways in which residents of Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle have explored alternative regional futures. These places have faced some of the hardest cuts to local authority budgets over the last ten years. Often residents are asked to choose between very different key services through public consultation. At the same time, these de-industrialised regions (especially Sunderland) have become caught up in a well-worn story about ‘Brexit’ and the ‘Left behind’ in one public imaginary. Here artists develop and alternative public consultation, one without practical limits or fiscal boundaries. Residents can re-make and re-imagine the places in which they live, according to their wildest desires. Turning attention to a speculative future makes space for us to think otherwise about the present.
Participatory Action Research on the East Durham Coalfield
Rachel Pain (Newcastle University, UK)
Ribbon Road (Ribbon Road)
Carl Joyce (TBC)
North-east England, and ex-industrial areas in particular, have been hardest hit by austerity. A participatory action research project on the East Durham coalfield, worked with residents to expose the mass disposal of social housing at auction and its insidious effects. The outputs produced by our artists in residence (a folk band and photographer/filmmaker) will be displayed.
We are Figures
Liz Crow (TBC)
Liz Crow is an artist and activist who will speak about the durational performance piece 'we are figures' which sought to bear witness to the harms endured by 650 people at the sharp end of austerity.
Austerity is dead, long live austerity: Exploring the spatial legacies of Community Asset Transfer
Neil Turnbull (Cardiff University, UK)
The ‘end’ of austerity in political parlance, should not distract from attention being paid to its ongoing and long-term impact which, in some cases, will take generations to unfold. By focusing on one example of austerity, the practice of Community-Asset-Transfer, this paper attempts explore some of the geographical and political legacies of austerity. Community-Asset-Transfer has seen the shift of ownership and/or management of public buildings such as libraries, community and sports centres from local authorities to community groups. These spaces, sometimes sold or leased for 99 years, provide a rich microcosm through which the temporalities of hope and trouble in the past (change in statecraft), present (defining public good, empowerment of communities) and futures (sustaining asset-development) of austerity will be played out. While, engagement of civil society in the production of these places is yet another ‘withdrawal of the state’ (Harvey 2005), it may also provide a space with transformative potential (Featherstone et al; 2012), where there is scope for critical engagement (Newman 2014).

Original multi-media data from desk-top study and preliminary field work, including, national mapping of transferred assets, photographs and sketch plans of some of the assets themselves, will be used to illustrate, question and share emerging reflections from the preliminary stages of research around the territorial, material and spatial nature of this act of austerity. To what extent does Community Asset Transfer (CAT) reinforce or transcend spatial unevenness at different scales? How are the conceived, perceived and lived realms (Lefebvre 1991) of these community spaces produce?
Hopes, dreams and aspirations in austerity: reflections from a PAR collective
Sally Lloyd-Evans (University of Reading, UK)
The Whitley Researchers (The Whitley Researchers, UK)
The Whitley Researchers are a participatory action research collective that aims to action social change through community research on issues that matter to local people. Our research explores the lived experiences of families in ‘austerity’ through creative methods and we’re currently working with local service providers, young people and schools to shape services that better realise future hopes and ambitions. Our presentation will reflect on our journey as researchers and activists, share our experiences of what austerity means for local families and discuss how young people are developing a movement to better realise their hopes and future aspirations.
Hungry for Change – ways out of food poverty in Wales
Eifiona Thomas Lane (Prifysgol Bangor University, UK)
David Beck (Bangor University, UK)
Hefin Gwilym (Bangor University, UK)
Ian Harris (Bangor University, UK)
Drawing from recent mapping and biographical narrative based research this presentation describes the trend and use of emergency food access in Wales. Within the legislative context of ‘an equitable Wales’, questions relating to hunger and popular understandings of food poverty, in particular are explored.
Whose Knowledge Matters?
Victoria Habermehl (University of Sheffield, UK)
This lightening presentation discusses counter-cartography as a method to explore different history, knowledge and expertise. The way we normally see our cities represented either in maps, or what we understand to be our history and heritage in the streets, through statues and plaques, are only one vision of the diverse and divergent cities in which we live.

Through, displaying and discussing one counter-map, made and exhibited as part of the Peterloo Festival exhibition (Manchester -June- August 2019), this talk will discuss alternative visions of planning focusing on knowledge and everyday politics, in the context of exclusion from spatial decision making processes.
Community Research with BME Women in Austerity
Rosa Heimer (King's College London, UK)
As well as a doctoral candidate Rosa is a practitioner working for a BME women specialist service, Latin American women's aid. She reflects on workshops delivered as part of her role as a community co-ordinator, with Black and Minority Ethnic survivors of violence and residents of different BME women's refuges, they discuss experiences of abuse and homelessness through a participatory and art-base methodology. In particular, she gives focus to how their experiences dealing with local authorities have shown the significant impact of austerity in their ability to access safe housing.
Crisis, austerity and new social protagonisms on the European periphery: movement politics from the plazas and neighbourhoods to the institutional turn in Spain
Josie Hooker (University of Bath, UK)
The project aims to generate critical, movement-relevant knowledge about crisis – and, more importantly, contestation – in austerity Spain. There, anti-austerity movements are powerful and creative, and have recently taken an “institutional turn,” with particular success at the municipal scale. Empirically, I enquire into “non-traditional” labour organising (eg. Worker coops, informal, undocumented workers or precarious workers, feminised and racialised sectors, the feminist strike, social movement and “base” unionism). Theoretically, I aim to develop decolonial, feminist and spatial perspectives within “minor marxisms.” In particular, and in a disruption of enduring epistemological coloniality, I draw upon such perspectives generated via the prior Latin American experience of structural adjustment, austerity and autonomous struggle.
In sum, the project will contribute to critical theorisation of the gendered, racialised and classed contours of:

a. The scalar political economies of global neoliberal capitalism and crisis
b. The relationship between institutional and extra-institutional politics, particularly in moments of institutional progressivism
c. The politics of autonomy

The project uses PAR, supported by my long activist trajectory and my ongoing training programme in non-academic skills: eg. Group facilitation, conflict mediation, campaigning, workplace organising and a certificate in community organising.
Caring culture: How museums are responding to austerity
Nuala Morse (University of Leicester, UK)
This short interventions look at the ways in which austerity is changing museum practice and the ways in which museum workers think of their civic role and their place in communities. It draws attention to the new socially engaged practices of museums that are responding to cutbacks and placing musuems within widedr landscapes of care, particularly through a focus on developing partnerships with health and social care providers.