Research

My research covers the following areas:

Transnational practices and infrastructures of sending in migrants’ lives

This project builds on a long standing interest in what migrants carry and send back and forth to friends and family from their pre-migration lives. My work to date has mainly focused on Polish migrants’ experiences of sending and carrying during the socialist and post-socialist eras, thinking about the larger geo-political barriers impacting on migrants’ lives as well as the disruptions brought into family relationships through asymmetrical material experiences. I am now also working on similar themes related to Zimbabwean migrants’ sending practices, allowing for anew comparative project on the role of sending infrastructures in migrants’ lives, the aesthetics of sending and the materiality of sent and carried things.

Memory and migration/migrants’ stories

Throughout my research I have maintained a strong focus on the ‘told’ aspects of migrants’ lives. A commitment to the moral significance of narrative and storytelling for revealing migrants’ experiences has led me to explore the ‘back histories’ of migration – how migrants talk about their lives before, as well as during and after migration. This has led to interests in, in the case of Polish refugee movements, intergenerational story transmission and second generation ‘postmemory’ of war and deportation; the narrated historical geography of socialist Poland, including the influence of western things, navigating the shortage economy and relationships with the state; and experiences of post-socialist transition, especially among young Polish people. I have also written about the relationship between history, memory and migration in the UK context – something which is also very important in my teaching. As a former historian I remain very interested in historical aspects of migration and I am the listowner for the mailing list immigration-history-uk@jiscmail.ac.uk. I am now working on a new project on the stories of first generation migrants in Liverpool.

Conviviality, Neighbourliness and Churn

I have further interests in the interconnections between place, mobility, social interactions and materiality, brought together by a small project undertaken in a neighborhood of Leicester which has high population turnover or ‘churn’ – research which was seed-funded by De Montfort University’s Mile2 initiative. This research has allowed me to consider broader issues relating to the impacts of neo-liberal capitalism on social relations and experiences of place within the UK. Theoretically, it considers the usefulness of the concept of assemblage for understanding the materiality of neighbourhood relationships, the value of the notion of conviviality for underlining the ‘smallness’ of socially significant interactions, and reflects on the porosity of home spaces in the face of wider, structural economic and social forces.