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Below is the programme for the Congress. To register for a session, please click on the registration link and enter your details. The confirmation email will include a link to join the Zoom meeting on the day. To find out more about how we are running the conference and how to use Zoom please click here.

Please choose as many or as few sessions as you would like to attend. We don't expect you to sit through three days of back-to-back sessions, but have spread the programme across three days to minimise the number of sessions running parallel to each other and to give you as much choice as possible.

  • You must pre-register for each session you would like to attend by clicking on the relevant links below.

  • Most sessions have unlimited places available, but a few of our more interactive sessions may have a cap on numbers. These will be available on a first come first served basis, and we will note below if the session is fully booked.

  • If you have any questions or need any help with registration please email

We also want to help you have more dialogue and interaction with other Congress attendees - take a look at this page for more information.

Day 1: Wednesday 27th January 2021

Before the Conference

Ahead of the Congress, take a moment to watch this video essay on experience by Prof. Mike Wayne, one of the conference organisers.




Also take a look at this second video essay on experience by Dr Monica Degen, another Congress organiser.


10.00 to 11.00

Keynote Lecture: Experience in the Force Field - Prof. Esther Leslie (Co-Director of the Birkbeck Institute of the Humanities)

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Who, what, where are we amidst the froth of modern technology, the brew of chemicals and the agitated air of particulates and data streams? How are we and what can count now as experience?  What do our solid bodies, drawn from the mud and now annexed to the liquid crystal device, still have to do around here? What uses us?  This lecture reflects, nearly 90 years after Walter Benjamin's 'Experience and Poverty' on what, in the age of the device, can be ascertained today about 'the tiny, fragile human body' caught up in another 'force field of destructive torrents and explosions'.

11.30 to 12.45

Experience In Research/Researching Experience (1) - Dr Marco Benoit Carbone, Dr Cathy Gower, Mani Pillai

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Dr Marco Benoit Carbone - Beyond place marketing: the tourist site and fieldwork experience

I will share my experience of fieldwork research on tourism in Scilla, Italy. In this sea village, hopes of general economic development have, for the past few decades, revolved significantly around seaside and heritage tourism. In recent years, the rise of B&Bs and social media branding and increase in tourist intake seemed to suggest economic growth and development. My fieldwork experience (2014-15) revealed the gentrification processes, social inequalities, and contradictions underpinning the tourism industry and place marketing, complicating ecstatic assumptions about trickle-down and Airbnb economics.


Dr Cathy Gower - Why Noor didn’t get on the trampoline? Using bio-pedagogical narratives and video stimulated reflection to explore experience in teacher education.

Bio-pedagogy explores the connections between personhood and pedagogy in order to identify and understand the relationship between our life experiences and teaching and learning (Camacho and Fernandez-Balboa, 2006). The bio-pedagogical narratives used in the research I want to talk about were combined with a process referred to as video stimulated reflection or VSR (Powell, 2005), which facilitates cognitive processes through which participants can recall, when prompted by a self-selected video sequence, their associated thinking during that pedagogical experience. The research project sought to explore pre-service teachers’ thinking and feelings about aspects of their own developing pedagogical experiences through dialogic interactions between them and their tutor as they observed captured video footage during their teacher education programme. This in turn led to the sharing of experience in a way that challenged standard approaches to observation used in many educational settings.


Mani Pillai - Understanding the self through research.

I switched from industry to academia in 2019 and am pursuing a doctoral research on the career experiences of employees in the London Insurance Market. Insurance is an underexplored research area in academia. Few studies look at the career experiences of employees in white-collar organisational settings and, on the whole, there is limited knowledge of the career experiences of skilled workers in Europe. Making the transition from being a practitioner to academic research has not been without its challenges.  Finding a theoretical framework that will sit comfortably with my identities and inform my research has been a long process of reading and reflecting. I am from a marginalised, working-class background in Singapore and, while my career has predominantly been in white collar settings, my class origins separate me in varying degrees from middle class and elite-circles, even if these groups have members who share the same ethnicity as me. At the same time, as I was building my career in the UK, I was often a solitary ethnic minority woman in teams, having to fight gender and ethnicity bias to prove myself to the dominant culture. I will discuss how I arrived at the decision to use Goffman and Bourdieu as my theoretical framework. 

11.30 to 12.45

Planning Your Next Career Development Steps in the Post Covid-19 Market - Liz Wilkinson

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How can you capitalise on Post-Covid market changes and opportunities? How has Covid-19 changed the job and opportunity market in the education, cultural, arts and public policy sectors? How can you keep up with fast changing trends and opportunities? How can you build your skills and profile in 2021? Come along to hear some answers!

14.00 to 16.00

Film Screening and Q&A: The Acting Class (Dir: Deirdre O’Neill & Mike Wayne, 77 mins)

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When Tom Stocks, a young man from Bolton has to turn down a chance to study at the East 15 drama school because he cannot afford the fees, he sets up a campaign to highlight socio-economic exclusion in the arts. Tom is not alone. Actors from working class backgrounds are struggling to get in and get on in an industry stacked against them. Established actors worry about where the next generation of talent from modest backgrounds is going to come from. Christopher Eccleston, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Maxine Peake and Samuel West are among those who feature in this film talking about the barriers to success. And this is an issue not just for those who see their dreams thwarted because they do not have the ‘bank of mom and dad’ to back them.  Who gets to be on our stages and screens matters to all of us. Whose stories get told, what images we have of ourselves, who we think ‘we’ are, helps shape our identities. The Acting Class won the best National Feature Documentary at the Labour Film Festival in 2017.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Deirdre O’Neill and Mike Wayne, Tom Stocks, founder of Actor Awareness and Osman Baig whose one-man show recently sold out at the Bridge Theatre London. The screening will be shown on Watch2gether and the discussion will take place afterwards on Zoom.

Day 2: Thursday 28th January 2021

10.00 to 11.15

Wellbeing When Writing - Dr Emma Filtness, Dr Sally-Shakti Willow, Jo-Anne Sunderland Bowe

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The Wellbeing When Writing project run by the University of Westminster from 2018-2020 was funded by Research England/Office for Students (OfS) through the Catalyst fund for PGR Mental Health and Wellbeing, with match funding from the University of Westminster. The University of Westminster had evidence to suggest that doctoral candidates experienced high levels of stress and anxiety at certain points in the year when required to submit work for annual progress reviews. In response, a series of interactive workshops were held to address particular demands in terms of writing, and which were adapted across subjects and disciplines. Emma Filtness and Sally-Shaki Willow as experienced Creative Writing teachers with expertise in writing for wellbeing led the workshops, exploring how techniques from creative writing pedagogy and practice could be shared with those from other disciplines to ease some of the anxiety associated with doctoral writing. Topics covered included thinking through writing, overcoming writer’s block, and writing for different audiences. Emma Filtness will discuss this process of sharing creative writing practices with PhD candidates from a range of disciplines and Sally-Shaki Willow will discuss her ongoing work supporting doctoral researchers through her Writing & Thriving programme. Jo-Anne Sunderland Bowe, a current Techne PhD student will reflect on her own experiences of managing the demands of the written components of PhD study.  

10.00 to 11.15

Research Speed Dating

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Ever wondered what some of your fellow Techne students are researching, or wanted to meet more Techne students from across our cohorts and universities? Come along to our research 'speed dating' session - using Zoom breakout rooms, you'll have chance to briefly introduce yourself and your research to small groups of students, before moving onto another group.

11.45 to 13.00

Biography, Auto-Biography and History - Dr Anne Chappell, Dr Claire Lynch, Prof. Thomas Betteridge

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Dr Anne Chappell - Auto/Biography as Methodology

Auto/Biography as an academic field emphasises the links between biography and history, and the private and public. Auto/Biography offers researchers the opportunity to use methods to explore individual lives that are “replete with the posted biographies of significant others in the subject’s life” (Stanley and Morgan, 1993: 2). Therefore these methods, and the associated analysis, offer varied and exciting ways to look at social lives. I will share some examples of auto/biography and consider the implications and benefits of using such approaches.


Dr Claire Lynch  - All theory and no practice? 

Or, all the things you might learn from breaking the rules.

I started writing memoir in the spaces in between. The first draft was written wedged between two incubators.  At night, when the babies slept and we didn’t, I wrote about our new family. As the babies grew, so did the memoir, and I found space to write between the things I know as a theorist and the things I’m learning as a writer. Learning how to write memoir (as opposed to writing about memoir) taught me how much I didn’t know about it. When I sit at my desk to write I hear the siren call of library catalogues and bibliographies, I am happy there, but I can’t find what I need. When I write autobiographically, I am, in many ways, deliberately breaking the ‘rules’ of academic writing. There are no footnotes to hide behind, no conventions of rhetoric to distance me from the language. Personal essays are ethically challenging; the people I represent are not symbolic or fictive, they are real people, many of whom live in my house.  The form is, by definition, exposing, compromising even. How can an academic maintain a position of intellectual objectivity if she also publishes stories in which she makes jokes about her ovaries? How can an academic stick to the old rules once she learns the value of breaking them?

Professor Thomas Betteridge


Prof. Thomas Betteridge - The Role of Experience in Researching Performance: A Satire of Three Estates in 1540, 1552 and 2013.

Staging a play like A Satire of Three Estates raises the question raises a set of questions about experience – whose experience? What experiences count? Where does experience sit within the research hierarchy? The historical records of the performances in 1540 and 1552 are very different but they both constitute experiences of the drama reified in text. What relationship is there, if any, between the experience of the performance of 2013 and 1552 – and what experience seem never to form part of the historical record?

11.45 to 13.00

Experience in Research/Researching Experience (2) - Dr Emma Wainwright, Dr Meredith Jones, Dr Josephine Coleman

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Dr Emma Wainwright - Research(ed) on bodies: experiences of participant observation

This talk heeds calls for reflections on how the research field is defined through embodied socio‐spatial presence and immediacy. Focusing on classroom “body‐training” observations that were part of a larger qualitative research project, and on the field notes and reflections of three researchers, we explore the transition from observer‐researchers to participant‐researchers. That is, we explore how, by researching others, we unexpectedly became researched on as our own bodies became instruments in the research process and were used to elicit knowledge on embodied learning, body‐mapping and corporeal trace. As a methodological intervention, conducting research through the body, the positioning of bodies and body‐to‐body interaction, can tell us much about the often ignored embodied and emotional dimensions of the research field. But, in addition, it can elucidate the power relations between, and the fluidity of, researcher and researched positions in the jolting of secured researcher identity.


Dr Meredith Jones - When fieldwork turns to horror: writing about the unexpected.

I will share an experience that I had whilst doing fieldwork in Bangkok. An unexpected invitation to spend a day in a cut-price cosmetic surgery clinic led me to rethink my own position as a researcher and a witness. Watching a transgender surgical procedure done without general anaesthetic was the most confronting thing I've ever faced as a researcher. l will talk about the methodology and theories used to deal with the aftermath of what was a traumatic day, and about how I 'translated' what I saw into part of my book Beautyscapes: Mapping Cosmetic Surgery Tourism (2019). 


Dr Jo Coleman - Reflexive research on social sites of practice: How experience informs research

This paper describes the methodological approach I devised for my practice-focused doctoral research into the production of content for local community radio stations. I will outline how my dual identity as an academic scholar and radio producer/presenter influenced how I designed and implemented the investigations into creative practice in the field and also informed how I intellectualized the findings. Inspired by Theodore Schatzki’s ‘social site’ concept of practice theory, Pierre Bourdieu’s call for self-reflexivity in social science, and Donald Schön's reflection-in-action, I applied a reflexive, practice theory mindset. This enabled me to explore the situated yet spatially complex contexts where I was able to identify the embodied doings and sayings that constituted the practice of others. It also helped me reflect objectively and critically upon my own media production practice as an auto-ethnographic exercise. I recommend this strategic mindset for fieldwork as a means of enhancing researcher integrity.

14.00 to 15.15

Researching Urban Experiences - Dr Magali Peyrefitte, Dr Daniele Rugo, Dr Monica Degen

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Dr Magali Peyrefitte - The Intricacies of Researching and Translating Urban Lived Experiences Through Different Methods of Data Collection and Data Dissemination. 

My research on urban experience, housing and social inequality has over the years taken me down various paths of enquiry but always with the intention to shine light on the more invisible or less spoken about aspects of city life and on the more marginalised voices and stories. The theoretical and epistemological motivations of my sociological endeavour have consistently worked hand in hand with related questions of representations, engagement, dissemination and ultimately impact. In this presentation, I shall discuss the intricacies of researching and translating lived experiences through different methods of data collection and data dissemination as they work in dialogue in the production of knowledge. 


Dr Daniele Rugo - Framing the urban experience of political violence

The feature-length documentary About a War (Rugo, Weaver 2018) emerged out of 3 years of filming and research in Beirut. The research revolved around the experience of former combatants of the Lebanese Civil War and their relation with a weaponized urban landscape. Through a series of reflections on filming in Tal el Zaatar, Shatila refugee camp and gathering testimonies of the Israeli siege of Beirut (1982), this talk will discuss filmmaking as a methodology to mobilize memories of war and will address more broadly the arts' ability to mediate and give form to political violence.  See:

Dr Monica Degen - Mapping ‘the feel of place’ digitally

Why is it important to research urban experiences? What does it tell us about power relations in the city and how different actors frame, produce, consume or resist urban life? Drawing on a recent project of the changing place identities of the Smithfield Market area, a neighbourhood undergoing processes of cultural regeneration I will discuss the use of digital visualizations as a method for mapping place identities in relation to sensory and temporal dynamics and feelings. In particular I will reflect on how we can capture and translate sensory and temporal experiences of place for a diversity of audiences. See:

14.00 to 15.15

Effective Job Hunting Online & Virtual Interviews - Liz Wilkinson

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As with most things at the moment, job recruitment is all taking place online. Where is the best place to look for jobs and funding opportunities online? How can you craft an engaging online profile or application form? How can you perform well in virtual interviews and other selection methods? Techne Careers advisor Liz Wilkinson shares her thoughts on these topics.

16.00 to 17.00

Keynote Lecture: Sense Experience - Prof. David Howes (Centre for Sensory Studies, Concordia University, Montreal)

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Sensory ethnography is a methodology that grew out of the sensory turn in the social sciences and humanities. This turn superseded such other paradigm shifts as the linguistic turn, the pictorial turn and the material turn, and overlaps to a significant degree with the affective turn. Sensory ethnography attaches a premium to experience, or what François Laplantine calls the “sharing of the sensible” (partage du sensible) between ethnographer and research subject. The accent is on “participant sensation” in contrast to the conventional methodology of participant observation. This presentation offers a survey of breaking research in this vibrant new domain of anthropological knowledge production, where the senses are treated as both object of study and means of inquiry. Featured case studies include: body modification, agoraphobia, the experience economy of the casino, and multi-species ethnography. This presentation also addresses the virtualization of life itself in the wake of the digital revolution and onslaught of the novel coronavirus (which cancels the senses of smell and taste), and explores various experiential techniques for (re)animating the sensorium.

Day 3: Friday 29th January 2021

All day (various times)

One-to-one Careers Consultations with Liz Wilkinson

Please note that one-to-one sessions with Liz Wilkinson are only available for Techne students. To book an appointment email

If you have any questions following on from Liz's sessions on Day 1 and 2, would like your CV checked, or have any other careers related questions, then book a one-to-one with Liz as part of the final day of the Congress. Appointments can be either 30 or 60 minutes long and are available throughout the day. You can discuss any aspect of career planning, for example:

  • questions following on from Liz's sessions on Day 1 or Day 2

  • making decisions about future career direction

  • advice on developing your CV

  • completing application forms

  • developing an online profile

  • approaching interviews

10.00 to 11.15

Statue Wars: History, Memory and Belonging in Britain, France and Kenya - Dr Inge Dornan, Dr Hannah Whittaker, Dr Alison Carrol

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The recent global movement to remove memorials to public figures with links to slavers and colonialism has laid bare the problems of preserving and displaying ‘national’ heritage through monuments and other acts of commemoration. The three papers discussed in this panel explore the relationship between history, memory and experience, and the implications of such historical representations for understandings of belonging and community. Dr Dornan explores how the Black Lives Matter movement led to the toppling of the Edward Colston statue and further calls for the removal of statues and symbols throughout the UK memorialising British slavers and colonial rule. Dr Whittaker explores the Kenyan state’s memorialization of Daudi Dabasso Wabera. The paper discusses both the contested history that lead up to Wabera’s murder, and the ways that competing versions of this past and its meaning reflect different ideas about national inclusion, belonging and citizenship in the present. Dr Carrol examines how the return of Alsace to France in 1918 triggered a series of “statue wars” focussed on what should be done with the statues erected during the years of German rule and what should replace them. This paper discusses the debates that contested statues provoked, considers why they were viewed as important symbols of belonging, and questions how far the symbolism of their destruction impacted upon the lived experience of the Alsatian population.

10.00 to 11.15

Metaphor Magic: Using Objects to Communicate Ideas - Dr Anne Wilson

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How can experiencing an object, and exploring it fully, help you communicate your project more effectively? Find out in this intriguing session with writer Anne Wilson. Bring any personal object that has associations, memories or meaning for you and discover how concrete reality can enhance abstract writing. The session will include short writing exercises, chat sharing and discussion in small breakout groups.

11.45 to 13.00

Techne Partners Panel - Lauren Parker (Museum of London), Angela Saward (Wellcome Collection) Kim Walker (Techne Doctoral Student), Ali Clarke (Surrey Hills Arts)

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This panel brings together three Techne Partners (Wellcome Collection, Surrey Arts and the Museum of London), and a PhD candidate to reflect on their experiences on offering placements and working on collaborate doctoral awards with Techne. We will discuss why partners choose to work with Techne PhD students; the benefits and challenges of bringing together academics and cultural organisations on research projects and lastly what partner organisations would like achieve from working with or hosting PhD students.

11.45 to 13.00

Race and Academia - Dr Jason Arday, Sophia Siddiqui, Dr Sanjay Sharma

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Dr Jason Arday (Durham University) - Come Together: Right Now…Collectively Dismantling Racism in Higher Education

The events of the last few months reflect a seminal moment in race relations history which has provided a collective moment of reflection, resulting in a challenging of whiteness and the power and privilege that accompanies this at the expense of Black and minority ethnic communities throughout society’s major institutions. The collective state of cogitation presently occupying global discourse as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement, provides a stimulus for how higher education may begin to reconceptualise what an egalitarian and racially inclusive Academy may look like. In the wake of recent events this talk attempts to emphasise the importance of collective endeavour in attempting sustain penetrative change. Furthermore, this lecture will examine the evolving and continuing reconceptualization of White allyship and the importance of actively disrupting racism. Considerations will explore how we as a sector may improve to develop impactful university race equality interventions.

Sophia Siddiqui (Institute of Race Relations)

At the Institute of Race Relations, ‘the people we are writing for are the people we are fighting for’, and central to our work is combining thinking and doing, analysis with activism on the streets. Sophie  will explore the role of researchers, academics and activists of letting experiences speak through interviews, particularly the voices that are marginalised or erased, and the process of moving from interviews to a broader, structural analysis. As A. Sivanandan said, ‘turn cases into issues, issues into causes, causes into a movement’. Moving from individual experiences to a structural analysis is crucial in these neoliberal times, in order to understand the root causes of oppression, and to finding commonalities of experience between different groups – in academia, in research and in community organising. ‘Experience’ forms the building blocks from which analysis can grow, creating a collective edifice that is crucial in the fight for racial justice. Collective histories of anti-racist resistance are a crucial part of this process of building – in order to make sense of the world we live in today, and to provide a critical foundation upon which our struggles against state violence can grow.

Dr Sanjay Sharma (Brunel University) - Decolonising Pedagogy

14.00 to 15.15

Techne Placements Session - Prof. Phil Powrie, Carol Hughes, Summer Phillips, Dr Helene Abiraad, Martha Beard

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If you've been inspired to undertake a placement while doing your PhD, this session will outline what support is available from Techne to enable you to complete a placement and how to apply for a stipend extension. We will hear from Techne students who have undertaken placements (Helene Abiraad at the Centre for Arab and Muslim Worlds, Summer Phillips at The Vegan Society, and Martha Beard at Falls Community Council) and you will have chance to ask any questions you may have. Please note that this session will only be relevant to Techne students, as it relates to funding available as part of the Techne provision.

14.00 to 15.15

Welcome Back! Techne Alumni Panel - Dr Guido Bartolini, Huw Rowlands, Dr Joana Neves, Prof. Harriet Hawkins

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Come along to hear from some of our Techne alumni - they will share their experiences of PhD research and what they have gone on to do after finishing with Techne. Most of the session will be in a Q&A format, so come along with some questions for our alumni.

Huw Rowlands' research brought a performance studies lens, specifically Diana Taylor's concepts of archive, repertoire, and scenarios, to historic cross-cultural encounters and later commemorations of them, taking Captain Cook's arrival in Aotearoa New Zealand as the inspiration for four case studies. Huw will submit before the end of the year, and iscurrently applying for fellowships and jobs, and exploring other career options.

Joana Neves' research Following the Indexical Line, Etienne-Jules Marey, Douglas Huebler, Sol LeWitt established the line as a speculative tool. I cross-referenced nineteenth century graphic and photographic scientific devices and images (graphic recording machines and chronophotography), and twentieth century conceptual art strategies using serial photography and diagrams. I employed a dialogic methodology, that is, a speculative dialogue across times and cognitive fields, between Charles S. Pierce (semiotics) and Sol LeWitt (conceptual artist), Douglas Huebler (conceptual artist) and the nineteenth century French inventor Etienne-Jules Marey, amongst others.   

Guido Bartolini completed his doctorate at Royal Holloway University of London on the Italian cultural memory of World War II. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Italian Literature of the Axis War: Memories of Self-Absolution and the Quest for Responsibility (Palgrave Macmillan: 2021). He is currently IRC Postdoctoral Fellow at University College Cork (UCC), where he works on the cultural memory of Italian Fascism. Dr Bartolini is also Visiting Fellow for the IMLR Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory for which he curates the interdisciplinary seminar series ‘Mediated Memories of Responsibility’.

15.45 to 16.45

Keynote Lecture: Poetry Saved My Life - Prof. Benjamin Zephaniah (Brunel University)

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Professor Zephaniah will talk about how experience has shaped his work and take questions from students.

Benjamin was one of the pioneers of the performance poetry ‘scene’ in Britain. He was part of the ‘school’ known as the ‘Dub Poets’, these were poets that work alongside reggae music. He has spent most of his life performing around the world in schools, universities, concert halls, and in public spaces. His poetry is noted for mixing serious issues with humour and being accessible to a wide range of people. He is particularly interested in how poetry works in performance and its relationship to music. His recent releases include a music album called Revolutionary Minds, and his autobiography, The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah, which was shortlisted for both the National Book Awards and the Costa Book Award.

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