CASIC seminar in collaboration with SOLACE

Title: Dancers, Terrorists,and Pirates: Cosmopolitan Sensibilities of a Marginalised World

Speaker: Dr. Jose Jowel Canuday, Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippines

Date: Wednesday 6 June 2018

Venue: DW0.29 (Darwin Building)

Time: 1-2.30pm

Pirates, rebels, and terrorists beheading Asian, European, North American, and local captives seized while on tour in the pristine shores of Philippine, Indonesian, and Malaysian borders permeate the global media imagination of this remote region. Swept off these imageries, however, are lasting and deeply rooted cosmopolitan traits of openness, flexibility, and reception of ordinary constituencies to a great array of cultural flows streaming into and out of the Muslim enclaves of the Southern Philippines. The distinctive features of these cosmopolitan sensibilities are discernible in how such awareness are embodied in the blending of old and time honoured dance music traditions in contemporary pop-musical genre recorded and performed as part of everyday micro­ entrepreneurial productions of street-based musical videos.

Drawing from a year long ethnographic fieldwork hanging out and collaborating creatively with artists, wedding performers, and street vendors, this work presents enduring acts of attachment to local worlds and greater connection to our shared humanity that have been invariably described as every day, down-to-earth, pragmatic, interstitial, and practical cosmopolitanism.


Professor Mihaela Kelemen, Director CASIC, Keele University

Vassos Argyrou, Professor of Social Anthropology and Cultural Theory, University of Hull


Title: Researching with radically excluded groups: understanding the challenges of participation

Speaker: Dr Matthew Johnson

Date:  Monday 17th September 2018

Venue: TBC (Darwin Building)

Time: 1-2.30pm

Participatory research offers the promise of egalitarian, context-appropriate research with the genuine possibility of impact in communities most in need of engagement. In this talk, I wish to reflect on the development of ‘A Cross-Cultural Working Group on “Good Culture” and Precariousness’ – an international, interdisciplinary, participatory project involving a research network of around 40 academics, community professionals/workers and community co-researchers from Ashington, Northumberland and Aboriginal groups around Brisbane (partial list here: The project sought to examine means of fostering culture capable of promoting wellbeing among seriously disadvantaged and excluded groups in societies in which ‘success’ requires individual aspiration and exposure to socio-economic insecurity. The project:

i. highlighted the deep, often centuries-old, historical reasons for communities’ being disadvantaged through political processes of domination that inflict vulnerabilities to forms of change;
ii. argued that the key source of contemporary harm in many such communities has been the dissolution of once prominent institutions that demonstrated interdependence of individuals, fostered capability development and asserted means of collective aspiration;
iii. critiqued the work of Guy Standing, arguing that, unlike aspirational workers whose life paths are imperilled by insecurity and unpredictability, the groups in question are subject to lives marked by predictable drudgery and collective domination, requiring different sets of institutional and cultural responses,
iv. and examined the possibility of Universal Basic Income (UBI) supporting such initiatives

However, the project also faced a number of challenges both inherent to participatory approaches and to the specific cross-cultural element around which the project was forged. These included: i) the difficulty of shaping a common language around which the research could proceed; ii) advancing staged ethical processes through which work, involving the production of a film, could proceed; iii) the difficulty of institutionalizing a culture of research within the project given that the communities involved had been so seriously deinstitutionalized over long periods of time and, attendant to that, iv) articulating any sense of value for money in an age of austerity. By working through each of those issues, and the responses adopted in this specific instance, I wish to enable others to consider means of maximizing the value of their own particular experiences within participatory projects.


Matthew Johnson is Lecturer in Politics in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University. His research focuses on issues such as Englishness and the relationship between culture, public policy and wellbeing. He has led a participatory project entitled ‘A Cross-cultural Working Group on “Good Culture” and Precariousness’, which involved embedded exchanges between people from Ashington, Northumberland and Aboriginal communities around Brisbane, Australia. Two films covering the project have been produced by Brightmoon Media and are to be screened on the Made In TV network. An archive of video material, interviews and media coverage produced during the project is available at the project YouTube channel. The project was covered on the BBC One Show and Al Jazeera and in The Independent and ABC. He has regularly contributed to BBC Radio and is the BBC Election Night analyst for BBC Radio Cumbria. He is the founding editor of the journal, Global Discourse, the author of Evaluating Culture: Wellbeing, Institutions and Circumstance and articles in journals such as Australian Journal of Political Science, Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, British Journal of Educational Studies, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Journal of Medical Ethics, Educational Theory, Social Indicators Research and Ethnicities.