28/09/19 - PEER Ambassadors and Rebecca Moss meet Dr Lisa Mckenzie

On Saturday 28 September Dr Lisa Mckenzie, from the Sociology Department at Durham University, delighted us with a lecture on Estates and ethnography.
Lisa's work builds upon the narratives of working-class communities collected through political ethnographic research. Our first encounter with her was at the Leicester Creating the Future Conference where her words truthfully impacted us and gave us some fuel for thought. Hypnotised by her charismatic ethnographic research we decided to invite her over to PEER to meet all the Ambassadors.

She talked to us about the importance of embedded research in a particular place, the value of narratives and the stories that images and photographs can tell us about different perspectives – what does the person behind the lens see? How is the person behind the lens seen? And how is the place that is portrayed through the lens seen by other people in their day-to-day lives? Broken down and critically looked at, these are all parts of a whole landscape/place/view/ people that are often hidden in plain sight and controlled by certain people or entrenched structures.
She generously shared stories of her home of St Ann's in Nottingham, its stigmatisation and how, after reading 'Poverty: The Forgotten Englishman', she wanted to write about her community in her voice. We talked about London and areas of regeneration that use 'place-making' strategies in places that are already places. For example, strategies that appear to highlight the history of a particular place or people, but actually only appropriate this history for their gain, and as a way to erase a past that they don't want.

Her storytelling approach opened our minds and made us wonder how many untold adventures and injustices that are hidden in front of our eyes. What is certain is that a walk in the city for Dr Mckenzie is a full immersion in the untold truths that go unnoticed on a daily basis. This is why she encouraged us to look around and to question why certain things are the way they are today. Homelessness, privatisation, rights, politics, all subjects and stories unfold in the outside world, outside of our comfort zone and it is our duty to speak up and make our voices heard.
This is why she encouraged us to introduce ourselves and tell her what our interests are and how we contributed to one of the latest PEER Notices project and exhibition Open House Open Door with artist Rebecca Moss.

 Each door triggered a new conversation, a discussion on the self in relation to what doors may lead to. Doors are a powerful and meaningful research starting point, according to Lisa, and her comments on this project brought several sociological nuances that widened our vision on the subject. Lisa mentioned French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and his concept of ‘habitus’ in relation to Gideon’s themed door stressing how important it is to keep being your own self rather than conforming to imposed rules and stereotypes.

We cannot wait to meet her again and to go on an ethnographic walk around London with her!