Creative Arts

Postgraduate research

James Ellison

Photo of  James Ellison

PhD student

James Ellison is a researcher in the School of the Arts, English and Drama.

In 2011 he was awarded a BA (Hons) in Art and Visual Culture from the University of the West of England, Bristol, which included an exchange semester at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, with artist Lothar Baumgarten. During his undergraduate degree James submitted a final project investigating the visual politics of the zombie apocalypse and a thesis entitled The Uncomfortable Marriage between Art and Politics which examined feminist art practices and the politics of representation.

In 2012 he gained an MA in Art and Politics from Goldsmiths, University of London. During his masters degree James attended a summer school on decolonial politics and aesthetics with Walter Mignolo, Maria Lugones, and Rolando Vazquez at the Roosevelt Academy in the Netherlands. He qualified from his masters degree with a distinction after writing a thesis entitled (Dis)locating the Border : Transnational Narratives and Anarchist Networks, a version of which is soon to be published as chapter in a collected volume on the connections between anarchist politics, geography, and revolt.

James was awarded a fully funded scholarship at Loughborough University to study visual representation and anarchist politics. He is co-supervised within the School of Politics, History, and International Relations (PHIR) where he is an active member of the Anarchism Research group. He is also a member of the Politicised Practice Research group in the School of the Arts.

Thesis title:

Visual representations of border violence in Calais, France

James' thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach to research, incorporating methods from the visual arts and politics to examine processes for evidencing border violence in the French port city of Calais. By combining the study of borders with grassroots practices of documenting violence, this project situates itself within the movement to end border restrictions and build solidarity with refugees and other migrants in Calais. By analysing forms of 'copwatching', this project scrutinises the production of counter-forensic narratives that expose patterns of border violence and record moments of resistance in Calais.

Drawing upon the literature associated with the study of borders, violence, and visual representation, the main argument for this thesis is that visual representations of violence both construct and challenge the border in Calais. To provide an overview of evidencing practices this project examines three forms of violence; police violence, vigilante (anti-migrant) violence, and protest violence. Analysing the evidencing of these three forms of violence demonstrates how representations of violence construct the border by reproducing the logic of the border spectacle. However, visual media also challenges the border by providing support for struggles against violence and documenting forms of vulnerability in resistance. In effect, the manner in which violence and evidence of violence is framed determines how visual representations of violence construct or challenge the border in Calais.

Dr Jane Tormey: Senior lecturer in Fine Art, Critical and Historical Studies

Dr Christina Oelgemoller: Lecturer in International relations (PHIR)

Dr Uri Gordon: Lecturer in Politics (PHIR)

Banging on the Walls of Fortress Europe: Tactical Media, Anarchist Politics and Border Thinking. In The Practice of Freedom: Anarchism, Geography, and the Spirit of Revolt, eds. R. J. White, M. Lopes de Souza and S. Springer, London, UK: Rowan and Littlefield (forthcoming)