Episode 3: The Historical Contingency of the Research and Our Responses to It

Welcome to the Connectors Study Podcast, a six-part series celebrating oral culture as a legitimate form of knowledge construction, explores various aspects of doing ethnographic research with children on the ERC funded Connectors Study (2014-2019). Researchers, Melissa Nolas, Christos Varvantakis, and Vinnarasan Aruldoss, all based at Goldsmiths, University of London at the time of recording, recount their experiences doing ethnography with children, the historical contingency of the research, sampling, and team work.

In this episode we join Melissa, Christos, and Vinnarasan as they explore the context in which the research took place. Each of the three cities were, and are, experiencing major political and social changes. In London it was the impact of Brexit, in Athens it was the election of a radical left party and the migrant crisis, and in Hyderabad it was the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The global financial crisis lingers in the background of these discussions.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The changing socio-economic and political contexts of the children’s lives.
  • How the families and children felt a sense of belonging in their home cities and countries.
  • How do families discuss politics?
  • Melissa discusses the impact of Brexit on families in London.
  • Christos outlines the effect of the refugee influx into Greece and Athens on families there, as well as their participation solidarity efforts.
  • Vinnarasan talks about the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Can a political climate create a ‘coming of age’ for children?

The researchers:

Melissa Nolas
Melissa Nolas is an interdisciplinary social scientist, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Principal Investigator of the ERC funded Connectors Study. Her research focuses on childhood publics and children’s relationships to public life; child, youth, and family welfare, well-being and social support; civic and political practices across the life course; multimodal ethnography and publics creating methodologies. She has published widely on these topics. She is the co-editor of the online journal entanglements: experiments in multimodal ethnography.

Christos Varvantakis
Christos Varvantakis is an anthropologist, working as researcher at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has a BA in Sociology (University of Crete, Greece), an MA in Visual Anthropology (Goldsmiths, UK) and a PhD (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany). His research focuses on the intersections of childhood and public life, politics and urban environments, as well as on visual and multimodal research methodologies. He has carried out ethnographic research in Greece, India and Germany over the last 15 years. Christos is Head of Programming of Ethnofest, an international festival of ethnographic film held in Athens, Greece every year.

Vinnarasan Aruldoss
Vinnarasan Aruldoss is a Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He obtained his PhD in Social Policy at The University of Edinburgh and prior to that worked several years with a number of civil society organisations, government departments and multilateral agencies as a social development practitioner in India. He is interested in inter-disciplinary research that contributes knowledge to the broader domains of childhood, early years provision and social policy analysis. He has published mainly in the fields of sociology of childhood, early years education, political sociology and childhood policy.

Next time
In the next episode the trio of researchers will be looking at how the sampling of children was done, and the challenges of finding families willing to take part in long-term research projects.

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