29th September – 6th October Ben Bowman

A week is a long time in politics (or at least that’s what politicians say) and that’s where we’ll be spending these seven days, in the company of UK youth politics researcher Ben Bowman, AKA @bennosaurus.  His work covers the British riots in 2011, photographic fieldwork and the financial crisis – fascinating and pertinent stuff (although I’m going to need to hear more about the smell testing too!).

Hi! I’m Ben Bowman – @bennosaurus on Twitter – and I am a PhD student at the University of Bath in the UK. I am half British and half American, and I live in the town of Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire. I study young people’s politics in the UK.

A little bit about me. My bachelor’s degree was in Russian and Politics and I lived in Russia for a year, where I taught and studied at Voronezh State University, and worked in a youth volunteer organization. After that I spent some time out of study, working on online youth engagement  projects like imascientist.org.uk.

My contract ran out right in the middle of the crisis and I worked wherever I could find a job, from writing mobile phone manuals, to hammering rivets into aircraft parts, to professional smell testing (yes, seriously!). After that I came back to University and completed an MA in International Politics, and I am now starting the final year of my PhD.

My research is on young people’s politics, and I use creative methods, especially digital photography, to build conversations with young people about their lives, their hopes and fears, and their feelings about society and politics. In my fieldwork I hand out digital cameras to groups of young people in the UK along with a task, something like: “take a picture of something you are proud of in the place where you live”. Politics can feel distant and off-putting, and by building conversations about everyday life I hope my research can explore young people’s lives on their own terms and in their own words. I am looking forward to sharing my research with you.

It really interests me how we talk about young people as members of our society, particularly after the economic crisis, in the UK and the rest of Europe, so on one day of the week I will be tweeting about young people’s politics during the crisis. You can read some of my work on this published online here: https://bath.academia.edu/BenjaminBowman. I also had an article published this summer on the English riots in 2011, which you can read here! http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13688790.2014.912189#.VBL518VdV8E

As well as my research on young politics I have been advising the European Youth Forum on their policies towards the Vote at 16. In May I attended the European Youth Event at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, where I debated on votes at 16 with two politicians. The Vote at 16 is an issue that is very much at the cutting edge of politics, with strong arguments both in support and against, and hopefully we can have a discussion about the Vote at 16 on We The Humanities this week.

I have some other topics lined up: I am starting an open access student journal so we can talk about free information and academic publication, for example. Really, I hope I can keep you interested and I hope that you will send me a lot of replies so that I can meet some of the We The Humanities community over the week!

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