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Dr Anita Howarth
Senior Lecturer in Journalism

Gaskell Building 176

Research area(s)

· Humanitarian communication, migration and refugees

· The politics and communication of food

· Digital technologies in university classrooms

· Environmental communication, journalism and risk

Research Interests

Political communication

Food communication

Risk communication

Research grants and projects

Research Projects

Project details

One of Anita’s current projects is concerned with what the emergence and politicization of food banks signify in Britain today. Food poverty has been rising steadily over the past two decades but has now reached post-war highs. The retreat of the welfare state and ideologically-driven benefit cuts have created a space in which food banks have come to signify more than visible spaces of need. Food banks not only render visible a hidden hunger; they also disrupt a neo-liberal paradigm of austerity by presenting new questions about how poverty is legitimized or de-legitimized in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The debates are highly polarized around shame and stigma. A recent article mapped out some of these broader themes through an analysis of how the use of social media platforms by a food bank user and blogger challenged and disrupted the dominant discourse and ideology of austerity. Another article has looked at growing food banks as a lens on the corporeal vulnerability of the human body not only to shifting individual circumstances, but also to political and socio-economic shifts. Anita has been granted research leave in 2017 to write a grant or fellowship application to support the further development of this work.

Anita is also working on two collaborative projects. The first one, focuses on representations of the ‘jungles’ of Calais and the struggles of the refugees who occupy them. In particular, it challenges and questions mainstream media depictions and political rhetoric which de-humanize refugees and migrants, and in the process highlight deep-seated anxieties about the issues of immigration and the ‘Other’. The current research looks at interventions by non-governmental organizations, charities, including Doctors of the World, and activists to ‘re-humanize’ the migrant.

A second collaborative project is concerned with the various instrumental and ethical challenges presented by mobile technologies and the push to reconfigure the workings of universities in the digital economy. Most universities are investing in digital and technical infrastructure to administer, deliver and disseminate research and education. Dedicated platforms for teaching and course administration, the promotion of lecture capture and the enhancement of teaching and student experiences in the classroom have positioning technologies at the forefront of this push. This project reviews the main challenges facing the wiring up of the academy through convergent digital technologies today. As universities increasingly seek to promote and govern new media technologies what are main opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies and how do they empower us and make us vulnerable? This research is being funded by internal Brunel grant of £7700.