Current Work

 

Hi! I’m Ashleigh, a writer and sociologist. I’m currently completing a PhD researching fiction and public sociology with Griffith University and the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research. I run Frances St Press and am the creator and editor of So Fi Zine

I teach across sociology, criminology, writing, gender, and world history. I’m the current Postgraduate Portfolio Leader for The Australian Sociological Association (2017-2018) and I recently completed a 2017 Endeavour Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Tweet me at @awtsn or email ashleigh.watson@griffithuni.edu.au.

Research
My practice-based PhD project, which I’m doing in public and cultural sociology, involves the creation of a sociological novel to explore how we can engage people in sociological imagination. I’m supervised by Prof Andy Bennett, Prof Sarah Baker and Prof Les Back. The novel explores the tensions between individualism and society in a contemporary Australian cultural context. I argue that in order to combat issues brought about by individualistic understandings of social life, public sociology may adopt creative approaches like fiction writing to better illustrate social theories and cultivate sociological imagination with publics. My theoretical focus concerns the neoliberal imagination and affect, which I approach with a Spinozan relational ontology. This project is among the first of its kind in Australia.

In 2017 I spent six months working at Goldsmiths, University of London, thanks to an Endeavour Research Fellowship. I was awarded this by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training as part of the Australia Awards scheme. I undertook this Fellowship to develop the methodological contribution my doctoral work makes to sociology – specifically, to refine my ethnographic method and build this technique into my arts-based research, to develop a progressive way of researching social narratives. I gained invaluable experience in employing social science methods and arts-based methods together for innovative research outcomes.

So Fi Zine
As part of my Endeavour Fellowship I created So Fi Zine (ISSN 2209-3028) and produced the first ever collection of short sociological fiction writing. I publish this through my indie press, Frances St Press. Edition #1 of the zine, launched in June 2017, included 21 pieces and a guest editorial by arts-based research leader and former A/Prof Patricia Leavy. Edition #2 included 50 pieces, a special section guest edited by Dr Mark Carrigan (Soc Review; Cambridge) and a guest editorial by Howard Becker. In 2017 So Fi reached over 2,300 readers. You can read the zine online for free or download a DiY print version. I am currently working on Edition #3, which is inspired by the live methods work of Les Back and Nirmal Puwar.

6TASA
I’m also working as the elected Postgraduate Portfolio Leader for TASA (2017-2018), representing almost 400 postgrads on TASA’s Executive Committee and running events like the Postgraduate Day at the TASA annual conference and Modern Methodologies: Developments in Doing Sociological Research.

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