Pollyanna has a BA in English Literature and Language from the University of Liverpool and an MA in Media and Cultural Studies from the University of Sussex. She competed her PhD, which examines the ways in which coalition movements access the mainstream media, at the University of Sussex in 2010. She is currently Research Fellow in the Department of Media and Communication at LSE.
Pollyanna is interested in the media's role in the construction of political change. Her research focuses on the ways in which protest movements bridge the gap between their own familiar but marginal spaces, and a mainstream which is suspicious at best and downright hostile at worst. In doing so she looks at the communicative strategies of contemporary political movements, such as the anti-globalisation movement, the anti-war movement and coalitions against the cuts. Her work explores activists' use of non-traditional communications forms such as direct intervention, visual metaphors and social networking.
Her work examines the relationship between confrontational protests and cosmopolitan solidarity in a globalised public sphere. She examines the mediated spaces produced by grassroots campaign organizations and explores the tensions created by the need to preserve these subaltern arenas whilst also engaging with more mainstream publics. She is particularly interested in the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion and focuses on the potentially productive frictions between differently orientated groups. Pollyanna is currently investigating the tensions that exist between coalition activists dedicated to non-violent direct action and those who advocate more confrontational forms of intervention.
Pressure groups' choices of protest tactics depends largely upon the way in which they are perceived by other activists, the police, journalists and members of the wider public. Within this context the tensions inherent in the friend/opponent relationship are perpetually in danger of tipping over into that of a friend/enemy relationship. Her work utilises Deleuze and Guattari's work on rhizomatic and arborescent systems in order to examine the interface between the chaotic 'smooth' spaces of autonomous/anarchist activists and the regimented 'striated' space of professional journalists. Thus it also aims to develop a more flexible and nuanced account of the ways in which subaltern and official public spheres interconnect and, in doing so, to extend rhizomatic models of the media to include the emergence of protest coalitions.
Current Research Interests
Pollyanna has also recently begun to focus on networks containing human and technological actors as well as hybrids of both of these. Within this context she is exploring the ways in which differently orientated protest repertoires contribute to the formation of political collectives as they occupy city spaces. This research will focus on the protests against the budget cuts that took place in London in 2011. It will examine the way in which an 'anti-kettling app' called Sukey combines the weak ties of participation with the stronger ties of activism to create a resilient network of texts, tweets and maps. It will investigate the political potential of these developments and asks whether Sukey's occupation of mainstream rather than alternative digital space impacts upon maptivists' ability to resist being contained by the police.
Pollyanna is hoping to investigate the impact of new technologies on the dynamics of inter-generational memory. This project will ask whether, in the absence of organisational continuity, the internet can maintain memory across different generations of activists and therefore transfer knowledge from the past, through the present and into the future. It will do so by conducting in-depth interviews about the transfer of knowledge, tactics, values and beliefs between three different generations of activists; those demonstrating against the poll tax in the early 1990s, those demonstrating against the rise of neo-liberalism in the late 1990s/early 2000s and those demonstrating against the current austerity measures.
Articulating Dissent; Protest and the Public Sphere will be published by Pluto Press in 2014. It is about the communicative strategies of coalition protest movements and the way in which they impact upon a mainstream unaccustomed to such fractured and fractious articulations of dissent. It focuses on coalitions such as the anti-globalisation movements, the anti-war movements and coalitions against the cuts, and examines non-traditional communications forms. For example it explores activists' use of visual metaphors, their use of computer-mediated communications and their occupation of online and off-line spaces. It is particularly interested in the tensions that exist between coalition activists stemming from very different protest traditions, for example those dedicated to non-violent direct action and those who advocate more confrontational forms of intervention. Articulating Dissent will investigate the ways in which these two important and inter-related tensions impact upon the movements of ideas from the political margins to the mainstream.
Pollyanna has been teaching in Higher Education Institutions since 2002. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has taught at the University of Sussex where she won a teaching award in 2010.
Pollyanna is convening and teaching the core MSc course Methods of Research in Media and Communications (MC4M1/2). She is also convening and teaching the optional course Audience in Media and Communication (MC402). She will be supervising MSc dissertations.