Welcome to My Website

This web site contains a selection of past and present writings, supported by picture galleries, videos and other material generated by my research. I am an urban ethnographer by trade and have worked mostly with young people and communities in East London, charting the impact of structural and demographic change on their everyday experience, and the stories they tell about the past, present and future of this area. My work draws on concepts and methods from a range of approaches in the human sciences, including anthropology, actor-network theory, psychoanalysis, narratology and cultural geography.  I have always been concerned to relate my 
research to educational and political issues, and to create a dialogic framework for the research process.


Whether we are key workers in the front line, or locked down in the back yards,  whatever our medical or economic status,   we are  all caught up in the complicated epidemiological  eco-system that is Covid-19.  We are also facing an infodemic of public  commentary and analysis , no doubt soon to be followed by an avalanche of movies, novels and memoirs. The pandemic is already providing grist to many academic mills.

 If you read the two texts I have written on the subject you will see that I am interested in what might be called the pandemic’s ‘other scene’, the impact that it is having on our inner worlds, and in particular  our dream life. Using the approach of  ‘social dreaming’ developed by some social psychologists I would like to collect dreams that people are having at the current time and which they think might be directly or indirectly influenced by the experience of living through this pandemic. These two texts are Political Mindfulness: Fresh Perspectives On Multiple Crises’ and There Must Be Some Way Out Of Here.

All you need to do is to keep a dream book over a number of weeks and then send me some or all of the dreams you record. If you want to add your associations to the dream content, then please do so. But you don’t have to. It is   up to you. Complete confidentiality is guaranteed and in the event that I wanted to quote one of your dream texts in anything I wrote  I will contact you for permission first.

All you have to do to take part is use the contact form below. Look forward to hearing from you.  Phil.      

Please feel free to contact me using this link or the Contact Phil link above.

Phil now has a Wikipedia entry!  Click here to view it.

My New Book!

A Long Life in the Making  – My Father’s  Memoir 

My father  was extremely well read, an influence from his early years growing up in a Jewish working-class culture which venerated book learning and those who had it, another family tradition passed on to me.[1] His  main interest in  his retirement  was compiling a series of self-published bibliographies about major rivers. He did the Thames, The Clyde and the Delaware[2], and this hobby united his interest in boating, he kept a cabin cruiser on the Thames at Henley for many years  and books, he was a keen collector of rare, mainly topographical, antiquarian literature. His research often took him to the British Library, just down the road from where he lived in Bloomsbury and occasionally I would see him in one of the reading rooms, immersed in a pile of ancient volumes and with an invisible sign on his desk: danger scholar at work, please do not disturb! He also wrote a series of articles about the history of surgery which he published in various medical journals and some short biographical sketches  of doctors he had worked under, fortunately most of them deceased,  as the accounts were  often  scurrilous, if not  actionable!.[3] He was proud of these literary accomplishments and he never tired of telling me how much money he had made from his books, much to my chagrin.

Click here to read more about this book

The book is available from Eyeglass Books.

My Previous Book

WAYPOINTS: Towards An Ecology Of Political Mindfulness

We are living through disturbed and disturbing times in which the maps drawn by political scientists no longer make sense of what is happening on the ground. Against this background the propagandists of neo-liberal individualism urge us to cultivate ‘resilience’ and ‘mindfulness’ as a way of seizing and surviving the present moment. Mindfulness in particular has been popularised as a way of promoting well-being by enabling people suffering from anxiety or depression to become more aware of internal mental states and their relation to external circumstances.

But what if this concept is applied not just to the adaptive strategies of an individual psyche but to the state of health of the body politic? It might then help us focus more precisely on how the stresses and strains of our everyday lives are connected to the social structures we inhabit. It might, for example, help us understand more concretely how issues, of race, gender, generation and class shape the most intimate registers of our being in the world.

From this starting point, the book charts a journey, at once intellectual andexistential, across the fault lines of our conflicted society and divided selves.It brings together writings occasioned by recent political and personalevents in an attempt to grasp their inter-connection in what is flashing pastbefore it disappears into a fog of reminiscence or rhetoric. Many of the pieces collected here are this kind of auto-ethnographic reportage. Others, more essayistic in form, step back to think more strategically about some of the deeper processes at work in our increasingly uncivil society.

Click here to read the book announcement.

The book is available from Eyeglass Books.

I would like to acknowledge those who have been essential to the creation of this website:  Norman Dallura (Dallura Web Design), Donald Nicholson Smith (editorial consultant)  and Jane Mullins (copy editing).