Professor Katharine Tyler
Associate Professor (Anthropology)
My research falls within the interdisciplinary area of critical race studies, with a particular focus on the formation of white racial identities, social class, postcolonialism and Britishness. My work is founded upon reflexive, multi-sited, residential ethnographic fieldwork within urban, suburban and semi-rural locales of Britain.
I am currently the Principal Investigator of an ESRC funded (Open Competition Award) project on ‘Identity, Belonging and the Role of the Media in Brexit Britain’, with co-investigators Prof. Cathrine Degnen (Newcastle, Social Anthropology), Professor Susan Banducci, Dr Travis Coan and Professor Dan Stevens (Exeter, Politics), and Research Fellows: Dr Joshua Blamire (SPA, Exeter) and Dr Laszlo Horvath (Politics, Exeter), total value of grant: £753,728 (1st September 2018 to 30th November 2021). See the Project website for further details:
I am also the Principal Investigator of the ESRC UKRI covid-19 rapid response grant on ‘Identity, Inequality and the Media in Brexit-Covid-19- Britain’, with co-investigators Professor Dan Stevens and Professor Susan Banducci (Exeter, Politics), Professor Cathrine Degnen (Newcastle, Social Anthropology), and Co-I Researchers: Dr Joshua Blamire (SPA, Exeter) and Dr Laszlo Horvath (Politics, Exeter), and Research Fellow Andrew Jones (Politics), and artist in residence Helen Snell. Total value of grant: £480,429 (25th June 2020 to 24th December 2021). See the Project website for further details: https://brexit-studies.org/covid-19/
I have published articles and books on the following themes: the reproduction of the rural as a white middle class English space; collective action and the state within a multicultural urban neighbourhood; reflexivity, tradition and racism in a former mining town; the suburban paradox of conviviality and racism; the genealogical imagination and the formation of mixed-race identities; everyday perspectives on innovations in genetic science with reference to ideas of race, ethnicity and nation; and the anthropology of Britain.
Tyler, K. (2012) Whiteness, Class and the Legacies of Empire: On Home Ground, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
With B. Petersson (eds.) (2008) Majority Cultures and the Everyday Politics of Ethnic Difference: Whose House is This? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Special Journal Issue
With C. Degnen (eds.) (2017) Reconfiguring the Anthropology of Britain: Ethnographic, Theoretical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, the Sociological Review Monographs, 65 (1).
Tyler, K. (2020): Genetic ancestry testing, whiteness and the limits of anti-racism, New Genetics and Society, published on-line before print version, August 2020, DOI: 10.1080/14636778.2020.1811656
Tyler, K. (2020) Suburban ethnicities: home as the site of interethnic conviviality and racism, British Journal of Sociology, March 2020, vol. 71, issue 2. Pp. 221-235.
Tyler, K (2018) ‘An ethnographic approach to exploring race, nation and the genealogical imagination: An exploration of family history society members deployment of genetic ancestry testing’, Genealogy 2: 1-14, doi:10.3390/genealogy2010001.
With Degnen, C. (2017) ‘Amongst the disciplines: anthropology, sociology, intersection, and intersectionality’, the Sociological Review Monograph 65 (1) March, pp. 35-53.
With Degnen, C. (2017) ‘Bringing Britain into being: sociology, anthropology and British lives’, the Sociological Review Monograph 65 (1) March, pp. 20-34.
Tyler, K (2016) ‘The suburban paradox of conviviality and racism in postcolonial Britain’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43 (11) 1890-1906.
Tyler, K (2015) ‘Attachments and connections: a “white working class” English family’s relationships with their BrAsian “Pakistani” neighbours’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 38 (7) 1169-84.
Tyler, K. (2012) ‘The English village, whiteness, coloniality and social class’, Ethnicities 12 (4) 427-44.
Tyler, K. (2011) ‘New ethnicities and old classities: respectability and diaspora’, Social Identities 17 (4) 523-42.
Tyler, K. (2009) ‘Whiteness studies and laypeople’s engagements with race and genetics’, New Genetics and Society 28 (1) 35-48.
Tyler, K. (2008) ‘Ethnographic approaches to race, genetics and genealogy’, Sociology Compass 2 (5) 1860-77.
Tyler, K. (2007) ‘Streetville Forever’: collective action, ethnicity and the state’, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 14 (5) 579-602.
Tyler, K. (2005) ‘The genealogical imagination: the inheritance of interracial identities’, The Sociological Review 53 (3) 475-94.
Tyler, K. (2004) ‘Racism, tradition and reflexivity in a former mining town’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 27 (2) 290-309.
Tyler, K. (2003) ‘The racialised and classed constitution of English village life’, Ethnos 68 (3) 391-412.
Tyler, K. (2010) ‘Baltuju etniskumo dekolonizavimas: domejimasis genetikos mokslu’ (‘Decolonising white ethnicity: postcolonial engagements with genetic science’). In Socialine Antropologija Ethnografija Ir Biotechnologija. Edited by Aukusole Cepaitiene. University of Vilnius Press, pp. 105-17.
Tyler, K. (2008) ‘Debating the rural and the urban: majority white racialised discourses on the countryside and the city’. In B. Petersson and K Tyler (eds), Majority Cultures and the Everyday Politics of Ethnic Difference: Whose House is This? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 75-93.
Tyler, K. (2008) ‘Majority cultures and the everyday politics of ethnic difference’. In B. Petersson and K.Tyler (eds), Majority Cultures and the Everyday Politics of Ethnic Difference: Whose House is This? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-14.
Petersson, B. and Tyler, K. (2008) ‘The making and breaking of difference: concluding thoughts’. In B. Petersson and K. Tyler (eds), Majority Cultures and the Everyday Politics of Ethnic Difference: Whose House is This? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 226-37.
Tyler, K. (2007) ‘Race, genetics and inheritance: reflections upon the birth of “black” twins to a “white” IVF mother’. In Peter Wade (ed.) Race, Ethnicity and Nation: Perspectives from Kinship and Genetics. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 33-51.
Tyler, K. (2006) ‘Village people: race, nation, class and the community spirit’. In S. Neal and J. Agyeman (eds), The New Countryside? Ethnicity, Nation and Exclusion in Contemporary Rural Britain. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 129-48.
Tyler, K (2014) ‘White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race’, by M. Hughey, Ethnic and racial studies 37 (10) 1986-89.
Tyler, K. (2009) ‘The Everyday Language of White Racism’, by J. H. Hill, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15 (4) 860-1.
Tyler, K. (2008) ‘A Postcolonial People: South Asians in Britain’, by N. Ali, V. Kalra and S. Sayyid (eds), Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 14 (1) 204-6.
Tyler , K. (2005) Reflections on ‘Local Democracy and the Race-relations Amendment Act’, Left Curve 29 112-13.
Tyler , K. (2002) A Phenomenology of Working Class Experience’ by S. Charlesworth, The Sociological Review 50 (2) 303-6.
Tyler, K. and O. Jensen (2009) Communities within communities: a longitudinal approach to minority/ majority relationships and social cohesion, ESRC.
Other publications (impact orientated)
Tyler, K. and O. Jensen (2009) Communities within communities: reflections on belonging, ethnicity and neighbourhood relations, a twenty-page booklet summarising key findings for ‘user’ dissemination and impact.
Tyler, K. (2005) ‘Comprehénsion publique des notions de race et de génétique: au apercu des résultats d’une récente recherché au Royaume-Uni’ (see also English translation: ‘A summary of findings of a project that examined public understandings of race and genetics in the UK’), Bulletin of L’Observatoire de la Génétique, Centre de bioethique, Montreal.
My work includes the following research and writing projects:
Brexit and Belonging: Identity, Belonging and the Role of the Media in Brexit Britain
I am currently the Principal Investigator of an ESRC (Open Competition) funded project on ‘Identity, Belonging and the Role of the Media in Brexit Britain’, with co-investigators Dr Cathrine Degnen (Newcastle, Social Anthropology), Professor Susan Banducci, Dr Travis Coan and Professor Dan Stevens (Exeter, Politics), Researchers: Dr Joshua Blamire (SPA, Exeter) and Dr Laszlo Horvath (Politics, Exeter).
This project will explore ethnographically the attitudes, beliefs and values of individuals from different social backgrounds (in terms of ethnicity, migration status, nationality, class, gender, religion and generation) and geographical locations regarding questions of immigration, national identity and European belonging in the face of Britain’s exit from the EU, and how this is reflected in identity formations. Because the media has become inseparable from these political and social processes we will ask: What role have media narratives about Brexit played in these processes: to what extent are they reflected in everyday lives: and in turn, to what extent are the narratives that are uncovered in the everyday mirrored in the media? To address these questions we will develop innovative research strategies that integrate in-depth ethnographic fieldwork conducted across different areas of England with national and local media content analysis. More details about this project can be found at the project website.
Suburban Ethnicities: Convivality and Racism
Central to my work has been my exploration of everyday experiences of ethnic identity, class, place, community and belonging. It is this aspect of my work that formed one impetus for an ESRC grant that I was awarded in 2008 –2009, ESRC Small Grants Scheme. ‘Communities within communities: a longitudinal approach to minority/majority relationships and social cohesion’ (ESRC contribution: £81,795.93). This research was based on ten months of residential fieldwork in a suburban town in the South East of England with white British Italian, British Asian Pakistani minorities and the white British majority. Drawing upon in-depth interviews within families and across generations, the project examined the experiences of difference, community, identity and belonging in a specific locale over time.
The Genealogical Imagination: Race, Nation and Genetic Technologies
I have explored everyday understandings of genealogy and ethnicity, paying particular attention to the ways in which members of interracial ('mixed-race' in popular discourse) families think about ideas of belonging, inheritance and ancestry across racial and ethnic lines. This project also examined lay understandings of race and the new genetic technologies. This aspect of my work formed part of a larger EU funded framework 5 project that explored the new genetic technologies and the formation of social identity. This project was based at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester, directed by Professor Jeanette Edwards. The team included mostly social anthropologists from Universities in Britain (Manchester), Spain (Barcelona), Norway (Oslo), Hungary (Budapest), Lithuania (Vilnius), France (Paris) and Italy (Rome).
Reconfiguring the Anthropology of Britain
I have edited with Cathrine Degnen (Newcastle, Social Anthropology) a volume of the Sociological Review Monograph (2017) ‘Reconfiguring the Anthropology of Britain: Ethnographic, Theoretical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives’. This book builds on our work as co-convenors of the ASA (association of social anthropologists) Anthropology of Britain network (AOB network).
This monograph challenges and disrupts traditional notions of the anthropology of Britain as simply the practice of social anthropology ‘at home’ by illuminating the ways in which this area of inquiry is outward looking in terms of its interdisciplinary scope, theoretical, philosophical and social policy perspectives and concerns. Crucial to this endeavour is an exploration of the ways in which the ethnographic study of Britain contributes substantive issues and theoretical concerns that are crucial not only to anthropology as a wider discipline, but also more broadly to sociological inquiry. We take as our focus of inquiry questions of nationhood, postcolonialism, racialized difference, place, migration, social class, post-industrialism, education, personhood, the environment and more-than-human interactions. We explore how sociological understandings of these issues become broadened, enriched and deepened theoretically and conceptually by turning anthropological perspectives and finely grained, ethnographic research onto these topics.
Whiteness, Class and the Legacies of Empire
I have published a monograph with Palgrave Macmillan (2012) entitled Whiteness, Class and the Legacies of Empire: On Home Ground. The book questions what Britain's inglorious history of colonial exploitation has got to do with the tranquil, green and pleasant environment of the village community that is typically taken to represent the quintessence of Englishness? The book is a personally mediated, reflexive ethnography of the historically influenced, geographically situated, embodied, classed and racially differentiated constitution of contemporary urban and suburban identities. It is grounded in my experience of the ways in which social identity is constructed and maintained via ethnography of a village-like community, a post-industrial former coal-mining town and an inner-city locale, all of which are situated within close proximity to one another. The central focus is on how it is that white ethnicity is rendered invisible. What comes to light is a picture of contemporary people's conceptions of themselves conditioned by, and deriving from, the unknown and forgotten legacy of a colonial past that cannot be confined to the past.
Majority Cultures and the Everyday Politics of Ethnic Difference
I have also co-edited a book with Prof. Bo Petersson, Lund University Sweden, entitled Majority Cultures and the Everyday Politics of Ethnic Difference: Whose House is this? (2008) This book examines the ways in which 'majority' cultures govern and represent minorities and recent migrants. The volume asks what is the impact of globalization, governance and immigration controls on the construction of the majority 'self' and minority 'other'? How do people perceive minorities and the arrival of migrants of different nationalities to local societies? How are issues of ethnic difference represented and managed in sites of entrenched ethnic violence and ongoing conflict? In addressing these questions this book offers a rich collection of essays that scrutinize the processes through which Western cultures represent and exclude those people that are considered to be ethnically 'Other'.
Current Doctoral Students, University of Exeter
2015-2018: Stuart Scrase (ESRC funded, full time) ‘Ethnographic reflections on the London Riots 2011 (First Supervisor) Awarded
2014-2018: Hazel O’Brien (Funded by the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland, full time) ‘An ethnographic study of Mormons in Ireland: an explanation of majority and minority relations’ (First Supervisor), Awarded
2017-2019: Roslyn Irvine (self-funded) MA by Research in Anthropology. Race, Class and Gender in colonial India’ (First Supervisor). Awarded
2016:- Aimee Middlemiss (ESRC funded, full time 1+3) ‘Contested personhood in Second Trimester Pregnancy Loss in Britain’ (First Supervisor, 50%)
2018:- Jessica Fagin (ESRC funded, full-time 1+3) ‘Of Meat and Men: Policy, Class and Gendering Heritage in British Abattoirs’ (Second Supervisor, 50%)
2018:- Sergio Sorcia Reyes (University of Exeter International Scholarship) (second Supervisor, 50%)
2019:-Rosie Fox (ESRC funded, full-time +3) Fundamental British values in primary schools (First Supervisor, 50%)
Completed Doctoral Students, University of Surrey
Helen Moore (ESRC funded, full-time, Principal Supervisor) ‘Whiteness, rurality, Englishness: an ethnography of village life in the context of Eastern European Migration’
Charles Leddy-Owen (ESRC funded, full time, Principal Supervisor) ‘Whiteness and everyday concepts of Nationhood in London’
Lexi Scherer (ESRC funded, full time, Joint Supervisor 50/50) ‘Children’s reading practices and identities in a multicultural school in London ‘
Sylvie Patel (self funded, part time, Joint Supervisor 50/50)
‘Muslim identities in Britain and France’
Mohamed Abdou (Ministry of Education, Egypt, full time, Joint Supervisor 50/50)
‘Religion and workplace segregation in Egypt ‘
Samantha Murphy (ESRC, full time, Joint Supervisor 50/50)
‘Gendered experiences of stillbirth’
Harshad Kevel (self-funded, part time, Joint Supervisor 50/50)
‘South Asians’ experiences of diabetes in Britain’
Yin Wong (self-funded, full time, Joint Supervisor 50/50)
‘British born Chinese Children’s identities’
2017:- Editorial Board Member Genealogy
2014-16: Elected Committee Member, Networks Officer, Association of Social Anthropologists
2009- Editorial Board Member of Ethnic and Racial Studies
2011-17 Editorial Board Member of Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power
2006- Editorial Board Member of Sociology Compass, race and ethnicity section
2005-: Co-founder and convenor with Cathrine Degnen (Newcastle) of the ASA (Association of Social Anthropologists) Anthropology of Britain Network. The network's aim is to provide a forum which will facilitate a greater level of communication between researchers with an ethnographic interest in contemporary British society.
Selected media orientated activities
2016: Presenter at the University of Exeter public discussion at the Phoenix Theatre Exeter, ‘Brexit: How European are we?’.
2016: Guest Speaker on Local Devon Radio to discuss issues of immigration to mark Refugee Week.
2016: Radio 4 ‘Thinking Aloud’ to discuss with Steve Hanson his book Small Towns, Austere Times: The Dialectics of Deracinated Localism.
2012: Radio 4 ‘ Thinking Aloud’ to discuss ‘The English village, whiteness, coloniality and social class’, Ethnicities, 12 (4) 427-44, and my book Whiteness, Class and the Legacies of Empire: On Home Ground
I gained my bachelor degree (BSocSci) and PhD (ESRC-funded) in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. After my PhD I held a one-year fixed-term post in the Department of Sociology (as it was then) at the University of Exeter. I then returned to the Department of Social Anthropology at Manchester to work as a post-doctoral fellow on an EU-funded project. My first permanent position was Lecturer in Race and Ethnicity in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey (2004-2012). I took-up the post of Lecturer in Social Anthropology at Exeter in September 2012.