Meet presenters

We have had a wonderful and diverse selection of work to engage and inspire us. Thanks to Tim Buescher for overseeing the review process. The committee are now in the process of completing the programme and timings for presentations of sessions and panels, and other than the opening session which is shown below, these will be available on the website later this week. In the meantime, meet some of those presenting this week:

Opening session “Activism & Autoethnography” with

  • Ken Gale
  • James Simmons
  • Fiona Murray
  • David Carless
  • Phiona Stanley
  • Kitrina Douglas

In the conference opener seven autoethngraphers reflect on what “Activism” means or might mean. Does one have to define yourself as an activist to challenge social injustice? We think not. Perhaps activism is more about becoming an activist where you are in the hope that your work and scholarship might play some part in social change; and this may happen through multiple methods and forms. Underpinning our interest at the 2019 British Conference of Autoethnography we are interested to explore activism as a concern with social injustices, marginalisation, and stigmatisation. In relation to poverty, exclusion and disempowerment. Often it is those within our communities who have the fewest resources who are chellenges to bring about the most change, be this economic, environmental or in their own behaviour.

Meet some of your fellow presenters:

Anjila Sinha

Anjila lives in Greenwich with her daughter and her cat, Sigmund. She has worked in the charity sector for the past 30 years, currently supporting victims of gender-based violence. She has counselled in a GP surgery, a secondary school for boys and for MIND and is now working on setting up private practice. She is a compulsive reader and creative writer.  

Rev Dr Kevin Ellis

I am a Vicar on Anglesey and discovering whether or not he is an autoethnographer or not.  I am a Welsh learner. I have a New Testament PhD, and am currently working for another looking at what it means to lead a church as an English priest in Wales, using autoethnography as my lens and liberation theology as one of the many filters

Ross Wignall is a lecturer in social/cultural anthropology at Oxford Brookes University. His doctoral research explored the intersection of morality, faith and the gendered body as modes of youth self-actualisation and more recently his research focusses on the inclusion of youth voices in development policy in both Sub-Saharan Africa and the Global North with a particular focus on disenfranchised young people in Sierra Leone. He is a passionate advocate of auto-ethnography and has recently been writing about his own experiences of fatherhood. 

Adam McDade is a AHRC NPIF funded PhD research student in design at the University of Sunderland, and a tattooist at Triplesix Studios, Sunderland. His PhD research is titled, ‘Beyond the Epidermis: A practical investigation into contemporary Western tattooing’. Adam adopts a multi-method methodology that utilises his tattooing practice and autoethnographic reflections on practice in order to investigate the practical process of cultural production of tattooing, and the role of the contemporary Western tattooist.

Anette Holmgren, is a Danish psychologist,who writes and published stories, often about women in narrative therapy. Her most recent book is “The Psychology of Trauma (in Danish).

Allan Holmgren, Danish psychologist, has worked in psychiatry for more than 40 years. He write on narrative therapy, leadership and doing consultancy work. Together they co-authored Narrative Supervision, and have co-written a hands-on-book the “Theme Based Supervision and Collegial Reflections”. (Also in Danish).

Anette and Allan are both Directors of DISPUK: A Danish Consultancy and training center based on narrative and poststructuralist thinking with about 4-500 students a year. DISPUK celebrates its 30 years Anniversary in Ystad, Sweden, next year.

Carol Day has been leading and directing The Centre for Creative Vision in North East Scotland since 2009.  She writes courses and practitioner programmes supporting others to connect meaningfully with their own stories and the stories in community and the natural world.  She is a counsellor and a shamanic operator.  She is the author of two books Wheel and Drum, and an artist who works with site specific narrative events and a project called The Theatre of Dragon Hill.  Her special interest is initiation and the human journey with the contrasting realms of darkness and light, especially pertaining to mood. The project she presents at this conference, an autoethnographic play is the piece of work submitted for her recent MSc paper in Pluralistic Counselling through Abertay University, Dundee (May 2019).

Abimbola Alao Abimbola is a researcher at Lapin Yliopisto – University of Lapland, Finland. Her research explores the influence of psychosocial intervention for dementia. Abimbola taught creative writing and storytelling at Marjon Plymouth University from 2007-2018. She is currently a visiting lecturer at the Peninsular Medical School, University of Plymouth, where she teaches ’StoryWeavers for Dementia’, a module in Medical Humanities. Abimbola is an award-winning author and performance storyteller. She is also a children’s book translator and her work include Yoruba translation of the classics: ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘The Little Red Hen and the Grain of Wheat’ and several other books published by Mantra Lingua.Abimbola’s performance is titled “Trickster Tales for Telling: A Narrative Performance”

Julie Parsons: I am an Associate Professor in Sociology. My doctoral study ‘An Auto/Biographical study of relationships with food’, formed the basis of a monographGender, Class and Food, Families, Bodies and Health, shortlisted for the Foundation of Health and Illness book prize in 2016. I have published a range of journal articles, book chapters and web sites; secured post-doctoral research funding and a mid-career fellowship (see:  I am convenor of the BSA Food Studies Group and work closely with colleagues from the BSA Auto/Biography study group, currently co-editing a Palgrave MacMillan Handbook of Auto/Biography due for publication next year. I am also editing a journal special issue on creative and collaborate approaches to research with a social and criminal justice focus. I was programme lead for an MSc in Social Research from 2010-2014 and am currently programme lead for the BSc (Hons) Sociology programme and an externalexaminer. Julie’s presentation is titled “Whose timeline is it anyway?”. Coproducing the visual in the pursuit of social justice.”

Fiona Murray

is a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and is a psychodynamic counsellor in private practice.  She completed her doctoral dissertation  “The Porn Factory: A feminist dystopian inquiry into porn (re)produced worlds”  in 2017.  She is interested in research that thinks with affect theory and the New Materialisms. One of the projects she is currently working on is an interdisciplinary project on evaluating photography as a visual method. Currently, she reckons she is the best granola maker in the UK at least but possibly further. She humbly acknowledges a stiff competitor in Marrakech. 

Christa Welsh-Saunders

Christa Welsh is a BACP accredited psychotherapist in private practice for over twenty years specialising in race, gender and trauma. Christa is also currently a doctoral researcher exploring transgenerational traumatic bonding. As a radical educationalist and Independent Scholar Christa sees herself as playing a critical role in the construction of ‘new’ meaning and perception to liberate both the oppressed and the oppressors from what Friere defines as the conspiracy of silence. This year Christa will present “Re-Visioning Experience: Child-Shifting and Reunification the psychological implications for British African Caribbean Women, Christa Welsh”  


Travis Heath, Associate Professor of Psychology, Metropolitan State University of Denver ( Has practiced in Los Angeles, California and currently resides in Denver, Colorado where he co-founded Rocky Mountain Narrative Therapy Center (RMNTC). His work includes shifting from a multicultural approach to counselling to one of cultural democracy that invites people to heal in mediums that are culturally near. His work has also focused on the use of rap music in narrative therapy, working with persons entangled in the criminal justice system in ways that maintain their dignity, narrative practice stories as pedagogy, and a co-created questioning practice called reunion questions. This year Travis will present, “Crossing Enemy Lines: A Post-Oppositional Narrative Approach to Working with a Trump Supporter”tim Buescher

Tim Buescher – I am part of a relatively young mental health nursing team at the University of Hull where I teach student mental health nurses about research. Although I have only had a permanent position at my institution for two years, I have been doing this for four years. Hopefully, by the time you read this, I will have submitted my thesis, which began as an exploration of help-seeking in family members of compulsive hoarders and became a mutual exploration with a co-researcher of why we value some things and ideas over others and how we go on with disrupted and messy (hi)stories. In writing this, I have had to “come out” as a mental health practitioner uneasy with the position, language and politics of mental health care. 

DC 2David Carless. My professional background spans the performing arts, education and psychology – all of which inform the interdisciplinary social research I am immersed in as a professor of narrative psychology at Leeds Beckett University. Arts-based and performative collaborations with Kitrina Douglas incorporate songwriting, storytelling, filmmaking and live performance to create social research that is meaningful, relevant and accessible beyond academia. In the public realm, our research is available as a series of live performances, audio CD’s and films (see Within academia we have published our work as journal articles, books and book chapters as well as performing and presenting at conferences around the world.

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 15.54.54Ken Gale: I work in the Institute of Education in the Faculty of Arts and Education at the University of Plymouth and have published widely and presented at a number of international conferences on the philosophy of education, research methodologies and collaborative approaches to education practices. My current research involves the use of post human and affectively inclined approaches to theorising and inquiry.

Jackie GoodeJackie Goode, is a  sociologist and Visiting Fellow in Qualitative Research in the School of Social Sciences at Loughborough University. After working for over twenty years on a variety of qualitative research projects in the areas of health, welfare, higher education and policing, she now enjoys writing autoethnographies. These have been published in Qualitative Inquiry, Cultural Sociology, Ageing and Society and Sociological Research Online. Her presentation for this years conference is titled: 

“Are we God’s Men?”: an autoethnographic family story”


Russell Heywood has been involved in the holistic movement for twenty years, as a facilitator and participant in various countries, also working as an English and Community Education teacher. Since finishing his arts practice PhD At Brighton University last year, he has been part of the Creative Writing and Autoethnography programmes.  His research uses multiple genres and a humorous approach to storying the self, connecting with autoethnography as a way of challenging apparently neutral dominant narratives and exploring more holistic cultural and personal possibilities. 2019 will see Russel present “Autoethnography is no laughing matter.” which explores how nurturing a playful or comical mood, supports entertaining, accessible autoethnography, keeping investigations light-hearted and less formal, which is often useful or necessary, when dealing with difficult material, awkward silences or highly contested areas.

Jess Moriarty is a Principal Lecturer at the University of Brighton where she is course leader on the Creative Writing MA and English Literature and Creative Writing BA. Her work is on autoethnography, communities of practice and developing confidence with creative work and academic life. This year Jess will present “Finding the inner compass: Mapping a way out of creative stuck places and personal change”

Gary Hodge

Gary Hodge – Is a mental health nurse and lecturer working in Plymouth, and a distance learning PhD (Mental Health) student with Lancaster University. He has a special interest in person centred and humanistic approaches to dementia care, completing a MSc in Ageing, Mental Health and Dementia in 2013. His presentation this year it titled:Becoming Intersubjective ‘In Medias Res’ of Behaviours that Challenge in Dementia: A Layered Autoethnography.

Phiona Stanley is Associate Professor of Intercultural Business Communication in Tourism and Languages at Edinburgh Napier University. She has published ethnographic and autoethnographic research on westerners teaching English in China, backpackers learning Spanish in Latin America, unlikely hikers, travel zine writing, converting a campervan, and the destination imaginaries of incoming tourists in Australia. She is currently writing about remigration, decolonizing volunteer tourism, and the intersectional power negotiations of LGBTIQA+ travellers in home-stay contexts in Guatemala.

Naomi Sharin Shajahan works as an Assistant Professor in Asian University for Women, located in Bangladesh and  aims to empower women from 17 different countries.  She teaches “women and autoethnography” and “feminism” there.    Naomi has completed PhD  from Murdoch University, Australia. her presentation is titled “Tibetan Buddhism and Feminism in an in-between space: A creative Critical Autoethnography in a non-western women’s voice”

“The number on the scales vs. the number on the bar – An exploration of strongwoman’s empowering potential”, Hannah Newman, Loughborough University

 “An autoethnography in poetry of experiences of epilepsy”, Louise Spiers

Alison Williams I am a teacher of higher vocational education within the department of education, health and community of an inner-city university in the Midlands. I am also currently completing my PhD at the University of Warwick, for which I am using Autoethnography to explore my practice as a teacher. My study places particular focus on fostering the conditions for transformative learning and factors that influence connectedness between people in the higher education organisation. I explore the conditions which support or impede the conditions that offer potential for transformative learning and the type of relationships needed to meet, with integrity, the aims of widening participation. 

Ravi Nishi, University of Edinburgh, Nishi is a student at the University of Edinburgh completing her second year of the Masters in Counselling, specialising in the Interpersonal Dialogue. Her interest in autoethnography grew during her Master’s, particularly stemming from her experience of being an Indian counsellor trainee in the UK and learning to embrace her ‘voice’ as a researcher and therapist. Nishi’s presentation it titled “Shades of Brown: My Tryst with Diversity and Culture as a Trainee Counsellor”,

“Territory, body, blood”, Tara McGuinness,University College Dublin,

“Autoethnography as Collaboration: A Cloistered Nun Shares her Journey”, Abbie Reese, University of California, Riverside, USA,

“Finding Meaning in Darkness’ A Play in 3 Acts Hanging out on the transitional edges: A study on mood disorder, the creative process and nature as a theatre.” Carol Day, Abertay University Counselling MSc

“The Abuses of the Academy’: An Autoethnographic and Reflexive Account of the Personal-Professional Impact of Harmful Institutional Pressures and Expectations,

Karen Lumsden

“Storying Cancer: A narrative inquiry”, Kathryn Aldrige Morris, Independent Scholar

            James S. Simmons is a transdisciplinary academic, with a BA in Socioeconomic Social Change, an MA in Media Theory, and is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology & Social Change.  He has been published by Critical Planning Journal, SF Bayview, Alternative Outlook, IndyMedia, and the Slingshot Journal.  James has also presented on panels for the Cultural Studies Association, North American Global Studies Association, the Society for the Advancement of Socioeconomics, the American Ethnological Society, North American Anarchist Studies Association, the Latin American Pedagogies Symposium, the Anthropology & Social Change conference, and many more. In academia, he has worked with Long Island University, California Institute of Integral Studies, Goddard College, Sonoma State University, and Berkeley City College. His activism work includes the Iraq Anti-War Movement, Amnesty International, Occupy Wall Street, Hampton Playground Initiative, and the California Prisoner Hunger Strike.