Erin Bradford Simmons

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New School U.

Grant number

Gr. 10631

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Simmons, Erin (New School U.) "Slow Activism: moving beyond urgency in British anti-poverty work"

This research explores practices of slow activism: long-term, relational work decoupled from “temporalities of success” (Shange 2019) and definitions of progress that require goals, impact statements, and quantifiable results. Taking the Poverty Truth Network, anti-poverty activist commissions in Britain, and The Barrow Way, a loose association of welfare providers in Barrow-in-Furness, as ethnographic sites, this project seeks to understand how change is conceptualized, followed, and translated in spaces that privilege the often uncomfortable attentiveness of slowness. The Poverty Truth Network and The Barrow Way are working to create lasting social change through slowly building durational relationships, enacting new worlds in the present. This sits in marked contrast to the embattled urgency of traditional activist work, grounded in narratives of immediacy, with powerful, visible, overwhelming action, and the focus of anti-poverty policy, which pushes for the quickest and most efficient solutions. After a decade of brutal austerity politics, the UK is at an inflection point, and Britain has emerged as a pivotal site to explore the politics of poverty and the necessary materialization of radical new anti-poverty strategies within more mainstream discourse. This project It asks how slow activism can contribute to an equitable future in an environment of increasing instability.