Dr Michael Buser

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About me

I joined the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments (SPE) in 2010 after completing my PhD on city-regional governance in the US and UK. I work extensively in community and arts settings.  A large proportion of my research is 'socially engaged' and in collaboration with other disciplines (particularly the arts).  I spent a number of years studying public space (and a great deal of time in a local public space called 'the bearpit') and have an interest in theories of 'publicness' (i.e., what makes up the 'public' in public spaces) as well as the notions of atmosphere and ambiance.  In the last several years, I have focused on issues of care, community, and resilience in the context of 'water'.  This includes projects here in the UK (on 'hydro-citizenship') as well as internationally.  Water is the primary frame through which I study these concepts (this has been instances of too much, too little and changing relations with water).  I'm interested in the way human lives are mediated through their relation with water, infrastructures of water and broader politics of water.  

Area of expertise

Most of my research has been collaborative, cross-disciplinary and community-oriented.  Connecting the dots is an interest in social justice and a desire to understand how people might respond to as well as initiate change. Some previous work includes:

In 2012 I conducted a scoping study for the AHRC's Connected Communities programme on the topic of cultural activism. http://www.culturalactivism.org.uk/ 

In 2013 I led a multi-partner Connected Communities project called 'Foodscapes' where we brought arts and performance into communication with two local food initiatives in Bristol. http://foodscapesbristol.wordpress.com/ 

I led the UWE SPUR project on affect and place meaning with a focus on the Bearpit (a public space in the centre of Bristol).  Here is an audio/visual collage of the work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KS7DOwz5Od0&feature=youtu.be As part of the SPUR work, I led a workshop series on methods in postphenomenology.  Have a look at the webpage! http://postphenomenology.wordpress.com/

I recently took part of a project funded by the AHRC looking at the idea of 'hydro-citizenship' (2014-2017).  I looked at the role of maintenance workers and inspectors in urban water infrastructure systems.  Here is the website: http://www.hydrocitizenship.com and a short video of some of our work on infrastructure (with David Hopkinson) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-s_WAJdrFo&feature=youtu.be   

I was co-investigator on Urban-ID (http://www.urban-id.co.uk). My involvement on the project centred on leading a case study on health and happiness amongst older people in the neighbourhood of Staple Hill. 

I was Principal Investigator for an AHRC-funded research network looking at relations of care in traditional water infrastructures in Rajasthan, India (2017-2018). The network explored how community-based arts can contribute to understandings and improvements in the welfare of those living in conditions of water scarcity. Here is the project website: https://rajasthanwater.weebly.com/.  We've published a paper in 'water alternatives' which can be found on their website  http://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/alldoc/articles/vol13/v13issue3/594-a13-3-12

I was Principal Investigator for the British Academy Knowledge Frontiers project:  Community resilience in locales of coastal erosion: local knowledge, culture and practice in the Upper Gulf of Thailand (2018-2019). https://thailandwater.weebly.com  

I am currently Principal Investigator on 'the Art of Healing' which is an AHRC-funded Urgency Pilot.  Our team is working in Kashmir looking at the arts and art-based therapy and how these can support the wellbeing of children.


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