Professor Shawn Sobers

Profile Photo
  • Qualifications:PhD, PG Cert, PGCHE, BA (Hons)
  • Position:Professor - Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice
  • Department:ACE - Film and Journalism
  • Telephone:+4411732 84788
  • Social media: Twitter logo

About me

Professor Shawn-Naphtali Sobers

My academic roles are;

- Professor - Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice
Post-Graduate Research Lead (with Dr Judith Aston) - School of Arts
- Director - Critical Race and Culture Research Network

- MA Photography (Co-Programme Leader)
- BA (Hons) Photography
- MA Research Practice module tutor
- PhD and DPhil Director of Study, supervisor and examiner

I'm a Visual Anthropologist, working in writing, photography, and filmmaking, exploring narratives of belonging.  

My research interests are primarily explored through the themes of hidden histories, unheard stories, everyday life and material culture. As a researcher my work has spanned a wide range of topics, including; community media, creative education, trans-Atlantic slave trade, disability & walking, religion, Rastafari, Ethiopian and Caribbean cultures, and photography & generative AI.

My recent book, 'Black Everyday Lives, Material Culture & Narrative: Tings in de House', was published by Routledge in 2023. 

I have chapters and articles published in peer reviewed journals and books, and have spoken and exhibited at a wide range of conferences and events, nationally and internationally. 

Co-founded Firstborn Creatives production company in 1999 with Rob Mitchell, and made programmes for BBC 1, ITV West and Channel 4.  

A collection of my work can be found at 

I am currently External Examiner for Goldsmiths University BA (Hons) Media and Communications - (2021 - 2024).

I am a member of;

Critical Race and Culture Research Network - Director


UWE Photography Research Group
Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC)
Centre for Moving Image Research (CMIR)
Visual Culture Research Centre (VCRG)
Creative Media Research Centre (CMRG)

Area of expertise


- Omolola Arawomo – Economics of Nigerian Film industry
- Francis Bossom – Gallery Education and Archives
- Huw Davies – Photographic cultures in rural Wales
- Kelly O'Brien – Photography & Working Class women
- Janet Tovey – Cinematography and storytelling
- Rebecca Goddard - The Rubbish Tip Archive
- Yvonne Connike – Leisure cultures of Black elders (with USW)
- Amanda Egbe - Black artists and early creative technologies
- Jessie Edwards-Thomas - Micro-utopias, purpose and homelessness


Speaking Memories (2022)
Co-Principle Investigator. Exploring the previously unspoken stories of what makes Bristol meaningful for local people. HEIF funded, partnership with We Are Bristol History Commission.

Freedom In The City Festival of Learning (2021)
Principle Investigator - AHRC EDI Fellowship award - 7 month festival exploring Ethiopian and Rastafari cultures. See website -  

Digital Placemaking Research Fellow (2019 – 2020)
Bath & Bristol Creative R+D. Investigating automation and the role of music in everyday life in creating embodied moments of sanctity. Read more - Blog article

Ethiopian Echoes on a British Landscape (2017 - 2018)
Principle Investigator - AHRC Research Networks. Exploring legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie I, and His family and advisors, living in Bath city from 1936 - 1941.  

Media, Community and the Creative Citizen (2013 – 2015)
Co-Investigator – Media, Community and the Creative Citizen (AHRC Connected Communities and EPSRC) - exploring the value of creative citizenship.

Walking Interconnections (2013 – 2014)
Co-Investigator – Walking Interconnections. AHRC Connected Communities, using walking as a way to identify and make visible the everyday, embodied knowledges of disabled people.

Hidden Presence (2013 – 2015)
Academic Consultant (and original idea)
Exploring creative responses to the presence of Black populations in Britain before the end of the 19th century.  Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council Wales in partnership with Ffotogallery and Chepstow Museum.

Re:Interpretation (2007 – 2008)
Co-Investigator – Research the connections between the Transatlantic Slave Trade and National Trust Properties, utilising creative media methods.  Heritage Lottery Fund.  In partnership with National Trust and Firstborn Creatives

Participatory Arts and Media development research (2008 – 2010)
Co-Investigator – Researching and developing resources for participatory arts practitioners in the region through CPD provision.


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