Louise Senior

Louise joined UEP in November 2016 and leads on the ethnographic work and household interviews in the Western Isles.

I am curious about people: what they think about the world, how they relate to one another and why they do the things they do. My background reflects this interest: I qualified as a youth and community worker in 2006 and have been employed in settings such as community drug and alcohol treatment, outreach projects and youth offending teams.

My work alongside vulnerable people led to a concern with the way structural inequalities impact on people’s everyday lives and I returned to university to study for an MSc in Development Anthropology at Durham University. In 2015, after completing an ESRC-funded studentship, I received a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Aberdeen. My thesis, entitled ‘Anthropology in the Wind: People, power and environment in Caithness, Scotland’ was based on eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork and explored peoples engagement with the Scottish planning system, with particular reference to wind farms. I identified idiosyncratic ways in which people participated in the planning system and noted some of the barriers to effective participation.

My role with the Understanding Everyday Participation project has focused on the Western Isles ecosystem where I carried out research between November 2016 and December 2017. This has included two waves of twenty face-to-face interviews in both Stornoway and South Uist, collection of data for a social network analysis and a double stranded ethnography exploring young adult’s participation in musical activities in Stornoway and young people’s participation in community land management across the Western Isles. I wrote a fieldwork blog which you can read here: https://uephebrides.wordpress.com/

Themes emerging from the data relate to the mobility of musicians and to notions of rupture and continuity in administering community assets. I will present papers on both of these topics at conferences during summer 2018.

I like to wander the hills, moors and coastlines of northern Scotland. I’ve just finished a campervan conversion – after my last one perished from rust mid-fieldwork due to too much time in the salty Scottish air!