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Name: Patricia Francis

PhD: Arts and Humanities

Thesis Title: Close Up: A creative critical intervention in women activists and activist documentary filmmaking


Thesis Description:

My theses investigates the impact that social activism has on women’s lives and explores how insurgency in women fosters courage and transformation.   It analyses how womens’ activism extends beyond their cause and into their individual lives. My practice-led research will include the production of a documentary film which will feature two groups of female activists: women insurgents in the 1984-5 miners’ strike, specifically the protest group ‘Women Against Pit Closures’ and a current movement against social injustice, ‘Black Lives Matter’. Both female-led organisations have been openly militant in their desire for change. Their causes have divided opinion and occupied a controversial position in the media. My thesis will examine the unintended and unpredicted consequences of women’s activism, the impact that this experience has had on the lives of miners’ wives and investigate how dissent is affecting women active in the Black Lives Matter movement now. What do these experiences have in common? To what extent do the activists (past and present) perceive themselves to share common ground, experientially, politically and, specifically, as women? Why does involvement in protest empower women to re-evaluate their role and aspirations and to take action in order to realise their potential, in and outside an activist context? It is important too to consider the ways in which the presence of social media and developments in technology have altered the organisation of protest for women.

The discourse relating to activism and insurgency usually has a masculine frame, firmly placing men in the foreground of the revolutionary picture. When women have been vociferous in their charge for change e.g.  the Ford sewing machinists’ strike (1968), the Women’s Liberation Movement from around 1970— and the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, (1981) (which was an influence on Women Against Pit Closures), such movements have been positioned outside the frame as auxiliary or different. They have required recovery research to bring them into the foreground, or to situate them in contextual relation to activism that is discerned to be broader, itself a gendered assumption. Beeban Kidron’s article in the Guardian in 2013 about the Greenham Common protest supports this; ‘In 30-plus years since I sat at the yellow gate filming the heavy hand of the police and the inexplicable prejudice of the media against a group, whose major crime seemed to be the absence of men…

My research intends to refocus the image with the spotlight on women in the Midlands region.


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Professor Sharon Monteith (Nottingham Trent University)

Fiona MacLaren (Nottingham Trent University)


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

Year: 2019

  • BBC Inside Out: Thirty-five years after the 1984-1985 miners' strike, two former pit men try to heal deep wounds after the dispute.
  • BBC Sunday Politics: A recent report finds that many people across the East Midlands region are struggling due to local authority economic development policies. 

Year: 2018

Year: 2017

  • Are You Ready For This? CBBC 'My Life' series of documentaries
  • The Place Is Here: An exhibition tracing a number of wide ranging conversations between renowned black British artists, writers and thinkers in the 1980s. I launched the event and Chaired 'The Time is Now' panel discussion for the Nottingham Contemporary.
  • Journey To Justice Nottingham: Steering group member. The steering group curated the local content of the exhibition, devised the events and outreach programme, built and produced content for the website, and formulated new initiatives Journey to Justice: Nottingham could engage with.

Year: 2016

October Dialogues: The conference examined the ways in which slavery has figured in public history in Britain. It considered how academic history has shaped public perceptions of slavery and how public debate has challenged and inspired.

Year: 2015

Productions: Independent Documentaries

Productions: Television

Events & Conferences:


  • News paper reviewer - BBC Radio Nottingham. 


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