Leverhulme Visiting Professorship

Victoria Hattam, Professor of Politics, The New School for Social Research, New York

MMB’s Leverhulme Visiting Professor 2023-24.

Professor Hattam’s work is focused on shifting the boundaries of migration studies by considering production and trade alongside migration and human (im)mobilities. She also brings a wealth of experience in relation to visuality and method.

Professor Hattam has spent a total of seven months at the University of Bristol (UoB) sharing skills, expertise and building collaborative projects. Her visit has enhanced the skills and knowledge of staff and doctoral researchers at UoB and catalysed and embedded long-term exchange and mutual learning between UoB and The New School for Social Research.

MMB and Professor Hattam together developed a programme of ‘Leverhulme Lectures’, workshops and meetings which helped to develop cutting edge perspectives on key global social challenges. The programme took place over two visits: in June and July 2023 we kickstarted a methodological conversation to rethink the relation between imagination and evidence. The longer second visit between February and June 2024 incorporated this learning to develop MMB’s empirical research and theoretical approaches to mobilities with a distinctive focus on political economies.

Watch Victoria giving the MMB Leverhulme Public Lecture 2024, ‘Seeing Gold – Imagination and Evidence’, here.


Victoria Hattam is Professor of Politics at the New School for Social Research (TNSSR) in New York City. She works at the intersection of visual and material culture, global political economy, and bordering. Hattam received her PhD from MIT and has been a Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton and a Fellow at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York. She is a recipient of both the Schattschneider and Ralph Bunche prizes from the American Political Science Association. Over the past decade, Hattam has worked collaboratively with faculty and students from the Parsons School of Design.

MMB blogposts

Victoria has contributed several posts to the MMB blog in recent years, including ‘Borderscapes: policing within‘ about the material borders that have crept into Calais’ city centre, and ‘Somatic shifts: the politics of movement in the time of COVID‘. During her professorship at Bristol she has also published on the LSE blog with a post on ‘Double arbitrage: offshoring and the hidden hand of Texas Right to Work laws.’

Events 2024

MMB PGR Discussion Group

Wednesday 7th February

The MMB PGR group discussed the theme ‘Political imagination and (academic) activism’. Victoria provided some reflections at the end to close the debate. Further details here.

MMB Reading Group: John Hultgren (2015)

Wednesday 21st February

Victoria led this meeting of the reading group to discuss John Hultgren’s book Border Walls Gone Green: Nature and Anti-immigrant Politics in America (2015).

SPAIS Public Lecture 2024: ‘Border Economies / Capitalist Imaginaries’

Wednesday 6th March

Victoria gave the annual SPAIS public lecture focusing on the question, how do the contradictory demands of border walls and supply chains co-exist? More information here and a link to a recording of the lecture here.

Race and Ethnicities Seminar: ‘The Boundaries of Race: Racial Classifications in the United States’

Wednesday 1st May

The regular series run by the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship hosted a seminar by Victoria on the Statistical Directive 15, mandated by the US Office of Management and Budget in 1977, which required all federal governments and agencies to collect ethnic and racial data separately.

Workshop: ‘Seeing Globalization – Alternative Perspectives on Production Today’

Tuesday 7th May

Victoria joined Rutvica Andrijasevic, Professor in International Migration and Business, to run this workshop on challenging old assumptions about global production. They examined the advantages and limitations of new perspectives and considered if we need more imaginative approaches to global production that take us far beyond our scholarly comfort zones. Further details here.

Bordering Bristol: Visuality Workshop

Wednesday 22nd May

A day-long workshop run by Victoria with Nariman Massoumi, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television, to explore the dynamics of visual fields through the collaborative making of visual essays. Further details here.

MMB/Leverhulme Public Lecture – ‘Seeing Gold: Imagination and Evidence’

Wednesday 12th June

In this public lecture Victoria explored ways of seeing and how surfacing the imaginative reframes and remakes political possibilities. The event was chaired by the University of Bristol’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Professor Philip Taylor, and followed by a drinks reception. Further information here. Watch a recording of the lecture here.

Events 2023

Looking Sideways: Policy Silos and De-Siloing

Wednesday 14th June

An interactive workshop with Victoria Hattam and Bridget Anderson examining the origins and politics of policy silos and how to think beyond them.

For some time now, scholars have examined the formation of policy silos across a number of domains documenting the ways that lines of demarcation are themselves deeply political. Commonly held distinctions between migration and trade; design and production; state and society; and between the biological and social sciences have been shown to shape the very terms of engagement long before specific policy disagreements emerge within particular domains. In addition to tracing silo formation, some scholars and creative artists have been reimagining what de-siloed worlds might look like, while ecological processes have become an important analytic for considering entailment for many.

This interactive workshop with Leverhulme Visiting Professor Victoria Hattam and MMB Director Bridget Anderson examined the origins and politics of policy siloes, what we learn from thinking outside of policy siloes and what kinds of politics and political alliances this can help generate.

Object Politics: Remembering Vietnam at the US-Mexico Border Wall

Monday 12th June

A multi-disciplinary seminar with Professor Victoria Hattam exploring politics, migration, mobility, visual culture, design and materiality.

Drawing on photographic and historical research, Victoria Hattam considered links between the US war in Vietnam and construction of a border wall in the United States. Portable helicopter landing mats used in Vietnam were sent back to the United States at the war’s end and were used to build large sections of the border wall between the United States and Mexico. How do material connections between war and wall shift the analytic terrain of border politics? And what of the aesthetics of the landing mats themselves?  How might the landing mat grids alert us to political affiliations that heretofore remain out of sight?

Landing mat fence, Border Field State Park, California, December 2013. Photograph by Victoria Hattam.