Martin Levinson

Personal statement

Martin Levinson is Professor of Cultural Identities at Bath Spa University. He is interested in cultural and anthropological aspects of education. His research is with marginalized groups, and he has worked with Indigenous and nomadic communities, ethnic minority and migrant groups. His ethnographic research with Romani/Gypsy communities stretches back over two decades. A central focus has been on the interface between education and identity.

In recent years he has been investigating the perspectives of youngsters who have been excluded from school, and exploring ways in which disabled people engage with (and disengage from) communities. He is currently PI of the D4D project, a major AHRC Connected Communities project, exploring a wide range of perspectives concerning disability and community. He is also a Co-I on the Wellcome Trust Research Development Award Project: ‘Setting an Emancipatory Agenda: Disabled People's Research Network’.

Martin’s work is interdisciplinary, and his publications cover a wide range of themes, including cultural identity, alternative forms of knowledge and types of literacy, inclusion/exclusion, children’s play, orientations towards space and time, and constructions of gender.

Martin is very interested in creative and alternative approaches to research, both in terms of collecting and representing data, seeking ways of generating meaningful understandings for academic and non-academic audiences.

D4D - Disability and Community: Dis/engagement, Dis/enfranchisement, Dis/parity and Dissent

The AHRC funded, Connected Communities programme research project Disability and Community: Dis/engagement, Dis/enfranchisement, Dis/parity and Dissent (the D4D project) investigates through co-production the evolving ways in which disabled people express, perform, experience and practice 'community'. More information can be found on the D4D project website.

The project team brings together academics from a range of disciplines with disabled artists, writers and performers, and also with community partners, such as Accentuate, Disability Arts Online and the New Vic Theatre, Stoke.  A range of other partner agencies, both national and grassroots organisations are also involved.

The research team has worked in places as diverse as shopping centres, play areas, schools, youth zones, work places and arts festivals. The work has sought to involve and be informed by the knowledge and lived experiences of disabled people, with participants viewed as co-researchers, and exploring the roles disabled people perform within and between communities (their own and others).

D4D has sought to build new understandings and to change perceptions about disabled people. Collecting stories and evidence from participants, the team has considered various aspects of their lives - (e.g. play, education, medicine, new technology, digital media), highlighting both experience of community and contribution to communities. The project has sought to build understanding, generate opportunities for connections, solidarity, resilience and activism, and support an increased sense of agency and empowerment among participants, sharing knowledge and professional development, and creating new spaces for dialogue and action.  

The core project team includes academics from different disciplines, and community co-researchers with expertise in visual and performing arts practice, leading to multiple, layered and complex stories.

D4D response to the Covid-19 pandemic

Working with Bristol Robotics, the D4D team has utilised telepresence robots from the outset of the project. During the pandemic, disabled people have been particularly isolated within their surrounding communities, and a decision was made to offer the technology to those involved in support work. The use of the robots in art galleries (the Hastings Contemporary and the Saatchi Gallery) was widely reported across national and international media. The robots provided guided tours for those who were in lockdown and felt cut off. Martin and his D4D colleague, Praminda Caleb-Solly, were interviewed about the uses of such technology on BBC Radio Somerset in November, 2020.

Listen to the interview on SoundCloud (interview audio courtesy of BBC Radio Somerset).

Dreams of the Road

Drawing from life stories, and an outcome of more than ten years of ethnographic research, Dreams of the Road foregrounds the voices of participants, and attempts to convey a way of life that is rapidly vanishing.

The book was conceived as a shared researcher-participant project, allowing those involved to reflect on their own childhood memories, as well as on the wider cultural implications of change within their communities. 

Radio 4 Interview: Gypsy Children & Education

Martin was interviewed about the issues surrounding Gypsy children and education on the Radio 4 programme "Thinking Allowed", broadcast on the 25th of July 2007.

Listen to the interview

Qualifications

  • 2000: PhD, Educational Anthropology- (‘Education, Culture and Identity: The Case of Gypsy children’), University of Exeter
  • 1989: MA in Applied Linguistics, University of Southampton
  • 1982: PGCE, University of Sussex
  • 1979: BA Joint Hons English/Spanish, University of Leeds.

2017 - SFHEA - Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Membership of international bodies

  • International Advisory Board member of the International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning
  • Romani Studies Network (Founder member).

Other external roles

  • American Educational Research Association - panel member
  • Member of South West Migrant Forum
  • Governor, Sands (Democratic) School, Ashburton, Devon.

Areas of expertise

  • Educational Anthropology
  • Cultural Studies in Education
  • Mechanics of marginalisation
  • Inter-group relationships
  • Romani Studies.

Selected Publications:

  • Levinson, M.P. (2020): The quest for genuinely participatory and inclusive research approaches: exploring and expressing experiences through Cultural Animation and Transcription Poetry. International Review of Qualitative Research, Special Issue. First published online July 3, 2020: https://doi.org/10.1177/1940844720934372
  • Ralph, T. & Levinson, M.P. (2019): Survival in the badlands: An exploration of disaffected students’ uses of space in a UK secondary school. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 40:8; pp.1188-1203.
  • Parker, R. & Levinson, M.P. (2018): Student behaviour, motivation and the potential of attachment‐aware schools to redefine the landscape. British Educational Research Journal, 44:5, pp. 875-896.
  • Cavaliero, T. & Levinson M.P. (2018): Criss-crossing the Irish Sea: Shifting Traveller Womens’ Identities in Home and School Environments. Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, 13 (1), pp. 26-39.
  • Ralph T. & Levinson, M.P. (2018): Places of conflict, power and resistance in a UK secondary school.  In Nexus among place, conflict and communication in a globalising world, Eds. Pauline Collins, Victor Igreja and Patrick Alan Danaher, Pallgrave Macmillan.
  • Levinson, M.P. (2017): When Participants don’t wish to participate in Participatory Action Research, and when others participate on their behalf: The Representation of communities by real and faux participants, Urban Review, Special Issue (Ed. D.Moree)
  • Levinson, M.P. & Thompson, M. (2016): “I don’t need pink hair here”: Should we be seeking to reintegrate youngsters without challenging school cultures? The International Journal on School Disaffection, 12:1, pp. 23-43
  • Levinson, M.P. (2015): “What’s the plan?” “What plan?” Changing aspirations among Gypsy youngsters, and implications for future cultural identities and group membership, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36:8, pp.1149-1169 [Online, 2014, 35:4, pp. 1-21]
  • Levinson, M.P. & Hooley, N. (2013): Supporting the Learning of nomadic communities across transnational contexts: exploring parallels in the education of UK Roma Gypsies and Indigenous Australians, Research Papers in Education, 28:2, pp. 1-17
  • Hooley, N. & Levinson, M.P. (2013): Investigating networks of culture and knowledge: A critical discourse between UK Roma Gypsies, Indigenous Australians and Education, Australian Educational Researcher, 49:2, 139-153.
  • Wood, E., Levinson, M., Postlethwaite, K. and Black, A. (2011): Equity Matters, Brussels, Education International.
  • Levinson, M.P. (2010):Issues of access and its maintenance when researching marginalized communities, Ethnography and Education, Special Issue, Ed. B.Dennis,193-207.
  • Levinson, M.P. (2009): Cultural Difference or Subversion: A question of perspective. In P.A.Danaher, M.Kenny & J.R.Leder (eds.) Traveller, Nomadic and Migrant Education (pp. 59-73). New York, Routledge.
  • Levinson, M.P. (2008): Not Just Content but Style: Gypsy Children Traversing Boundaries, Research in Comparative and International Education, 3(3), Special Issue: Early Childhood Education and Care, ed. Cleghorn, A. & Prochner, L., 235-49.
  • Levinson, M.P. (2008): Issues of empowerment and disempowerment: Gypsy children at home and school, International Journal Teaching and Learning Citizenship, Special Issue: Children’s Voice, ed. Holden, C, pp.70-78
  • Levinson, M.P. and Silk, A. (2007): Dreams of the Road - Sune Le Dromenge: Gypsy Life in the West Country, Edinburgh, Birlinn Books.
  • Levinson, M.P. (2007): Literacy in Gypsy Communities: Cultural Capital manifested as negative assets, American Educational Research Journal, 44:1,1-35.
  • Levinson, M.P. & Sparkes, A.C.  (2006): Conflicting value-systems: Gypsy females and the home-school interface, Research Papers in Education, 21(1), pp. 79-9
  • Levinson, M.P. (2005):  The role of play in the formation and maintenance of cultural identity: Gypsy children in Home and School contexts, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 34(5), 499-532.
  • Levinson, M.P. & Sparkes, A.C.  (2005): Gypsy children, space and the school environment, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18(6), pp.751-772
  • Levinson, M.P. & Sparkes, A.C.  (2004): Gypsy identity and orientations to space, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 33(6), 704-34.
  • Levinson, M.P.  (2004): Navigating without fixed points: the perils of open-ended research. In P.N.Coombes, M.J.M.Danaher & P.A.Danaher (eds) Strategic uncertainties: Ethics, politics and risk in contemporary educational research (pp. 130-142). Queensland: Flaxton Qld: Post Pressed.
  • Levinson, M.P. & Sparkes, A.C.  (2003): Gypsy Masculinities and the School-Home Interface: exploring contradictions and tensions, British Journal of Sociology of Education 20(5), pp.587-604.

Grants / funded research projects 

  1. 2021 - 2026 - Wellcome Trust (£1,040,680) - an award to a Bath Spa University team (Ben Simmons, Stuart Read, Tanvir Bush and Martin Levinson) for the project - Setting an Emancipatory Agenda: Disabled People's Research Network. This project will establish a new network across South West of England, co-produced alongside disabled people's organisations, exploring how the arts and humanities can enable disabled people to evidence and share lived experiences, supporting them to become agents of change.
  2. April 2016 – April 2020 - AHRC – (Connected Communities Large Grant [£1.5 million] (PI) (involving Bath Spa University, and Co-Is from the universities of Bristol, UWE, London and  Manchester Metropolitan, and non-academic Co-Is from Screen South/Accentuate, Disability Arts Online; New Vic Theatre, Stoke)
  3. October 2014 – April 2015 – AHRC – (Connected Communities Development grant) – Alternative Futures (PI) (involving Universities of Exeter, Bristol, UWE, London and Manchester Metropolitan; Screen South; Disability Arts Online; Accentuate; New Vic Theatre, Stoke)
  4. 2013 – Pilot Study  - Exeter University The (non)-inclusion of Mexican migrant children in US schools (with Professor J.Gouwens, Roosevelt University, Chicago, USA)
  5. 2012 - 2013  - Pilot Study - Exeter University: Community, Cultural Identity and Education across Sami groups in North Norway (with Dr.U.Baeck, University of Tromso)
  6. Sept. 2009- Sept. 2011:  British Academy: Perceptions of formal education among Gypsy/Traveller students: An action research project in Cornwall (PI) 
  7. Oct. 2009 - April 2011: Cornwall County Council: Aspiration and Outcome - What do Gypsy youngsters and their families want from the education system? An inter-generational study (PI)
  8. Oct. 2009 - March 2011: Education International , Brussels: Equity Matters in Education (Co I)

Research impact

Reports and Wider Engagement

  • 2020 - Report for United Nations Human Rights Committee
  • 2011 – Report for Education International, Brussels on Education of Minority Groups
  • 2009 - Report for National Strategies on Ethnicity, Social Class and Gender
  • 2007 - Report on Traveller Education commissioned for the Primary Review
  • 2007 - BBC Radio 4 - Thinking Allowed (Laurie Taylor)

Engagement with the Arts

  • 2016 – Co-writer of The Ghosts of Mr Dickens – touring London and South West England, performed by Untold Theatre January-February, 2017
  • 2015 – Co-writer of Beyond Expectations – performed by Untold Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August, 2015 and touring London and South West England, September 2015
  • 2007 – Ways with Words, Dartington Literature Festival: Dreams of the Road

Recent conference presentations and wider engagement

  • 2016 (December) – Conference on Social Capital and young people, University of Sligo, Ireland: Keynote: Whose Social capital is it, anyway?
  • 2016 (September) - European Education Conference, Dublin: Symposium – Leading Educational Research: Innovative Methodologies
  • 2015 (September) - European Education Conference, Budapest: Exclusion, self-exclusion and marginalisation through inclusion
  • 2014 (February)– Invited speaker at University of Bristol seminar series: Drawing outsiders into the education system: Privileged and marginalised knowledge in Gypsy communities
  • 2013 (May) – University of Tromso, Social Anthropology - Invited presentation: Free spirit or deviant? Seeking to understand images of the Gypsy, and to account for the state's failure to assimilate
  • 2012 (September) – European Education Conference, Cadiz: Marginalised communities and knowledge without privilege
  • 2011 (May) – EI (Educational International) Conference, Brussels – Keynote: Minorities within Minorities

Research supervision

Martin Levinson is interested in supervising students wishing to investigate issues involving marginalised individuals and groups. He would welcome approaches from those who share his preoccupation with the ways in which engagement in education is shaped by cultural backgrounds, and the ways in which education shapes cultural identities. He would welcome ideas from those interested in ‘otherness’, Indigenous knowledge and alternative education

Research Centres or Groups


Arts for Social Change (Research Group), Equity, Inclusion and Community (Research Centre)

Research and academic outputs

Go to ResearchSPAce

Dreams of the road = Sune le dromenge: Gypsy life in the West Country
book

Levinson, M.P and Silk, A (2007) Dreams of the road = Sune le dromenge: Gypsy life in the West Country. Birlinn, Edinburgh. ISBN 9781841585055


Spaces of invisibility and marginalisation in schools
book_section

Levinson, M.P (2020) 'Spaces of invisibility and marginalisation in schools.' In: Simon, C.A and Downes, G, eds. Sociology for education studies: connecting theory, settings and everyday experiences. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 38-47. ISBN 9780367028404


Conflicting communication about the ownership and meaning of places in a school in south west England
book_section

Ralph, T and Levinson, M.P (2019) 'Conflicting communication about the ownership and meaning of places in a school in south west England.' In: Collins, P, Igreja, V and Danaher, P.A, eds. The nexus among place, conflict and communication in a globalising world. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore, pp. 79-98. ISBN 9789811359248


Integration of Gypsy Roma children in schools: Trojan or pantomime horse?
book_section

Levinson, M.P (2013) 'Integration of Gypsy Roma children in schools: Trojan or pantomime horse?' In: Miskovic, M, ed. Roma education in Europe: practices, policies and politics. Routledge, London, pp. 100-110. ISBN 9780415535984


Olanakları Genişletme ya da Asimilasyon: İngiltere’de Çingenelerin Karşılaştıkları Açmazlar
book_section

Levinson, M.P (2012) 'Olanakları Genişletme ya da Asimilasyon: İngiltere’de Çingenelerin Karşılaştıkları Açmazlar.' In: Yildirin, O, ed. Gypsies. International Canakkale Biennial, Istanbul.


Cultural difference or subversion among Gypsy Traveller youngsters in schools in England: a question of perspective
book_section

Levinson, M.P (2009) 'Cultural difference or subversion among Gypsy Traveller youngsters in schools in England: a question of perspective.' In: Danaher, P.A, Kenny, M and Leder, J.R, eds. Traveller, nomadic and migrant education. Routledge, New York, pp. 59-73. ISBN 9780415963565


Navigating without fixed points: the perils of open-ended research
book_section

Levinson, M.P (2004) 'Navigating without fixed points: the perils of open-ended research.' In: Coombes, P.N, Danaher, M and Danaher, P.A, eds. Strategic uncertainties: ethics, politics and risk in contemporary educational research. Post Pressed, Flaxton, pp. 130-142. ISBN 9781876682729


The quest for genuinely participatory and inclusive research approaches: exploring and expressing experience through cultural animation and transcription poetry
article

Levinson, M.P (2020) 'The quest for genuinely participatory and inclusive research approaches: exploring and expressing experience through cultural animation and transcription poetry.' International Review of Qualitative Research, 13 (2). pp. 182-199. ISSN 1940-8447


Survival in the badlands: an exploration of disaffected students’ uses of space in a UK secondary school
article

Ralph, T and Levinson, M.P (2019) 'Survival in the badlands: an exploration of disaffected students’ uses of space in a UK secondary school.' British Journal of Sociology of Education, 40 (8). pp. 1188-1203. ISSN 0142-5692


Criss-crossing the Irish Sea: shifting Traveller womens’ identities in home and school environments
article

Cavaliero, T and Levinson, M.P (2019) 'Criss-crossing the Irish Sea: shifting Traveller womens’ identities in home and school environments.' Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, 13 (1). pp. 26-39. ISSN 1559-5692


Student behaviour, motivation and the potential of attachment-aware schools to redefine the landscape
article

Parker, R and Levinson, M.P (2018) 'Student behaviour, motivation and the potential of attachment-aware schools to redefine the landscape.' British Educational Research Journal, 44 (5). pp. 875-896. ISSN 0141-1926


When participants don’t wish to participate in participatory action research, and when others participate on their behalf: the representation of communities by real and faux participants
article

Levinson, M.P (2017) 'When participants don’t wish to participate in participatory action research, and when others participate on their behalf: the representation of communities by real and faux participants.' Urban Review, 49 (3). pp. 382-399. ISSN 0042-0972


'I don't need pink hair here': should we be seeking to 'reintegrate' youngsters without challenging mainstream school cultures?
article

Levinson, M.P (2016) ''I don't need pink hair here': should we be seeking to 'reintegrate' youngsters without challenging mainstream school cultures?' International Journal on School Disaffection, 12 (1). pp. 23-43. ISSN 1478-8497


‘What’s the plan?’ ‘What plan?’ Changing aspirations among Gypsy youngsters, and implications for future cultural identities and group membership
article

Levinson, M.P (2015) '‘What’s the plan?’ ‘What plan?’ Changing aspirations among Gypsy youngsters, and implications for future cultural identities and group membership.' British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36 (8). pp. 1149-1169. ISSN 0142-5692


Supporting the learning of nomadic communities across transnational contexts: exploring parallels in the education of UK Roma Gypsies and Indigenous Australians
article

Levinson, M.P and Hooley, N (2014) 'Supporting the learning of nomadic communities across transnational contexts: exploring parallels in the education of UK Roma Gypsies and Indigenous Australians.' Research Papers in Education, 29 (4). pp. 373-389. ISSN 0267-1522


Investigating networks of culture and knowledge: a critical discourse between UK Roma Gypsies, Indigenous Australians and education
article

Levinson, M.P and Hooley, N (2014) 'Investigating networks of culture and knowledge: a critical discourse between UK Roma Gypsies, Indigenous Australians and education.' The Australian Educational Researcher, 41 (2). pp. 139-153. ISSN 0311-6999


Accountability to research participants: unresolved dilemmas and unravelling ethics
article

Levinson, M.P (2010) 'Accountability to research participants: unresolved dilemmas and unravelling ethics.' Ethnography and Education, 5 (2). pp. 193-207. ISSN 1745-7823


Researching groups that are hidden and/or marginalized
article

Levinson, M.P (2008) 'Researching groups that are hidden and/or marginalized.' Research Intelligence, 102. pp. 16-17.


Not just content, but style: Gypsy children traversing boundaries
article

Levinson, M.P (2008) 'Not just content, but style: Gypsy children traversing boundaries.' Research in Comparative and International Education, 3 (3). pp. 235-249. ISSN 1745-4999


Issues of empowerment and disempowerment: Gypsy children at home and school
article

Levinson, M.P (2008) 'Issues of empowerment and disempowerment: Gypsy children at home and school.' Citizenship Teaching & Learning, 4 (2). pp. 70-78. ISSN 1751-1917


Literacy in English Gypsy communities: cultural capital manifested as negative assets
article

Levinson, M.P (2007) 'Literacy in English Gypsy communities: cultural capital manifested as negative assets.' American Educational Research Journal, 44 (1). pp. 5-39. ISSN 0002-8312


Gypsy Traveller children in schools
article

Levinson, M.P (2007) 'Gypsy Traveller children in schools.' Into Teaching, 19. pp. 13-18.


Conflicting value systems: Gypsy females and the home‐school interface
article

Levinson, M.P and Sparkes, A.C (2006) 'Conflicting value systems: Gypsy females and the home‐school interface.' Research Papers in Education, 21 (1). pp. 79-97. ISSN 0267-1522


Gypsy children, space, and the school environment
article

Levinson, M.P and Sparkes, A.C (2005) 'Gypsy children, space, and the school environment.' International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18 (6). pp. 751-772. ISSN 0951-8398


The role of play in the formation and maintenance of cultural identity: Gypsy children in home and school contexts
article

Levinson, M.P (2005) 'The role of play in the formation and maintenance of cultural identity: Gypsy children in home and school contexts.' Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 34 (5). pp. 499-532. ISSN 0891-2416


Gypsy identity and orientations to space
article

Levinson, M.P (2004) 'Gypsy identity and orientations to space.' Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 33 (6). pp. 704-734. ISSN 0891-2416


Gypsy masculinities and the school–home interface: exploring contradictions and tensions
article

Levinson, M.P and Sparkes, A.C (2003) 'Gypsy masculinities and the school–home interface: exploring contradictions and tensions.' British Journal of Sociology of Education, 24 (5). pp. 587-603. ISSN 0142-5692


Equity matters: a report
commissioned_report

Wood, E, Levinson, M.P, Postlethwaite, K and Black, A (2011) Equity matters: a report. Education International. ISBN 9789295089693


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