Martin Levinson is Professor of Education at Bath Spa University. He is interested in cultural and anthropological aspects of education. His research is with marginalized communities. He has worked with various ethnic minority groups, and his ethnographic research with Romani/Gypsy communities stretches back over two decades. He is also interested in Indigenous and nomadic communities and migrant groups.
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.
Martin is currently PI of the D4D project, a major AHRC Connected Communities project, exploring a wide range of perspectives concerning disability and community.
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 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 with disabled people the evolving ways in which disabled people express, perform, experience and practice 'community'.
The project team brings together disabled and non-disabled academics from a range of disciplines, with disabled artists, writers and performers, and with community partners (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 will work in places as diverse as shopping centres, play areas, schools, youth zones, work places and arts festivals.
The work will involve and be informed by the knowledge and lived experiences of disabled people. Key to the project will be research with disabled people as co-researchers. The team will explore the roles disabled people perform within and between communities (their own and others). They will investigate the evolving ways in which disabled people express, perform, experience and practice being part of a community.
D4D will learn from participating communities with the aim of better understanding the ways in which disabled people experience community, and the various forces and contexts (e.g. play, education, medicine, new technology, digital media) have shaped and continue to influence the experiences of communities of disabled people. The project will 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.
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.
- 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.
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
- Romani Studies.
Grants / funded research projects
- 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)
- 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)
- 2013 – Pilot Study - Exeter University The (non)-inclusion of Mexican migrant children in US schools (with Professor J.Gouwens, Roosevelt University, Chicago, USA)
- 2012 - 2013 - Pilot Study - Exeter University: Community, Cultural Identity and Education across Sami groups in North Norway (with Dr.U.Baeck, University of Tromso)
- Sept. 2009- Sept. 2011: British Academy: Perceptions of formal education among Gypsy/Traveller students: An action research project in Cornwall (PI)
- 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)
- Oct. 2009 - March 2011: Education International , Brussels: Equity Matters in Education (Co I)
Reports and Wider Engagement
- 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
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 and academic outputs
Levinson, M.P and Silk, A (2007) Dreams of the road = Sune le dromenge: Gypsy life in the West Country. Birlinn, Edinburgh. ISBN 9781841585055
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
Levinson, M.P (2010) 'Accountability to research participants: unresolved dilemmas and unravelling ethics.' Ethnography and Education, 5 (2). pp. 193-207. ISSN 1745-7823
Levinson, M.P (2008) 'Researching groups that are hidden and/or marginalized.' Research Intelligence, 102. pp. 16-17.
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
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
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
Levinson, M.P (2007) 'Gypsy Traveller children in schools.' Into Teaching, 19. pp. 13-18.
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
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
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
Levinson, M.P (2004) 'Gypsy identity and orientations to space.' Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 33 (6). pp. 704-734. ISSN 0891-2416
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
Wood, E, Levinson, M.P, Postlethwaite, K and Black, A (2011) Equity matters: a report. Education International. ISBN 9789295089693