Skip to main content
Alida Payson

Dr Alida Payson

Lecturer (Teaching and Research)

School of Journalism, Media and Culture

Two Central Square, Central Square, Cardiff, CF10 1FS


I am a lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies in JOMEC. My research interests are in everyday life, second-hand economies, and material culture. More widely, I am interested in the cultural politics of migration, gender, race, and disability, and in visual, creative and participatory research methods.

I have been working to build a network of second-hand studies researchers and practitioners. You can find more about our projects and activities on the Secondhand Cultures blog, available here:

  • I recently finished a three-year project, Charity shop country: conviviality and survival in austerity Britain, funded by the Leverhulme Trust early career fellowship, and exploring how charity shops matter as sites of everyday living together and getting by in an austerity economy. Here is a recent blog post about the research - Thrift labours - Charity shops in the austerity economy
  • My thesis in cultural studies, also at JOMEC, entitled Feeling Together: Emotion, heritage, conviviality and politics in a changing city, follows three intergenerational groups of women and girls as they took part in arts and heritage projects to explore overlooked local women’s history in Butetown through writing, film, photography, and fashion. The thesis is framed by a critical history of Cardiff, as well as a critical interrogation of whiteness in UK heritage industries and theoretical debates on the politics of emotion. I argue for these intergenerational heritage projects as emotional performances full of important lessons on how to cope with inherited injustice and how to live together with others in the present.

I have published on the cultural politics of translation in film, emotion in migrant protest media, and the history of refugees in Wales. As part of formative interdisciplinary collaborations as a research assistant, I have also published on narratives of poverty in the media in Wales and Black and minority ethnic women’s experiences of infertility, as well as drawing as a participatory research method. Before moving to the UK and undertaking her PhD in cultural studies, I worked in the nonprofit sector in the United States on housing and food justice issues. Her academic background is in literature and the arts.










Book sections




  • Charity Shop Country – Conviviality and Survival in Austerity Britain (2018-2022)

How do charity shops fit into everyday life, especially in the context of rising inequality in the UK?

Charity shops seem both a ubiquitous and innocuous feature of British life, selling objects from filigreed tea sets and plastic children’s toys, vintage Christmas jumpers and scuffed white goods, books, vinyl, furnishings, and more. As second-hand fashion and style enjoy a boom in popularity, the Charity Retail Association asserts shops as a social 'good' - bringing in millions in annual revenue for charities, involving 220,000 volunteers, recycling tonnes of goods, drawing foot traffic to high streets, helping people living on low incomes, and building community.

In this research, I ask how we use shops – to provision for households, to shop for pleasure or side-hustles or art projects or media or fashion, to divest of unwanted things, to participate in charity, for meaningful work and 'doing time', and/or just to be together? I ask, too, how shops fit in the cultural conversation, from the local and national news to Mary Portas’s Mary, Queen of Charity Shops (BBC2, 2009) or recent cult web-series hits like Charity Shop Sue.

To investigate these questions, the project maps the myriad and complex social meanings of shops through participatory and arts-based methods such as drawing, photography, observation, and arts-based workshops and interviews.

As the project unfolds after a period of leave in 2020-2021, I look forward to deepening collaborations to further a research network for scholars working on second-hand material cultures with Dr Jen Ayres, and on public engagement events such as Fashion Revolution Week at Portsmouth University with Dr Elaine Iboe, Professor Deborah Sugg-Ryan, and Radical Fashion Week with fashion creators Julia Harris and Sarah Valentin of The Sustainable Studio.

Charity shop country: conviviality and survival in austerity Britain is a three-year project funded by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship.

  • Feeling together: Emotion, heritage, conviviality and politics in a changing city (Phd Thesis, 2012-2018)

As a new arrival to Cardiff in 2012, my PhD research plunged me into my local community. I relished the way research allowed me to build relationships with other people who have made Cardiff home over time, and to dig deeply into the unwritten histories that have shaped the city.

The thesis explores how emotions about the past, in a city scarred by history and moulting into the future, shape the imaginative possibilities for living together. In it, I follow four community-based cultural heritage projects and archives sited around Cardiff’s Butetown and the Docks. Over two years, I collaborated with three groups of women and girls ages 11-82 involved in intergenerational arts and heritage projects about local women’s history. The groups created oral histories, autobiographical films, websites, theatre staging, memoirs and poetry, and fashion garments, then curated into exhibitions. I also analysed three collections of street photographs of the area from the 1950s, 1980s, and 2010s (Bert Hardy, and Cardiff Before Cardiff 2011 by Jon Pountney and Keith S Robertson). The thesis is framed by a critical history of Cardiff as a city shaped by boom and bust, migration and dispossession, conviviality and racial violence, as well as a critical interrogation of whiteness in UK heritage industries, and an analysis of how emotion moves politically through the past and present.

I was fascinated by the way feelings about the past moved through the way people talked about history here, and how these formal and informal community heritage initiatives became a kind of public performance, teaching how to live together with others.

  • I outline how older women in the projects celebrate the labour of building community as the legacy of local women, and then teach how to do it: by creating conviviality through sharing ‘sweets’ and care, mixing with other people, and [other]mothering.
  • I describe how older women also offer tactics for coping with racism and class injustice, along with the furious, hurt, bitter and sour feelings they provoke, and then teach how to fight back.
  • I map pressures on the younger women to make their own cultural heritage instrumental, and to model neoliberal femininity by reaching for alluring (but often foreclosed) futures.
  • Tracing collective class loss and dispossession, I outline a collective feeling of ‘what we have lost’ as an urban hiraeth (longing for a lost place) that animates local attachments to more utopic political futures.

The thesis was advised by Dr Kerry Moore and Dr Jenny Kidd, and funded by a Cardiff University ‘Re-constructing Multiculturalism’ President’s Scholarship (2012-2016).

The ideas were also deepened and developed through a month-long residency in 2016 with Professor Nadia Fadil and her colleagues at the Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre, in the Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium.

  • Visual methods - DrawingOut sensitive experiences

I am interested in drawing as a research method, to gather data, unlock and describe experiences, and to share research findings.

This interest developed in part through work as a research assistant and collaborator on a Welsh Crucible/Crwsibl Cymru research project to investigate and disseminate the infertility experiences of Black and minority ethnic women in Wales, led by Dr Sofia Gameiro, Cardiff University, Dr Elizabeth El Refaie, Cardiff University, and Dr Berit Bliesemann de Guevara, Aberystwyth University.

The research project, Thorns and Flowers, asked about how infertility affects wellbeing and relationships, participants' views and needs regarding infertility care, and whether arts and drawing workshops are a useful tool to investigate sensitive research topics and perhaps overcome language and cultural barriers. Participants created a free, downloadable booklet of drawings sharing their stories of coping with infertility and suggestions for support and change.

We developed a novel research method, DrawingOut, that uses step-by-step metaphor-based drawing exercises to explore participants' experiences. Since piloting this method in 2016, DrawingOut has been trialled and expanded as a method to help people express and share their thoughts and feelings about a range of sensitive experiences, including other health problems and experiences of violent conflict.

Thorns and Flowers was awarded the Welsh Crucible/Learned Society of Wales Award for the Best Collaborative Welsh Crucible Project 2011-2015.

  • Poverty and austerity

Throughout my research, I am interested in the way poverty, inequality, and policies of austerity shape the lives of people around me. Before becoming a researcher, I had formative jobs with an anti-homelessness project in San Francisco, the Community Housing Partnership, and a food justice project in Portland, Maine, called Cultivating Community, in the United States.

In addition to my PhD research, my understanding of poverty and austerity deepened through work as a research assistant on a project Exploring the News Media Narrative on Poverty in Wales, led by PI Dr Kerry Moore and Co-I Sîan Morgan Lloyd.

The research was funded by Oxfam Cymru and a consortium of third sector organisations: Street Games Wales, Welsh Council for Voluntary Action, The Church in Wales, The Muslim Council of Wales, Cymorth Cymru, Tai Pawb, Community Housing Cymru,Christian Aid and Save the Children.

Combing through thousands of news stories referencing poverty in Welsh and English, our findings included insights that poverty often appeared as a background mention rather than the main focus of a story, and that economic and political stories dominated the coverage, among many others. I continue to unpack and explore the finer-grain meaning of these findings in collaborations with Dr Kerry Moore. I am also invested in policy change through taking part in the Welsh Assembly's Cross-Party Group on Poverty.

  • Research presentations

Payson, Alida and Kerry Moore. ‘Morbid Romances: News, Jobs, and the Emotional Social Imaginary Under Austerity,’ MECCSA 2020, Jan 8-10, 2020, University of Brighton.

Payson, Alida. ‘Teacups, tatt and thrift: siting charity shops in the ‘welfare mix’ after austerity’. British Sociological Association 2019: Challenging Social Hierarchies and Inequalities. April 24-26, 2019.

Payson, Alida. ‘Bringing the old Splott back to life’: Memory and nostalgia in photographs of Cardiff, Diaspora and Media Working Group (DIM) of IAMCR, International Association for Media and Communications Research, Leicester, UK. Peer-reviewed submission, 27-31 July 2016.

Payson, Alida. ‘Everybody mixed’: three intergenerational heritage projects and moods about the past and future of Cardiff’s multiculture. New Urban Multicultures: Conviviality and Racism Conference, Goldsmiths, University of London. 17 May 2016.

Payson, Alida. Making ‘good’ heritage, making ‘good’ women. Re-Imagining Challenging History, AHRC Challenging History network, Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales and Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK. 29-30 June 2016.

Payson, Alida. Ordinary care, extraordinary protest: feeling and feeling for others in migrant mobilisations in Cardiff. Meaning of Migration Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK. Meaning of Migration Conference, Cardiff University, 17 April 2014.

Payson, Alida. Taking place in pictures: everyday gestures in photographs of multiethnic communities in Cardiff. Wales/Iâl/Yale Graduate Student Symposium, Yale Center for British Art, Yale University, United States. 5 April 2014.

Payson, Alida. Affects of protest: Feeling and feeling for others in refugee mobilisations in Wales. Refugee Studies Centre International Conference 2014 – Refugee Voices Oxford University, UK. 24-25 March 2014.

Payson, Alida. Diving into the Cake Wreck: Stirring up the politics of everyday cooking and creativity in popular British food media. Everyday/Other/Quotidian Conference, York University, York, UK. 26-27 September 2013.

Payson, Alida. Chivalric men and abject women:  Gender at the border in Dirty Pretty Things. The Other, European Cinema Research Forum, University of Edinburgh, UK.  1-2 July 2013.

Payson, Alida. Inhabiting Her(e): Creative practices of belonging among migrant and minority ethnic women in Cardiff. Picturing Others: Photography and Human Rights, Cardiff University, UK.  17-18 January 2013.

  • Research seminars

Payson, Alida. Thrift work: Charity shops in the austerity economy. JOMEC Departmental Research Seminar, November 13, 2019.

Payson, Alida. JOMEC Departmental Research Seminar, Cardiff University, UK. Shared ‘sweets’, shared fights: emotional labour and everyday multiculture. 22 February 2017.

Payson, Alida. 'Sweet’ community and the emotional labour of living with racism for women of colour in Cardiff. Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre, Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium. Seminar, 6 October 2016.

Payson, Alida. Crafting culture, making belonging: everyday practices of creativity among women migrants in Cardiff. NGENDER: Seminars in Research Related to Gender and Sexuality, University of Sussex, UK. 5 Feb 2014.

Payson, Alida. Reproducing place: Touch, kinship and pattern in three generations of Cardiff photographs. Assuming Gender Research Seminar, Cardiff University, 29 Oct 2014.


Current teaching:

My current teaching in JOMEC focuses on cultural politics and material culture. I co-lead a module called Fashion Futures looking at sustainability in the fashion industry, with colleague Naomi Dunstan. We aim to get students involved in hands-on learning and reflection on issues of equity, justice, and environmental change from our wardrobes to the industry as a whole.

I am currently designing another new module, Clothing Matters. This module will build on my research and other emerging research around the world to explore the social, cultural and political meanings of clothes in different contexts around the world. From punk style in the UK, to wax print in Ghana, to boro patchwork in Japan, for example, we will unpick how clothing matters in different periods and places. Drawing on a range of theoretical approaches to material culture, we will explore questions of clothes and emotion, the body, and cultural forms such as music, dance, and film. We will also investigate how the cultural politics of clothes intersects with ‘race’, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and colonialism. We will explore clothing with a particular focus on the everyday and the second-hand, following how clothes travel and transform through the global economy, and considering implications for the future.

Past teaching:

In previous roles in the school, I have given guest lectures and presentations for BA and MA modules, such as ‘Power and the practice of everyday life,’ and for a BA module called Media, Power and Society, and 'Reselling labour in the creative economy,’ for Critical Issues in Creative Labour, an MA module, in 2019.

From 2013-2018, I contributed guest lectures to BA modules on Cultural Agency on postcolonial histories of place, and the politics of multiculture, creativity and participation, and Creative and Cultural Industries on ‘Craft, Creativity and DIY Culture’. I also contibuted workshops for the School's PhD research development series, on ‘Ethnography, Emotion and the Senses’ and ‘Research methods and pitching research.'

I worked as a University Teacher and seminar tutor in JOMEC from 2018-2019.


Secondhand Cultures in Unsettled Times

Interdisciplinary Virtual Symposium, School of Journalism, Media & Culture, Cardiff University

15-16 June 2021

Submissions due 23 April 2021

Secondhand cultures and practices, from reselling sites to charity shops and thrift stores to waste picking, have expanded and transformed over recent decades, with profound social, political, and environmental implications. Despite vibrant and growing research into secondhand worlds, opportunities to share and discuss this research across interdisciplinary boundaries have been rare. Further, secondhand cultures have been unsettled by the global pandemic in ways that are not yet well understood.

This virtual symposium invites scholars across disciplines to problematise and explore secondhand cultures in unsettled times. We invite contributions, not limited to this list, that critically discuss or explore:

o Secondhand fashion cultures around the world

o Thrift ethics

o Secondhand practices & sustainability, waste and environmental concerns

o Research methods for secondhand cultures

o Thrift media (podcasts, social media accounts, etc.)

o Secondhand making, design and craft

o Histories of secondhand cultures

o Secondhand work, labour, and justice

o Secondhand reselling and ecommerce

o Decolonising, abolitionism, and anti-racism in secondhand cultures

o Gender and secondhand cultures

o Disability, age, workforce and secondhand spaces

o Underrepresented, marginalised or invisible secondhand practices

o Teaching secondhand cultures

o Secondhand futures – what’s next?

We invite contributions from any discipline, including but not limited to media and cultural studies; applied arts and design; geography and urban planning; history; gender studies; and the social sciences.

Contributions can take the form of 250-word abstracts for papers, panel and/or workshop proposals, or other forms of collective activity. We also would enthusiastically welcome any of the following: exhibitions; informal presentations; digital guided walks; reflection workshops; object-centred workshops; methods lightning talks; audio tours; upcycling or design workshops.

Practitioners working in these fields are welcome to apply; students, scholars of colour, disability justice scholars, LGBTQ scholars, indigenous, precarious, and working class scholars encouraged to apply. Stipends can be made available.

Submissions due 23 April 2021     

Please send submissions to

Organisers: Dr Jennifer Lynn Ayres, New York University; Dr Triona Fitton, University of Kent, and Dr Alida Payson, Cardiff University

Diwylliannau Ail-law Mewn Amseroedd Ansefydlog

Symposiwm ar-lein rhyngddisgyblaethol

Ysgol Newyddiaduraeth, y Cyfryngau a Diwylliant, Prifysgol Caerdydd

15-16 Mehefin 2021

Cyflwyniadau yn ddyledus 23 Ebrill 2021

Mae diwylliannau ac arferion ail-law, o ailwerthu safleoedd, siopau elusennol a siopau ail-law i gasglu gwastraff, wedi ehangu a thrawsnewid dros y degawdau diwethaf, gyda goblygiadau cymdeithasol, gwleidyddol ac amgylcheddol helaeth. Er gwaethaf yr ymchwil fywiog a chynyddol i fydoedd ail-law, prin fu'r cyfleoedd i rannu a thrafod yr ymchwil hon ar draws ffiniau rhyngddisgyblaethol. Ac, ymhellach, mae’r pandemig byd-eang wedi tarfu ar ddiwylliannau ail-law mewn ffordd nad yw wedi’i ddeall yn llawn eto.

Mae'r symposiwm rhithwir hwn yn gwahodd ysgolheigion ar draws disgyblaethau i nodi bod hyn yn broblem ac archwilio diwylliannau ail-law mewn amseroedd ansefydlog. Rydym yn gwahodd cyfraniadau, heb fod yn gyfyngedig i'r rhestr hon, sy'n trafod neu'n archwilio'n feirniadol:

o          Diwylliannau ffasiwn ail-law ar draws y byd

o          Moeseg thrifftio

o          Arferion ail-law a phryderon ynghylch cynaliadwyedd, gwastraff a’r amgylchedd

o          Dulliau ymchwil ar gyfer diwylliannau ail-law

o          Cyfryngau thrifftio (podlediadau, cyfrifon cyfryngau cymdeithasol, ac ati)

o          Creu, dylunio a chrefft ail-law

o          Hanesion diwylliannau ail-law

o          Gwaith ail-law, llafur, a chyfiawnder

o          Ailwerthu ac e-fasnachu eitemau ail-law

o          Dad-drefedigaethu, diddymu, a gwrth-hiliaeth mewn diwylliannau ail-law

o          Rhywedd a diwylliannau ail-law

o          Anabledd, oedran, gweithlu a mannau ail-law

o          Arferion ail-law heb gynrychiolaeth ddigonol, ymylol neu anweledig

o          Addysgu am ddiwylliannau ail-law

o          Dyfodol ail-law - beth sydd nesaf?

Rydym yn gwahodd cyfraniadau gan unrhyw ddisgyblaeth, gan gynnwys ond heb fod yn gyfyngedig i’r cyfryngau ac astudiaethau diwylliannol; y celfyddydau a dylunio cymhwysol; daearyddiaeth a chynllunio trefol; hanes; astudiaethau rhywedd; a'r gwyddorau cymdeithasol.

Gallwch wneud cyfraniadau ar ffurf crynodebau 250 gair ar gyfer papurau, cynigion ar gyfer paneli ac/neu weithdai, neu weithgaredd arall sy’n annog pobl i gydweithio. Byddem hefyd yn croesawu unrhyw un o'r canlynol: arddangosfeydd; cyflwyniadau anffurfiol; teithiau tywys digidol; gweithdai myfyrio; gweithdai sy'n canolbwyntio ar wrthrychau; cyflwyniadau sydyn ynghylch dulliau; teithiau sain; gweithdai dylunio neu uwchgylchu.

Mae croeso i ymarferwyr sy'n gweithio yn y meysydd hyn wneud cais; anogir myfyrwyr, ysgolheigion o liw, ysgolheigion cyfiawnder anabledd, ysgolheigion LGBTQ ac ysgolheigion brodorol, ansefydlog, a dosbarth gweithiol i ymgeisio. Gellir sicrhau bod cyflogau ar gael.

Cyflwyniadau yn ddyledus 23 Ebrill 2021

Anfonwch gyflwyniadau at

Dr Jennifer Lynn Ayres, New York University; Dr Triona Fitton, University of Kent, and Dr Alida Payson, Cardiff University