Kirsten Forkert

Lecturer in Media Theory

Birmingham School of Media

Kirsten Forkert is a researcher and activist, and researches the politics of cultural work and education.

She completed a PhD in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2011, under the supervision of Professor Angela McRobbie. Her PhD thesis explored the conditions experienced by freelance artists in London and Berlin and serves as the basis for her first book, 'Artistic Lives' (Ashgate Publishers, 2013). She has also published on media art, activism, and the globalisation of education.

Prior to academia, Kirsten was active as a media artist, curator and critic. She has been involved in community media, media art and activist projects, including 'Video In' in Vancouver, Canada, and 'Democracy Now!' and the '16beaver Collective' in New York.

Both her undergraduate and Master's degrees (which she obtained from NSCAD University and Simon Fraser University in Canada) are in Media Arts Practice.

Postgraduate Supervision

Kirsten Forkert is interested in supervising doctoral students researching media activism, particularly students with practical experience of campaigning, as well as those hoping to theorise the current state of social movements. Her current work explores anti-austerity campaigning as well as understanding the construction of consent with austerity measures as well as the scapegoating of particular populations as "undeserving". This provides the framework for her individual research, as well as her collaborative research (including an ESRC-funded project exploring the impacts of the 'Go Home' advert on diverse communities).

Kirsten is both a researcher and an activist, and also has been involved in media art and community media in Canada and the US. Her research has also explored the politics and social conditions of cultural work, particularly in relation to issues such as precarious employment and gentrification. Her work is interdisciplinary, and is based in cultural studies but draws on other fields, including sociology and visual culture. She is interested in methodological experimentation, and in exploring the role of research in building social movements. Please see her profile and publications for details.

As part of the Midlands3Cities AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership BCU offers doctoral studentships in all these areas.


Pettinger, L., Forkert, K., and Goffey, A (2016) The promises of creative industry higher education: An analysis of university prospectuses in Malaysia. International Journal of Cultural Policy. pp. 1-19. ISSN 1028-6632

Forkert, K. (2016) Austere Creativity and Volunteer-run Public Services: The Case of Lewisham's Libraries. New Formations, 87 (87). pp. 11-28. ISSN 09502378

McDonald, I. and Mayouf, M. and Rowe, S.G. and Charles, R.-A. and Sultan, F. and Patel, K. and Forkert, K. and Ochonogor, K.K. (2015) The development of a postgraduate research community: A response to the needs of postgraduate researchers at Birmingham City University. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 19 (3). pp. 96-101. ISSN 13603108

Forkert, K. and Lopes, A. (2015) Unwaged posts in UK universities: Controversies and campaigns. TripleC, 13 (2). pp. 533-553. ISSN 1726670X

McDonald, I., Mayouf, M., Patel, K., Rowe, S., Sultan, F, Forkert, K, Charles, R. and Ochonogor, Kene (2015) The development of a postgraduate research community: a response to the needs of postgraduate researchers at Birmingham City University. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 19 (3). pp. 96-101. ISSN 1360-3108

Forkert, K. 'Artistic Lives: A study of creativity in two European cities.' Farningham: Ashgate Publishers (in press, forthcoming 2013).

Forkert, K. 'The persistence of bohemia. CITY: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action' 17 (1) (In press, forthcoming 2013)

Forkert, K. 'Review of Work's Intimacy by Melissa Gregg, and Capital and Affect, by Christian Marazzi.' Work, Employment and Society 26 (5), 2013, pp. 857-878.

Forkert, K. 'Reflections on austerity, social movements, and artistic autonomy. Work, Work, Work: A reader on art and labour.' IASPIS Publications, 2012, pp. 154-172.

Forkert, K. 'Cash Cows, Guinea Pigs and Scapegoats: International Students and the Globalisation of Higher Education.' In The Assault on Universities: A Manifesto for Resistance. Des Freedman and Michael Bailey, Eds. London: Pluto Press, 2011, pp. 168-178.

Forkert, K. 'Bread and Five Ring Circuses: Art and Activism against the Olympics in London and Vancouver.' In Imagining Resistance. Keri Cronin and Kirsty Robertson. Eds. Waterloo, Canada: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2011, pp. 147-164.

Forkert, K. 'Review of Nice Work if You Can Get It by Andrew Ross.' Media, Culture and Society, 33 (1), 2011, pp. 163-165.

Forkert, K. 'Review of Tactical Media by Rita Raley.' Media Culture and Society 32 (3), 2010, pp. 531-533.

Forkert, K. 'Artist as Executive, Executive as Artist.' Variant 35, 2009, pp. 22-24.

McRobbie, A and Forkert, K. 'Art Schools: For or Against Innovation.' Variant 34,2009, pp. 22-24.

Forkert, K. 'Tactical Media, Institutions, Audiences and Neoliberalism: Some Questions.' Third Text, 22 (5), 2008, pp. 589-598.


The Consultariat and the occupiers (in collaboration with Peter Conlin). Crossroads in Cultural Studies conference, Paris, 2012.

Affect, austerity and social media, ICT and Society, Uppsala, 2012.

Austerity and the neoliberal subject, British Sociological Association annual conference, Leeds, 2012.

Austerity, neoliberalism and the flexible subject (with Bridget Conor, Kings College London) Critical Labour Studies symposium, Manchester, 2012.

Foucault's biopolitics and responses to austerity, Radical Foucault, London, 2011.

Is there a future for cultural work in the new economy?, The Future of Cultural Work, London, 2010.

When the creative economy makes it difficult to be creative, Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, Glasgow, 2010.

Methods for researching creative labour, Cultural Policy, Creative Labour in an Urban Frame Seminar, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt Universität, Berlin, 2009.

Organizer and co-chair, Migrant Struggles and Migratory Aesthetics, College Art Association, Los Angeles, 2009.

What's wrong with aspiration? Good Jobs, Bad Jobs, Nae Jobs: Skills Workfare and Struggles over Work, Glasgow, 2009.

Workshop participant, Seminar in Experimental Critical Theory V: Creative Economies/Cultural Industries/New Humanities? University of California Humanities Research Institute, 2008.

Some Unavoidable Questions about Authorship and the Gap Between Theory and Policy, Copyright's Counterparts: Economies of Creativity in Theory and Practice, Kingston, Canada, 2008.

Taking One's Chances to Rethinking Labour: Labour, Affect and Material Culture, Dublin, 2008.

Self-Promotion as a Pervasive Activity in Work and Interpersonal Relationships to MECCSA annual conference, Cardiff, UK, 2008.