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Personal profile

Biography

George McKay joined UEA as Professor of Media Studies in 2014. Previously he was Professor of Cultural Studies at MediaCityUK University of Salford (2005-14), and at UCLan (2000-05). He has a First Class BA (Hons) from Hull College of Higher Education (1984) and a PhD from the University of Glasgow (1992).

He was Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Leadership Fellow for its Connected Communities Programme (2012-19). As well as co-leading the programme, with over 350 funded projects and 1000 community partners, his Connected Communities projects at UEA included The Impact of Festivals in collaboration with research partner EFG London Jazz Festival, Participatory Arts and DIY Culture, the Reggae Research Network, and Creative Spaces and Public Culture.

He was co-investigator (2015-17) on the EU Heritage+ project, Cultural Heritage and Improvised Music in European Festivals (CHIME). In 2020 he was involved in an EIRA-funded project with the Suffolk-based international music and culture centre Snape Maltings entitled Innovative Practice in Living Archives, Digital Creativity and Music-Making. 

He is a subject panel member for REF2021, for Unit of Assessment 34, Communication, Cultural and Media Studies. 

PhD supervision

Prof McKay is an experienced PhD supervisor, having worked (as supervisor, external, internal examiner, advisor) with over 50 students, of which 16 are PhD completions. He has been postgraduate external examiner at a number of institutions: for PhDs, at Nottingham, Leeds, Cardiff, Bristol, Plymouth, Durham, KCL, Monash, UWE, Napier, Sussex, Groningen; for MAs, Bradford, Manchester, UWE, UCLan, London College of Music & Media, UEL; advisor for students at Kunstuniversität Graz, and Guelph.

He is interested in supervising PhD students broadly across media and cultural studies and cultural politics. More specifically: alternative cultures/ counterculture, popular music, jazz, disability in culture and media, subcultures and post-subcultures, festival and the carnivalesque, social movements and protest, gardens and gardening, autonomy/anarchism, community music, participatory arts. He has also supervised to completion several creative practice-as-research and media production PhDs.

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Prof McKay’s website is georgemckay.org; it contains comprehensive information about his research—including lots of open access links—books, events, reviews, even a little about his music (semi-pro jazz double bassist). His work can also be found openly accessible on his academia.edu and researchgate pages. You can also, if so minded, follow him on Twitter @george_mckay

PGR Opportunities

Professor McKay is an experienced PhD supervisor, having worked (as supervisor, external, internal examiner) with over 40 students, of which 16 are PhD completions. He has been postgraduate external examiner at a number of institutions: for PhDs, at Nottingham, Leeds, Cardiff, Bristol, Plymouth, Durham, KCL, Monash, UWE, Napier, Sussex; for MAs, Bradford, Manchester, UWE, UCLan, London College of Music & Media, UEL.

He is interested in supervising PhD students broadly across media and cultural studies and cultural politics. More specifically: alternative cultures/ counterculture, popular music, jazz, disability in culture and media, subcultures and post-subcultures, festival and the carnivalesque, social movements and protest, gardens and gardening, autonomy/anarchism, community music, participatory arts. He has also supervised to completion several creative practice-as-research and media production PhDs.

External Activities

Internationally, Professor McKay has been a visiting scholar at University of Southern Maine (1994), University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria (1996) and University of Sydney (2008), and has worked on local British Council projects and events in Bulgaria, Poland and Tunisia. Major European projects he has been part of are:

Public engagement and collaboration

Professor McKay is committed to public engagement: he has been Professor in Residence at the award-winning Kendal Calling pop festival (2011), and at EFG London Jazz Festival (2014). He was the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement award in the UEA's annual Engagement Awards in 2020.

As a researcher he has worked with a range of cultural and media organisations, including Community Media Association, Cheltenham Festivals, Community Music East, Europe Jazz Network, More Music, British Council, Lancaster Jazz Festival, Serious Music, and MSN.

He has appeared on all major BBC radio stations, BBC TV and ITV, various community radio stations, discussing his work or as an academic ‘expert’. He has written for the GuardianIndependentNew Statesman, and intermittently reviews for the Times Higher. 

Conference organisation

To date, he has been involved in the organisation of more than 40 UK and international academic conferences, symposia and research events, including notably as lead organiser of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (UK & I) 2012 and Media, Communication & Cultural Studies Association 2011 conferences. Since joining UEA, these are: 

  • Member, organising committee, Rhythm Changes VII international conference, Jazz Now, Amsterdam Conservatory (2020; postponed to 2022)
  • Street Music conference (with Dr Lizzie Bennett), UEA (2019)
  • Member, organising committee, Rhythm Changes VI international conference, Jazz Journeys, Kunstuniversität Graz (2019)
  • New Perspectives in Participatory Arts conference (with Dr Lucy Wright), UEA (2018)
  • Punk in the Provinces public symposium, Norwich Arts Centre (2017)
  • Member, organising committee, Rhythm Changes V international conference, Re-Sounding Jazz, Amsterdam Conservatory (2017)
  • Global Challenges Research Fund and Collaborative Research international symposium, UEA (2017)
  • Member, organising committee, CHIME project international conference, Festival, Music, Heritage, Siena (2017)
  • Litcom 1: A Conference on Literature and Communities, UEA/Writers’ Centre, Norwich (2017)
  • (with Profs Charles Forsdick and Paul Gilroy), AHRC Reggae Research Network and conference, UEA/Liverpool/London (2017)
  • Utopia 500 Connected Communities conference, British Library, London (2016)
  • (with Dr Emma Webster) EFG London Jazz Festival, Jazz and the City symposium (2016)
  • Member, scientific committee, Keep It Simple Make It Fast 3rdinternational conference, University of Porto (2016)
  • Co-curator, Utopia 500 AHRC commemoration events, nationwide: http://utopia500.org.uk (2016)
  • Researching (Jazz) Festivals: A Day of Ideas and Discussion, Cheltenham Jazz Festival (2016)
  • Changing the Future Research Landscape? Connected Communities ECRs conference, UEA (2016)
  • Member, organising committee, Rhythm Changes IV international conference, Jazz Utopia, Birmingham City University (2016)
  • Soundings & Findings: A Connected Communities Research Conference, UEA (2015)
  • Festival Cultures: Media, Music, Place conference, UEA (2015).

Key Research Interests and Expertise

‘Cultural studies with a soundtrack’ is how Prof McKay's website strapline describes his research interests.

More specifically: alternative cultures/ counterculture, popular music, jazz, disability in culture and media, subcultures and post-subcultures, festival and the carnivalesque, social movements and protest, gardens and gardening, autonomy/anarchism, community music, participatory arts, practice/production-as-research. 

Among his books are: 

  • Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties (Verso, 1996) 
  • DiY Culture: Party & Protest in Nineties Britain (ed., Verso, 1998)
  • Glastonbury: A Very English Fair (Gollancz, 2000)
  • Community Music: A Handbook (co-ed. with Pete Moser, Russell House, 2004)
  • Issues in Americanisation and Culture (eds, with Neil Campbell & Jude Davies, Edinburgh UP, 2004)
  • Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain (Duke UP, 2005)
  • Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden (Frances Lincoln, 2011)
  • Shakin' All Over: Popular Music and Disability (University of Michigan Press, 2013)
  • The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture (ed., Bloomsbury, 2015)
  • Music From Out There, in Here: 25 Years of London Jazz Festival (with Emma Webster, AHRC/UEA, 2017).
  • The Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock (eds., with Gina Arnold, Oxford UP, forthcoming 2021).

He was founding co-editor in 2002 oSocial Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest (Routledge), and associate editor (1993-2002) of the BAAS Paperback Series (Edinburgh UP). He was special issue editor of the journal Popular Music (28:3; 2009) on the theme of popular music and disability. He currently co-edits the Connected Communities: Creating a New Knowledge Landscape series for Policy Press, is a member of the editorial board of Jazz Research Journal and consulting editor of Social Movement Studies.

Selected recent keynote lectures

  • 2019: UCLan/Preston Jazz Festival, 'Jazz and cultural identity'.
  • 2018: University of Fribourg. Burning Man and Transformational Festival conference
  • 2018: University of Porto. KISMIF conference
  • 2017: Milano Jazz Festival one-day conference, Triennale
  • 2017: Continental Drift conference and Edinburgh Jazz Festival
  • 2016: Twelve Points Festival, San Sebastian. ‘The music festival in Europe'
  • 2016: Canterbury Christ Church University. MeCCSA annual conference,
  • 2015: Westminster University. Re-Imagining Rurality conference
  • 2014: University of Porto/Casa da Musica. KISMIF conference
  • 2014: Marabouparken art space, Stockholm. On Invasive Grounds exhibition
  • 2013: University of Aveido. Jazz Messengers conference
  • 2013: University of Murcia. Iberian Association of Cultural Studies biennial conference
  • 2012: University of Glamorgan, AHRC Live Music Exchange project conference
  • 2012: dOCUMENTA13, Kassel. ‘Multispecies and Seeds’ closing conference
  • 2012: Freie Garten Akademie no. 8, Münster. 

Grants, awards, projects 

Across his career, Prof McKay has been involved in around 40 funded UK and international projects, totalling over £6.2m in income generation.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Glasgow

Award Date: 1 Jan 1992

Bachelor of Arts, Hull College of Higher Education

Award Date: 1 Jul 1984