Alana Osbourne studied anthropology at University College London (UCL), then obtained a Master’s degree in film directing at the Belgian National Film School (INSAS). She recently completed her PhD at the University of Amsterdam’s Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, and the Centre for Urban Studies. Her thesis entitled Touring Trench Town: Commodifying Urban Poverty and Violence in Kingston, Jamaica looked at tourism patterns in Trench Town, a marginalised low-income and high-crime area of Kingston. Central to this work is a concern with how violence and poverty are transformed into products that can be purchased and consumed, and to the inequalities – drawn along lines of skin colour, class and mobility – that permeate and structure such encounters.
In her research at the KITLV she will continue probing the economic and political ramifications of urban violence. Extending the work she did on the commodification of violence at the UvA, her postdoctoral research will focus on the political and economic possibilities opened up through narratives of violence. It will analyse how urban residents recount and make sensible past violent encounters with state security forces in Jamaica, both formally and informally, in order to gain socio-political recognition and financial reparation for their suffering.
Alana is interested in how inequalities and violence are linked to the Caribbean’s colonial history, and her work probes how these inheritances continue to construct and produce inequalities, but also how urbanites subvert these legacies through sensorial negotiations. Alana’s engagement with these concerns is motivated by the conviction that anthropology and urban studies can provide important insights into the political and economic potentials of the sensorial, and to the ways inequalities are produced, framed and contested.