Dr Ben Pitcher

Dr Ben Pitcher

Ben Pitcher is Reader in Sociology. He writes and teaches about the cultural politics of race. He is Director of Westminster's new Centre for Social Justice Research. 

He explores the contemporary resonances of the distant human past in Back to the Stone Age: Race and Prehistory in Popular Culture (McGill-Queens, 2022). Consuming Race (2014) offers some new ways of thinking about the centrality of race to our lives. The Politics of Multiculturalism (2009) explores the way antiracism has shaped governmental practices in twenty-first century Britain.

His work has been featured in national and international news media, and Ben has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Germany's Deutschlandfunk, Australia’s ABC Radio National and Voice of Islam radio. He has written for numerous blogs and websites, including The Guardian.

His website includes links to his books, articles and other writing, much of which can be downloaded for free.

He studied Literature at Goldsmiths (BA, first class) and Cultural Studies at Lancaster University (MA, distinction) and the University of East London (PhD). He was previously a Lecturer in Political Sociology at Oxford Brookes University.

Ben's latest book is Back to the Stone Age: Race and Prehistory in Contemporary Culture (McGill-Queen's, 2022).

Prehistoric human life is a common reference point in contemporary culture, inspiring our attempts to become happier, healthier, or better people. Exploited by capitalism, overwhelmed by technology, and living in the shadow of environmental catastrophe, we call on the prehistoric to escape the present and to model alternative ways of living our lives.

From everyday practices like lighting fires and walking in the woods to our engagements with genetic technologies and Neanderthal DNA, from megaliths and museum mannequins to TV shows and best-selling nonfiction, prehistory is alive in the twenty-first century.

Our popular flights back in time provide a revealing insight into present-day anxieties, obsessions, and concerns. This book explores how ideas about race are tightly woven into the prehistoric imagination, caught up in powerful origin stories about who we are, where we came from, and what we are like.

Back to the Stone Age shows that the human past is not set in stone: by opening up the prehistoric to critical contestation, racial justice becomes central to questions about the existence and persistence of Homo sapiens in the contemporary world.

Ben Introduces some of the book's themes in this talk on 'Prehistory for antifascists' for Stone Club at The Social.

Back to the Stone Age features on the New Books in Critical Theory podcast where Ben talks with Dave O'Brien about cultural studies and the distant human past.

What do social scientists need to know about prehistory? Ben makes some suggestions in this piece for the BSA. 

Ben also takes part in episodes 3 and 4 of Zakia Sewell's BBC Radio 4 series My Albion.

Ben’s second book, Consuming Race (Routledge, 2014), explores how the meanings of race are made and remade in acts of creative consumption. Ranging across the terrain of popular culture, and finding race in some unusual and unexpected places, it gives us some fresh and innovative ways of thinking about the centrality of race to our lives.

His first book, The Politics of Multiculturalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), is an account of the racial politics of the British State under New Labour. It sets out a framework for thinking about race in the twenty-first century, where racism is simultaneously rejected and reproduced. The Politics of Multiculturalism was shortlisted for the 2010 British Sociological Association Philip Abrams Memorial Prize.

Ben has written articles and chapters on topics including the racialization of extinction, iconoclasm, antiracist populism, race, debt and the welfare state, the affects of landscape belonging (shortlisted for the 2017 Sage Prize for Innovation and Excellence), the relationship between race and neoliberal capitalism, Barack Obama’s ‘post-black’ politics, the problematic hegemony of certain ‘radical’ political projects, and on Top Gear and postfeminist media culture. An article on HBO drama The Wire and cultural studies was co-written with Dr Rebecca Bramall.

  • Centre for Social Justice Research

In brief

Research areas

race, racism, politics and popular culture

Supervision interests

race, racism, politics and popular culture