Mid-Career Fellowships awards 2022

Funded by

Dr Lisa Blackmore


Imagining the Hydrocommons: Water, Art and Infrastructure in Latin America

University of Essex


After a century of fast-paced development, fatal dam collapses and polluted rivers in Latin America are demonstrating the limits of human mastery of water. Ambitious river restoration projects are underway to recover “dead” rivers and to reignite public connections to them, but progress is slow. It is no coincidence that parallel to this, the past ten years have seen a “liquid turn” in the arts in Latin America. This project offers the first monograph to examine human relations to water in the region through ecocritical analyses of infrastructures and artworks from the late nineteenth century through to the present. It will show how art-making is central to cultivating a hydrocommons where human health and ecological wellbeing exist in a continuum. Through a wide-ranging dissemination strategy and participatory workshops designed to engage broad publics, the research will contribute to the global challenge of collectively imagining water cultures attuned to environmental sustainability.

Dr Anna Bryson


Conflict and Civility: Memory, Identity and Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland

Queen's University Belfast


The cornerstone of the proposed project is a monograph focusing on community life in Northern Ireland in the period 1945-69. The existing historiography of NI focuses overwhelmingly on the post-1969 period; it is also decidedly Belfast-centric. Drawing on original and unpublished interviews, this monograph is the first to offer a ‘from below’ oral history of the period. Accounting for the messy reality of lived experience it interrogates the binary narratives of either a pre-Troubles golden age or an apartheid Orange statelet.

The second element engages the skills of a historian and socio-legal scholar to probe the intersections between oral history and transitional justice. Taking my oral history of NI as a case-study, it seeks to inform UK government proposals to legislate for post-conflict oral history initiatives in NI. The programme of communication and engagement is timely given that the relevant legislation is slated to pass through Westminster in 2022.

Dr Adrian Curtin


Orchestral Theatre: Interdisciplinary Performance Experimentation by Contemporary British Music Ensembles

University of Exeter


In recent years a vanguard of British ensembles has reimagined what an orchestra can do and how it can perform. Departing from the standard concert format and performance practice for orchestral musicians, groups such as Aurora Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble, Paraorchestra, and Southbank Sinfonia present theatrically sophisticated concerts, often in collaboration with artists from other disciplines. Musicians in these ensembles frequently do more than play their instruments; they may engage in choreographed movement, like a dancer, or represent a fictional character, like an actor. Consequently, these groups have created generically hybrid artistic work that challenges conventional understanding of the orchestra, of musicians as performers, of borders between art forms, and of orchestral repertoire. This project will result in a monograph that historicises this phenomenon, analyses case studies, and theorises their artistic and cultural significance. The findings will also be communicated via a varied programme of public engagement.

Dr Sara de Jong


Brokers of Conflict and Migration

University of York


In an interconnected yet divided world, where ‘us’ and ‘them’ categories are invoked in politics and media, actors who bridge life worlds are central but under-researched political actors. This project shifts attention to spaces of encounter and centres the role of brokers mediating and gatekeeping between communities separated by cultural, social and political boundaries. It draws together different disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, language and development studies, to develop a novel conceptual framework on brokerage. This is grounded in two empirical case studies in the areas of conflict and migration, focussing on a) local Afghan interpreters working for Western armies; b) refugee case workers for European migrant NGOs. Redirecting our focus to brokering agents and their role in structures of governance sheds new light on the everyday negotiations in the spaces of encounter opened up by global political processes and offers a new vantage point to analyse migration and war.

Dr Daisy Fancourt


The development of a social-ecological framework of determinants of arts & cultural engagement and its application to health

University College London


There is burgeoning research demonstrating the social value of the arts and culture, including for education, criminal justice, society, health, and wellbeing. However, although the UN has declared access to the arts a human right, engagement remains unequal across society. Despite substantial research exploring determinants of cultural engagement, such work remains siloed by discipline and the focus in policy terms is often on individual-level barriers to engagement rather than the social and societal context that provides the conditions for such barriers. Consequently, the aim of this Fellowship is to transform how we conceptualise determinants of cultural engagement by leveraging the large volume of research and theory undertaken to date and developing a new interdisciplinary theoretical framework. An ambitious engagement programme will use this framework with local, national and international cultural and community organisations to identify interventions and policies that could be implemented in the UK to increase and equalise participation.

Dr Elena Giusti


Rome's Imagined Africa

University of Warwick


The ‘invention’ of Africa as an ethno-geographic space of otherness whose systems of knowledge are pitted against European structures of thought is recognised as an early modern construction serving Europe’s colonialist enterprise. Yet this project will demonstrate how Latin ‘Africa’ was already ‘invented’ by Greco-Roman authors, whose ethnographic gazes bear commonalities with later colonialist literature that allow us to bridge the gap between antiquity and modernity on the history of Western constructions of subaltern identities. The writing of a monograph on literary representations of Africa before and under the Roman Empire will take place alongside targeted public engagement activities, including a podcast series. The project will show how turning the spotlight on Africa enhances our understanding of Greco-Roman strategies of literary representation and of their interaction with ancient African perspectives, helping us re-assess the pivotal role that African people and places played in the development of a literature in Latin.

Dr Mina Gorji


Romantic Listening: Poetry and Aurality in the Romantic Period

University of Cambridge


A fellowship would allow me to complete Romantic Listening: Poetry and Aurality in the Romantic Period. Among the project’s key research questions are: 1.What did listening mean for poets and readers of the period? 2.How did poets engage with historical and cultural changes in listening and reading practices? 3.How did poets respond and contribute to developing technologies of listening, recording, transcribing and amplifying sound? 4.How does a historical understanding of listening enrich our understanding of Romantic poetry today?

While considerable critical attention has been paid to the voice of the speaker in recent years, the receiving ear of the listener has been neglected. Romantic Listening demonstrates what can be gained from a shift in critical attention and paradigm from orality to aurality in Romantic studies. Thinking with and between lyric and sound studies, it draws on literary scholarship, musicology and cultural histories of listening to amplify its own close listening.

Dr Isilay Gursu


Public Understanding of Archaeology in Turkey (PUNAT)

British Institute at Ankara


Since 2013, I have devised and directed a series of projects in Turkey dedicated to understanding the public perception of archaeology and promoting the engagement of the public with heritage and the work of archaeologists, based at the British Institute at Ankara. These projects employed methodologies ranging from a nation-wide public opinion poll to ethnographic fieldwork in mountain-village communities, from focus groups with heritage experts to workshops with local influencers and to creating an archaeological trail.

Within this Fellowship, I will dedicate 12 months to publish and disseminate the results of these projects. The main output will be a scientific monograph that presents the extensive analytical results, and the innovative conceptual and methodological frameworks that would be replicable in other contexts other than Turkey. Additional outputs include a policy paper directed at decision-makers in Turkey, and public outreach activities aimed at communicating archaeology to audiences in Turkey and the UK.

Dr Ursula Hackett


Polarized Politics: How Legislators and Judges Do Battle

Royal Holloway, University of London


During polarized times, how do legislators deal with the elevated risk of legal challenge to their policy commitments? And how do courts respond to legislators? These two fundamental questions drive this project. Building upon my APSA award-winning book on privatized modes of policy delivery, this mixed-methods research project explores strategic interactions between state legislators and judges in four hot-button areas of constitutional contestation in the US: abortion, gun control, voting rights, and religious freedom. Deploying quantitative text analysis of judicial opinions, elite policymaker interviews, and statistical analysis of original databases of public policy and judicial decision-making, I will analyse legislative efforts to avoid or survive court challenges, and the repertoire of judicial responses. The results will help us understand legislator and judicial motivations and strategies in times of heightened partisan polarization.

Dr Naomi Haynes


Africa’s Chosen Nation: Christian Nationalism in Contemporary Zambia

University of Edinburgh


Christian nationalism is an important political force, not only in established contexts like the United States, but increasingly in the postcolonial world as well. Through an analysis of Zambia, the only African country to officially declare itself a “Christian nation,” this project provides the most sustained ethnographic discussion of postcolonial Christian nationalism to date. As such, it breaks new ground in the study of religious nationalism, which to this point has given very little attention to Christian nationalism outside the West. Through an examination of Christian nationalist historiography, theology, ritual, and activism, this project shows how this political-religious movement redefines the boundaries of the nation, excluding religious and sexual minorities, as well as many Zambian Christians, despite its expansive vision. This project will result in an integrated programme of research outputs and public engagement events in both Scotland and Zambia, including a monograph, lectures, and an exhibition.

Dr Lotte Hoek


New Media Censorship: Cultural Technique, Artistic Form and Political Control in South Asia

University of Edinburgh


New limits on how we express ourselves online are developing all around us: from corporate algorithms funnelling our newsfeeds to angry debates about offensive speech in universities. Is our experience of this digital censorship new? And can knowledge about media regulation in the past help understand media censorship in the digital present? In this project, I will answer these questions with ethnographic and archival material about the relationship of artists and filmmakers in Bangladesh to censorship by the Ministry of Information in the 1950s and early 21st century. This forms the basis of a book about cultural expression and media censorship in South Asia and a series of public conversations with South Asian artists engaging historical materials from the project. The project will illuminate changes and continuities in how limits on public expression in the new media are imposed and negotiated.

Dr Phillip Horky


The Philosophy of Democracy in Antiquity

Durham University


Is philosophy antithetical to democracy? Scholars have asserted that ancient democrats never developed a systematic theory of democracy, and that all ancient philosophers were 'anti-democratic'. Yet since John Rawls' seminal A Theory of Justice (1971), we can speak of a contemporary 'philosophy of democracy' without fear of internal contradiction. Could something similar be hiding in plain sight in the ancient world? This project aims to illuminate and determine, for the first time, the parameters of the philosophy of democracy in ancient Greece and Rome. By tracking the history of popular rule and its advocates from the early 6th century BCE, with the legislation of Solon of Athens, through to the rise of the 'democratic' cosmopolis of Rome in the 2nd century CE, this project will elucidate the various philosophical arguments used to support popular rule (minimally) or the regime of democracy as such (maximally) in antiquity.

Dr Dionysia Katelouzou


The Varieties of Investor Stewardship: Rhetoric Versus Reality

King's College London


The Covid-19 pandemic – and the response to it – have heightened expectations for responsible risk management and societal shareholder engagement and emphasized sustainability, social equality, biodiversity, and climate risks. Investor stewardship – how investors monitor and engage with portfolio assets – is often presented as a solution to these risks, but there is limited attempt to position stewardship policies within investment management and compare the stewardship rhetoric to the stewardship reality. This project will fill this gap. It will expand previous funded research on the role of institutional shareholders and develop an empirically-based taxonomy of what it identifies to be the varieties of investor stewardship. The project will empirically assess the extent to which the reporting of stewardship coheres to investors’ practices. In so doing, it will engage with two key stakeholder groups: the regulators (financial regulators and private standard-setters), and regulated entities, including institutional investors and their associations.

Dr Anja Klein


Theology Born From Crisis: Resilience Discourse in the Three Major Prophets

University of Edinburgh


The books of the three Major Prophets in the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) are crisis literature. They reflect experiences of foreign dominion and demise in the history of Ancient Israel and address their readership in situations of migration and displacement. These formation conditions open up their interpretation to the interdisciplinary discourse of resilience that is defined as a crisis phenomenon – resilience is positive adaptation despite adversity.

This project is the first that undertakes a critical reading of the prophetic materials through the lens of resilience. Firmly rooted in historical-critical research, I will demonstrate that the formation of theology in these books represents a resilience discourse that fostered group identity and agency. The project 1. offers a fresh approach to theology in the Hebrew Bible and 2. uncovers an ancient theological discourse that can serve as a model of how groups deal with crisis and develop resilience.

Dr Cheryl Lawther


Beyond Innocence and Guilt: Constructing Victimhood in Transitional Justice

Queen's University Belfast


‘Good’, ‘bad’, ‘worthy’, ‘unworthy’, ‘innocent’, ‘guilty’. These terms have all been used to describe victims of conflict and human rights abuses. They fail to capture the messy reality of conflict, the complexity of victimhood post-conflict and almost invariably map on to contested understandings of who is to ‘blame’ for violence. This project – the writing of a monograph - ‘Constructing Victimhood’ – offers the first fully theorised examination of the construction and politicisation of victimhood in post-conflict Northern Ireland. Using the theoretical framework of voice, agency and blame and a rich body of empirical work – over 70 in-depth interviews with victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict, this project is the first to explore how victimhood has been, and continues to be, constructed, reproduced and contested in a post-conflict society. A mixed dissemination strategy of academic and public engagement will ensure the relevant communities benefit from the research.

Dr Charlotte Lee


A study of the relationship between poetry and movement

University of Cambridge


Movement and poetry are often treated as metaphors for one another (poetry in motion, etc.). My research argues that the relationship is more than metaphorical: poetry can both convey and stimulate a sense of movement, and poets instinctively use language in ways that resonate with gesture and physical action. The project is divided into three parts.

The first explores moments in poetic history when verse and movement have drawn particularly close to one another. The second seeks to account for the relationship by applying principles derived from neuroscience and experimental psychology, whilst the third offers a detailed exploration of the role of movement in the work of three major poets:

Friedrich Hölderlin, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Aimé Césaire. This is, therefore, an interdisciplinary project, drawing on research in cognitive science, and a comparative one, incorporating material in English, German and French.

Dr Charlotte Mathieson


Cultures of suntanning in late-19th to mid-20th century Britain

University of Surrey


This project investigates developments within and intersections between medical knowledge and cultural representations of suntanning in Britain from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Through original archival research, new knowledge about suntanning in medicine and culture during this era will be produced, bringing the medical, pharmaceutical, and commercial history of suntanning into dialogue with literary and cultural representations that reveal the complexity of attitudes to tanned skin – intersecting with discourses of race, class, gender, and health – in the period. Academic dissemination, including publications and a conference, will lead to advances in understanding for disciplines including literary studies, cultural history, and history of medicine. A programme of public engagement activities including talks, schools' activities, and publication, will use the historical resources and findings of the project as a means to engage public audiences in discussion of contemporary issues around sun exposure and skin cancer risk.

Dr David McCollum


Post-pandemic working practices and residential preferences: implications for people and places

University of St Andrews


One of the many anticipated lasting consequences of the covid-19 crisis is a structural change in working practices and residential preferences, brought about by increased remote working and an associated desire for more spacious homes in appealing locales. This shift has the potential to fundamentally reshape the geographies of work and home. However there remains much uncertainty regarding the prevalence and permanency of these changes. Furthermore, they risk forming new inequalities between those benefitting from new working practices and able to meet their residential preferences and those unable to do so. This research will analyse statistical datasets and conduct in-depth interviews with key stakeholders to elucidate the nature of changing working practices and residential preferences and to shed light on their socio-economic implications. Given its significance nationally and to the wellbeing of specific population sub-groups and types of places, this research has considerable public, commercial and policy saliency.

Dr Monica G. Moreno Figueroa


Internalised Oppression, Defensiveness and Resentment

University of Cambridge


This project explores the role of internalised oppression in anti-racist social activism and in efforts of institutional change, by identifying how the cultural and emotional politics of defensiveness and resentment become key obstacles for organising and transformation. Internalised oppression occurs when an acceptance that social divisions are meaningful shapes personal and collective worth. I will draw on already completed fieldwork on antiracist practices in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico, and observations of antiracist activism in Mexico and diversity work in the UK Higher Education sector. I will interrogate how: internalised oppression sustains social inequality and hinders challenging social divisions; defensiveness and resentment are expressions of how internalised oppression works as a mechanism of distraction, weakening further division and entrenchment. We need to understand the logics behind the lack of cooperation that oppression enables to further an anti-oppressive agenda of social transformation. Outputs will include a book, podcast, video, website, infographics.

Dr Stephen Mossman


Rulman Merswin and the Knights Hospitaller: Literary Spirituality and Urban Religion in Medieval Germany

University of Manchester


My project will rewrite the history of religious experience in the later medieval cities of the Rhineland, cities that were not coincidentally centres of the urban phenomenon now called ‘the Reformation’. It takes the city of Strasbourg as its primary case-study, and focuses on the convent ‘zum Grünen Wörth’, a lay monastery founded in 1367 by the financier and religious writer Rulman Merswin. Incorporated in 1371 into the Order of St John (the Knights Hospitaller), that institution harnessed the wealth and spiritual energies of the Rhenish cities to effect reform of the German Hospitallers. In turn, it was the brethren of the order – hitherto barely present in any context of literary history – who took over Merswin’s literary mantle; they who constructed the great library that attracted the literati of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Germany and formed the core of the Strasbourg city library that burned so tragically in 1870.

Professor Martin O'Neill


Rethinking Economic Democracy: from Values to Institutions

University of York


It is widely acknowledged that our current economic system generates extreme levels of inequality, and excludes many from both a fair share of economic rewards and from a sense of control in economic life. As systemic questions of economic organisation come to the fore in the wake of the Covid epidemic, how should we best think about the normative case, and institutional requirements, for a more egalitarian and democratic economic system?

In contrast to recently popular arguments for policies such as Universal Basic Income, this project will examine the case for a new architecture of "collective capital institutions", developing earlier insights from James Meade and Rudolf Meidner, and arguing for an ‘ecosystem’ approach to the creation of a more inclusive and democratic economic settlement. It will explore the normative justification, in terms of values of freedom, social equality, and democracy, for a pluralist strategy of democratizing the economy at scale.

Professor Bernadette O'Rourke


New geographies of language in minority language sociolinguistics

University of Glasgow


It is widely accepted that globalisation is a key factor in the dissolution and extinction of minority languages, and there has been vast literature investigating this. However, this complex process does not result in language loss solely, as these languages are often taken up and used by new types of speakers, for new purposes and in new spaces. Despite this, language revitalisation models continue to frame minority languages within the geographical confines of stable communities of place tied to a specific territory, based on face-to-face interaction. In this project I propose a radical shift in the way in which we understand contemporary minority language revitalisation, moving the focus of analysis from communities of place to mobilities across time and space. In doing so, the project proposes an alternative set of assumptions to explore the temporal and spatial dynamics of language revitalisation under changing societal conditions.

Professor James Pattison


Global Responsibilities in the Post-Liberal Order

University of Manchester


States have several global responsibilities, from tackling mass atrocities to offering humanitarian assistance to those in need. Prevailing understandings of global responsibilities are largely premised upon the existence of a liberal order, but a post-liberal order seems to be emerging. Some previously key liberal states now eschew some of the central tenets of liberalism and the increasingly influential ‘BRICS’ states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) offer seemingly non-liberal, more statist visions of international politics. This project is the first to consider how the shift towards a post-liberal order affects global responsibilities. It will also in turn consider what the impact of these changes means for states’ responsibilities now. The findings of the research will be disseminated by an open access monograph, targeted research briefs to policymakers, a policy-orientated workshop, a podcast series, and short videos on social media platforms.

Professor Kathleen Riach


Working through ageing: A new theory of growing up and older in the workplace

University of Glasgow


This Fellowship will be used to develop a new theory of ageing at work through a theoretically informed, empirically rich study. Career trajectories are longer, more diverse than ever and shaped by different professional and personal experiences, but we know little about how individuals negotiate their lived experience of ageing and ageism over their working lives. I will explore the dynamics of ‘working-through-ageing’ within the practical, economic and cultural realities of ageing in the work context through the concepts of ambivalence and othering. Outputs include an academically informed but publicly engaging book and podcast series that draws on a unique 10-year longitudinal interview study involving 30 workers to explore ‘working through ageing’ as both an ontological and a practical project. This will further our understanding of growing older by showing how working-through-ageing is critical for our personal and professional lives, and an age-inclusive and economically sustainable society more broadly.

Dr Tom Rice


Conservative Convergence: The Daily Mail and the Evolution of the Transmedial Newspaper, 1896-1960

University of St Andrews


The British newspaper is recognised today as a transmedial enterprise, circulating news and generating revenues through its websites, television stations, podcasts, and events. This is not a new phenomenon. “Conservative Convergence” argues that conservative British newspapers – exemplified by The Daily Mail, which was established in 1896 and was, by 1900, the largest selling newspaper in the world – have long pioneered, developed and exploited new forms of media to boost their readership and revenue and to project a nationalist ideology beyond the printed page. The media forms examined within the project range from early radio in the 1920s to commercial television in the 1950s, from amateur film in the 1930s to educational filmstrips in the 1940s. In illuminating the historical connections between the Daily Mail and new media forms and screens, the project charts the emergence, evolution and endurance of Britain’s modern media system.

Professor Albert Sanchez-Graells


Digital technologies and public procurement. Gatekeeping and experimentation in digital public governance

University of Bristol


The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by the public sector, with the UK Government developing over 100 new digital services since 2020 and setting an ambitious agenda for further digital uptake. Big data, blockchain, machine learning, and other forms of artificial intelligence increasingly underpin public governance and public services, such as digital healthcare. Procurement regulation plays a dual role in this context: gatekeeping and experimentation. Firstly, procurement rules are the gatekeeper of the development and acquisition of digital technologies, control the interaction between public and private actors, and guide the deployment of digital technologies. Secondly, procurement practice is itself a living lab for experimentation with digital technologies to improve governance and prevent corruption, collusion, and the wastage of taxpayers’ funds. Aiming to improve public governance and public service delivery in the digital space, this project examines the dual role of procurement in relation to digital technology adoption.

Dr Romola Sanyal


Displacement Urbanism: Forced Migrants, humanitarianism and urbanisation in the Global South

London School of Economics and Political Science


Over half of the nearly 70 million forcibly displaced people from around the world live in cities, particularly in the Global South. Despite complex effects of displacement on Southern Urbanisation, academic literature remains dominated by studies of camps, or experiences of refugees in Global North cities. This project uses a postcolonial lens to develop a better understanding of Southern Urbanism through the notion of Displacement Urbanism. It argues that the urban condition in the Global South is created through displacement- through the categorisation and politics of the displaced, their relationships with local communities and governments and the interventions of the humanitarian system. It draws together earlier research on urban refugees, with new work on civil society organisations developing global urban humanitarian responses and policies. Outputs include a research monograph, workshops and podcasts with humanitarian, refugee NGOs and local governments, an online resource and an MSc course on urban crises.

Dr Aurélie Slechten


Price formation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme: Evidence from theory and transaction data

Lancaster University


Emissions markets are currently the leading policy instrument for climate change, yet our understanding of how they actually perform in the real world is far from perfect. Their ability to lower total pollution abatement costs crucially hinges upon their ability to generate accurate price signals to guide firms’ long-term investments in carbon emission reduction. However, price uncertainty and volatility have been paramount in most existing carbon markets. This comprehensive and timely research programme will leverage transaction data from the EU emissions trading scheme over the period 2005 and 2018 and theoretical modelling to quantify market frictions arising from market fragmentation, participation costs, risk management constraints and VAT fraud events. This will serve to enrich our understanding of the practical ability of emissions markets to perform their theoretical role of producing informative prices and reducing market-level costs of abatement. These valuable insights will shed light on recent and proposed market reforms.

Professor Sarah Smith


Diversifying Economics

University of Bristol


Economics has a central place in society: Who studies and practises economics can affect outcomes for us all. But recent evidence shows that economics in many countries, including the UK, has a diversity problem: Women, ethnic groups and lower socio-economic groups are under-represented at all levels. This project will generate and disseminate new evidence on the causes and consequences of the lack of diversity and consider the effectiveness of recent initiatives to promote diversity. The project will generate new research outputs and a monograph, How to Diversify Economics, targeted at a broad audience, that will clearly articulate different aspects of economics' diversity problem (student intake, curriculum, academia, policy-making) and set out practical, evidence-based steps that can be taken to promote diversity and inclusion in the profession.

Professor Zofia Stemplowska


Attention! Unequal Commemoration and Other Injustices of Attention

University of Oxford


Our public commemorative attention – often extracted through monuments and public occasions – is in great demand throughout our lives. We are familiar with debates over who is worthy of commemoration. But such debates do not address the overlooked and foundational problem that our commemorative attention is a scarce resource. We need principles of justice that tell us whom to prioritise in the calculus of who gets commemorated and who overlooked. The fellowship would be used to complete a monograph of political theory that addresses this problem. The monograph will establish what grounds our duties of commemoration, to whom is commemoration owed, what exactly is owed, and how to deal with the fact that there are many candidates while people disagree whom to commemorate. These answers can be used to identify commemorative lacunas and over-commemoration and to address specific debates in a way that is rigorous and constructive.

Dr Alice Stevenson


Exhibition Experiments around Egyptology: The role of contemporary art

University College London


There are numerous examples of how ancient Egyptian museum collections have inspired modern art and contemporary artists, but can such art inform Egyptology and its museum representation? Since the 1990s, artistic interventions have become a popular and widespread means of providing fresh perspectives on museum displays and have been advocated as a means of bringing Egyptian voices into dialogue with historic collections. Yet critical reflection within Egyptology on these strategies has been minimal. This project evaluates three high-profile exhibitionary experiments in the museum display of ancient Egypt in order to: 1. critically extend histories of museum representation of ancient Egypt to encompass late 20th- and early 21st-century developments; 2. highlight the significance of these experiments for constructing knowledge about the Egyptian past, and the political and historic contexts of those experiments; and 3. establish the strengths, weaknesses, and implications of such critical practice for Egyptology and its museum framing.

Dr Siobhan Talbott


Knowledge, Information, and Business Education in the early-modern Atlantic World

Keele University


Accurate information is essential to successful business activity. The early modern period was shaped by an increase in printed commercial information, including newspapers, printed exchange rates, and educational texts – a ‘print revolution’ that has rightly attracted scholarly attention. However, increased focus on printed material means that we know much less about the ways in which manuscript, oral, and informal transmission of business information persisted. My research explores the ways in which business information was created, disseminated, and used in the early-modern Atlantic World. The resulting monograph investigates several aspects of knowledge acquisition, including commercial education, the application of legal knowledge, the oral exchange of information, and the spaces in which dissemination took place. A carefully designed communication programme poses questions about the ways in which business knowledge is created and consumed today, a timely issue for public understanding of news and information exchange in an increasingly digital age.

Dr Matthew Taunton


Chorus: Speaking in Unison in Modern Literature

University of East Anglia


Critical accounts of capitalist modernity often equate it with atomistic individualism, but our contemporary world is full of moments of collective speech—chanted slogans, prayers, oaths of allegiance, football songs—which act as ritualised performances of collective belonging. Speaking in unison is deeply connected to the politics of populism (‘lock her up!’, they chanted at Trump’s rallies), but it has a complex history which can illuminate the present. This project investigates how the political meanings of choric utterance are dramatised in modern and contemporary literature. It works across disciplines and specialisms, reading literary texts in relation to a deep historical and theoretical context that takes in the chorus on the Greek stage, the liturgical debates of the Reformation, and anthropological accounts of ritual chanting that linked it with (racialised) primitive culture. This project brings literary scholarship to bear on our most pressing political problems, enriching public debate in the process.

Dr Gareth Thomas


A World of Indifference?: Living with Learning Disability in the UK

Cardiff University


Despite a wealth of policies designed to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities (LD), they remain at the margins of UK society. Confronted by hostile and unforgiving environments, along with assumptions that disability is defined by pity, tragedy, and misfortune, learning-disabled people must always justify their value and presence. This programme is based on a qualitative study exploring how adults with LD craft alternative identities which celebrate and recognise their worth and humanity. Theoretically informed by contributions in sociology, disability studies, and anthropology, I will conduct ethnographic observations at a theatre company and community café, and interviews with adults with LD. I intend to capture how adults with LD confront dominant oppressive narratives and articulate their lives in more affirmative terms. Dissemination activities will advance academic and public understandings of living with LD, and recognise learning disability as worthy of further attention in the social sciences and humanities.

Dr Carissa Véliz


The Ethics of Predictive Algorithms

University of Oxford


Although efforts to predict the future have always been central to societies, the development of digital technologies has brought about a refinement of our predictive methods, as well as an expansion of their uses. Predictive analytics are being used in financial services, insurance, capacity planning, policing, sentencing, and more. This increase in the use of predictive methods, however, has not been accompanied by ethical reflection or public discussion. In fact, there is hardly any philosophical work explicitly addressing the ethics of prediction.

This project will investigate the moral significance of predictive analytics. It will develop a better understanding of 1. what is morally distinctive about predictions based on digital technologies, as opposed to those based on human judgment, 2. the ethics of predicting human behaviour, 3. the ethics of predictions that have an effect on the future they predict, and 4. the ethics of modifying risk distribution through predictive analytics.

Dr Nathan Waddell


Wyndham Lewis and his Age: Fascism, Apology, and Rehabilitation

University of Birmingham


This project offers a ground-breaking study of the modernist painter and writer Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). Lewis was central to inter-war British art and literature, yet his so-called ‘flirtation’ with fascism in the 1930s tarnished his reputation. Lewis’s contrite, anti-fascist writings of the 1940s and 1950s are almost entirely unknown, and he remains unappreciated as a radical critic of authority. Because he thought he was a victim of what we would now call cancel culture, Lewis offers a fascinating case study not only for thinking in a scholarly way about the limits of political apology and the consequences, perceived and real, of alleged de-platforming, but also about the idea of political rehabilitation. The project’s main scholarly outputs will be the first monograph on Lewis’s attraction to and apologetic retreat from fascist politics and a suite of public engagement events assessing Lewis’s decisive relevance to contemporary politics and ethics.

Dr Daniel Whistler


Caring for Plants in Modern Philosophy, 1765-1807

Royal Holloway, University of London


This project develops collaborative work with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, around historical practices of ‘environmental stewardship’ by putting the environmental humanities into conversation with the history of modern philosophy. It elucidates the ways in which some modern philosophers (Rousseau, Goethe, Schelling, Humboldt) cared about plants, i.e., their projects were informed, in part, by practices of seeing, drawing, travelling to and becoming-with plants that are testament to their sympathetic attention to the vegetal world. By uncovering these structures of care, the project intends to not only recover the forgotten modern history of plant-thinking, but also to make use of this history to provoke and reshape contemporary research agendas in the environmental humanities.

Dr Yijie Zhuang


The Power and historicity of water: An interdisciplinary investigation on the origins of hydraulic societies in late prehistoric China

University College London


This project focuses on the origins of hydraulic societies in late prehistoric China and their environmental and technological contexts, and how such processes stimulated the formation of some salient characteristics of power and governance structures of China. It analyses and synthesizes archaeological, experimental, and palaeo-environmental data collected from three selected sites that represented diverse models of urban development that emerged in different environments, sustained by different agricultural economies, and supported by various technologies. Their hydraulic infrastructures also varied significantly in scale and engineering. These data will help to 1. reconstruct the diverse environmental foundations for the rise of large-scale hydraulic enterprises and their functions; 2. compare the scale, spatial and functional differences between these early hydraulic societies; and 3. understand diverse trajectories to power acquisition related to construction and functioning of hydraulic infrastructures and reconsider some long-perceived Euro-centric scholarship on the origins of hegemonic states and hydraulic infrastructures in China.

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