Newton Advanced Fellowship Awards 2015

Funded by


Dr Renata Narita, University of Sao Paulo

Dr Gabriella Conti, University College London

Equilibrium Labor Market Effects of Non-contributory Health Insurance: Evidence from Mexico

AF150049                                             Two-Year                                                            £40,810

Universal health coverage is intended to protect individuals against health and financial consequences of adverse health events. Not all countries provide social health insurance and this is particularly an issue in developing economies where individuals often lack resources to purchase essential healthcare. Developing countries, for example, Peru, Colombia and Mexico have implemented such system in the past decade. In 2002, Mexico introduced Seguro Popular (SP) program, a non-contributory health insurance that was directed to half of the country’s population, uncovered by social protection or employer-provided health insurances. To the extent that SP is a transfer to informal sector workers and the nonemployed, and a tax to formal sector workers, it may have changed the incentives for individuals to participate in the labor market and in which sector to work (formal or informal). Our goal is to study the impacts of SP on labor market in Mexico. We estimate a structural labor market model that allows us to address three main questions (i) How much of the increase in informality in Mexico is due to the introduction of non-contributory health insurance?, (ii) What are the components of a health insurance program that individuals value more?, and (iii) What are the welfare impacts of increases in the value of non-contributory health insurance? The model is fitted to the Mexican Employment data and used to simulate changes in welfare, employment, informality and wages of different non-contributory health insurance policies. Our results will shed light on whether and how health reforms extending coverage to individuals in the informal sector or out of the labor force can promote welfare, employment and labor formality.

Professor Mischel Carmen Neyra Belderrain, Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica – ITA

Professor Alberto Paucar-Caceres, Manchester Metropolitan University

Environmental management and sustainability in Brazil:  A multi-methodological approach to operational research.

AF150068                                             Two-Year                                                            £67,770

Application-based systemic approaches to environmental management and industries’ sustainability in developing countries is important. Most of the problems are complex and it is necessary to apply a multi-methodological approach. There are a few researchers today in Brazil and Latin America working in this specific research area. To overcome this, this project aims to develop a Framework using a multi-methodological approach firmly based on Systemic Thinking principles and operational research (OR) methods. The project contributes to knowledge expansion in management science by providing applications of holistic thinking and OR methods. Beneficiaries will be local community leaders and policy makers in Brazil. It will help to raise awareness amongst the Brazilian institutions about of the researchers’ expertise in the systems science field, which could contribute to an increased number of postgraduate and PhD students at MMU Business School.

Dr Sonia Fatima Schwendler, Federal University of Paraná (UFPR)

Professor Else Ribeiro Pires Vieira, Queen Mary University of London

Gender and Education in Rural Areas in Brazil

AF150000                                             Two-Year                                                            £64,457

This two-year pioneering research will contribute to social welfare in Brazil’s countryside by investigating and promoting the inclusion of gender issues in the syllabi of secondary schools in rural areas. It will consolidate the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) as a reference in producing new knowledge through cutting-edge research on generational differences and tensions related to gender diversity and the sexual division of labour through case studies in the state of Paraná’s rural areas. It will further the internationalisation of UFPR’s research agendas by supporting early/mid-career scholars through collaborative research and reciprocal visits whilst also establishing its role in creating gender-related resources for rural schools. The consolidation of links between the research groups will ensure capacity building and longer-term improvements in research output. This project will also broaden and consolidate the applicant’s scholarship on gender studies and rural education, and introduce rural issues in UFPR’s Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Research Group.

Dr Mathieu Turgeon, Universidade de Brasilia

Dr Philip Habel, University of Glasgow

The Causes and Consequences of Public Opinion on Affirmative Action Policies in Brazil

AF150040                                             One-Year                                                            £36,801

The Brazilian government recently implemented public policies to reduce pervasive racial discrimination and inequalities, adopting affirmative action programmes to increase the admission of Afro-Brazilians in universities and access to public service positions. These policies have not been without controversy. Results from our pilot study conducted with over 20,000 university students demonstrate how Whites and non-Whites divide over the issue, with Whites strongly opposing such programmes and non-Whites suppressing their support. We adopted a novel survey methodology that considers the sensitivity of measuring attitudes toward affirmative action policies, allowing us to estimate both the levels of support and the causes of it. We now propose to expand the pilot study to a nationally representative sample. Our work carries important implications for policymakers and academics alike, as understanding the political attitudes of Brazilians toward affirmative action is imperative in any effort to reduce racial inequalities. Our project also provides substantial training to the Applicant.

Dr Lincoln P. Fernandes, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

Professor Michael Toolan, University of Birmingham

Brazil’s Online Parallel Corpus-based System: Translating Children´s Narrative – investigating new methodologies for translation teaching and practice.

AF150069                                             One-Year                                                            £29,654

This research project aims at exploring the interface between Stylistics/Narrative Theory and Corpus-based Translation Studies with a view to investigating the translation practices associated with specific linguistic patterns or features in children´s narratives (English-Brazilian Portuguese). To achieve that, this study relies on a parallel corpus-based system ( that provides web-based applications for analysing translated texts. Stylistics and Narrative Analysis (Toolan, 1990/2001/2009) provide the thinking tools for the interrogation of data generated from the corpus. The project aims to obtain a greater understanding of the practices involved in the translation of children´s narratives and provide future researchers with a more efficient and robust method to carry out their studies. This project is expected to assist in developing the recent disciplinary field of Translation Studies in Brazil, with clear high-impact implications for translation teaching and practice.

Dr Nathalie Christine Gimenes Sanches, University of Sao Paulo

Professor Emmanuel Guerre, Queen Mary University of London

Auction Analysis: Parametric and Nonparametric Quantile Regression Methods for Asymmetric Ascending Auctions – investigating market efficiencies.

AF150085                                             One-Year                                                            £25,000

Most of the transactions made by the Government in Brazil are executed via public procurements. Asymmetry is a relevant question in the auction literature due to the incentive weak bidders have to collude in order to increase their gains in the auction. Most of the contributions in the structural literature have focused on developing identification and estimation approaches to recover the asymmetric private value distribution in first-price sealed-bid auctions (FPSB), whereas it has been shown that collusion is always more profitable and easier to sustain in ascending auctions than in FPSB. This paper proposes an identification and estimation approach based on quantile regression to recover the asymmetric private value distributions in ascending auction under the independent private value setup. We also propose a test for collusion based on the distance of the predicted optimal bid quantile function and the actual one submitted in the auction. Brazil can benefit from the new estimation method proposed to analyse auctions, since it is easy to be implemented, very flexible in terms of specifications and allows to make use of all the interesting information available in the dataset. The project also proposes a test of collusion, which can be used by the Brazilian Government to detect collusive behaviour and to act in order to improve efficiency in the market. Exposure of Brazilian PhD students and researchers to UK scientific standards not only allows for knowledge transmission but brings opportunity to the Brazilian researchers to engage with the UK scientific community, for instance through conference talks, personal interactions, publishing, and postdoctoral placements.


Professor Ehab Abouaish, Cairo University

Dr Ann-Marie Nienaber, University of Glasgow

Overcoming Deficiencies through Trustworthy Networks: A Comparative Study between the UK and Egypt Experiences in the Healthcare Sector

AF150280                             Two-Year                            £29,000.00

The Egyptian health care system suffers from limited resources, dealing with the burden of illnesses associated with poverty, lack of education, growing population and most notably coping with dysfunctional and weak institutions (Ministry of health and population, Cairo, 2014). Egyptian government shares this burden with various stakeholders building networks [such as social alliances and partnerships]. This project aims are threefold (1) identification of deficiencies and strengths of health care sector in the two countries understudy(2) understanding and evaluating the process of network building and sustenance in both countries (3) building on the lessons learned from the NHS in the UK, with its long history of sustainable healthcare networks and well-established institutional context, to offer recommendations to the Egyptian health care on how to build sustainable healthcare networks-whereby trust is expected to play a vital role. Policy makers and practitioners within the Egyptian health care sector could capitalise on the experiences of these successful networks to cope with the challenges and obstacles facing Egypt’s health care system. In the long term, an improved institutional framework of the health care system in Egypt could enhance economic growth and the population’s health and wellbeing.


Dr Cheng-Chwee Kuik, Universiti Kebangsaan

Dr Lee Jones, Queen Mary University of London

Domestic Legitimation and Regional Transformation: Explaining the Sources of China’s (Contradictory) Periphery Strategy and the Variations in Regional States’ Responses.

AF150300                                             Two-Year                                                            £70,500.00

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009. In recent years, the Malaysian government has made efforts to attract more investment from China. A better understanding on the sources of China’s regional initiatives and the effects of regional responses will better position Malaysia to maximize their commercial interests without incurring social costs and external risks. This project aims to examine the nexus between elites’ domestic legitimation and transformations in regional international relations. Specifically, it examines how East Asian regimes’ legitimation strategies are expressed in their foreign policies in the context of China’s rise. The project proposes to: (1) explore how the Chinese Communist Party’s growing legitimation problems are expressed in an increasingly contradictory regional strategy, which couples growing maritime “assertiveness” with diplomatic and economic inducements, notably the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the “One Belt One Road” initiatives; and (2) explore how Southeast Asian regimes’ own domestic legitimacy concerns shape their response to China’s policies. The project is significant for two reasons. In terms of theory, it challenges the structural realist proposition that over-emphasizes power-balancing as the drivers of state behaviour. In terms of policy, explaining how regional states are responding to China is crucial for understanding the direction of regional order in the “Asian century”. This project will help produce policy-relevant findings for Malaysian policymakers, thereby serving the country’s long-term development and stability as well as enhance capacity-building among its foreign and defence officials.

Dr Stefanie Shamila Pillai, University of Malaysia

Professor Peter Austin, School of Oriental and Asian Studies

Capacity Building for Documentation and Support of Endangered Languages in Malaysia – improving socio-economic development of indigenous and minority communities.

AF150224                                             Two-Year                                                            £33,070.00

There are about 130 languages spoken in Malaysia, a large majority of which are considered endangered. However there has been no consolidated attempt to systematically document and archive information about them. Research and documentation projects on endangered languages have tended to be done in isolation. Materials and analyses are generally inaccessible to the other researchers, and the language communities involved. This project aims to: (1) develop a set of resources on documentation practices and output on endangered languages in Malaysia; (2) facilitate the creation of a team of local key-personnel, comprising researchers and members of language communities, who are trained in language documentation processes and procedures. The long term aim of the project is for the key-personnel to train more local researchers and communities, to develop a sustainable accessible archive for endangered languages in Malaysia, and to contribute to social development in indigenous and minority communities within the country.  This project has the potential to contribute towards the preservation and revitalisation of the language and cultural heritage of indigenous and minority communities in Malaysia and complements efforts by the Malaysian government to elevate the socio-economic status of these communities through education, rural development, entrepreneurship and health.


Dr Maria-Azahara Mesa-Jurado, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur

Dr Julia Martin-Ortega, University of Leeds

Applying ecosystem services-based approaches to water resource decision making: studying the risk of nature commodification in Mexico’s last free-flowing river.

AF150190                                             Two-Year                                                            £71,500.00

Environmental governance needs to reconcile tensions between economic development and conservation, acknowledging the complex relationships between humans and nature. Ecosystem services (ES) is one of the latest approaches of conceptualizing such relationships. Its anthropocentric and instrumental character has raised concerns about the potential commodification of nature where markets are created for public environmental goods, or where indigenous non-anthropocentric views are marginalized. This project was aimed at understanding the extent to which nature commodification is occurring in Mexico, following the adoption of the ES paradigm. Studying the views of environmental professionals and the behaviour of local indigenous communities, this research is among the first to provide empirical evidence on this topic. Results indicate that the ES approach is now clearly part of Mexico’s environmental governance discourse, but that it has led to little change in practice. Environmental professionals actually consider ‘missing out’ on the opportunity of internalizing the monetary value of ES in the face of economic growth-oriented development to be a greater risk than commodification and changes to indigenous worldviews. Instead, negative side-effects may be seen as a ‘necessary evil’ to achieve conservation targets. Results uncover a political dilemma that goes much beyond practical operational challenges of the ES-approach, and which might be rooted at a deeper level, i.e. in the values of those involved. Hence, to meet SDGs in Mexico and in the developing world more generally, policy-makers need to understand and act upon this value-base if significant step-change is to be made in the economic development/environmental conservation struggle.

Ms Sara Torres-Castro, The National Institute of Geriatrics (INGER)

Dr Azucena Guzman, University of Edinburgh

Developing Psychosocial Interventions in long-term care for Dementia to improve quality of life amongst the ageing in Mexico.

AF150230                             Two-Year                            £66,200.00

In Mexico, research shows the prevalence of dementia in older people is 7.4% and 7.3% for urban and rural areas respectively. Due to the deterioration of people living with dementia, some caregivers choose to transfer the family member to long-term care. Previous studies such as the WHELD model, consisting of coaching and training staff on reviewing antipsychotics and implementing psychosocial interventions has shown significant results on behavioural improvement and quality of life. Care staff training research has found that if training is provided, quality of life, stimulation and activity of residents increases.  Mexico is developing a National Dementia Strategy Plan, aiming to improve the quality of life of people affected by dementia in long-term care. Mexico is interested in following the guidance from Scotland, which has achieved two Dementia Strategies successfully. The project aims to develop and evaluate the feasibility a set of interventions to promote activity and quality of life for people with dementia and their care staff in care homes in Mexico.  The transfer of knowledge and research skills from the University of Edinburgh will allow Mexico to learn from Scotland's Health System and Dementia National Strategy, as well as allow the research team to develop therapeutic models of care in dementia and contribute to advancing the economic development and social welfare of Mexico.

Dr Sandra Bustillos, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ)

Dr Hugo Gaggiotti, University of the West of England

Organising in the borderlands: applying research to support families, children and youngsters in Mexican-USA borderlands (Ciudad Juarez, Mexico)

AF150239                             Two-Year                            £65,140.00

Institutions like city councils and schools have requested the University of Ciudad Juarez (UACJ) and the Juarez -El Paso Group of Organizational Research -JEPGOR- (previous awarded British Academy project) to help the professionalization of the management of organisations who support families, children and youngsters in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico through applied research with institutionalised children, indigenous people of Ciudad Juarez and their relationships with urban institutions and youngsters and the organised work of the “maquilas”. The lack of trained researchers implies poor understanding of organisations and the inability to help management to improve. The aim of the project is a) to consolidate UACJ and JEPGOR research capacity and b) to lead the development of a formal education programme, but the primary objective is to contribute to the promotion of socio-economic welfare in Chihuahua by transferring this knowledge as professional organizational practices that ultimately help to solve social and economic needs of families, children and youngsters in Ciudad Juarez (Mexico).

Dr Mauricio Rivera, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)

Dr Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, University of Essex

Explaining the Other Half: The Fall of Violent Crime in Mexico in the 1990s-2000s

AF150270                             Two-Year                                            £69,600.00

Mexico has experienced two remarkable divergent trends in violent crime over the last 25 years. Over the period 1990-2007, homicide rates per 100,000 inhabitants decreased by 53 percent. Since 2008, however, escalating organized criminal violence related to the drug war has seen homicide rates increase by nearly 50 percent. Whereas many researchers have analyzed explanations for the surge of organized criminal violence, the prior reduction in violent crime has received much less attention. This project will examine why violent crime declined between 1990 and 2007, as well as contrast theoretical models to assess similarities and differences between ‘common’ violent crime and organized criminal violence. A better understanding of why violent crime dropped before the drug war and how different types of crime differ can help provide sound basis for anti-crime policy prescriptions in Mexico and other developing countries.

Dr Ajnesh Prasad, Tecnologico de Monterrey

Professor Marianna Fotaki, University of Warwick

Economic Inequality, Institutional Corruption and the Mexican Public Service

AF150261                             Two-Year                            £73,290.00

The proposed research project will examine the relationship between economic inequality and institutional corruption in the Mexican public service. Using a set of case studies, complemented by in-depth interviews with key informants from the public sector, industry, and regulatory bodies as well as a survey of current MBA students at a leading Mexican business school, it will consider the dynamics of institutional corruption in the Mexican public service, and further account for how institutional corruption contributes to the propagation of economic inequality in the country. The empirical research will foreground a series of ‘take aways’ in terms of constructive avenues by which institutional corruption in the public service in Mexico can be curtailed. Ultimately, this research project will contribute to the ongoing discourse on economic inequality and institutional corruption occurring amongst academics, public-policy makers and business practitioners.

Dr Juan Carlos Martinez, Unidad Pacifico-Sur (South Pacific Branch)

Dr Monica Gabriela Moreno Figueroa, University of Cambridge

Institutional racism and the logics of the contemporary Mexican state

AF150211                             Two-Year                            £73,952.00

This project aims to strengthen the study of racism within scholarship on pluralism and legal anthropology and to understand how racism operates in the construction of the state. The project has 2 components: research and training. The ethnographic research will explore the ideas of inferiority and superiority that justify the actions of the state over subordinate groups. The case studies will analyse how the state defines and offers differentiated access to resources (water), services (health) and legal recognition. The project will generate training processes to strengthen the skills of the applicants and those of a local research group formed by academics, activists, judges and other civil servants. The project includes: research and academic exchange visits; fieldwork in Mexico; two permanent seminars (one academic and one of social intervention/impact); a workshop on subjectivity, racism and anti-racist action and; an international symposium. We will produce three articles: one edited collection, three videos, a project report, policy brief and key facts sheet and a webpage.

Dr Karina Mariela Ansolabehere, Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLACSO-Mexico)

Professor Leigh Ann Payne, University of Oxford

Understanding human rights violations in Mexico. The case of disappearances

AF150260                             Two-Year                            £34,900.00

In the literature a consensus has emerged regarding the escalation of human rights violations as a result of violent contexts. Research on this topic, however, has tended to examine country-level outcomes and disregard the micro- or local-level conditions associated with human rights violations. Mexico is an interesting case in this regard. During the last eight years more than 20,000 people have disappeared, but these disappearances are not distributed evenly across the country. Thus, existing country-level explanations do not help us understand this phenomenon. The proposed project seeks to solve this puzzle by deeply investigating the local dynamics of disappearances within the Mexican case. To do so, the project aims to carry out four activities: 1) develop a webpage to make visible the disappearances, the location of those disappearances, and the impunity surrounding them; 2) build a publicly accessible database, 3) train new human rights defenders, and 4) analyze that data with the intention of developing academic analysis and improving litigation and policies.

South Africa

Dr Catherine Draper, University of Cape Town

Professor Gaia Scerif, University of Oxford

Executive Function in South African Preschool Children from Low-income Settings

AF150058                                             Two-Year                                                            £54,605

Executive function refers to the mental processes we use to pay attention and concentrate – a key component of cognitive development that has been associated with a number of positive physical and psychosocial outcomes in early childhood. Despite its importance, executive function in this age group remains a relatively under-researched area in South Africa, where there are concerns around children’s cognitive development, especially in low-income settings, and the impact this may have on their literacy and numeracy skills at school. This project aims to address this gap in the research, and improve understanding of executive function, and how it relates to school readiness, and aspects of preschool children’s physical development, specifically physical activity and gross motor skills. Insight into these relationships could contribute significantly to the development of strategies to improve executive function, which could help to ultimately improve the wellbeing of children in settings with many economic, social and psychological challenges.

Professor Lesley Wood, North-West University

Dr Mary McAteer, Edge Hill University

Ubunye: Empowering Parents in Disadvantaged South African Communities to Support Classroom Learning

AF150060                                             Two-Year                                                            £71,350

Twenty-one years into democracy in South Africa, access to quality education still eludes those who cannot afford to pay for it. The socio-economic adversities facing the communities in which schools are situated play a large role in their dysfunction. Yet, within such communities there is a wealth of human resources that can add real value to the quality of teaching and learning. This project aims to develop community members as teaching assistants, who will work hand in hand with teachers to develop a culturally and contextually relevant programme to empower parents/guardians to partner with the school in the education of their children. An action research design, using a qualitative approach to data generation and analysis, will ensure the participation of all stakeholders in the design, implementation and evaluation of the programme. The development of such a programme will help to improve parental involvement, as well as equip unemployed community members with skills that will improve their chance of formal employment and enhance personal development.

Professor Sophie Oldfield, University of Cape Town

Professor Clive Barnett, University of Exeter

South African Urban Imperatives Past, Present and Future: Theory Building with Knowledge Beyond the University

AF150044                                             Two-Year                                                            £59,920

South African cities are essential to national development as centres of economic growth and as places with extensive infrastructure, services and livelihood opportunities. They are also contexts of extreme and increasing poverty, as well as conflict and protest. The Fellowship starts from the premise that urban scholarship has been central to defining the strategic possibilities of political change and socio-economic development in South Africa for 40 years, either side of the transition from apartheid to democracy. The Fellowship focuses on the distinctive imperatives of engagement that shape South African urban scholarship. These include practices of activism, consultancy, forms of co-production, and more conventional forms of academic expertise and critique. The Fellowship will focus on the reorientation of urban social science in post-apartheid South Africa, in light of changing societal imperatives of development, reconciliation, and transformation. In so doing, it will draw into view the ways in which academic knowledge articulates diverse forms of non-academic knowledge that express diverse interests and needs.

The project will enhance understanding of practices through which drivers of development needs are identified and shaped by diverse knowledge networks. Capacitated, engaged scholarship on cities is essential to understand these complexities and to produce locally relevant, globally informed research. Its engagement with emerging and young scholars, as well as its production of scholarly publications and pedagogical materials also enhance its utility for the development of urban scholarship in South African universities more generally.


Dr Basak Cali, Koç University

Ms Lorna McGregor, University of Essex

Effects of International Human Rights Law on Public International Law and Its Sub-Branches

AF150046                                             Two-Year                                                            £65,095

This research project aims to enable the applicant to build and lead a research team by way of establishing a long-term research agenda and training programme. The project aims to advance our understanding of the extent that international human rights law (IHRL) has had an effect on public international law (PIL) and its main sub-branches. This project will interrogate the assumption that IHRL is more than merely a sub-branch of international law with wider effects on the interpretation and development of PIL and its sub-branches. It will do so by comparatively analysing the effects of IHRL on PIL and synthesising the implications of these findings for legal policy. The project will position the applicant and her research team, in partnership with the Essex Human Rights Centre, at the centre of new thinking on how IHRL can effectively shape the development of PIL and its sub-branches. It will strengthen research networks within Turkey, particularly through the development the newly established Centre for Global Public Law (CGPL) and a new doctoral programme at Koç University.

Dr Mehmet Ruhi Demiray, Kocaeli University

Dr Sorin Baiasu, Keele University

Dealing Ethically with Conflicts Between Deep Commitments: A Dual Critical-Hermeneutic Approach

AF150021                                             Two-Year                                                            £56,580

The project aims to develop the Applicant’s strengths and provide support for training and development in collaboration with Keele University through a number of interrelated activities:

- Founding a Research Centre for Human Rights and Ethics at Kocaeli University, the employing university of the Applicant, with the help of the Centre for Kantian Studies, run at Keele jointly with Oxford University and the University of St Andrews and led by the Coapplicant;

- Researching in the area of the project with a view to formulating an ethical approach to conflicts between deep commitments under current conditions of pluralism, this being one of key themes for the newly founded Centre for Human Rights and Ethics;

- Disseminating research through several events, publications and media presence, which will also develop and strengthen the applicant’s existing research network.

The current project builds on an already existing cooperation between the Applicant, Co-applicant and their home institutions, and it is designed to secure long-term institutional collaboration and development.

Dr Serdal Temel, Ege University

Professor Mine Karatas-Ozkan, University of Southampton

Entrepreneurial Universities, Innovation and the Role of Technology Transfer Offices in Emerging Economies

AF150057                                             Two-Year                                                            £71,676

The objective of research is centred on setting up a sustainable, long-term network that can support universities in Turkey to develop technology transfer, commercialisation and trade activities that will provide regional and national economic growth.  The focus will be around creating robust knowledge exchange, entrepreneurship and trade activities within Turkish universities, which will help, create jobs and economic growth.  The focus will be on universities wider support agencies, innovation intermediaries which include public, private and social enterprise organisations, facilitating and advising the innovation and entrepreneurship process. The research in Turkey will also importantly seek to reflect back and provide lessons for UK universities and intermediaries seeking to support entrepreneurship and trade and promote better ties with Turkey.

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