Newton International Fellowship Awards 2012

Funded by

Funding Source: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Core and Core +.


Newton International Fellowships

Dr Hugo David, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Dr Vincenzo Vergiani, University of Cambridge

“Speech and Action in Early Brahmanical Philosophy: a study of Mandana Misra’s Vidhiviveka”

NF121141                                                           2 years


This project aims at investigating theories of human action and of linguistic behaviour related to action developed in India during the early medieval period (6th-10th c.). Its main focus of interest is a 7th-c. Sanskrit text: Mandana Misra’s Vidhiviveka (“An enquiry into Vidhiviveka”). A highlight of Brahmanical scriptural exegesis, this work is also the first Indian philosophical text dealing systematically and exclusively with human action in all its dimensions: ritual and secular, independent and inter-subjective/collective. In the course of the project, Mandana’s text shall be fully investigated along with its only extant commentary, and large sections of it shall be translated for the first time into English. The project is expected to shed new light on the complex relationship between Vedic exegesis and the tradition of Sanskrit grammar, by a close comparison of the Vidhiviveka with one of the most important works of the Indian grammatical tradition, Bhartrhari’s Vâkyapadîya (5th c.)

Dr Olga Feher, The City University of New York

Dr Kenny Smith, University of Edinburgh

The effect of context biases on the cultural evolution of language

NF120603                                                           2 years


Humans and songbirds both exhibit vocal learning behaviour which is very rare in the animal kingdom. Both human language and birdsong are transmitted culturally from parents to offspring. Furthermore, both communication systems exhibit species-specific constraints on structure which reflect the learning biases of the speakers/singers. We propose to study the biases that affect human language evolution using continuous speech signals and analysis methods similar to what have been used in studying the cultural evolution of songs in zebra finches. To recreate cultural evolution in the lab, we will study model-based biases (whom people choose to imitate) in an iterated learning paradigm where information is passed down over generations of learners, and one generation's output serves as the next generation's input. We are confident that this cross-species comparative approach will result in exciting discoveries.

Dr Alberto Godioli, Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa), Italy

Professor Federica Pedriali, University of Edinburgh

A grammar of Laughter in the realist novel: The reception of English models from Balzac to Gadda

NF120844                                                           2 years


Who laughs, and who is usually laughed at, in realist fiction? Is there a common grammar of laughter in the modern novel, from its rise to the modernist turn? My project aims to suggest initial answers to such questions, by examining how the most relevant models of humour and satire in English narrative have influenced European fiction. More precisely, I will focus on a representative set of case studies: on the one hand, I shall refer to a well-defined corpus of British writers (from Swift to Meredith); on the other, I will map out their reception among major authors from three specific areas – French and Russian realism, and Italian modernism. Particular attention will be paid to the fleeting ways laughter relates to the dialectic between social rules and individual irregularities: especially in this respect, the English models, no matter how heterogeneous, have provided an essential (and often overlooked) contribution to the European late modern imagery.

Dr Fanny Bessard, EPHE/Sorbonne University

Professor Hugh Kennedy, School of Oriental and African Studies

The Early Islamic Economy in the Middle East (600-950 CE): Global and Regional Dynamics

NF120396                                                           2 years


From the late 7th to the 10th century CE, a Muslim ruled trading empire developed in the Middle East, uniting Central Asia, the Iranian empire of the Sasanids and the southern part of the Eastern Roman world. This research programme explores the process of integration and the creation of an pan-Islamic economy in the different socio-cultural realities and regional dynamics of the south Bilad al-Sham (modern Jordan, Syria and Palestine), the Bukhara oasis (Uzbekistan) and the Persian Gulf. The purpose is to examine the interactions of these previously isolated macro-regions and their impacts on both the restructuring of local and long-distance trading as well as on local economic practices and societies. This study will break new ground with an inter-regional approach to globalization, based on both textual and material culture evidence, to provide an unusually broadly based, interdisciplinary examination of this major historical phenomenon.

Dr Milena Wazeck, New York University

Professor Peter Brimblecombe, University of East Anglia

Scientific Uncertainty and Acid Rain Politics in the 1980s

NF121184                                                           2 years


In recent years, large-scale assessments of the state of scientific knowledge have become an important part of environmental policy making. The proposed project is a historical study of the scientific assessment of acid rain source-receptor relationships in North America and Europe during the 1980s. The question of how emissions of pollutants from sources in specific regions are related to acid deposition in specific sites became the focus of heated political debates. At the same time, scientists faced high uncertainty related to atmospheric chemical reactions and their effects on source-receptor relationships. The aim of the project is to investigate how scientific knowledge relates to decision-making on an environmental problem, and to analyze how scientists evaluate a complex environmental problem and cope with the political context of their debates. The expected outcome is an enhanced understanding of the relation of scientific knowledge and environmental policy making.

Dr Catherine Ingram, University of Melbourne

Professor Keith Howard, SOAS, University of London

Kam song: towards an indigenous musical theory

NF121079                                                           2 years


This project will produce the first detailed analysis of the musical theory of the unique singing traditions of the Kam, a minority people of southwestern China. These rich Kam traditions, one of which has been entered on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, are central to Kam culture and history. However, the musical theory underpinning them is unexplored, and the complex relationship between language and music in Kam singing is barely recognized. This project will provide valuable information to assist the Kam, as well as other communities and scholars, to promote the conservation and sustainability of the centuries-old cultural traditions of indigenous peoples now endangered by modernization, globalization, commercialization and massive social change. It will provide new insights into the complexity of indigenous culture, and will thereby enhance global understandings and strategies for the sustainability of intangible heritage.

Dr Alberto Acerbi, Stockholm University

Professor R. Alexander Bentley, University of Bristol

Cultural evolution online: new models for a new era

NF120171                                                           2 years


There is a growing realisation across the social sciences that, contrary to the traditional and widespread 'rational actor' model, human decisions and behaviour are profoundly influenced by social forces. While theoretical models of social influence abound, empirical support of competing predictions is currently limited. Our main goal is to use new online empirical data (e.g. Twitter posts, Google ‘N-grams’, keywords academic journal databases), enabling quantitative analysis impossible just a decade ago, to test alternative theories of the evolution and spread of ideas. We start from one parsimonious extreme, where individuals copy each others randomly, and progress through more complex models, where decisions are influenced by social context (e.g. majority opinion, influential individuals) and/or objective content (e.g. benefits outweighing costs, evolved, universal human preferences). The project thus tests a full spectrum of decision models upon rich, real-world datasets.

Dr Augustina Adusah-Karikari, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration – GIMPA

Professor Karin Barber, University of Birmingham

Oil Find in Ghana: The Socio-Economic Impact on Women in the Oil Communities

NF120981                                                           2 years


This research undertakes an ethnographic study to examine the experiences and the real life situation of the women in oil producing communities in Ghana in order to know how their private and public spaces have been reformulated by the discovery and production of oil in their community. The research further explores the cultural strategies these women develop to survive in this dense ‘cultural web of masculinities’. To achieve the potential depth that ethnography offers, the study will engage in different forms of qualitative inquiry such as focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and participant observation, as well as document review. Post-colonial feminist theory provides a sensible place from which to understand the experiences and analyse the position of these women. I position the women in the oil community not as passive social objects being operated on by national and global forces but as active social participants that can affect their community in return.

Dr Antonina Tereshchenko, University of Porto

Professor Louise Archer, King's College London

The schooling and identity of Eastern European immigrant pupils in England

NF120022                                                           2 years


The enlargement of the European Union (2004/07) intensified economic migration from the East European states to the UK. The proposed research concentrates on the under-researched topic of educational experiences and identities of the children of these recent immigrants. Firstly, it aims to examine Eastern European pupils’ learner identities and aspirations and the role of parents and teachers in shaping these. Secondly, the study seeks to understand pupils' experiences of difference and negotiations of ‘race’/ethnicity in their everyday and school lives. Based in secondary schools in London and East Anglia, the study employs 30 individual interviews and 10 group discussions with Eastern European pupils (aged 12-15), 20 parent interviews, and 15 teacher interviews. Implications for policy and practice will be explored with regard to the inclusion of minority ethnic pupils and educational provision.

Dr Helena Carrapico, University of Coimbra

Dr Christian Kaunert, University of Salford

The United Kingdom in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice

NF120180                                                                           2 years


This proposal aims to analyse the United Kingdom’s strategic choices in the European Union’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, and their consequences for its role as an influential member state. Over the past decade, this area has become the fastest growing policy field at the European level. Britain, however, has not adopted the same route as most member states. It has chosen a model of selective participation in this area, whereby it is able to select which legislation to participate in. Although the United Kingdom justifies its decision on the basis of national interests, this model is not without its consequences. Given the importance acquired by this policy area for both policy-makers and academics, the applicant and the UK sponsor consider that this project will produce innovative insights into why the United Kingdom adopted a model of selective participation in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, and what its impact on Britain’s role in the European Union could be.

Dr Yuliya Zabyelina, University of Trento

Dr Andy Aitchison, University of Edinburgh

Corruption and “negative peace” in post-conflict situations: the cases of Kosovo and Chechnya

NF120602                                                           2 years


The proposed project inquires about the links between corruption, peacebuilding and violent non-state actors within an interdisciplinary theoretical framework. Although corruption has conventionally been considered as an impediment on post-conflict reconstruction, some studies have emphasized its redeeming values. By serving the function of a power-sharing arrangement between conflict parties, corruption may reinforce peace. The project aims to differentiate between different types and settings of corruption and pick out a clearly delineated set of factors that serve the causes of peace and those that may trigger violence and aggression in the context of post-conflict situations in Kosovo and Chechnya. Methodologically, the project is based on the interview data and evidence collected from secondary literature. The findings are expected to crystallize important pointers for peace researchers and policymakers working in the field.

Dr Ryu Takizawa, The University of Tokyo

Dr Louise Arseneault, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, University of London

Gene-environmental interactions in youth mental health

NF120069                                                           2 years


Half of the individuals who meet criteria for a major psychiatric diagnosis in adulthood first had a diagnosable disorder in childhood, and three quarters had a first diagnosis before 18 years. This finding emphasizes the importance of targeting prevention efforts early in life. The application of population-screening methods in primary care settings and in schools to detect and to refer vulnerable children is justified. However, details of developmental trajectory of mental health problems remained to be elucidated. In addition, how and when the preventive intervention should be effectively carried out remains to be established. My research interests focus on a better understanding of causes, risk and resilient factors related to psychiatric disorders and investigating new approaches to early preventive measures in youth mental health. I will establish and foster collaboration between the Tokyo TEEN Cohort Study in Japan and the E-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study in the United Kingdom.

Dr Davor Jancic, Utrecht University

Professor Damian Chalmers, London School of Economics and Political Science

Transatlantic European Parliament: Competence Building through Diplomacy

NF120291                                                           2 years


In order to tackle transnational challenges of global and regional importance - such as terrorism prevention, illegal immigration and barrier-free trade. The European Parliament, despite limited powers and various disincentives, has institutionalised relations with the parliaments of the EU's key strategic partners across the Atlantic, particularly the USA, Brazil and Mercosur. Such 'parliamentary diplomacy' seeks to lend a democratic dimension to EU foreign affairs and is a new phenomenon in the EP's practice. This project analyses the EP's relations with the US Congress, the Brazilian National Congress and the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly in order to answer the question of the impact of the transatlantic interparliamentary cooperation on the EP's legal and political competence and its constitutional relations with other EU institutions as well as to explore the mutual interdependencies between the decision-making processes of these parliamentary bodies.

Sign up to our email newsletters