Newton International Fellowship Awards 2015

Funded by

Funding source: Newton Fund, under the responsibility of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The Newton Fund was launched in 2014 and originally consisted of £75 million each year for five years. In the 2015 UK Spending Review, it was agreed to extend and expand the Fund. The Newton Fund was extended from 2019 to 2021 and expanded by doubling the £75 million investment to £150 million by 2021, leading to a £735 million UK investment to 2021, with partner countries providing matched resources within the Fund. These awards are funded by the Newton Fund, which is part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment.

Dr Muhammed Talha Cicek  -  Turkish

Negotiating empire in the desert: Ottomans and the Arab tribes of Syria, Iraq and Arabia,1870-1914

NF150008            School of Oriental and African Studies                    £96,674.47

This project aims to analyze the specific strategies and policies used by the Ottoman Empire to control the Arab tribes of Syria, Iraq, Hijaz and coastal Najd. My case studies will focus on the Anizah and Ruwala tribes in the first, the Shammars in the second, and the Bedouin in the third and fourth. The main question it asks is how the empire treated the Arab tribes under its sovereignty during the empire-building processes of the modern era and how the tribes reacted to these measures. As will be detailed below, the time span of the study qualifies as a useful period of analysis because it reflects changes in the imperial approach that resulted from tribal responses, which will constitute one of my central topics of inquiry. In the regions being examined, tribal politics underwent significant transformations during the 1870s and 1880s, and the outbreak of the First World War signaled the beginning of a new period.

Dr Ceren Ozpinar  -  Turkish

Re-visiting Feminist Temporalities in Art and Art History in Turkey from 1970s onwards

NF150295            University of Sussex                        £89,272.00

This project examines the way in which women artists redefined art history and historiography in Turkey since the 1970s. Art historians in Turkey have not fully addressed the impact of feminism upon art practice and its histories, whereas English-language art historians have developed a limited knowledge of contemporary Turkish art, often representing it as the “Other" in current debates within the emerging field of Global Art History. By looking at how contemporary art historiography is perceived by both scholarship in Turkey and transnational feminist art history, this project re-visits theories and politics of “peripheral” histories in order to illuminate how women artists disturbed the working of imperial temporalities. This research aims to investigate and produce for the first time a historical account of art and feminism in Turkey since the 1970s, and to develop a theoretical toolbox to challenge the cultural homogenisation triggered by the discourse of Global Art History.

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

Dr Scott Blumenthal  -  American

Oxygen isotopes in primates and implications for early hominin ecology

NF151155            University of Oxford       £81,000.00          

Reconstructing the ecology of the earliest human ancestors in Africa is critical for understanding the nutritional, social, and technological context for the evolution of our own species, Homo sapiens. A powerful geochemical tool, carbon isotopes, has recently revealed a major evolutionary transition about 4 million years ago, from a chimpanzee-like diet to a more diverse and flexible baboon-like diet. However, it is difficult to precisely identify what our early ancestors were consuming, or in what environments they lived. The aim of this study is to develop a second isotope system, oxygen isotopes, to identify the seasonal habitat preferences and dietary contribution of foods that cannot be distinguished using carbon isotopes alone. This study seeks to demonstrate that oxygen isotopes reflect dietary specialization among primates, and to use oxygen isotopes to investigate the biological and evolutionary implications of a significant ecological transition in human evolution.

Dr Dragos Calma  -  Romanian

Premodern Metaphysics without Aristotle? The Unpublished Commentaries on the 'Book of Causes'

NF150013            University of Cambridge                                £89,640.00

I aim to rewrite the history of metaphysics in the Western tradition by giving the first account and analysis of its most important non-Aristotelian strand - the thinking which took place in connection with the Book of Causes. This anonymous text was composed in Baghdad in the 9th century, on the basis of Arabic translations of Proclus’ ‘Elements of Theology’, but with changes to Proclus’ pagan Neoplatonism to make it fit Islamic beliefs more easily. The result was a new perspective on being, creation and causality. The Book of Causes was translated into Latin in the twelfth century, but its importance in the Latin tradition has been hidden until now, because only 6 commentaries on it were known. I have discovered and partially studied 59 new unpublished commentaries, from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. My project is to continue my research on this corpus and write a monograph to evaluate the significance of the Book of Causes on metaphysics before Descartes.

Dr Karuna Dietrich Wielenga  -  Indian

Historical origins of the informal sector: A case study of the textile industry in south India

NF150323            University of Oxford                       £97,996.91

My project aims to contribute to the global debate around the 'informal sector' (defined as that part of the economy which lies outside the purview of labour legislation) by reconstructing its historical origins in mid-twentieth century India. Its core is a detailed study of how different branches of the textile industry in south India (handlooms, large-scale mills, and power loom workshops) came to occupy different positions in the formal-informal divide between 1935 and 1975. It seeks to test the hypothesis that the state helped create different categories of workers through law and policy; to analyze the political forces that shaped labour legislation; and to examine the state's differential effects upon different branches of the textile industry by examining the complex interactions between workers, entrepreneurs, and representatives of the state. Finally, it seeks to relate the conclusions of the case-study to the wider developments at national and global levels.

Dr Molly Flaherty  -  American

Language evolution in the lab and the field - how new languages trade-off redundancy and efficiency

NF150657            University of Edinburgh                 £94,401.54

Language is found in every group of humans, and no groups of nonhumans, and its complexity rivals that of any system in the natural world. Despite this, we know very little about how language evolved and why it looks the way it does. The ideal way to explore language emergence would be to watch a brand new language grow, and but it is only possible to do so in two unusual circumstances: the birth of new natural languages in the real world, and the invention of new communication systems in the lab. My experience is with the former and my proposed mentor’s is with the latter, so together we can combine the best elements of each approach for the first time in order to yield fresh insight. Here we propose to use both filed and lab methods to determine the relationship between redundancy and efficiency in the emergence of a new language system.

Dr Jane Freeland  -  Australian

Everyday Violence and Citizenship in Divided Germany, 1970-1990

NF150396            University of Bristol                         £70,590.00

This fellowship examines how responses to everyday forms of physical violence reflected ideas about citizenship in East and West Germany between 1970 and 1990. It compares how the two German states attempted to address sexual and physical abuse against homosexuals, foreigners, women and children. Despite different political systems both Germanys struggled to protect these vulnerable populations, instead using discussions of interpersonal physical violence to promote traditional ideas about how men, women and children should behave and relate to one another. This approach highlights a common challenge faced in enacting equal citizenship rights for men and women. These similarities complicate a clear division between socialist and liberal citizenship. My research will consider this tension and the structural reasons why women, children, foreigners and homosexuals continued to occupy such a precarious place when seeking to determine the form, content and nature of their own private lives.

Dr Jaclyn Granick  -  American

Jewish Women's Internationalism, 1880-1995: A Century of Jewish Universalism

NF150206            University of Oxford                       £92,666.23

This project will look at the way in which Jewish women, especially in Western Europe and the United States, contributed to late 19th and 20th century internationalism and the United Nations’ social and economic activities. Jewish women’s history has yet to take an international turn, although a handful of monographs on Jewish women’s activism from different national perspectives as well as groundbreaking research on women internationalists reveal the potential for this project. I hypothesize that Jewish women’s internationalism was a universalist kind of Jewish internationalism involving Jews in international social projects, which grew out of Jewish women seeking their own emancipation by absorbing the mores and strategies of their liberal, Christian ‘sisters’ to work on reforming the public social sphere.

Dr Matt Kandel  -  American

Teso Retransforming: Land Dispossession, Violence, and Capital Accumulation, 1991-2015

NF150510            School of Oriental and African Studies                    £89,741.25

My primary research project will be to complete a book manuscript for publication by an academic press. It will draw on ethnographic research that I conducted in Teso and Karamoja regions of northeastern Uganda in 2012-13, as well as additional research that I will carry out in Teso from May 1-August 31 of 2015. It will also engage data that I generate from 1 month of research in Teso and Karamoja during both years one and two as a Newton Fellow. Secondly, I will submit one manuscript to peer-reviewed journals during each year as a Newton Fellow, both of which will draw on this body of research. Additionally, Prof Cramer and I will co-author a paper on property regime instability in post-conflict Sub-Saharan Africa, drawing specifically on case material from Uganda and Mozambique. Finally, I will give one presentation each year to two research clusters in the department: the Violence, Peace, and Development and Agrarian Change and Development clusters.

Dr Mikhail Lopatin  -  Russian

Musico-textual topoi in Italian musical culture of the Trecento and early Quattrocento

NF150459            University of Oxford                       £90,000.00

The project will focus on rhetorical topoi - i.e., ‘stock’ rhetorical figures of various recurrent topics, modes of expression, and commonplaces - in the music and poetry of Italian polyphonic songs and motets from mid-Trecento to early Quattrocento. The aim is to study how these topoi are introduced and elaborated by poetic and musical means, separately and in tandem, in order to reveal historical continuity and/or transition in two repertoires that have otherwise been considered as two separate cultures, at least in their transmission: the early Quattrocento motet and the Trecento song.

Dr Emuobosa Orijemie  -  Nigerian

New applied approaches to African farming systems: the long-term history of farming in Tiv, Nigeria

NF150625            University of Cambridge                                £97,608.33

Environmental change is often studied by palaeoecologists/climatologists over long timescales but short timescales by geographers/anthropologists. The techniques applied by archaeologists offer an alternative that spans and links these divergent scales. Archaeology can place farming landscapes within their deeper historical context offering a counter-point to present-day environmental narratives which are often based on assumed causality (i.e. grazing=erosion) but lack historical verification. The need for contextual research is paramount in Africa where farming is perceived as fragile and thus subjected to modernising interventions of questionable validity and success. This project will use a range of archaeological and anthropological techniques, including geo-archaeology, palynology, landscape survey, excavation and ethnography, to reconstruct the recent (1000 year) history of the Tiv farming landscape central Nigeria. I will relate these data to projects in Kenya and South Africa.

Dr Jonathan Preminger  -  Israeli

Labor relations in a "national" industry following globalization: Israel's shipping industry

NF150454            Cardiff University                             £67,316.00

This study will examine the transformation of Israeli shipping as a globalised and privatised industry, focusing on how the state affects and regulates labour relations in light of the pressures of globalisation and according to its own interests and objectives. Therefore the main research question is: What is the role of the state in shaping labour relations in a globalised industry after the privatisation of state enterprises? I aim (1) to understand the relationship between state objectives and the development of a certain industry, and how this affects and is affected by industrial relations norms and institutions; (2) to begin to develop a new academic field which focuses on all aspects of shipping and seafaring in Israel, which has been neglected by scholars for over 30 years; and (3) to understand Israeli shipping in national and even nationalistic terms, within a global industry subject to considerable external pressures.

Dr Esther Van Schagen  -  Dutch

How can impact assessments improve EU contract law?

NF150259            University of Oxford                       £67,525.85

European contract law hinders rather than helps the internal market. EU measures are contradictory, leave gaps in consumer protection and do not help businesses to assess their legal position in transnational trade. Consequently, the EU overlooks opportunities to boost economic recovery. Expensive, time-consuming reports preceding EU legislative measures, Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs), should assess whether problems arise for the internal market or consumer protection, which measures will reinforce the internal market and consumer protection, and help prevent contradictory legislation. RIAs in EU contract law consistently fail to do so, but, if improved, they could strengthen EU contract law. (Van Schagen 2014) This project will provide the first scientific analysis of RIAs in EU contract law and explore ways to improve RIAs by identifying best practices, organising Expert Round Tables, involving national actors in drafting EU RIAs, and sketching an "ideal" legal RIA.

Dr Maarten Van Zalk  - Dutch

Aggression Toward Minority Groups in Adolescence: A Biosocial Approach

NF150557            University of Oxford                       £84,550.00

Recent escalations in hate crimes against minority groups have substantial economic and social costs. A surprisingly small group of adolescents is responsible for engaging in the vast majority of aggressive acts targeting minorities in adolescence and continue these behaviours in adulthood. This project’s overall aim is to understand what drives this small group with a major impact on society so that preventive interventions can be designed that target this group. I will use a biosocial approach to examine how interactions between physiological (i.e., hormonal imbalances between testosterone and cortisol during puberty) and social (i.e., problematic communication between friends leading to prejudiced peer norms) processes explain aggressive behaviours for this group. The innovative character of this project lies in shifting the focus of research to a small group of adolescents and combining theory and methodologies from psychology and behavioural endocrinology to examine this group.

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