Newton Mobility Grant Awards 2015

Funded by


Dr Vanessa Empinotti, Universidade Federal do ABC – UFABC

Dr Jessica Budds, University of East Anglia

Securing Water for Megacities: An Analysis of Water Governance and Scarcity in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region

NG150122                                           One-Year                                                            £10,000

The aim of this project is to understand the causes and effects of water shortages in São Paulo, and how decision-making structures and processes both trigger and address them. Despite having a relatively well-functioning water utility, this megacity has struggled to supply water to an expanding population amid limited supplies, especially to poor areas. One question is whether a centralized water utility is suitable for such a large and diverse city. One proposed solution is to instead mobilize the resources and expertise of the private sector, despite disappointing results elsewhere. Based on a study of central São Paulo and the municipalities surrounding its main reservoirs, this project will examine how the utility’s institutional structure, comprising a private-public partnership, has influenced investment in infrastructure and management of consumer demand. It will explore how far these institutional aspects have combined with climatic conditions to produce shortages, and to encourage individual water infrastructure.

Professor Sandra Guardini Vasconcelos, University of São Paulo

Dr Ross Forman, University of Warwick

The Novel without Frontiers: a collaborative knowledge exchange project between Brazilian and UK researchers on thinking beyond nation-based literary and area studies.

NG150081                                           One-Year                                                            £10,000

Social welfare incorporates social justice. Social justice, in turn, requires an accurate, politically engaged understanding of a country’s past in order to address the origins of contemporary economic inequalities and to understand the culture industry’s role in national consciousness. This collaboration takes as it theme “The Novel without Frontiers,” bringing together scholars of different literary traditions to think beyond nation-based literary studies and area studies. In Brazil, the novel was a fundamental part of the process of nation-building during the long eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and culture continues to be a crucial area in which local, regional, and national identities and Brazil’s face to the world is negotiated.  Focusing on the novel in different geopolitical contexts, we ask how a literary form thought to be enmeshed in a specific historical process—the rise of the European bourgeoisie and capitalism – could and did travel and prosper in other environments. It highlights the marginalization of slavery and Afro-Brazilian heritage. Through workshops and classes, we will analyse the transformation of the genre across languages, space, and time. We will lay the groundwork for a broader Brazilian-UK dialogue on this fundamental form of literature. Our project will increase the visibility of Brazilian scholars and scholarship in the area of World Literature and literary studies more generally in the UK. The undergraduate, postgraduate, and postdoctoral scholars involved will gain important exposure to new methodologies, and the opportunity to enhance their research and training and their international marketability. Knowledge transfer about what we are calling "the novel without frontiers" will contribute to a “de-provincializing” of Brazilian Studies, encouraging scholars to situate Brazil, through the novel, in a larger global framework.

Dr Tomas Martins, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná

Dr Adrian Bailey, University of Exeter

Developing Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains: Building Capacity for Executive Training and Supply Chain Research with Co-operative Managers

NG150123                                           One-Year                                                            £10,000

The Business, Nature, Value research group in Exeter seeks to transfer expertise to PUCPR in three areas. First, in the area of sustainable supply chain management, we will share conceptual framing and research methodologies to develop PUCPR research into agricultural co-operatives. Second, in the area of pedagogy, Exeter will share expertise developed through the experience of delivering undergraduate modules and postgraduate programmes that are informed by the philosophy of co-operative learning and which simulate decision making in co-operative enterprises. Third, Exeter will share knowledge about retailing and the interface between producer and consumer co-operatives. We will provide insights into how the conceptual framing of multi-stakeholder relationships in co-operatives can be developed through theories of service dominant logic. Consumer co-operation is less developed in Brazil and PUCPR is keen to lean from the UK in this area. The UK will benefit from PUCPR’s experience and networks with agri-business co-operatives.

Dr Marcos Cueto-Caballero, Fiocruz, Casa de Oswaldo Cruz

Dr Paulo Drinot, University College London

Building capacity through collaboration - Latin American Studies Journals in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries: the UK and the Brazilian Experiences

NG150044                                           One-Year                                                            £9,930

Brazilian academic journals face a number of challenges. Continuity in keeping high academic standards as an organizing principle has been uneven, and rigid institutional procedures have persisted. These factors undermine sustained progress and make problematic making greater inroads in the academic publishing world. Although Brazilian scientific production continues to rise in terms of articles published and visibility in Latin America, it has to improve its impact in the whole world. UK journals have much to learn from the use of social media of Brazilian journals. The aim of this project is to strengthen and expand collaboration between UK and Brazilian academic communities and in particular to enhance the research and managerial capacity of both UK and Brazil based scholars, editors of journals and members of editorial boards of journals in the field of Latin American studies through exchange of knowledge, skills and expertise in relation to the editing, editorial policies, management and publishing of academic journals in order to support excellent research, and its dissemination, in both Brazil and the UK, and more generally.  

Dr Giovanna Medeiros Rataichesck Fiates, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

Dr Moira Dean, Queen's University Belfast

Investigating the habits of shoppers when they do or don’t buy healthful foods: Developing recommendations to help consumers make healthier shopping decisions in Brazil.

NG150026                                           One-Year                                                            £9,800

Eating healthily is a means of achieving good health with people being advised to look after themselves through consuming a healthy diet. To develop recommendations to help consumers in Brazil make healthier shopping decisions it is necessary to understand their food purchase decisions. This proposed research investigates the habits of shoppers to determine when and why they do/don’t buy healthy foods, to gain an understanding of the reasoning behind their food choices and to explore the role of shopping practices/strategies that promote and impede healthy shopping behaviour. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods such as mood/situation questionnaire, accompanied shop and in-store tasks consumer reasoning, shopping practices and strategies employed around food selection with links to individual, social, situational and socio-demographic factors will be explored. Food purchased in the supermarket will also be classified against new Dietary Guidelines in Brazil.  This research will add to current understandings of how people decide to buy the food that they do and recommend ways of helping consumers in Brazil select healthier food. This proposal builds on existing work by Dr Fiates, a nutritionist, around eating and food shopping habits of parents and schoolchildren in Brazil. The collaboration will contribute to improving the design of experimental studies and validation of measures, not only for Dr Fiates’ students, but for her peer PhD supervisors and PhD candidates from Federal University of Santa Catarina. In addition, this collaboration will facilitate future joint funding applications as well as post graduate and post-doctoral student/staff exchanges which will be of benefit to both countries.

Mr André Bazzoni Bueno, University of Sao Paulo

Professor Jose Zalabardo, University College London

Mind, language and action: Investigating the connections between the physical and the human realities through knowledge and skill transfer between the UK and Brazil.

NG150010                                           One-Year                                                            £9,790

Brazil is an emergent economic power. However, while economic development may occur in the short term, it will not be effective if it is not accompanied by intellectual development. But intellectual development can only be achieved in the longer term, via knowledge and skill transfer throughout the new, fresh generations of thinkers. This project deals with the understanding of fundamental human institutions such as language and collective behaviour, and how they are responsible for the construction of the human social reality in general. This proposal lies in the intersection of the philosophical areas of mind, language and action. Its general goal is to understand how the human reality of mental states, language and social institutions arises from the brute and meaningless physical reality described by the natural sciences.  The project will benefit USP in providing the opportunity to host an international event of high standing, as well as the Brazilian philosophical community.

Dr Tiago Ribeiro Duarte, University of Brasília

Dr Luis Ignacio Reyes Galindo, Cardiff University

Building Human Capital in Empirical Sociology of Science for Latin America

NG150083                                           One-Year                                                            £10,000

Science and technology studies (STS) is a dynamic and interdisciplinary research field that analyses the social and cultural dimensions and impact of science and technology. The STS discipline has recently begun to turn its head towards the so-called Global South (GS) and recognised it as a rich field of potential research. This is because the sociocultural conditions in which science and technology exist in the GS are contrastingly different to those encountered in the developed world. Latin America, for example, is a region where traditional cultural perspectives and policy-making practices often clash with globalised and North-led perspectives on science and technology. The project will centre on developing STS perspectives that take into account Latin American realities at both theoretical and empirical levels. We seek to invite reflections from scholars on how to appropriate traditional STS models for the region and, just as important, to develop training opportunities for young scholars that fit into the state of the art of empirical STS.

Dr Maria Camila D'Ottaviano, University of São Paulo

Dr Urmi Sengupta, Queen's University Belfast

Brazilian Favelas and Indian Slums: A Comparative Research on Policies, Programs and Government Intervention

NG150109                                           One-Year                                                            £9,600

The proposed mobility programme involves researchers from the UK and Sao Paulo to exchange knowledge and experience in management of favelas in Brazil and Bustees in India. A key objective is to foster and support academic research provisionally titled ‘Brazilian Favelas and Indian Slums: A comparative research on policies, programs and government intervention’. The exchange activity will run for 12 months involving two exchange visits to Sao Paulo and Belfast with a number of specific objectives set for each visit which include visits to favelas, seminar presentation and teaching delivery. The project will help to achieve a long term collaboration built around joint application for a major funding call, joint publication and joint-hosting of a session in a major international conference.

Dr Miriam Cristina Marques da Silva de Paiva, Faculdade de Medicina de Botucatu-UNESP

Dr Lucy Sitton-Kent, University of Nottingham

Preventing Hospital Acquired Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CUTIs) in People Over 65 Years Old: A Qualitative Study of Knowledge Transfer in the UK and Brazil

NG150113                                           One-Year                                                            £8,310

Patients over 65 years have higher mortality rates, longer length of hospital stays, increased functional decline, and care-home placements associated with the development of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs). This places a significant economic and social demand on healthcare systems, patients and carers. By facilitating training and skill transfer from the UK to Brazil we aim to build capacity to produce excellent research, reduce the social and economic demand and establish long term research links to share learning and provide sustainable benefit to the UK and Brazilian research community.

The aim of this phase of the project is for the UK Team to develop the qualitative research capability of our Brazilian colleagues and produce 2 high quality discussion papers. We are all early career researchers, keen to capitalise on the relationship we have initiated at a workshop to develop a robust sustainable research collaboration. Thus we want to pursue the unique opportunities to learn from each other in how to prevent older patients developing HAIs, particularly CUTIs.

Dr Fabiola Chesani, Universidade do Vale do Itajaí - UNIVALI

Dr Anne Mandy, University of Brighton

Breaking Down Barriers and Improving Quality of Life for Wheelchair Users

NG150064                                           One-Year                                            £9,520

Manual wheelchair provision in Brazil is outdated and inappropriate for stroke or partly paralysed users. Users report that their independence, quality of life, employment potential, and ability to contribute to society are severely compromised. This grant aims to:

1 ) Identify a population of partly paralysed wheelchair users in Santa Catarina and describe current wheelchair provision for them.

2) Explore the barriers to social participation, and the impact that this has on their quality of life.

3) Build an international collaboration with experts that will inform and influence the National Policy of Brazil of the rights of persons with disabilities.

4) Produce findings to inform social welfare and enable the potential for economic and social development.

The project will enable a Brazilian research physiotherapist to work with a UK assistive mobility expert to explore the barriers to assistive technology, evaluate disabled users needs and influence government health care policy.


Professor Peng Yuan, Rural Development Institute of CASS

Dr Fu Jeff Jia, University of Exeter

A comparative study of the roles of cooperatives in the agricultural supply chain between China and UK

NG150313                           One-Year                            £6,875.00

The project brings together CASS and Exeter to transfer best practice in agricultural cooperatives research. The Rural Development Institute (RDI) at CASS is contributing to rural development i.e., conducting research into rural economic organisation and institutions and providing policy advice to government agencies in China. RDI seeks to partner with a British university conducting research on cooperatives, an area in which Exeter has expertise. Since 2010, Exeter has been funded by WWF for research into sustainable SCM for large-scale MNCs in China, and also by the Cooperative Group to develop curricula and teaching on its undergraduate modules and One Planet MBA. BNV of Exeter and RDI of CASS will collaborate on: 1) comparing different roles and models of coops in agricultural supply chain between China and UK; 2) identifying projects and funding to develop a knowledge base to inform research on cooperatives.

Dr Lin Xiao, Institute of Sociology

Dr Sin Yi Cheung, Cardiff University

Improving Social Welfare System in China: Urbanization, Community Development, and Social Participation

AF150320                             Two-Year                            £64,000.00

During rapid urbanization and marketization, China experiences an unbalanced economic and social development both between and within cities. To promote social justice and sustainable development, the establishment and improvement of social welfare system is crucial. However, the demographic transitions and social changes during the reform era poses a great challenge to Chinese's present welfare system. Situating on the unbalanced development of Chinese welfare system, this collaborative research project aims to explore the mechanism of the dilemma of China's current welfare development, and proposes practical and realistic policy recommendations for future development.


Dr Shanthi Thambiah, University of Malaya

Professor Janet Carsten, University of Edinburgh

Transnational Domestic Workers, Gender, Kinship and Relatedness in Malaysia – in the context of labour relations and economics

NG150235                                           One-Year                                                            £4,150

Anthropologists have increasingly moved away from the term ‘kinship’ in favour of Carsten’s (2000) conception of ‘relatedness’. Recent literature in this field unpacks conventional assumptions about the biological basis of relatedness and challenges the relegation of kinship studies to the private sphere. However, it is only beginning to engage critically with the workplace and with practices of relatedness emanating from there. These important themes, which are often somewhat neglected in Malaysian social scientific research, are fundamental to social welfare and harmonious economic development. The presence of foreign domestic workers within middle class families in Malaysia will be examined to rethink practices and idioms of kinship performed by people considered as ‘labour’. In theorizing work alongside idioms and practices of kinship, the research will fill a gap in the ‘new kinship studies’. Bringing together theories of labour with new anthropological approaches to kinship it will show how kinship and labour are mutually entwined, and consider the implications of this entanglement for our understandings of kinship and of labour relations. The project will strengthen research capacity at University of Malaya through 1) training in research and writing and 2) skills transfer from the UK co-applicant, Professor Carsten, to postgraduate students and early career academics at the University of Malaya. This work will seek to encourage further research projects on household labour and economics that incorporate the investigation of kinship and gender relations.

Dr Tze Peng Wong, University of Nottingham, Malaysia campus

Dr Daisy Ann Powell, University of Reading

Analysis of cross-language transfer in early literacy acquisition among bilingual Malay-English speaking children in Malaysia

NG150239                           One-Year                            £4,259.00

Literacy levels can have a marked impact on a country’s economic growth. Achieving literacy proficiency in Malay and English has been a priority of the government. In Malaysia, literacy proficiency in Malay and English have distinct values: Malay is predominantly used in governmental organisations and English in private organisations. Though both languages are mandatory subjects from the start of school, little is known about cross-linguistic influences on bilingual literacy acquisition in this context. This project will address this knowledge gap by exploring the influence of language, reading and reading-related skills in Malay on the learning of literacy in English, and vice-versa. Data will be collected on reading and related skills from 160 children aged four to seven years, using existing English tests (adapted to the Malay context where necessary) and Malay equivalents, which we will develop. Relationships between performance on the various measures, within and between languages, will be investigated using regression analysis. The project will allow career-enriching knowledge transfer between applicants; the workshop will allow for broader training and dissemination.

The findings of this project will lead to best-informed decisions in investment in literacy interventions at the school and national level, such as the LINUS programme, an initiative that universally screens Malay-English literacy and numeracy skills of all primary pupils in Malaysia and subsequently provides additional literacy and numeracy intervention to under-performing pupils.

Through effective preventative and intervention measures in literacy intervention, societal issues such as low literacy rates, and social, emotional and behavioural disorders that stem from poor literacy skills can be alleviated. In the long run, literacy improvement enhances the quality of employment and contributes to a country’s human resource capability and economic growth.

Dr Noraida Endut, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Dr Lilian Miles, Middlesex University

Improving Institutional Responses to Maternity Protection (MP) in Malaysia: Drawing from Experiences and Practices in the UK

NG150226                           One-Year                            £4,995.00

This project seeks ways to enhance maternity protection (MP) policies and practices in Malaysia, which has one of the lowest female labour force participation rates in Asia. In part, this is attributable to legislative and socio-cultural constraints and employer resistance to MP. Effective MP provisions have important implications for social well-being and economic development. The project will draw on the experience and expertise of key researchers, advocates and practitioners in MP in the UK, where existing structures reflect sensitivity to the gendered-needs of women and where measures to encourage and support good employer practices have been taken. It seeks to understand the challenges UK firms experience in internalising and implementing MP measures, and observe first-hand, how barriers may be overcome. With the support of networks in the UK, it will develop research capacity in Malaysia to explore the conditions necessary for the effective implementation of MP within its firms.


Dr Monica Serrano, El Colegio de México

Dr Thomas Pegram, University College London

Interaction and Impact in Transnational Narcotics Governance: the International Drug Control Regime and the International Human Rights Regime in the Americas

NG150090                                           One-Year                                                            £9,750

The project objective is to launch a new collaborative research partnership on the development and impact of regime interaction and impact in transnational narcotics governance, specifically the International Drug Control Regime (IDCR) and the International Human Rights Regime (IHRR) with a focus on Mexico and the Americas. This cross-disciplinary group of scholars (expert in global governance, international relations, human rights, the Americas and drug policy) will explore the use of innovative methods and approaches to understand how the IDCR and the IHRR interact and with what consequences for persons within and beyond national jurisdictions in the Americas. Systematic assessment of the evolution and impact of regime interaction will contribute with practical insights into the conflict and challenges posed by regime interplay between the IDCR and IHRR, but also the potential for productive engagement which can potentially serve as the basis for enhancing the performance of both regimes.

Dr Raul Trejo Delarbre, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Dr Helen Thornham, University of Leeds

Digital Culture and its Discontents in Mexico and the UK: beyond connectivity, after access and use.

NG150107                                           One-Year                                                            £10,000

Mexico is a developing economy with one of the highest rates of internet connectivity growth in Latin America. It was the first country in Latin America to be connected to bitnet (before the creation of Internet) and has one of the highest numbers of users in Latin America (just below USA and Brazil). At the same time, it is a country with great unbalance in the distribution of resources and a limited reach in innovative theoretical and methodological initiatives. With Mexico being considered one of the biggest emerging markets, the importance of a critical use of digital technologies is paramount in its development as a country. The term ‘digital culture’ is fraught with questions around access, digital literacy, citizenship and choice that underpin many government-led initiatives such as e-Mexico. Our research focuses on so-called ‘digital natives’ (the excluded – traditionally the aged or young, rural or poor) who are digitally ‘literate’ yet despite this remain disempowered, uneducated and disenfranchised. This project brings together researchers, post-docs, PhD students and communities in Mexico and the UK that have been investigating digital culture as discreet: as geographically and socio-economically contingent. We ask what an investigation into the lived realities of digital culture reveals for the values inherent in digital connectivity as well as what interventions are possible for the future. The collaboration between the UK and Mexico is what enables this – drawing out the global connections through the sharing of expertise, knowledge and methodologies to develop a shared but distinct critical approach.

Dr Miguel Angel Sebastian, Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas, UNAM

Dr James Stazicker, University of Reading

Perceptual discrimination in the light of consciousness, cognitive access and attention – an investigation on the relations between these three elements in acquiring knowledge.

NG150209                                           One-Year                                                            £9,570

Key debates in recent philosophy of mind and cognitive science concern the relations between three aspects of our mental lives: (1) perceptual experiences, such as the experience of conscious seeing; (2) the cognitive mechanisms underlying our ability to form perceptual beliefs and report what we are perceiving; (3) attention. For example, is perceptual experience independent of cognition, and does attention alter the character of perceptual experience?

The main purpose of this project is to investigate the implications of the way in which these three elements interact for theories of our ability to perceptually discriminate objects. This ability is essential to the way in which we navigate the world and acquire knowledge about our environment. Dr. Sebastián’s and Dr. Stazicker’s previous research focuses squarely on these issues, forming an ideal basis for collaboration on this joint project. Graduate students at the UNAM, especially those working on epistemology and philosophy of mind, as well as other researchers will enormously benefit from the workshop that will be organized and the seminar led by Dr. Stazicker and Dr Sebastián. This project will give students at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico the opportunity to interact with an international researcher and learn at first-hand how leading research in the field is performed.

Dr Maria Amalia Amaya Navarro, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Dr Maksymilian Del Mar, Queen Mary University of London

Virtue, Emotion and Imagination in Legal Reasoning – implications for legal and judicial education.

NG150276                                           One-Year                                                            £10,000

This research project aims at examining the role that virtue may play in a theory of legal reasoning. More specifically, the project will focus on the way in which a virtue approach to legal reasoning is tied up with a conception of legal decision-making that recognizes the various ways in which emotions and imagination are critical to sound legal judgment. This research brings into focus elements of legal reasoning that are not usually discussed in traditional approaches to the subject and that are largely absent in Mexican legal scholarship. We also aim to explore the implications that a complex conception of legal decision making that makes room for emotions, virtue and imagination has for legal education and for judicial education. From the complex account of what is involved in legal decision-making that we aim to develop in this project it follows that legal education should be designed with a view to cultivating virtue as well as developing emotional capacities and imaginative abilities among the judiciary. The planned activities will significantly strengthen the institutional relations between the Mexican academic community and the British academic community. The graduate course that Maksymilian Del Mar will deliver will be on a topic that does not figure in the list of courses offered at UNAM. A second course delivered to judges at the Federal Institute of the Judiciary in Mexico has the potential to significantly influence the way in which federal Mexican judges think and reason about legal cases.

Dr Jose Juan Olvera Gudino, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS)

Dr Hettie Malcomson, University of Southampton

Understanding violence in contemporary Mexico through music

NG150287                                           One-Year                                                            £9,993

Despite horrific violence, including over 60,000 deaths from 2006-2012 alone, Mexico is officially a country at peace. While social scientists and journalists navigate the entanglement of drug-related violence and state power structures, analyses of popular culture provide some of the most important insights to understand and seek ways to end Mexico’s bellicose violence. Through exchange visits, training and two workshops, this project will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of scholars based in Mexico and the UK to explore what can be learned about the causes and practices of violence in contemporary Mexico through music. Music and violence have been interlinked in Mexico for decades, famously in narcocorridos (drug-related ballads), yet there is scant literature that interrogates what we can learn about Mexico’s current culture of violence through music. The project will explore music that aims to threaten and incite violent encounters; promote anti-violence by imploring empathy and social activism; a combination of these; and otherwise. The primary aim of the project is to contribute to understandings of violence in Mexico more broadly through analysis of the intertwining of music and violence. A secondary benefit includes promoting popular music as an area of serious academic enquiry in Mexico. Outputs will include a peer-reviewed journal article and a proposal for a journal special issue.  

Dr Ariel Vazquez Carranza, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS)

Dr Rebecca Jane Clift, University of Essex

The Body in Action: the ‘open-palm’ gesture in comparative perspective

NG150162                                          One-Year                                                            £6,945

The project will establish a research partnership between two researchers, one in the UK and one in Mexico, who will, over the course of the project, exchange research expertise and data in Conversation Analysis as the basis for a comparative study of English and Mexican Spanish interaction. They will jointly investigate the intersection of body movement, gaze and gesture with talk across videoed interactional data of both languages. They will explore how shared understandings are pursued and achieved by focusing on one hitherto unstudied family of gestures which occur in combination with talk: the so-called ‘open palm’ gesture. By identifying a significant cross-linguistic aspect of visible bodily behaviour, the project will not only generate the exchange of expertise to the benefit of both countries, but also contribute to the wider CA research project: to illuminate the mechanisms through which shared understandings are pursued and achieved in interaction. Among the social issues which Centro de Investigación y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS) seeks to address is the threat of extinction of Mexico’s indigenous languages. The protection and maintenance of these languages plays an important part in the sustenance and wellbeing of the communities who speak them. In this respect, the academic exchange will contribute to work on social welfare projects in Mexico. The postgraduate programme in Indoamerican linguistics at CIESAS trains linguists – many of whom constitute the majority of postgraduate students from indigenous communities – to design projects and public policy to protect these languages. The skills and knowledge exchange from the Department of Language and Linguistics at Essex University to CIESAS will be invaluable to the development of the social sciences in Mexico.

Dr Luis Eduardo Hernandez, Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosí

Dr Ciara Kierans, University of Liverpool

The Social Formation of a Medical Enigma: ‘Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown origin’ among Mexican flexibilised labourers

NG150243                                            One-Year                                                            £9,900

Mexico has been experiencing a profound and unexplained increase in kidney failure among the poor. Classified as Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown origin (CKDu), this condition has been associated with flexible labouring contexts, toxic environments and economic deregulation. This proposal will develop a new research collaboration between a UK anthropologist and Mexican social scientist, who have conducted research on CKD, welfare and the politics and social organisation of medical responses to the problem. The mobility award would enable us to develop a project, build a research team, conduct a scoping exercise and contribute to methodological capacity building in Mexico. This would inform further funding applications for an ethnographic study on CKDu as a feature of labour, society and environment. Our project would ‘follow’ local aetiologies of CKDu through using documentary, interview and observational methods with various groups with a stake in this issue in order to produce a comprehensive understanding of the social, cultural and political conditions within which CKDu emerges. The proposed ethnographic project on CKDu will facilitate the debate as to how we can understand the causes, consequences and appropriate responses to complex health conditions in the Mexican context. By focusing on the social, cultural and political contexts within which this condition emerges and takes effect, this will enable the researchers to identify and tease out the particularities of social welfare, corporate harm and the environmental policies that are bound up with the emergence and spread of CKDu and that have growing implications to what are rapidly becoming invisible (or indeed surplus populations), particularly from a health monitoring and prevention perspective. Understanding these processes and the social relations which underpin them are critical to how we examine wellbeing, health and capacity and contribute to thinking about alternative approaches to economic development which do not have the same deleterious consequences we currently see through a focus on CKDu.

Dr Dora Sevilla, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán

Dr Lilia Mabel Encinas Sanchez, University Campus Suffolk

Our Shared Common Lands

NG150273                                           One-Year                                                            £9,955

Mathematics success in the first years of primary school becomes a predictor of academic success in later life (Duncan et al, 2007). Results in mathematics constitute an area of particular concern in basic education around the world. In Mexico, it is the subject with the lowest results, with 29% of students failing at the end of basic education in Yucatan (INEE, 2014). In PISA 2012, 55% of Mexican students had not gained the basic skills in the discipline.

This is a joint project between the Autonomous University of Yucatán (UADY) and University Campus Suffolk (UCS). The aim of the project is to pilot an intervention instrument, a board game, designed by the UK principal investigator (PI) to support 4 and 5 year old children’s learning of mathematics, both in a Mexican preschool setting of an economically deprived area and previously with reception children in Suffolk. The board game comprises tasks that support the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills and dispositions in mathematics as stated both in the National Curriculum for England and in the Mexican Plan of Studies 2011 for the specified age range. The project will be developed in four phases in which reciprocal visits, training of the Mexican team and the pilot study will take place. In particular, the training of the Mexican PI includes a collaborative participation in the pilot study in Suffolk prior to the intervention in Mexico, as well as study and discussions of the issues involved in the design and use of the game.

Despite the fact that pre-school education is compulsory in paper, not all children attend. Parental involvement is needed, particularly in rural communities, with indigenous population and economically deprived areas. The project will enable the collection of information about the development of partnerships between teachers and parents. The result of the pilot will contribute to identify needs of future research in relation to the learning of mathematics in early years settings in Mexico.

Dr Jose Luis Barrios Lara, Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de Mexico

Dr Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra, University of Cambridge

Art, Democracy, and Public Space in Contemporary Mexico

NG150266                                          One-Year                                                            £10,000

Since the early 1980s, Mexico has experienced a slow transition to democracy, opened its economy to international trade and investment, and the country’s Revolutionary Constitution of 1917 has been fundamentally reformed. Likewise, in the past decade the country has endured unprecedented levels of violence, resulting from the so-called “War on Drugs”. Cultural production and, in particular, public art, has not been unaffected by these developments; yet the nature of these transformations remains little studied.

Developed around the conceptual categories of “art”, “democracy”, and “public space”, this project seeks to create a bilateral, interdisciplinary network of academic collaboration between Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico and the University of Cambridge. This network will encourage reflection on the transformations that public space, urban space, and public art have undergone in Mexico in the context of the recent crisis of the Revolutionary State that shaped public and cultural life during the XX century. Likewise, this network seeks to define a long-term research agenda to promote discussion concerning the ways that art, architecture, literature and other intellectual, intermedial and participatory practices informed by recent technological developments have helped forge, debate, construct and perform ideas of “democracy” that often contest or critique the “procedural democracy” that has arguably become dominant since the country’s “democratic transition”.

Given the limitations of conventional political strategies for the resolution of critical social and political issues regarding human rights in Mexico, this project will provide key theoretical input and practical models for alternative approaches to these problems through art and culture, that have already shown themselves—through recent and historical experiences—to be effective modes of furthering democracy, healing deep social and psychological wounds, and proposing alternative, non-violent models of action and interaction. The bilateral and interdisciplinary exchange fostered by this project will also help provide elements that support the further implementation of more horizontal and less authoritarian practices in Mexican academics and in the cultural and political spheres, and a more fluid and effective dialogue between theoretical research and social policies and practices.  

South Africa

Professor Joanna Vearey, University of the Witwatersrand

Dr Elisabeth-Jane Milne, Coventry University

Marginalised voices: exploring arts-based and narrative methodologies for understanding the lived experiences of migrant sex worker and migrant LGBTQI communities in South Africa and the UK.

NG150023                                           One-Year                                                            £9,970

This proposal draws together researchers and activist scholars working with migrant sex worker and migrant Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) communities in South Africa and the UK. These marginalised groups remain under-researched. Through creating opportunities for dialogue across different geopolitical spaces and disciplinary approaches, the project provides a unique opportunity to consider the relevance and impact of arts-based and narrative methodologies in diverse contexts, where legal frameworks and the regulation of migrant bodies differ. An initial visit to Coventry University (UK) by two South African scholars, which will include guest lecture/s and a seminar, will be followed by a workshop at Wits University (South Africa) bringing together established and early career scholars to present their work and collaborate on a publication project culminating in a special issue of an international, accredited peer-reviewed journal to be edited by the co-applicants and a funding proposal for further collaborative research. The proposed project will advance understanding of the complexities of developing and implementing research with historically marginalised migrant groups in South Africa. The project will help to build capacity within the local Academy through the participation of emerging and established South African scholars from multiple disciplines, benefiting efforts to continue to advance research practice, particularly with an interdisciplinary leaning. This is urgently required to improve our ways of engaging with the complex social challenges currently faced in South Africa. This will assist in advancing economic development and social welfare by providing insight into ways of conducting social research differently, with an emphasis on how to improve research translation, and uptake – particularly in the creation and sharing of evidence to inform improved policy responses. Due to the cultural relativity and differing political, social, cultural and legal contexts around gender, sexuality and race, this project attempts to address the fundamental difficulties and differences in the treatment of this topic in order to further international understanding.

Dr Scott Drimie, Stellenbosch University

Dr Jeff Jia, University of Exeter

Developing Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains: Building Capacity for Executive Training and Supply Chain Research with Co-operative Managers

NG150085                                           One-Year                                                            £9,690

The project brings together Stellenbosch and Exeter Universities, as partners in the Business, Nature and Value Research Network; to transfer best practice in agricultural co-operative research-led pedagogy from Exeter to Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch’s Food Security Initiative (FSI) is contributing to the emergence of a resilient, sustainable food system for Southern Africa, by reconceptualising food security and creating new models of practice. FSI seeks partnership in agricultural Supply Chain Management (SCM) in which Exeter has expertise. Since 2010, Exeter has been funded by WWF for research into sustainable SCM for large-scale MNCs in China and the Co-operative Group to develop curricula and teaching on its undergraduate modules and One Planet MBA. Exeter and Stellenbosch will collaborate on: 1) accessing data on agricultural supply chain and co-operatives in Southern Africa; 2) transferring best practice in research-led teaching; 3) identifying projects and funding to develop a knowledge base to inform research and co-operative training programmes.

Dr Phillip de Jager, University of Cape Town

Dr Helen Solomon, De Montfort University

Monetary Policy and the Banking Sector in South Africa – A programme of exchange, knowledge transfer and collaboration

NG150062                                           One-Year                                                            £9,561

The Bank Lending Channel (BLC) examines the sensitivity of bank loans to changes in monetary policy in South Africa (SA). The BLC is impacted by key bank characteristics such as size, capital strength, liquidity and bank efficiency (productivity). This new collaboration between the University of Cape Town (UCT) in SA and De Montfort University (DMU), UK will strengthen the research capacity of UCT through a series of exchanges, knowledge transfer events and a collaborative research project. This will offer UCT the opportunity to develop skills in dynamic panel data analysis which has not been applied to study the BLC using current data in SA. We focus on SA because it plays a crucial role in the financial development of the region. The inclusion of bank characteristics in the analysis of the BLC represents an innovation in the analysis of the monetary transmission mechanism in SA. This project represents the beginning of a long term, research partnership where regular exchanges and collaborative work will bring benefit to both teaching and research in partner institutions.

Dr Alastair van Heerden, Human Sciences Research Council

Dr Seraphim Alvanides, Northumbria University

Investigating the complexities of physical growth in children living in resource constrained environments

NG150180                                           One-Year                                                            £9,880

South Africa, like many other low and middle income countries (LMIC), is undergoing a rapid epidemiological transition with a rise in the burden of non-communicable diseases. For the past thirty years mean global body mass index scores have been steadily increasing. Initially confined to high income countries, recent data suggest obesogenic environments caused by population changes in physical activity and diet are now affecting both adults and children in LMICs. The aim of this project is to develop a new knowledge and research transfer initiative complementing the interests of Dr Alvanides and Dr van Heerden on obesogenic environments. In addition to the proposed mobility activities (skills and knowledge transfer), this collaboration will lead to a joint research proposal, developing an intervention for obese and overweight children that addresses attitudinal, behavioural and structural impediments to healthy living in a context of extreme poverty, violence and HIV exposure.

Professor Natasha Erlank, University of Johannesburg

Dr Joel Cabrita, University of Cambridge

New Histories of South African Christianity – promoting a critical research agenda into Christianity in South Africa.

NG150228                                           One-Year                                                            £10,000

While South Africa is a secular state, the majority of its 53 million inhabitants are professed Christians who regularly practice their faith. Christianity has significant currency in people’s daily lives and people speak as if it does. People also look to religious leaders for guidance in political matters. The project aims to break ground in the historical study of Christianity in Southern Africa. The collaborators – respectively based at the Universities of Johannesburg and Cambridge - seek to move beyond theoretical models that compartmentalize African Christians into static binaries of ‘modern’ versus ‘traditionalists’, or ‘Westernized’ Christians versus ‘Africanized’ Christians. Instead, the project will pursue an ambitious range of research questions that go beyond these dichotomies. Specifically, our project seeks to illuminate the complex convergences and crossovers that characterized Christian practice in Southern Africa, showing that Christians of different denominations and backgrounds were all influenced alike by shared moral and social visions. This collaborative partnership between the Universities of Johannesburg and Cambridge aims to achieve this through skills and knowledge transfer between established and early-career researchers, and postgraduate students. We will convene one workshop in Cambridge and two in Johannesburg, the final one will be dedicated to graduate student development.  By contributing to and promoting a critical research agenda into Christianity, and by disseminating findings beyond the academy and into society, this project will contribute to regional agendas and policies about the place of religion across a number of policy fields. The research programme, through exploring – for instance – the role of women religious leaders will contribute to a greater awareness and acceptance of what are mostly still patriarchal religious spaces. This will happen not only through the efforts of the principle researchers, but also through those of students in the projects, many of whom will be drawn from full-time employment, often as teachers or government officials (the traditional source of postgraduates at the University of Johannesburg).

Professor Johan de Jager, Tshwane University of Technology Pretoria

Dr Gbolahan Gbadamosi, Bournemouth University

Extending the frontiers of job fit through matching aspirations and widening participation: employers’ desires, graduate skills and raising aspirations

NG150222                                               One-Year                                                            £9,617

This research project is concerned with career aspirations, employability, access to and success in educational opportunities in Higher Education (HE) in South Africa. The study will contribute to the improvement of job fit through the enhancement of employability and widening participation (access) in HE. We investigate two questions: (1) What is the perception (and reality) of the gap between graduate career aspirations and employability skills? (2) How can we identify and improve access to HE in South Africa? Data collection employs surveys to obtain data from university students and interviews from academics as two key stakeholders in HE. The study contributes towards policy initiatives (e.g. both the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) and a more transparent access to HE funding by prospective students); helps to enhance capacity through the sharing of ideas; and offers the opportunity to develop a long-term international collaboration and partnership between the participating institutions.

Dr Cletos Mapiye, Stellenbosch University

Dr James Edward Bennett, Coventry University

Developing an action research based approach for understanding local institutions and improving livestock-based livelihoods of communal farmers in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

NG150291                                              One-Year                                                            £8,269

This proposal brings together scholars from Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) at Coventry University (CU) and Department of Animal Sciences (DoAS) at Stellenbosch University (SU) as part of a knowledge exchange around participatory action research (PAR) approaches for exploring local institutions and livelihoods of communal livestock farmers in South Africa. Researchers at CAWR have a strong track record in PAR methodologies and will interact with DoAS researchers both at CU and SU to share current research approaches and experiences and strengthen local PAR capacity. A workshop in South Africa will then be used to understand institutional constraints to delivery of current livestock projects in Eastern Cape and the potential for PAR approaches to improve institutional performance in project delivery and deliver better livelihood outcomes. The workshop outcomes will form the basis for a journal article, a conference session on PAR approaches in livestock development and a joint funding proposal for further research.

Dr Camilla Adelle, University of Pretoria

Dr David Ian Benson, University of Exeter

Transnational Network Governance: Greening EU Africa Relations?

NG150251                                                One-Year                                                            £7,220

The European Union (EU) actively engages in ‘external environmental governance’ by promoting its environmental norms, principles and policies to third countries, particularly in Africa. One critical mechanism employed by the EU to do this are transnational networks. These networks span international boundaries and involve both state and non-state actors in transferring information about policies from one political system to another. Yet, the active use of such networks by the EU raises questions over their effectiveness. This research project explores how, and how successfully, the EU is employing transnational networks to transfer its own environmental policy beyond its borders, especially in Southern Africa. The research will focus on two case studies: the EU’s Water Initiative and the Africa EU Partnership on Climate Change. Three academic visits between the Overseas Applicant and the UK Applicant (including a postgraduate workshop) are planned and will result in three academic outputs as well as strengthen collaborations for the overseas host institution.

Professor Sarojini Nadar, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Dr Adriaan van Klinken , University of Leeds

Queering the Curriculum: LGBTI, Sexuality, and Masculinity Issues in Theology & Religious Studies in South Africa and the UK

NG150295                                                One-Year                                                            £10,000

LGBTI people as well as women and children are negatively affected by dominant norms of sexuality and masculinity which are informed, among other factors, by religion. This project contributes to interrogating such norms and thus promotes, on the longer term, social welfare in South African society, in particular regarding sexual minorities and gender-related vulnerable groups.

This project investigates how LGBTI, sexuality and masculinity issues are addressed in the Theology & Religious Studies (TRS) curriculum within South African and United Kingdom higher education contexts. The underlying assumptions are:
1. Religion plays a significant role in perpetuating negative attitudes towards LGBTI people in both contexts, by promoting heteronormativity and patriarchal gender norms.
2. Religion can however be harnessed to destabilise hetero-patriarchy, through a critical study of sexuality and masculinity.
3. The TRS curriculum is a means to challenge religious beliefs in relation to issues of LGBTI, sexuality and masculinity.

Building on comparative and queer pedagogy, project participants will undertake a critical mapping of TRS curricula and teaching practices at HE institutions in both contexts, to collaboratively develop a methodological and analytical framework for future research in this field. Re-designing/developing module templates using relevant and appropriate pedagogical philosophies that underpin the curriculum, is also a central aim.


Dr Suteera Puangpronpitag, Mahasrakham University

Professor John Taylor, University of Liverpool

Towards Knowledge-Based Entrepreneurship: a Comparative Study of the Triple Helix Network of Knowledge Transfer in Community Enterprises in Thailand and the UK

NG150247                                               One-Year                                                            £10,000

The Triple Helix model is internationally recognized as 3-tier interactive knowledge transfer network through university-industry-government collaborations, with respect to the development of knowledge-based economy. Given that university is an essential player in the model, this project aims to investigate the formation of triple helix participation of Thai and UK universities performing their academic services. By focusing on economic development rooted from the local level, this project chooses to examine the formation of the triple helix collaboration that promotes knowledge-based entrepreneurship of farming community enterprises. The study will be carried out as a multi-site case study. It will examine activities of university outreaches that facilitate the knowledge transfer between the university and its surrounding farming community enterprises. Documentary analysis and in-depth interviews will be used as data collection methods together with observations. A grounded theory will be employed as the data analysis approach.


Dr Mahmut Nedim Ozdemir, Koç University

Dr Pinar Ozcan, University of Warwick

Exploring Barriers to Open Innovation in Emerging Countries: The Case of Turkey

NG150087                                           One-Year                                                            £9,000

Open innovation refers to the use of external sources of innovation to develop and market new solutions. It is the opposite of the traditional closed R&D that solely benefits from the internal know-how of the firm for innovation. Open innovation involves a wide variety of business practices such as crowdsourcing, licensing agreements, strategic R&D alliances and technology acquisitions. While open innovation practices have reduced the R&D costs and improved the quality of innovations of developed country firms, they have not been widely adopted by emerging country firms. Thus, this project aims to identify the main barriers to open innovation in emerging countries. Given limited theory and empirical evidence on our research question, we will conduct an inductive study using the multiple case study method. The setting is the manufacturing and service industries in Turkey where open innovation activities have remained low. The findings will make contributions to research on innovation and interfirm collaboration in emerging countries and offer solutions to managers and policymakers.

Dr Bilge Eris-Dereli, Marmara Universitesi

Dr Thijs van Rens, University of Warwick

Occupational Mobility and Labour Market Mismatch – addressing high unemployment in Turkey

NG150075                                           One-Year                                                            £9,700

The unemployment rate in Turkey has historically consistently been high compared to the European average. As a result, policy makers in Turkey are particularly interested in research on this topic. Mismatch on the labour market means there are jobs in some occupations and workers looking for jobs in others. Mismatch is an important reason that we observe unemployment, while at the same time firms are finding it difficult to fill positions. It is commonly assumed that barriers for workers to switch occupations, are the source of labour market mismatch, and that improved occupational mobility would therefore reduce unemployment. However, this may not be true if decisions about occupational mobility are not primarily driven by considerations of employability. We propose to investigate this hypothesis formally by measuring the effect of occupational mobility on unemployment. We will use a unique feature of the Turkish Labour Force Survey, which allows us to construct the counterfactual labour market conditions in the absence of occupational mobility. The research described here has the potential of contributing to our understanding of the underlying causes of high unemployment and will help in formulating appropriate policies to address the issue. The results will help us better understand unemployment in Turkey, but are likely to be informative about other countries as well.

Dr Ayten Zara, Istanbul Bilgi University

Professor Helen Payne, University of Hertfordshire

Somatisation and Depression: The BodyMind Approach as Treatment for Women in Turkey

NG150137                                           One-Year                                                            £6,995

This project aims to establish a women development/trauma recovery program to enhance the wellbeing and active participation of women in the society and in the economy in Turkey. The program will be developed through the collaboration of the School of Education of University of Hertfordshire (UH) in the UK and the School of Psychology of Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey, initiating a new collaborative partnership. A pilot study will explore the potential benefits from employing a new treatment methodology ‘The BodyMind Approach’/TBMA™ (developed from research at The University of Hertfordshire, UK and currently being deployed in the National Health Service there) for women in Turkey suffering with a range of hard-to-explain physical symptoms with co-occurring depression. Levels of wellbeing, depression and symptom distress together with absenteeism and employment will be measured before and after the TBMA interventions for two groups of women, one group active and in work and the other not. Turkish researchers will be trained in TBMA for further research and practice.


Professor Hoc Dao, Water Resources University

Dr Oliver Hensengerth, Northumbria University

Proactively Living with Floods: Developing New Approaches to Flood Management in Vietnam's Mekong Delta

NG150072                                           One-Year                                                            £9,900

In the context of increasing risks and manifestations of climate change, rapid socio-economic change and major infrastructural interventions, including the construction of large upstreams dams in Cambodia and Laos, further empirical investigations of the potential for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam are essential. In particular, further research is needed to clarify the steps necessary to effect a transition from a situation of reactive response to proactive risk reduction. A key strategy in this regard will be the identification and development of alternative narratives by which to live safely and harmoniously with flooding events. The project will bring into conversation established technical solutions and new academic thinking around participatory approaches. Of particular concern is the reconciliation of competing interests between rural, urban and coastal areas, agricultural and industrial sectors, and different government bureaucracies across the delta’s provinces.

Dr Thu Hoang, Hanoi University (HANU)

Dr Vikas Kumar, University of the West of England, Bristol

Developing Sustainable Green Practices in Vietnam: The Role of Green Transformational Leadership

NG150112                                           One-Year                                                            £9,700

Over the last decade, Vietnam has observed a period of rapid growth and has now become an attractive destination for foreign investment in South East Asia. This rapid transformation has put a lot of pressure on Vietnamese suppliers to match the global competition and at the same time adopt the green agenda. The aim of this research project is therefore to initiate a collaborative partnership between British and Vietnamese scholars to strengthen the research capacity to study the role of green transformational leadership in developing sustainable green practices among the Vietnamese Food suppliers. The primary objective is to contribute to the promotion of economic social welfare in Hanoi by transferring training to local researchers and business practitioners. The training will focus on educating local young researchers and practitioners on the role of transformational leadership and sustainable green business practices that can support transition towards more greener and sustainable economy.

Dr Vu Thang Pham, VNU University of Economics and Business

Dr Richard Hazenberg, University of Northampton

Vietnamese version of a 'Social Impact Matrix': Developing the Methodology of Culturally Applicable Social Impact Measurement for Vietnam

NG150052                                           One-Year                                                            £9,135

The social enterprise sector in Vietnam is currently seeking ways to sustainably solve the country’s social problems (i.e. high unemployment, poor health care and education, pollution). This proposal seeks to assist this development through collaboration between the Centre for Economic Development Studies (CEDS), University of Economics and Business, Vietnam and the Institute for Social Innovation and Impact (ISII), University of Northampton, UK to develop a social impact measurement approach that would be made available to social enterprises in Vietnam. This research would help Vietnamese social enterprises to measure their social impact, as despite the Vietnamese government’s awareness of the importance of social impact there is no existing Vietnamese tool with which to measure social impact. The research will build upon the University of Northampton’s innovative and newly developed ‘Social Impact Matrix’ (SIM). The SIM is already one of the UK’s leading social impact measurement tools (already adopted by Big Issue Invest, the Canal and River Trust and over 20 social enterprises).

Dr Quan Nguyen, National University of Civil Engineering

Dr Paul Chatterton, University of Leeds

Sustainable urban development - Developing a Housing Model Based on the Status-quality Trade Off Theory

NG150097                                           One-Year                                                            £10,000

Housing in Hanoi city has transformed from a social service into a goods in the market following the introduction of the Doi Moi (renovation) policy, which started in 1986. As a result, the segmentation of the nascent market in the capital city of 7 million residents poses complex problems for an equitable provision of housing environment to different income groups. A model of urban housing based on the interaction between the tangible and intangible attributes - the so-called status-quality trade off theory (SQTO) - seems to be able to achieve important results in price estimation using hedonic price index techniques with the emphasis placed on status-related elements. A survey of 1000 households within the core city of Hanoi has initially showed the potential of using SQTO as a tool for successful analysis of the house price dynamics and its spatial manifestation.

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