Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards 2009
Appleton, Dr Naomi
Cardiff, Dept of Religious and Theological Studies (H2)
Birth Stories in Early Buddhist and Jain Traditions
Buddhism and Jainism share the concepts of karma, rebirth, and the possibility (and desirability) of escape from rebirth, though each has a different interpretation of these. Within the literature of both traditions we find many stories about remembered past births, illustrating progress on the path to awakening, the workings of karma, or the jumbled nature of rebirth that makes renunciation the only way to avoid incest. These stories have much to reveal about Buddhist and Jain attitudes towards the mechanisms of rebirth and the pursuit of long-term (multi-life) religious goals.
This project will compare birth stories from the different traditions in relation to: the role of karma in rebirth; the key religious paths and goals; and the role of birth stories in the teaching careers of awakened beings. The project will help to ascertain the distinctively Buddhist and Jain uses of this genre, thereby illuminating both the significance of the stories within each tradition, and the extent of interaction between Buddhist and Jain schools during their formative periods.
Atkins, Dr Gareth
Cambridge, Faculty of History (H10; H9)
National Pasts: History and the Struggle for Confessional Identity, c.1770-1850
My project will throw new light on debates over national identity in Hanoverian Britain. Although the far-reaching intellectual changes of the period have long been recognized, scholarly attention to the role of religion in contemporary discourse has been chiefly confined to a few major paradigms – political economy, natural theology, the confessional state. As I shall show, religious ideas were central to perceptions of the national past, as mounting uncertainties over confessional identity prompted savants to ascribe defining importance to the era of the Reformation and Restoration. Interpretations of this era were hotly contested. The national past provided copious ammunition for use in present tussles, as rival parties in academia, politics and the Church sought to capture the patriotic high ground. Thus while my work will reinforce the conventional notion that 'Britishness' in the eighteenth century revolved around a shared Protestant inheritance, it will underline that that inheritance was seldom uncontested.
Atkinson, Dr Juliette
UCL, Dept of English Language and Literature (H6)
‘Immortal Improprieties': The Reception and Dissemination of Controversial French Literature in Victorian Britain
It has become common to build an opposition between prudish Victorian England and permissive nineteenth-century France, symbolized by their respective literary productions. The lack of a full-length study of nineteenth-century Anglo-French literary relations means that both English reserve and French license have been greatly exaggerated. Indeed, contentious French writers frequently met with greater support in England than at home. The aim of this project is to discover, through the archives of publishers, translators, literary agents and writers, the literary networks that were formed in the second half of the nineteenth century between the two nations. By focusing on four French writers whose works were the subject of intense controversy – Balzac, Flaubert, Baudelaire and Zola – the study will reveal who promoted Continental works in England, why, and with what consequences, and will therefore shed new light on the late-Victorian publishing industry.
Berg, Dr Erlend
Oxford, Dept of Economics (S2)
Institutions and Poverty in India
Institutions can be loosely defined as the formal and informal rules that govern society – and they are increasingly seen as the missing ingredient in development policy. For example, investments in health and democracy may not translate into development unless the institutional framework allows those investments to be allocated efficiently. But in many discussions the concept of institutions remains woolly. The proposed research “lifts the lid” to look at three specific institutions in a developing country context. How effective is health insurance in preventing people from slipping into poverty? Can participatory democracy be encouraged, and does it improve local public service delivery? And could the disciplining effect of credit explain why many poor people prefer to borrow at high interest rather than to save? Using economic theory and analysis of survey data, this project aims to shed light on the workings of these institutions and their role in poor people’s lives.
Brooks, Dr Joseph
UCL, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (S6)
Non-Visual Influences on Visual Figure-Ground Organization
Perceived shape along edges depends on figure-ground organization (FGO). A classic demonstration of this is the faces-vase illusion which can be seen either as two profile faces or a single vase, two profoundly different interpretations of the same visual input. FGO has to be determined at nearly every edge in images, as otherwise, shape perception would be confounded by spurious dual interpretations along edges. Early twentieth-century work suggested that FGO cues primarily come from visual sources like scene geometry and relative brightness. Since then, contemporary psychologists have also uncovered influences from perceptual grouping and object recognition processes. However, there has been virtually no exploration of non-visual influences upon this critical aspect of perception. During my fellowship I will examine new, non-visual cues to FGO including cross-modal (auditory-visual and tactile-visual) influences, reward learning, and working memory. For instance, does synchrony between an auditory tone and the dynamic texture of one visual region cause that region to become the figural region? I will also study how these non-visual cues are integrated with visual input to produce a final perceptual experience.
Cornea, Dr Adriana
Imperial College Business School (S2)
Reliable Inference in Conditions of Extreme Events
The financial integration of the world's economies has known a rapid progress in the last decades. The increased globalization of the financial markets has brought many benefits to the UK as a financial centre, and to UK consumers, who enjoy access to a wide class of financial services. The increased financial globalization also means that occurrences in one market can be quickly transmitted to other markets, triggering a sequence of extreme events. The recent sustained period of turbulence in global financial markets con firms this. Such events have a widespread impact on economies across the world.
Market turbulence could be predicted and would have a less detrimental impact on macroeconomic stability if portfolio allocation, risk management and monetary policy methods were built in this knowledge. This research project aims to contribute to the development of a reliable statistical inference methodology that would allow accurate model building and pertinent predictions about the future behaviour of the economic variables, by taking into account the possibility of extreme events. Our methodology will be based upon recent developments in econometrics like bootstrap, hypergeometric functions, realized-volatility and bi-power variation.
Since extreme events are not unique to the financial and banking sector, our results could also be used in areas like climate change, epidemics, internet traffic, income distributions and a host of other applications.
Cripps, Dr Elizabeth
Edinburgh, Dept of Politics and International Relations (S5; H12)
Collective Action, Collective Responsibility and a New Environmental Ethics
The combined impact of individuals, states and corporations on the natural world both jeopardises our own long term interests and constitutes severe harm to our fellow human beings. This practical crisis confounds dominant philosophical understandings of the circumstances under which we count as a collectivity and the moral duties we acquire as a result of combined action. This project will take up this challenge at the foundational level. I will employ new concepts of collective action, mutual dependence and collective responsibility to defend a claim too often either ignored or taken for granted: that, as a “Collectivity of Humanity”, we have a strong collective moral responsibility to tackle climate change. From this basis, I will examine how we, as individual moral agents, should respond to climate change, and how conflicts should be resolved between globally acquired environmental duties and more familiar local moral claims.
Crockford, Dr Catherine
St Andrews, School of Psychology (S6)
The Social Mind and Social Relationships of Wild Chimpanzees: an Experimental and Hormonal Approach
The evolution of the human mind remains a mystery. One prominent theory proposes that, in primates, social competition has been a particularly powerful driving force in cognitive evolution, which has lead to an ability to cooperate and to form long-lasting social bonds. Recent empirical work with free-ranging monkeys has demonstrated unprecedented levels of understanding of the social dynamics underlying group life, including sophisticated appreciation of social relations of other group members. Comparable evidence is currently not available for any ape species in the wild, which poses a considerable problem for theories of human cognitive evolution. Here, I propose a series of studies with the wild chimpanzees of Budongo Forest, Uganda, designed to close the empirical gap. I will use cutting-edge, non-invasive hormone sampling and field playback techniques to examine and monitor the cognitive processes and probable fitness consequences involved in complex social decision-making in our closest living relative.
Darcy, Dr Jane
King’s College London, Dept of English Language and Literature (H6)
Theories of Literary Biography in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
I am writing a book on theories of literary biography in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Too often accounts leave the impression that before the ‘new biography’ of Strachey and Woolf, biographical writing was formulaic, consisting entirely of two-volume hagiographies. I want to demonstrate that there was in fact rich diversity in biographies from Johnson’s Lives of the English Poets (1779-8) to Froude’s Life of Carlyle (1882-4). I am interested in both archival evidence of biographers’ different formulations of their methodology and in debates about biography in the periodical press. In particular, I want to explore challenges to the hegemony of Life and Letters model: is there, for example, a distinct female poetics of literary biography which favours anecdote over exhaustive evidence? I will also consider the contentious issue of biographical propriety, and the usefulness or otherwise of considering biography as an ‘art’ or a ‘science’.
De Lucca, Dr Valeria
Southampton, Dept of Music (H11)
The Politics of Princely Entertainment: The Patronage of Music and Theatre of Lorenzo Onofrio and Mauria Mancini Colonna Between Rome, Venice and Naples (1659-1689)
My research focuses on the patronage of musical and theatrical entertainments of Maria Mancini and Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna, wife and husband, members of one of the most illustrious Roman families of the seventeenth century. Against the backdrop of the political, social, and cultural intersections between Spain and Italy I trace the impact of their support of the most celebrated musicians, singers and composers in Rome, Venice and Naples between 1659 and 1689. As I reconstruct their role as liaisons between these important centres for the development of early-modern opera, I address three hitherto neglected issues: the ways in which gender constructions influenced their patronage and their interaction; their use of patronage of music and theatrical events as a means to pursue political goals; the development of their support of music over thirty years from court patronage tout court to semi-private support of opera in their theatre in Rome.
Exley, Dr Sonia
University of London, Institute of Education (S4)
Helping Parents to Choose: An Examination of School Choice Advice Policy Discourses and Networks in England
Dr Exley will explore the rise of ‘choice advisers’ in the fabric of English state secondary schooling. Choice advisers in England advise parents on the schools they should choose for their children, and policy infrastructure here (as managed by a network of private sector organisations) can be considered indicative of a changing role for the state in public service governance. Advising parents on school choice within a competitive educational marketplace is an important job. It gives rise to Rawlsian questions of what counts as ‘legitimate partiality’ for parents (Swift, 2003) and to questions of wider social responsibility. The research will explore values and attitudes towards choice and justice among advisers plus those involved in choice advice policy creation and implementation. Qualitative data from interviews and ethnographic observation will be brought together with quantitative data on networks of choice advice provision. Dominant policy and practice discourses will be examined, as will the extent to which discourses flow through networks of provision, working to reinforce key ideas around choice and parenting.
Fallon, Dr David
Oxford, Faculty of English (H6; H10)
Booksellers, Authors and Patterns of Literary Sociability, 1760-1830
This project will examine major changes between 1760-1830 in the book trade and related notions of authorship and the reading public by examining the patterns of literary sociability centred upon the bookseller-publisher. The bookseller’s shop was a vital literary space in which authors negotiated with publishers, met each other, and discussed ideas, publications, and politics. As well as examining the larger culture of sociability based around these shops, I will focus in particular on the circles of two major but underexamined booksellers of the period, Joseph Johnson and George Robinson, and the significant roster of authors whom they published and socialised with. This project will assess changes to patterns of sociability enacted in their shops, both in response to anti-revolutionary agitation and prosecution during the 1790s and under the commercial imperatives which led to the decline of the bookseller and the rise of the modern publisher.
Fregonese, Dr Sara
RHUL, Dept of Geography (S3)
The Urbicide of Beirut: Geographical Perspectives on War and Cities
In May 2008 street clashes broke out in Beirut, reworking the political role of its neighbourhoods and the everyday geographies of its inhabitants. In a sort of hybrid urban sovereignty, non-state militias collaborated with the state army in managing and eventually pacifying the city. The clashes happened in the same places where early fighting in the Lebanese civil war (1975-1976) broke out. Also then, irregular militias re-imagined the city, shaping the physical and social landscapes of conflict and occasionally transferring information and know-how from the weakening state authorities.
The ways in which cities and war are intertwined are largely unexplored. By considering two different moments of conflict in Beirut, this research studies how war shapes and is shaped by the physicality and the spatial politics of cities. In particular, it illustrates how state- and non-state actors coexist and produce new urban landscapes, rather than dwelling within unconnected discursive and physical realms.
Glickman, Dr Gabriel
Oxford, Faculty of History (H9)
The Imperial Debate in British Politics and Culture 1660-1702
Dr Glickman’s research concentrates on the debate over ‘Empire’ in Britain, 1660-1702. It looks primarily at the exchanges entering into the public domain, from plays to pamphlets, poetry and newspapers. It also studies debates held in private: the calculations of the London statesmen, colonial governors, merchant magnates and clergymen who framed the imperial project. His work will suggest that the theme of the emergent empire was imprinted upon discussions over domestic religion, political economy, royal power and British national identity. Courtiers and statesmen dreamed of a global empire, but possessed only fragile tools for the purpose – poorly-guarded territories reliant on private initiative and threatened by foreign competitors. Conflicting visions of empire, and doubts over the desirability of the entire enterprise, collided with domestic instability and fluctuating European affairs to leave the strategy of early British imperialism marked by unexpected shifts and reverses, and its debate riddled with political anxiety.
Grove, Dr Jonathan
Cambridge, Dept of Anglo-Saxon, Nordic & Celtic (H8)
The Cult of St Knud and the Emergence of Medieval Denmark
Jonathan Grove is preparing the first thoroughgoing textual, literary and historical examination of the two earliest surviving Latin narrative texts composedat in Scandinavia. The anonymous Passio sancti Canuti regis et martyris and Ælnoth of Canterbury’s Gesta Swenomagni regis et filiorum eius et passio gloriosissimi Canuti regis et martyris were composed at Odense in Denmark between 1095 and 1124, and comprise highly stylised hagiographical accounts of the murder and sanctification of Knud IV (1080–86), Denmark’s first native saint. Dr Grove will produce new editions of both texts, providing English translations supported by detailed textual commentaries. An accompanying study will set out to explore the broader contexts of these writings in Denmark, Scandinavia and the North Sea region in the later eleventh and early twelfth centuries. His work should shed new light on a volatile but highly significant phase in the emergence of the medieval Danish kingdom after the close of the Viking Age.
Halkias, Dr Georgios
School of Oriental and African Studies, Dept for the Study of Religions (H3)
Ladakh's Heritage in Manuscript and Print: A Cultural History of Seventeenth-Century Buddhist Canons
During the 10th century, Ladakh came under the administration of kings descending from the royal family of the dismantled Tibetan empire. In time, it grew into an independent kingdom recognized for its political and commercial influence in the north-western Himalayas, and a stronghold for the promulgation of Buddhism and Tibetan monasticism. In the 17th century, Ladakh reached to such prominence and wealth that a wholesale renovation of Buddhist monuments produced the fortress-palace of Leh, the monasteries of He-mis, lCe-bde, sTagsna and the crafting of the Tibetan Buddhist canon (Kanjur) with its commentaries. This research project aims to catalogue and evaluate previously unstudied block-print canons and illustrated manuscripts identified during fieldwork at monastic and royal compounds in Ladakh. Their study will help us reconstruct Ladakh’s cultural revival in the 17th century and offer critical material for comparison with Buddhist canons identified elsewhere in Tibet and the Himalayan border-lands of the subcontinent.
Hall, Dr Alison
University College London, Dept of Linguistics (H4)
From Linguistic Meaning to Speaker Meaning: The Role of Free Pragmatic Enrichment
Linguistic utterances seldom fully encode the content they directly communicate, requiring pragmatic processes to bridge the gap. The proposed research investigates and compares three instances of ‘free’ (linguistically unmotivated) pragmatic enrichment: the interpretation of subsentential utterances; the provision of unarticulated constituents (as when “No one” is interpreted as no one important); and lexical meaning modulation (for example, when “raw” is used loosely to mean undercooked, or “bachelor” is used more narrowly than the encoded sense, to denote, say, just that subset of bachelors who are young-ish and eligible for marriage).
Combining theoretical and corpus work, I plan to analyse the linguistic properties of subsentential utterances to establish to what extent their interpretation is constrained by linguistic form versus by pragmatic inference. The nature of the other two processes and the extent to which they are truly distinct, rather than alternative ways of construing the same phenomenon, will be considered. Finally, the results of these studies feed a detailed investigation of the (possibly different) ways in which free pragmatic processes work at the lexical, phrasal (subsentential) and sentential levels. The ultimate goal of this work is to establish the centrality of pragmatic interpretive mechanisms in human communication and their independence from linguistic mechanisms.
High, Dr Mette
London School of Economics, Dept of Anthropology (S3)
In Pursuit of Legitimacy: Religion and Economic Change in Post-Socialist Mongolia
This study considers how religious practices suppressed during the former socialist period relate to liberal democratic reforms and global economic processes in contemporary Mongolia. Whilst Buddhist monasticism was a central target in the Soviet abolition of the old social order, monasteries are currently being rebuilt and monks recruited into religious education. Research will be carried out in Mahayana Buddhist monasteries, focussing on how monks attempt to establish the legitimacy of their insights and practices amidst intense public scrutiny. Since the religious services of monks have become central to emerging industrial processes in the country, the project will examine broader political and economic processes alongside views of intimate religious conviction. The fellowship will lead to a timely monograph on the topic of how religious practices relate to people’s involvement in new post-socialist economies.
Hijjas, Dr Mulaika
School of Oriental and African Studies, Dept of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia (H3)
Picking the Fruits of Devotion: Didactic Texts for Women From the Malay Manuscript Tradition
The Malay manuscript tradition includes some 37 didactic texts, mostly from the nineteenth century, setting out the duties of women as Muslims and as wives—indeed, often giving the latter priority over the former. For the most part never before edited or discussed, these texts are a window onto the polemics of a time when Malay Islam was becoming more orthodox and the role of women in public life was diminishing. The eclectic exemplars of feminine behaviour found here—such as the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah, the Sufi mystic Rabi’ah al-Adawiyyah, and the fictitious paragon Derma Ta’siah—reflect the diverse currents of Malay Islam and express contesting ideas about female agency and religiosity. My research will map and analyse how these texts address the question of whether the only way a woman could accumulate spiritual merit (pahala) was through devoted service (bakti) to her husband.
Hohmann, Dr Jessie
Cambridge, Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law (S1)
The Right to Housing and the Normative Limits of the International Legal System
Human rights are an important part of international law. Yet, at the same time, they appear to be in tension with aspects of the international legal system. The purpose of this project is to examine the relationship between human rights and the normative limits of international law. These questions arise from my doctoral thesis on the theoretical and practical possibilities of the right to housing in international law, which forms one example of how the tensions between international law and human rights play out within and beyond the law.
During the fellowship, I will address these issues as they relate more broadly to human rights as a whole. Important questions such as whether normative foundations can adequately explain the ‘success’ of new human rights norms; the function of the international legal system in the ‘control’ of human rights interpretation; and the role of competing visions of social transformation in the normative development of human rights will be investigated. Informed by insights from disciplines as divergent as political theory and anthropology, the project will represent a major re-evaluation of the relationship between international law and human rights.
Kane, Dr Josephine
Westminster, School of Architecture & the Built Environment (H11)
Pleasurescapes: British Entertainment Architecture and the Problem of Pleasure
During the twentieth century, the concept of pleasure underwent cultural and ideological transformation, closely linked with the growth of commercialised entertainment and shifting experiences of modernity. This research considers how the experience of mass pleasure in Britain has been defined by the architectural landscape. It will identify and examine the material constituents of Britain’s ‘pleasurescape’ – such as Edwardian entertainment complexes, exhibition sites, cinemas, and theme parks – and explore the debates which have surrounded them. How people experienced these sites will be of central importance, as will the attitudes of the architects themselves.
This project will take the form of a series of detailed case studies, based on new archive research, with the aim of developing a visual and spatial history of pleasure in Britain. My approach will be highly interdisciplinary, incorporating film and archive photographs, histories of tourism and entertainment, cultural studies and architectural theory. Many surviving examples of popular pleasure buildings are currently under threat from fire, demolition or commercial redevelopment. Consequently, this study is of particular relevance to current debates regarding architectural heritage and urban regeneration, whilst also pushing the boundaries of conventional architectural histories.
Konstantinovsky, Dr Julia
Oxford, Faculty of Theology (H1; H2)
Textual Identity-Construction in Late-Antique Eastern Mediterranean: Edessa, Constantinople and Gaza
The project explores the variable and changing ways of textual self-representation in the Christianoikumenê from the aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon (451) to the death of emperor Justinian (565). The research will focus around Christian ascetic and exegetical texts circulating in fifth-to-sixth-century monastic Gaza (Palestine), Edessa (Syria) and Constantinople. Throughout this period these three places were, each in its own way, foremost intellectual and political hubs of the Eastern Mediterranean world. The extensive bodies of sources that arose and circulated there at this time were pervaded by concerns about identity, which is refracted through a variety of cultural and socio-political contexts. Situated within the larger context of the on-going Christianisation of the Empire, this study incorporates themes that are highly topical in the scholarship of fifth-to-sixth-century Christian texts and contemporary discussions on identity-formation.
Launaro, Dr Alessandro
Cambridge, Faculty of Classics (H7)
Villas in Context: An Economic and Social Re-Appraisal of the Agrarian Settlement of Roman Italy (200 BC - AD100)
Roman Italy was the core of an expanding empire which by the late I c. BC had extended its rule over the whole of the Mediterranean and further beyond. This process had a profound impact on the society and the economy of Italy: the conquest opened new favourable markets for Roman exports (especially wine) and triggered unprecedented developments towards a more intensive – and remunerative – agricultural production centred on rural villas. This so-called ‘villa economy’ flourished but contrasting opinions exist as to its character (free/slave labour), its goals (high profit vs. safe income), its effects (deracination of the Italian free peasantry) and its long-term performance in relation to a dynamic empire (decline in face of rising competition from the periphery). This project aims at exploring all these issues by challenging traditional interpretive frameworks on the base of a renovated – and critical – integration of written and archaeological evidence for rural settlement in Roman Italy.
Law, Dr T M
Oxford, Oriental Institute (H1; H2)
III Kingdoms (1 Kings), Origen's Hexapla: A New Edition of the Fragments of Related Greek Renderings of the Old Testament
Dr Law’s research focuses on the premier Greek Jewish revisions of the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. He will produce a critical edition of the fragmentary readings of III Kingdoms (the Hebrew book of 1 Kings) from the revisions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. The fragments must be collected from Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Armenian sources (i.e., Greek biblical manuscripts, the Syrohexapla, the Armenian Bible, and the ecclesiastical writings). This edition and later analysis of the readings will enable a more precise understanding of the state of the biblical text in early Judaism and Christianity; moreover, it will shed light on the interactions between Jews and Christians in the Greco-Roman world, their understandings of the nature of Scripture, and the methods they used to make the Divine Word understandable.
Layfield, Dr Sarah
Cambridge, Faculty of History (H8)
Papacy, Empire and the New Kingdoms of Christendom, 1000-1300
This project will examine the history of imperial and papal involvement in the making of new kingdoms through the gift of crowns and other royal insignia in the high middle ages. It will take in no less than a dozen kingdoms established on the borders of Christendom between 1000 and 1300, focussing on the ceremonial and ritual uses of these royal symbols to elucidate ways in which political values were sustained and developed by associations between king, pope and emperor. With the exception of Jerusalem, every founder-monarch in this period was a recipient of royal symbols bestowed by at least one universal authority (and sometimes two). Yet the subject is unaccountably neglected, particularly given the recent and ongoing work on the importance of ritual and symbolism in the communication of political messages and aspirations in this period. The project will be an important contribution both to this work and to current debates concerning the character of ‘state-formation’ on the borders of Christendom.
Lee, Dr Louise
King’s College London, Dept of English (H6)
Out Loud: Fiction, Masculinities & The Science of Laughter (1860-1910)
This interdisciplinary study explores how far the self-aware comic rationalism of late Victorian male fiction - the modish quips, puns and elitist drolleries - was informed by emerging theoretic, scientific and cultural debates about laughter. Laughter’s sudden appearance, like Lewis Carroll’s grinning Cheshire cat, into Victorian science in the late 1850s re-invigorated a centuries-old disciplinary rivalry about its provenance. Was laughter philosophical and/or moral, or was it reducible by empirical sciences to a series of physical reflexes and comic tics? There were many serious attempts to answer such questions from scientists, novelists and cultural commentators as diverse as Herbert Spencer, George Eliot, Guillaume Duchenne, Charles Darwin, G H Lewes, Sigmund Freud and Henri Bergson. This thesis will assess the familiarity of five late-century novelists with developing Victorian laughter debates and examine how these discussions influenced authorial self-fashioning and masculine affect. Tracing a scientifically-informed comic freemasonry in the works of Charles Kingsley, Lewis Carroll, George Meredith, Samuel Butler and H G Wells, my research combines literary scholarship and biography with intellectual and gender history.
Linde, Dr Cornelia
UCL, Dept of History (H8)
The Medieval Latin Commentaries on the Book of Lamentations
The aim of this project is to provide the first comprehensive study of the Latin tradition of commentaries on the Book of Lamentations up until the end of the Middle Ages. These virtually unexamined exegetical works can provide unique insights into the medieval approach to a biblical text because they are to a large extent independent of the Church Fathers: in contrast to other books of the Old Testament, Lamentations did not receive a full commentary until the Carolingian period. I shall trace the development of interpretations of the text from the ninth to the fourteenth century, focusing specifically on the use of Lamentations as a vehicle to address contemporary problems. Furthermore, this study will contribute to the still underexplored history of the knowledge of Hebrew in the Latin Middle Ages. Commentators discussed not only the meaning of the Hebrew letters, but in many cases they also digressed on issues of Hebrew language and grammar.
Mansnerus, Dr Erika
LSE, LSE Health, Dept of Social Policy (S4)
Life-Cycles of Models: A Sociological Study of Modelling Techniques in Public Health Policy
Computer-based modelling techniques help public health policy-makers and researchers to overcome ethical and financial restrictions when evaluating effective measures to protect and promote public health. This study focuses on how these techniques are disseminated across different expert communities. How do researchers and policy-makers jointly acknowledge, use and evaluate model-based evidence? The main interest is to offer a new conceptual perspective to understand how modelling techniques function at the interface of public health research and policy making. This is achieved by developing the notion of “life-cycle” of models, which refers to the continuity from knowledge production to use and addresses the mutuality of social, technical and policy-related factors in the process. This study builds upon two cases: the reformation of vaccination strategies (the case of MMR vaccination campaign) and pandemic influenza preparedness planning. The purpose is to develop a comparative perspective to public health policies in the UK and Finland.
Mayblin, Dr Maya
Edinburgh, Social Anthropology, School of Social and Political Science (S3; H2)
The Sacrificial Self: From the Theological to the Political in Northeast Brazil
This project explores the increasing salience of local understandings of self-sacrifice as models for political action in Northeast Brazil. Approaching sacrifice as the object of competing theological discourses and as a theory of personhood and concomitant relations of kinship, Dr Mayblin explores its emergence as a key idiom in local discourses about the nature of power. Utilizing both ethnographic and historical methods, Dr Mayblin aims to understand why this particular model of sacrifice plays such a pivotal role in contexts as seemingly diverse as religious practice, kinship, and popular political movements such as Liberation Theology and the Landless People’s Movement. Drawing on recent debates in the anthropology of Christianity, of kinship, and of popular political action, this project aims to extend the theoretical analysis of sacrifice beyond the strictly ‘religious’ in order to understand how and why it serves as a dominant model for the conceptualization of power relations in Northeast Brazil.
McDougall, Dr Kirsty
Cambridge, Dept of Linguistics (H4)
A Phonetic Theory of Voice Similarity
While some speakers sound rather different from one another, others can be perceived as sounding very similar or even confusable. The perception of voice similarity is not well understood in phonetic terms and there is no established framework for its description.
This research programme will conduct an experimental acoustic-phonetic investigation of voice similarity. The study will examine the roles played by aspects of speech such as pitch, rhythm, resonances, voice quality, pausing and hesitation patterns when voices are judged as sounding similar, and develop a framework for the phonetic description of voice similarity. The research will also investigate the effect of regional accent on perception of voice similarity.
Further, since a key goal of speaker characteristics research is to establish speaker-distinguishing features of speech, and since similar-sounding speakers are likely to be the hardest to discriminate, the research will determine how an improved understanding of voice similarity can inform theories of speaker identity.
McEvoy, Dr Meaghan
Oxford, Faculty of Classics
Political Power and Imperial Governance: The Transformation of the Imperial Office in the Later Roman Empire, ca. 367-527
This research project entails a radical reappraisal of late Roman imperial governance, imperial attitudes towards the urban elites of Rome and Constantinople, the use of public spaces within these two imperial cities and the ever-increasing use of imperial ceremonial, and specifically Christian imperial ceremonial, as a cloaking mechanism for the changing nature of the imperial office itself. My project will focus on the major transformations which had taken place over the course of the late fourth/mid fifth centuries in the Roman west as a result of repeated minority rule, and the wide-ranging impact of these western developments for the nature of eastern imperial rule also. A detailed interrogation from this perspective of the reigns of the eastern emperors Marcian, Leo, Zeno, Anastasius and Justin, will play a key role in achieving this new understanding of the changing dynamics between the court and senatorial elites, and the eastern and western regimes during this period. In turn, this new understanding of late Roman imperial governance will have important implications for the conception of rulership in the western successor kingdoms, and the medieval world to follow.
Ord, Dr Toby
Oxford, Faculty of Philosophy (H12)
Decisions Under Moral Uncertainty
We often don’t know what we ought to do. This can be because of descriptive uncertainty, where we are ignorant about certain empirical matters (such as how animals are treated on factory farms), or because of moral uncertainty, where we are ignorant about certain moral issues (such as whether animal welfare is as important as human welfare). Much has been written on descriptive uncertainty, but very little has been written about moral uncertainty. This is particularly worrying given that (i) we are all in situations of moral uncertainty, and (ii) the most common approach to moral uncertainty -- acting on the theory you find most plausible -- can be shown to be unacceptable. I will investigate decision-making under moral uncertainty, clarifying key concepts, and constructing a substantive theory of such decision-making.
Papoutsakis, Dr Georgia-Nefeli
Oxford, Faculty of Oriental Studies (H3)
Self-Praise (fakhr) in Early Abbasid Poetry (ca. 750-900) The Survival and Metamorphoses of a Pre-Islamic Genre in Early Abbasid Times
Self-praise, the dominant genre in pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arabic poetry (ca. 500-750), persisted in later periods. The present study will trace its development during early Abbasid times (ca. 750-900), focusing on the major poets of that period.
In early Arabic poetry self-praise encompassed a great variety of topics that were relevant to Bedouin society and ethos and set the standards for a man’s behaviour and moral integrity. The intellectual and social upheavals brought about by the advent of Islam and the founding of the caliphate triggered major changes in Arabic poetics that culminated in the Abbasid era. As self-praise continued to be cultivated by Abbasid poets, the study of its evolution as a genre and especially the development of its various topics in relation to contemporary social realities will reveal the mutation in mores and mentalities and contribute to the history of literature and ideas during Abbasid times.
Pasternak, Dr Avia
University College London, School of Public Policy (S5)
The Global Responsibilities of Liberal Democracies
Recent debates in political theory focus on the question of states' responsibilities to solve global problems, from global poverty to climate change. What is missing from the existing literature is an attempt to identify particular normative international responsibilities special to democracies, as opposed to those of other regimes. Dr Pasternak’s research addresses this issue, by investigating what specific international obligations are generated by core liberal democratic norms.
The research focuses on three core democratic values: respect for human rights; liberal toleration; and political self-determination. It examines what global responsibilities each of these values dictates with regard to several issues that are discussed in global justice debates: humanitarian crises, global poverty and global governance. Dr Pasternak shows that with regard to all these issues, the three democratic values conflict with regard to the scope of democracies’ global duties. This essential conflict can help to explain much of the controversy in current global justice debates.
Peters, Dr Mark
Sheffield, Dept of Archaeology (H7)
A Mediterranean Bronze Age Communications Revolution? The Power of Mycenaean ‘Networking’
This project will investigate the socio-political significance of information technology and communication networks in the Late Bronze Age Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean (c. 1400-1100BC). Combining analyses of wall-paintings, architecture and the Linear B documents of Mycenaean Greece, the aims are to determine the uses to which information technology was put, and whether the control of communications and information transmission emerged as a mechanism for the maintenance of political power. Situating the Mycenaean case study within the context of the wider Eastern Mediterranean, information control as a catalyst for socio-political change will be examined in relation to the emergence, development and, ultimately, demise of these early state societies. Moving beyond conventional interpretive models, this project seeks to develop an integrated ‘archaeology of communication’ addressing the intimate relationships between seemingly disparate modes of socio-political interaction and expression and the hitherto intractable problem of the archaeological invisibility of orality.
Richardson, Dr Kathleen
University College London, Dept of Social Anthropology (S3)
Challenging Sociality? A Study of Socially Assistive Robots and Autism Spectrum Disorders
Social interaction and communication are central features of human sociality, but could machines be social? And what of those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)? What kinds of lifeworlds emerge for those who struggle to grasp the complexity of social interaction? Dr Richardson's research will investigate these themes by examining the making of therapeutic robots for the treatment of those with ASD. Robots for uses outside of industry have proliferated over the last decade and robots are being put to new purposes unimagined before, such as robots to be "companions", "friends", and "assistants" rather than envisioned as 'worker" robots. Dr Richardson will carry out fieldwork in robotic labs that create socially assistive robots. This research will produce the first anthropological monograph that exclusively focuses on sociable, socially assistive and therapeutic robotics and explore the reimagining of machines as social artefacts. Do these robotic artefacts and persons need us to reassess categories of the social?
Rogers, Dr Amanda
Royal Holloway, University of London, Dept of Geography (S3)
Geographies of Transnational Theatrical Creativity
This project examines the geographies of transnational theatre, focusing on Asian American, British Asian, and Singaporean theatre. The research will analyse the transnational creative networks between these three realms and the multiple forms these connections take. It focuses on the production and reception of theatre in different places, examining how artists disseminate productions and travel between locations. The project will also evaluate how these practices are situated within wider social, political, and economic processes, paying particular attention to how the movement of theatrical production is influenced by postcolonial and multicultural relations. Through this, the research will analyse how the ‘Asian’ identities of practitioners, the development of their creative skills, and the political effects of theatrical performance are transformed across transnational locales. The project is significant because it moves discussions of creativity and the transnational beyond a consideration of economic value by focussing on artistic and cultural practice. It also attends to how geography influences and creates these transnational cultures of artistic identity, influence, and exchange.
Rogers, Dr Adam
Leicester, School of Archaeology and Ancient History (H7)
Continuity, Transformation, Symbolic Landscapes and Water: a study of the processes of urbanisation in Roman Britain and the near Continent
Dr Rogers’ project will address settlement nucleation and symbolic landscapes in the Roman period, moving classical archaeology away from the usual emphasis on rationalised and economic arguments concerning urbanisation. It will study the transformation of landscapes around towns in late pre-Roman and Roman Britain and the near Continent looking especially at the issue of water – a theme predominantly addressed in terms of supply, transportation and commerce in Roman studies. Though these factors are important, the symbolic nature of water and landscape and the significance of alterations through the redirection of rivers, the drainage of wetlands and the reclaiming of land have been neglected. Important themes are cultural landscapes, wetland archaeology and social dynamics. He will document the transformation of watery contexts connected with Roman towns and the implications this had on the experience of them and their settings as places. Archaeology can provide a unique perspective in the study of these processes of change giving a more nuanced understanding of towns and the countryside in Roman times and their long-term nature as places.
Service, Dr Hugo
Cambridge, Faculty of History (H10)
Nazi Germany, Communist Poland and the Politics of Ethnicity in Upper Silesia, 1939-1949
This research will concern the far-reaching changes which the central European region of Upper Silesia underwent in the course of the 1940s. Inhabited by a culturally mixed and largely anational population, Upper Silesia had been at the centre of a nationalist struggle between Poles and Germans since the late nineteenth century. In the aftermath of the First World War it flared up violently into several years of insurrection and fighting before the region was partitioned between Germany and Poland in 1922. Yet it was not until the 1940s that the struggle reached its culmination.
This research will explore the politics of ethnicity which Nazi Germany initiated in Upper Silesia in the Second World War and Poland turned on its head between 1945 and 1949. At the centre will be three ethnic screening processes, all of which were ostensibly aimed at filtering Poles from Germans: the Nazi Deutsche Volksliste (German ethnicity list) and the Polish ‘rehabilitation action’ and ‘verification action’. This will be the first research to address the ethno-nationalist drive implemented in Upper Silesia in the year 1939-1949 as a single entity, bridging the gap between Nazi Germany and post-war Poland. Not only will this expose the continuities existing between wartime and post-war events, but it will further our general understanding of how radically nationalist regimes conceive of ethnicity and the nation. This will grant clear insights into the profound contradiction at the heart of the nationalist approach to ambiguous regional identity.
Turner, Dr Susanne
Reading, Dept of Classics (H1)
Viewing the Divine
This research project investigates the representation and viewing of the divine in the context of the Greek temple. The Greek temple was often highly decorated and, as the house of the god, was primarily a site of religious experience and engagement with the divine. This project, therefore, has two main points of focus. The first is a study in viewing itself, building on previous work on ritual-centred viewing: how did ancient viewers engage with the images on temples, and what factors affected the ways in which different viewers viewed? The second point of focus is an emphasis on the representation of the gods: how is the ontological difference of the gods negotiated by their anthropomorphic representation? Together, these two halves will form a project which investigates the ways in which religious experience is mediated or negotiated by sight and viewing, both on a general level and in specific examples.
Vanhala, Dr Lisa
Oxford, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (S1; S5)
Beyond Just Law and Politics: A Socio-Legal Analysis of European Legal Mobilization by the Environmental Movement
This project attempts to solve the puzzle of why some environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have chosen to be active participants before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) while others have completely eschewed the use of legal strategies in pursuit of their policy goals. It introduces a novel social constructivist theoretical approach to debates regarding transnational legal mobilization in the realm of European Community (EC) environmental law. The socio-legal methodological framework shifts scholarly attention away from legal and political contexts on to the actors themselves to explore the impact of intra- and inter-organizational dynamics and discourses on strategy choice. Relying on techniques of critical discourse analysis - and employing data gathered from organizations themselves (ranging from blogs, to elite interviews, to annual reports) in green NGOs in several European countries - the project will explore how organizations invoke and engage with EC law in a multitude of ways and how they both shape, and are shaped by, participation in strategic litigation.
White, Dr Sarah
UCL, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (S6)
Investigating the Neural Basis of Heterogeneity and Compensation in Autism
Autism is a disorder that has captured the imagination of many researchers but our knowledge of the brain and mind in autism is still patchy. I am trying to throw light on the key problems that people with autism have in social interaction and their consequences. One of the main obstacles to advancing research is the huge individual differences found; there may in fact be no single cause of autism either in terms of biology and genetics or in terms of how these individuals’ minds work and how they think. Indeed, my previous work has shown that children all diagnosed with autism still differ enormously in their abilities to do certain experimental tests. I propose to investigate these differences within autism using brain scanning as well as purpose-designed tasks. Having a better understanding of the underlying problems present and compensation utilised by different individuals should enable more appropriate and specific intervention.
Winters, Dr Kristi
Birkbeck, School of Politics and Sociology (S5)
Political Man, Political Woman: How Sex and Gendered Perspectives Influence Political Preferences
Previous political behaviour research has concluded there is no systematic 'gender gap' in Britain, a conclusion which assumes measures of sex (male and female) are a valid proxy for gender in statistical analysis. This research will build upon doctoral findings which demonstrated that 1) individual level measures of sex and gender offer separate explanations in statistical political analysis; 2) gender measures are more powerful predictor variables than sex; and 3) when specific measures of gender are included into political analysis there is a 'gender gap' in British political ideology and behaviour. Employing a multi-method approach, including quantitative, qualitative and experimental methods, this research will further investigate and test the role of sex and gender in British political preferences by investigating the causal mechanisms of gendered perspectives.