Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards 2010

Akhtar, Dr Parveen

University of Bristol, Department of Sociology 
Sociology / Political Sociology
Transnational Islam in Transnational Families The Transformation of Religion and Politics across Borders and Generations: the case of Migration Flows between Pakistan and Britain

The proposed project will examine the transformation of Islamic religious institutions, practices and beliefs, and their consequences for intergenerational family relationships and political behaviour. This will be studied within the context of transnational migration flows for the important case of migrants between Pakistan and Britain. First, the transformation of ‘homeland’ Islam towards Wahabism from the first to later generations within Britain will be examined.  Second, the transformation of Islam within Pakistan, that is occurring due to the return migration and proselytising of the British-born generations will be studied. In the sending and receiving countries, there are important consequences for the emergence of this more publicly political version of Islam (Wahabism), both within family relationships and local environments, and more generally for political and civic behaviour and attitudes.  While a number of studies have looked at the experiences of Muslim migrants in the West, this literature is limited in two crucial ways: first, it focuses mainly on socio-economic and political factors affecting migrant religious experience without analysing how religious faith itself may impact upon experiences and shape behaviour. The second limitation is that most studies conduct research on this topic only within the country of settlement and fail to take into account the transnational nature of Islam, which shapes  the actual lives, experiences and behaviour of many migrants.  It is vitally important to examine the transformation of Islam for the generations of migrant flows between Pakistan and Britain within a transnational framework, not least because this is how migrants see their own lives as being constituted. In addition, the public and policy relevance of the supposed impact of Wahabi Islamic belief on the political and civic behaviour of transnational migrants of Pakistani origin is a growing concern to both countries. For example, it has often been noted that three out of the four suicide bombers in the July 7th attacks in London were British-born Pakistanis who followed Wahabi Islam had links with religious organisations in Pakistan. Less is known of how representative such extreme manifestations of Wahabi Islam are. However, to produce an empirically grounded understanding of this phenomenon that addresses people’s lives it is essential to apply a transnational analytic framework.

Astle, Dr Duncan 
Royal Holloway, University of London, Department of Psychology
Psychology / Developmental and Educational Psychology 
Why memory fails: understanding the reasons for visuo-spatial working memory capacity limits in typically developing children and adults

Working memory is used for many demanding cognitive activities, and is best characterized as a ‘mental workspace’, in which information can be held and processed for brief periods of time. For instance, we might use our working memory to hold in mind a new route to school whilst stopping to tie our shoelaces. The amount of information that can be held in working memory differs greatly from person to person. These individual differences in capacity are important, particularly in childhood: over 80% of children with low working-memory capacity (those in the bottom 10th percentile for their age group) have substantial problems with either reading or mathematics, or usually both (Gathercole and Alloway, 2008). The aim of the proposed research is to understand why some children and adults have poor working-memory skills. In particular it focuses on the role that attention plays in controlling what gains access to storage, which basic mechanisms are implicated in this control, and the extent to which this control can be trained in order to boost working-memory capacity.

Bahrami, Dr Bahador
University College London, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
Psychology / Cognitive and Perceptual Psychology
Are two heads better than one? The cognitive neuroscience of collective decision making.

It is said that ‘two heads are better than one’. Indeed, our ability to work together towards common goals is fundamental to the dominance of humans. But are they really better? By how much? What are the quantitative constraints on cost/benefit of collective (vs individual) decisions? These issues have been articulated since the Enlightenment (Condorcet, 1785) but without resolution. Research on perceptual decisions provides powerful theoretical & empirical tools for studying individual decisions. I have developed a novel approach to apply these tools (psychophysics, signal detection theory & computational modelling) to collective decision making to revisit these classic yet unresolved questions. Preliminary data show that interpersonal communication is rich enough for individuals to share information & achieve Bayes optimal integration. I propose to address the impact of interaction cost, medium, interdependence, number of agents, competence heterogeneity & feedback on collaboration success. This programme will permit a new understanding of the underpinnings of effective human interaction.

Banissy, Dr Michael 
University College London, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience 
Psychology / Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology
Neurocognitive mechanisms of synaesthesia: Implications for the role of cross-modal interactions in perception and cognition

When you hear words do you taste flavours or see colour? For some people, with synaesthesia, such experiences are a common occurrence in daily life. Synaesthesia refers to a merging of the senses which are normally experienced separately. In recent years studies have not only determined the authenticity of the condition, but gone on to show that synaesthesia acts on multisensory mechanisms common to us all. There is now a solid basis for using synaesthesia as a condition to inform us about typical models of cognition (e.g. language) and to elucidate the neurocognitive basis of abnormal perceptions observed in neuropsychiatric conditions (e.g. schizophrenia). An outstanding question is whether the condition is due to differences in brain structure or functional differences in how the brain constructs perceptions. My programme of research will use brain recording and brain stimulation methods to investigate these possibilities; will test predictions of my own published model of synaesthesia; and will use synaesthesia to examine models of typical cognition.

Benaissa, Dr Amin Benaissa 
University of Oxford, Faculty of Classics
Classics and Ancient History / Papyrology
Village Society and Culture in Roman Egypt

Of all the provinces of the Roman Empire, Egypt is the most privileged for the study of the rural society of the period, thanks to thousands of papyrus documents (written mainly in Greek) that have been preserved by its dry sands and that illuminate in unmatched detail the everyday affairs of its villages. This project will exploit these sources for a multi-faceted study of the social and cultural life of Egyptian villages from the late first century BCE to the fourth century CE. In the past, two questions have tended to dominate the study of Egyptian villages, namely the administrative and governmental relationship between villages and the cities to which they were subordinate, and the agricultural economy. This is understandable given the large proportion of papyri concerned with these two areas. As a result, however, villages have rarely been studied for their own sake as social and cultural communities. My aim is to revisit and open up some understudied questions in this domain, focusing on three particular areas: social composition, hierarchies, and relations within village communities; the cultural and religious life of the rural world in this transitional period between paganism and Christianity; the extent and character of Hellenism in villages.

Blom, Dr Alderik H 
University of Oxford, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages
Medieval Studies / Old English
Glossing the Psalms: The Emergence of the North-European Written Vernaculars, From the Seventh to the Twelfth Centuries

We have yet to understand how the ancestors of the modern European languages came to be written down. My project will throw new light on the early written uses of the North-European vernaculars in the Middle Ages through the comparative study of glossed manuscripts. While the importance of vernacular glosses has long been recognised, a large-scale comparison of early medieval glossing has yet to be undertaken. I aim to assess the interface of Latin and six different vernaculars, both Celtic and Germanic, within medieval bilingual and multilingual textual culture, concentrating on code-switching strategies and their cultural and pedagogical context. I propose to focus on the glossing of one of the most frequently used and intensively studied Latin texts of the Middle Ages: the Latin Psalter. The project will assess when, how, and why scribes switched from Latin into the vernacular, and explore to what extent there was an interrelationship or even overlap between the various emerging vernacular glossing traditions.

Crowther, Dr Alison 
University of Oxford, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (RLAHA)
Archaeology / Prehistoric Archaeology
The East African agricultural transition: New archaeobotanical insights through starch analysis

The transition from hunting and foraging lifeways to agricultural production represents a fundamental shift in the way humans interacted with their surrounding environment. In coastal East Africa, this transition is thought to have occurred in the early first millennium AD. The relative influences of internal and external factors on the nature and timing of this transition are poorly understood, however, despite the critical position of East Africa as a likely conduit for the mid-late Holocene introduction of Asian domesticates. A key issue is that early crops in the region were starch-based (eg. sorghum, millets, rice, plantain, taro and yam), yet none of the few archaeobotanical studies conducted in East Africa to date have included a starch analysis component. This study will address these problems through the microscopic identification of starch from archaeological artefacts and site sediments to examine changing plant use practices and their relationship to broader cultural, economic and environmental shifts at Later Stone Age and early farming sites in coastal East Africa.

Cunnings, Dr Ian 
University of Edinburgh, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
Linguistics / Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Science
The Representation and Processing of Anaphoric Dependencies.

Linguists have examined constraints on how anaphors such as ‘he’ and ‘she’ are interpreted and have posited theoretical accounts of why, for example, in ‘Ben hurt himself’, ‘himself’ must refer to ‘Ben’, while in ‘Ben hurt him’, ‘him’ must refer to somebody else. Cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have examined the cognitive mechanisms and neural substrates that underlie this ability and, although language users are able to interpret anaphors quickly and easily, it has proved difficult to provide a unified account of how anaphoric relations are resolved in certain sentential contexts. The ability to programme algorithms to automatically identify anaphoric relations in texts also remains a difficult task.

The Fellowship aims to shed light on this problem by examining the representation and processing of anaphoric dependencies in different sentential contexts through a series of experimental studies. Results from the project will help provide a unified account of anaphor resolution that combines insights from theoretical linguistics, psycholinguistics and cognitive neuroscience.

Darby, Dr Peter Nicholas 
University of Leicester, School of Historical Studies
History / Medieval History – History
Heresy and Orthodoxy in the works of Bede

Bede (c.673-735) was the most prolific and original thinker of the early Anglo-Saxon Church. This project will trace Bede’s impact upon the evolution of notions of heresy and orthodoxy in Anglo-Saxon England through an inter-textual study of his corpus of writing. After his death, Bede’s ideas on heresy and the orthodox faith were studied throughout Anglo-Saxon England and Europe. Concerns about deviant thought are evident in Bede’s earliest biblical commentaries. They recur in many contexts thereafter, especially in works composed after 708 when Bede was himself accused of heresy. The project will offer a comprehensive study of heresy as a theme in Bede’s writing and examine the sources of his information about orthodox theology. It will show how Bede’s ideas on these themes were linked to his understanding of Christian history and his concerns about declining ecclesiastical standards in eighth-century Northumbria. The study will have far-reaching implications for our perception of Bede and his influence, and our understanding of the development of the Church in the medieval West.

Davis, Dr Angela 
University of Warwick, Department of History
History / Modern History
Pre-school Childcare, 1939-1979

This research will investigate how competing developmental discourses surrounding the under fives influenced the provision and organisation of childcare outside the home between 1939 and 1979. It will examine how theories which developed during the war about the psychological harm caused by separating an infant from its mother influenced the provision of childcare outside the family in light of the social, economic and demographic changes seen during the years that followed. Focusing on 4 different forms of childcare - day nurseries, nursery schools and classes, playgroups, and childminders - it will consider how both individual families and wider society managed the care of young children in the context of dramatic increases in the employment of married women.  Through the use of oral history it will also examine the experiences and effects of care on those involved and the current policy implications raised. In order to see how the demand, type and availability of childcare varied in different localities 3 case studies will be employed - Coventry, Oxfordshire and Camden.

Endt, Dr Marion 
University of Manchester, School of Arts, Histories and Cultures
History of Art / Cultural Studies - History of Art
A Cultural History of Coral, c. 1850-2010

The phenomenon of coral bleaching is, like polar bears stranded on melting ice sheets, frequently used in the media to raise public awareness of climate change. Pricking our consciousness and conscience, scientists and conservationists tap into coral's power to capture the imagination, which is recorded in culture since Antiquity.

‘A Cultural History of Coral’ explores how coral has been used as a material and symbol since the nineteenth century - in art, literature, theory, and popular culture. It considers the facts that coral reefs are the epitome of biodiversity, teeming with a plethora of interdependent organisms; that coral serves, and is exploited, as a precious material; and that it is used as a resonant symbol in various forms of representation.

It thus examines the ways coral has been appropriated, collected, displayed, depicted, and written about by artists and thinkers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It places an emphasis on coral's ability - via its classificatory ambiguity and its complexity - to destabilise meanings and to undermine cultural and social concepts.

Although the timeliness of a project on coral is corroborated by a recent spate of both biological studies and popular books reaching from coral reef atlases and snorkeler's and aquarium guide books to conservationist accounts of the ecological dynamics of coral reefs, all of the above focus on natural properties of coral. An academic study of coral's rich and diverse cultural history will redress the balance towards acknowledging its significance as a unique material and symbolic object that has played a part in aesthetic discourse and production and shaped our understanding of the past and the present.

Etienne, Dr Julien 
London School of Economics and Political Science, CARR (Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation)
Politics / Public Policy and Administration 
Self-reporting bad news to the regulator: explaining compliance with incident disclosure rules in the British and French chemical industries

In hazardous organisations, incidents (“near misses”) sometimes signal a serious problem that the organisation might not be able to prevent or clearly identify. Therefore, external reporting of incidents is a regulatory obligation for private organisations in numerous domains. However, incident disclosure is not an obligation fully complied with in numerous settings and the underpinnings of disclosure or non-disclosure remain unverified. The main goal of this project is the explanation of decisions to report, partially report, or not report at all incidents, by hazardous organisations, to public regulators. This research will strive to understand the variety and multiplicity of motivations at stake in external incident reporting decisions in a domain where incidents are frequent and hazards tremendous: chemical processing. It will then assess the role of institutions and enforcement style in strengthening or weakening these motivations. For that purpose, the research design will include a comparison between the United Kingdom and France.

Floyd, Dr Jonathan 
University of Oxford, Department of Politics and International Relations
Politics / Political Philosophy – Politics
From Was to Ought? A philosophical study in historical lessons

This project is an appraisal of the significance of history for political philosophy. Although it is broadly agreed that historians identify, understand and, where appropriate, explain particular facts regarding past human endeavours, whilst political philosophers devise principles according to which those endeavours might be governed in the future, there exists substantial disagreement regarding just what impact the former enquiry ought to have upon the latter. My task is to provide a clear answer to the question at the heart of that disagreement, namely, what role, if any, should historical facts play in the formation of normative political principles? Doing so will require both (1) a categorical assessment of those arguments published over the last thirty years, the common accusation of which is that contemporary political philosophy adheres to too ‘ahistorical’ a methodology, and (2) a reappraisal in the light of that assessment of some fairly well-seasoned philosophical separations, including facts from values, facts from principles, and ‘ideal’ from ‘non-ideal’ theory.

Fortin, Dr Elizabeth 
University of Bristol, School of Law
Law / Sociology of Law
Multi-stakeholder democracy in a global arena? The formulation of standards to regulate biofuels

This study will examine multi-stakeholder initiatives to formulate sustainability standards regulating the production of biofuels, focusing on the high-profile Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. It will consider how dimensions of power affect relations between actors involved in or affected by the biofuels industry at different levels as they participate in its regulation. To explore the concepts of accountability and legitimacy in relation to such regulation, I will consider the process of formulating the standards. This was mediated by formal governance structures put in place to support that process but also by the institutional context,
shaped by informal practices and knowledge of the different participants. This empirical case study will contribute to greater understanding of knowledge formation in global participatory policy processes, the theorisation of the formulation of supranational consensual regulation and, together, their implications for global citizenship and democracy.

Hays, Dr Christopher 
University of Oxford: Faculty of Theology
Religious Studies / Church History
Quis Dives Salvetur: The Formation and Practice of Christian Wealth Ethics in the Second and Third Centuries

I propose to investigate the development of early Christian wealth ethics in the second and third centuries CE. This insufficiently examined period evinces a wide range of opinions about the proper utilization of wealth. The proposed research would seek to revise the homogenizing perspectives of previous scholarship by examining a wide range of literature, including both proto-orthodox texts and works of heterodox groups.

The investigation will delineate the influences contributing to these expressions of Christian ethics. It will include an examination the Scriptural texts selected by ancient authors and of the hermeneutical strategies they engaged in appropriating biblical teachings. Close attention will be paid to Platonic and Stoic ethics. I will also describe how Christian religious ethics led to the selective reification of popular practices, e.g. patronage and friendship.  In the end I hope to provide a nuanced account of the ethical diversity in early Christianity, and yet to articulate how their practices are organically connected.

Holmboe, Dr Karla 
University of Essex
Psychology / Developmental and Educational Psychology
The development of executive functions from infancy to middle childhood: Longitudinal trajectories in relation to social and school outcomes

Executive functions (EFs), which are associated with the frontal cortex of the brain, are essential during development. Key functions such as working memory, inhibition and attention help children manoeuvre in a complex social world and acquire important knowledge. Relatively little is known about EFs in infancy, a question addressed in my PhD. However, even less is known about how infant EFs predict later skills. This knowledge is very important if we want to shed light on developmental trajectories and the factors that impact on them. Such knowledge also has important social and educational implications. I propose to follow up in childhood a cohort of more than 100 infants that I tested during my PhD. I have a rich data set on these children collected at 4, 6 and 9 months of age, including measures of EFs, general cognitive development and temperament, as well as electrophysiological and genetic variation data. This cohort therefore provides a unique opportunity to address the question of individual trajectories in EFs and their impact on other key aspects of development.

Ji, Dr Yinglin 
King's College London, Department of Education and Professional Studies
Linguistics / Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Science
Cognitive and linguistic representation of space in Chinese and English

The proposed study aims to contribute to the research on space, language and cognition by examining potential language influences on spatial cognition in children and spatial expressions by bilingual learners. Specifically, I will first conduct a non-verbal similarity judgment task to assess mental conceptualisation of motion events between Chinese and English participants who are 3, 8 and adult. If children’s judgment on similarity between motion scenes is similar prior to acquiring the spatial language patterns exhibited by adults but shows differences after such acquisitions, it can be concluded that language influences spatial cognition. Secondly I will examine verbal description of motion events by Chinese/English adult bilinguals in production tasks. If spatial expressions of advanced bilingual speakers still differ from those of monolinguals in ways that suggest influences from source and/or target languages, it can be concluded that language-specific differences are not superficial; learning a different language implies a new way of spatial conceptualisation.

Kahn, Dr Lily Okalani 
University College London, Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies
Modern Languages / Middle Eastern and African languages and literatures
The Grammar of the Hasidic Hebrew Tale 1864-1914

My research will constitute the first linguistic study of the Hasidic Hebrew narrative literature produced in Eastern Europe between 1864 and 1914. The language of this genre is significant because it is one of the only extensive sources of narrative Hebrew used by traditional Eastern European Jews in the early modern period. These texts draw on Biblical, Rabbinic, and Medieval Hebrew literature, but were written by native Yiddish speakers and often derive from oral Yiddish tales. I shall analyse the orthographic, morphological, syntactic, and lexical features characteristic of this idiom as exhibited in a representative corpus of Hasidic Hebrew parables and tales. The analysis will include a comparison between the linguistic features of the corpus and those of earlier forms of Hebrew, as well as Modern (Israeli) Hebrew and Yiddish. The project, which will bridge a glaring research gap on the early modern stratum of Hebrew, will use the methodology developed during my PhD and my postdoctoral pilot study on the grammatical characteristics of early 19th-century Hasidic Hebrew tales.

Kantor, Dr Georgy 
University of Oxford, Faculty of Classics
Classics and Ancient History / History of Rome, Italy and the Roman provinces
Lycia et Pamphylia: A Social and Institutional History

My project is a social and institutional history of the Roman province of Lycia and Pamphylia (in the south-west of Asia Minor) from the establishment of Roman rule (c. 100 BC – AD 43) to the separation of the constituent parts of the province in AD 312 and the coming of Christianity.

Our knowledge of this region has been transformed by recent finds, which justify a new attempt at historical synthesis. Its isolated nature and the fact that it was a single administrative unit for more than two centuries allow us to treat it as a meaningful object of regional history. The project will provide an opportunity to study two strikingly distinct models of Roman rule within one province, complex interplay of local identities and institutional frameworks, and the place of a region within wider trade networks.

Methodologically, a regional approach to Roman history is a fast-developing field. It is in this ‘from the bottom up’ way that a contribution to the wider questions of the Roman model of empire and of the development of the interconnected Mediterranean economy can now be made.

Knight. Dr Carl William 
University of Glasgow, Department of Politics
Politics / Political Theory
Global Distributive Justice

I propose to use the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue a project entitled Global Distributive Justice. The overall argument is that we should conceive of global justice as reflecting three core values (absolute levels of well-being, priority for the worst off, and individual responsibility), rather than focusing on one to the exclusion of the others. This is for both philosophical and practical reasons. Our considered judgments support a plurality of justice values, not a single supreme value; and a pluralistic approach has special real world worth where each of the values supports roughly the same policy prescription – as, for instance, I argue is the case regarding the alleviation of world poverty – for one needs only to accept part of the account in order to endorse the policy prescription.

Langat, Dr Gloria 
University of Southampton, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, Centre for Research on Ageing
Sociology / Ageing Studies and Social Gerontology
Unravelling the complex burden of HIV/AIDS: Indirect impacts and risk of HIV infection among older people

HIV/AIDS affects older people indirectly through their role as caregivers to people ill with AIDS and caring for orphaned children. They also risk losing old-age support due to the death of working-age adults particularly in developing world where formal support for older people is lacking. Care-giving roles are known to impact on the wellbeing of carers. These effects may manifest at an early stage, begin to emerge a few years after the onset of care-giving, even dissipating in due course. Most previous research on these issues has been cross-sectional hence unable to disentangle effects over time. This study proposes to follow up older people who were caregivers three years on to understand their socio-economic and health trajectories over time using newly available waves of data. Longitudinal methods of analyses will be used to assess changes in living arrangements, economic, and health. In addition, direct impact of HIV infection among older people, an area that has received little attention in research, will be investigated to determine factors predisposing older people to risk.

Long, Dr Nicholas 
University of Cambridge, Department of Social Anthropology
Anthropology / Political Anthropology
Democratising the self: democracy as everyday practice in Indonesia's Riau Archipelago

The project investigates the process of democratisation in Indonesia's Riau Archipelago. While 'democratisation' is often understood to mean the transformation of political institutions - electoral systems, independent judiciaries, etc - it means something very different for residents of the Riau Archipelago. There, 'democratisation' is primarily understood as a process one does to oneself. Citizens describe how they must change the ways they think, feel and speak in order to make themselves more democratic. 'Democracy' is something that they have to consciously do throughout their daily lives.

I will use interviews and intensive ethnographic fieldwork to investigate what such claims mean. I thereby stand to learn how how ordinary citizens experience - and indeed create - the transition to democracy. Through the in-depth ethnographic study of 'self-democratisation' as experienced by Riau Islanders, I hope to develop a new approach to thinking about democratisation that could be used to better understand (and address) the challenges facing democratising societies around
the world.

Lucas, Dr Christopher 
School of Oriental and African Studies, Department of Linguistics
Linguistics / Historical Linguistics
The diachrony of nominal determination

This project seeks to further our understanding of syntactic and semantic change by studying in detail developments in the expression of nominal determination. The most common developments – definite articles arising out of earlier demonstrative determiners and indefinite articles from the numeral 'one' – are well known from various European languages, but the mechanisms underlying these changes, as distinct from their basic etymologies, are poorly understood, and a number of related changes have received very little study to date. An additional focus of the project is on Semitic and other Afro-Asiatic languages, many of which have extensive written histories and witness significant developments in this domain. These developments are not widely known among non-Semiticists, however, and here too the causes of change have scarcely been considered. In-depth study of changes in this restricted domain promises to shed light both on the nature of reference in natural language as well as on some of the fundamental mechanisms underlying grammatical change.

Marin, Dr Ana Belen 
University of Cambridge, Department of Biological Anthropology
Archaeology / Archaeology of human origins
Why Did Neanderthals not Survive? Adaptive Skills and Resource Competition in the Balkans
Neanderthals were a human species which lived successfully in Europe from about 200,000 to 24,000 years ago. They survived numerous different episodic climatic changes, some of them very extreme, and showed the ability to adapt to different ecological contexts. However, when anatomically modern humans appeared in the Near East around 40,000 years ago with a continuous and rapid advance into Europe, they displaced and contracted the Neanderthal populations into several refugial areas such as the Balkans, Italy and the Iberian Peninsula.
The aim of this project is to evaluate how the last Neanderthals and first modern humans adapted, or failed to adapt, to different geographical and topographical areas and what the local ecological and subsistence factors may have been which drove the Neanderthals to their final fate in the refugia in which they were able to continue longest. The approach will be the analysis of faunal assemblages – the Neanderthals’ ecological signature - in one biotic refugium, the Balkans, during a late Pleistocene cold stage.

Marzo, Dr Claire 
London School of Economics, European Institute
Law / European Union Law
In seach of European industrial citizenship

Departing from the conclusions of my Ph.D. thesis, the research outlined in this proposal aims to understand the new transnational social solidarity emerging in European multinational firms.

I propose a new theoretical legal frame by applying Marshall’s sociological theory of industrial citizenship to EU industrial relations.

I suggest that this theory renewed at the light of economic approaches and social concerns can be implemented in the EU legal field in order to rethink collective bargaining. Industrial citizenship is particularly relevant since it is about collective rights exercised out of the state. It is the occasion to confront a right-based approach to a market-based approach. It is particularly interesting in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the ECHR (Demir) and the emerging case-law about the combination of market and fundamental rights (Laval, Viking, Rüfert).

My hypothesis is that this theory could capture the new transnational solidarity. I intend to test it by analysing the EU collective bargaining system and those of France and the UK.

Maus de Rolley, Dr Thibaut 
University of Oxford, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages
Modern Languages / Comparative literature - Modern Languages
Demons on the Move: Space and Movement in Early Modern Demonology (1560-1660)

I propose to examine representations of movement and space in early modern writing about the devil, and to contribute in this way to our broader understanding of how early modern Europeans conceived of – and represented – space. The importance of these questions to the literature of demonology in this period has thus far been largely overlooked. My starting point is that the devil is perceived by early modern Europeans as being dangerous mainly because of his extreme mobility: he is everywhere in space, found in far-flung places as well as inside the bodies of the possessed, and this ubiquity makes him an object of interest and unease for both early modern fictions and discourses of knowledge. Reconstructing the challenge that the devil poses these discourses will provide more than a simple contribution to the field of demonology: this comparative and interdisciplinary project, at the cross-roads between history of ideas and literary criticism, will offer a new perspective on the uncertain world in which Europeans found themselves in an age of discovery and religious conflict.

Millington, Dr Christopher 
Cardiff University, School of History and Archaeology
History / Modern History
Political violence in France 1918-1940

Scholarship on interwar France has claimed that political violence was a marginal phenomenon. However, studies of extra-parliamentary groups, based on limited research, have suggested that this may not be the case. My proposed project will take research in several new directions. It will offer a perspective on violence on the left and right of politics. The project will discuss the function, role and scale of violence in action and discourse between 1918 and 1940. It will draw on anthropology to examine cultural practices, such as political meetings, and what these can tell us about the unspoken assumptions and rule of violent action. It will investigate the place of gender in interpreting political violence. It will set French political violence in its European context, investigating the extent to which foreign groups influenced their French counterparts. The project will allow the development of broader conclusions regarding French republican political culture, principally the place of violence as an accepted form of expression within the Republic.

Moore, Dr Daniel 
University of Birmingham, Department of English
English Language and Literature / Intellectual history - English Language and Literature
The Politics of Taste: Modernism and the Reception of Art and Literature, 1900-1939.

The concept of taste as it relates to modernism remains an ill-explored area. Public and civic bewilderment, even hostility, towards the experimental art and literature of the period has frequently been cited as evidence of modernism’s aesthetic detachment, of its de-socialisation, and of its escape into erudition and obscurity. Likewise, its practitioners’ views on public taste were often less than flattering – D. H. Lawrence’s belief that “the public is a hundred-headed ass, and can see nothing” serves to illustrate the point. This project, however, seeks to reclaim a strand of modernism’s aesthetic and political impulse that wanted to improve and refine public understanding of its products. In other words, modernism might be better understood not merely through its desire to improve the quality of art, but also through its desire to improve the quality of art’s reception. By reassessing the sociological, as well as aesthetic, impact of modernist experimentation, this project will deepen our understanding of the relationship between modernist art and literature and its audience.

Oakes, Dr Rebecca 
University of Cambridge, Department of Geography
History / Social History
Bridging the gap: new evidence for mortality and life expectancy spanning late medieval and early modern England.

Differences in the data available have forced English population historians to focus their attention on either the later middle ages or the early modern period. From 1540 parish registers have been applied to great effect: data for the first century are thin, however, and the methodology hitherto uncheckable. Late medieval historians in contrast have to rely upon data collated from small sample populations with good surviving records, chiefly monastic communities. Because the monasteries were dissolved before the creation of parish registers it has been impossible to ascertain how far the monastic experience diverged from the wider population. I will address both these questions for the first time through the analysis of two robust new datasets spanning both periods and focused on a different type of community sample. Data will be obtained for scholars attending Oxford and Cambridge colleges 1393-1660, enabling comparison with both the monastic and early modern parish data and thus bridging the gap in our understanding of mortality and life expectancy across these two periods.

O’Rourke, Dr Donncha 
University of Oxford, Faculty of Classics
Classics and Ancient History / Latin language and literature
Lucretius and the Elegists: the reception of the De Rerum Natura (c. 55 BC) in the genre of Latin elegy (c. 30 BC - 17 AD)

‘Lucretius and the Elegists’ explores the reception of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura (c. 55 BC) in the genre of Latin elegy (c. 30 BC - 17 AD). It is recognised that Virgil responded to Lucretius' didactic epic on Epicurean philosophy in his explorations of Rome and (wo)man’s place therein, but it has not been appreciated that the contemporary genre of elegy, also intensely concerned with individual and state, engaged likewise with Lucretius (and Virgil’s Lucretius). In looking to elegy’s reading of the DRN, this project seeks to shed new light on a field which for two decades has been predominantly informed by gender studies. In the form of a monograph with an accompanying appendix of intertexts, this analysis will contextualise the elegists’ appropriation, counter-appropriation, restructuring and counter-restructuring of Lucretian didactic authority within the literary, philosophical and socio-political (including gendered) discourses of Augustan Rome. The resulting book aims to evolve a new understanding both of how Lucretius was read in antiquity, and of elegy as a genre that promotes its (and its readers’) views ‘on the nature of things’.

Podmore, Dr Simon 
University of Oxford, Faculty of Theology
Religious Studies / Theology
Struggling with God: a philosophical & pastoral theology of 'Spiritual Trial'

Exploring the motif of Jacob’s struggle with God (Genesis 32), this project undertakes a theological investigation and rehabilitation of ‘spiritual trial’ [known in the German Lutheran tradition as Anfechtung– fecht=‘fight’] in relation to enduring theological, philosophical, and pastoral questions of the otherness and hiddenness of God and the self, the problem of suffering, and the nature of evil.

This project takes as its entry-point the under-examined category of ‘spiritual trial’ within the writings of Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). After tracing the genealogy of ‘spiritual trial’ from the German Pietistic and mystical traditions – as well as in relation to earlier analogues and antecedents in Christian thought - to Kierkegaard’s modern (failed) attempt at rehabilitating the category, this study also examines the more secular forms in the C20th existentialist tradition and its subsequent disappearance from theological discourse. Finally, I will construct a contemporary pastoral theology of 'consolation' in response to the trial of apparent God-forsakenness.

Porter, Dr Catherine 
University of Oxford, Department of Economics and Centre for the Study of African Economies
Economics / Overseas Economics
Intrahousehold implications of income diversification and applied issues in measuring chronic poverty.

Risk and poverty are interlinked and poor people tend to face more and greater risks, and have fewer resources to deal with them. Households in developing countries diversify through non-farm income in response to adverse agricultural shocks such as crop failure and drought. Women and children generate most non-farm income, and are therefore working harder at times when resources such as food in the household are fewer. My research investigates intra-household welfare analysis, and bargaining power of women. My second research theme is poverty measurement over time. A relative consensus in economics has emerged in "snapshot" poverty measurement for a society. However, extending the analysis over time adds complexity and further ethical issues. It is well documented that income and consumption are often misreported, or entered into databases with error. I plan to investigate how sensitive chronic poverty measures are to different types of measurement error. Accurate measures of chronic poverty will enable more of the benefits of social programmes to go to the right people.

Pritchard, Dr Matthew 
University of Cambridge, Faculty of Music
Music / Theory and analysis, including empirical approaches
The analysis of feeling: motive and metaphor in European music theory and aesthetics 1750-1950

My research will trace for the first time the history of the musical “motive”, broadly synonymous with “theme”, over the last two centuries in Western music. This will not be a traditional history of compositional style, but an exploration of how a theoretical category can come to embody the aesthetic values of a whole musical culture – values which permeate everything from theory treatises to performance practices and habits of listening. These values are often expressed metaphorically, and I want to investigate a radical change in metaphors that occurred between the nineteenth and twentieth century. This replaced the so-called “aesthetics of feeling”, which collectively imagined musical motives as vehicles of human character and emotion, with a supposedly more objective language of “forces” and structure. The consequences include the decline of Romanticism, the birth of modern music analysis, and a loss of insight into music’s social construction that has persisted in classical music up to the present day.

Ransley, Dr Jesse 
University of Southampton, Archaeology, Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences
Archaeology / Colonial and world archaeology 
Lascar Lives and the East India Company

The East India Company’s ships were central to processes that began to shape modern Britain during the eighteenth century, to capitalism, colonialism and consumerism. However, the thousands of South Asian sailors (known as lascars) they employed rarely figure in narratives of maritime Britain and Empire. Glimpsed in ship’s logs and in the Navigation Acts that governed their employment, they are addressed infrequently through port-focused economic studies of labour. Whilst economic relationships are important, the experiences of lascars, as they worked their way to Britain and voyaged home, remain unexamined. In response, this project draws on historical and archaeological sources to explore the working lives and shifting identities of South Asian lascars. It investigates in detail work practices and material culture in the different spatial contexts they moved through (port to ship, India to Britain), in order to recover these subaltern voices.

Rhodes, Dr Andrew 
University of Oxford, Department of Economics
Economics / Applied Economics 
Understanding Price Dispersion in Competitive Markets

It is not uncommon for two retailers to charge very different prices for exactly the same product. This is true both on the high street and – perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given the number of price comparison sites – on the internet. Price dispersion is therefore a fundamental property of competitive markets. Economic theory tends to model dispersion as the outcome of randomised pricing strategies – in sharp contrast to my approach, which will focus on pure strategies.  In particular, my proposed research seeks to build mathematical models which explain why price dispersion arises, how it differs between online and traditional retailing, and how it is influenced by online intermediaries. My approach will be distinctive because, unlike the vast majority of the search literature, I will take seriously the facts that most firms stock multiple products, and many consumers buy several items in one transaction.

Schober, Dr Pia 
University of Cambridge, Department of Sociology
Sociology / Social Policy and Administration
Parenthood, work-family balance, and wellbeing of families in Britain and Germany

The project will explore how different work and care arrangements of couples with young children affect children’s development, mothers’ and fathers’ subjective wellbeing, family stability, and gender equality. By comparing Germany and Britain and variations between socio-economic groups, the project will extend the theoretical literature as to how the policy context influences the organisation of paid and unpaid work and its effects on family outcomes. The empirical analysis will use three longitudinal datasets, the British Household Panel Survey, the British Millennium Cohort Study, and the German Socio-Economic Panel. The comparative research design and statistical analyses will allow a more robust examination than previous research. The findings should improve our understanding of compatibility and tensions between current policy aims of child wellbeing, family stability, work-family balance, and gender equality for different population groups in both countries.

Smith, Dr James 
University of Oxford, Faculty of English
English Language and Literature / Historical studies of language and literature - English Language and Literature 
British Modernism and the Secret State

This project will reveal the extent to which British modernist culture of 1880-1950 was shaped by interactions with covert government intelligence agencies such as MI5 and Special Branch. It will analyse a range of previously classified archival resources that have only recently been released to the National Archives, and will address issues such as the surveillance maintained on publishers, presses, film societies and authors (including key figures like Ezra Pound, Hugh MacDiarmid and W.H. Auden); the way modernist writers understood, depicted and at times worked for these state organs; and how the critical legacy of modernism was shaped by the involvement of covert government arms during the Cold War. This project will thus open up and interrogate an exciting new field of study for British modernist scholarship, and make an original and important contribution to the broader understanding of the processes of government surveillance, cultural censorship, and their impact upon literary and artistic phenomena.

Spencer, Dr Andrew 
University of Cambridge, Faculty of History
History / Medieval History - History 
'Bastard feudalism' in England during the Long Thirteenth Century, 1215-1327

This project will focus on one of most vital relationships in English political, governmental and social history: that between the nobility and the gentry; and its manfiestation between Magna Carta in 1215 and the desposition of Edward II in 1327. It will examine the way nobles created and employed their followings within local society. It will answer questions concerning how the nobility exercised power locally, how far this was done in partnership or conflict with the gentry, and whether, as in the later middle ages, they were the key figures in implementing royal rule in the localities. It will therefore ask whether the gentry benefited from the same protection and rewards as in the later period. Conversely, it will also look at how far the relationship between lords and men was still based on feudal ties and jurisdiction. Research will focus on Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, Lancashire and on the North Riding of Yorkshire. Ultimately the project aims to bring us closer to knowing how England was governed during this period of significant constitutional change.

Sternberg, Dr Troy 
University of Oxford, School of Geography and Environment
Geography / Environmental Studies and Management 
The Challenge of Human - Hazard Interaction: Documentation, Social Exposure and System Resilience in the Gobi Desert, Asia

The Gobi desert’s 25 million inhabitants face the endemic natural hazards of drought and dzud (extreme winter conditions). In combination they can devastate communities and economies, yet the hazards have received little scientific attention and remain poorly understood. Improving basic knowledge of these disasters is important because of the disruption they bring to physical, social and agro-pastoral systems and thus livelihoods, human well-being and ecosystems in this geopolitically sensitive region. This proposal investigates how drought, dzud and climate impact societies in the Gobi region of northern China and southern Mongolia. Themes of hazard identification, social exposure and resilience and evolving climate and hazard influence on human systems will be examined through analysis of interviews, climate and socio-economic data and source materials. Research will provide a rare exploration of the unusual dynamics of the Gobi region with implications for both countries as well as the global community as it increasingly engages with East Asia.

Stock, Dr Paul
London School of Economics, Department of International History
History / Intellectual history - History 
“The Most Important Division of the Globe”: The Idea of European Space, 1770-1825

This project will investigate British ideas of ‘European space’ between 1770 and 1825. How did histories, maps and geographical works define and present the continent and what ideological implications does this have for understanding the idea of Europe? The project has three interrelated research questions. What geographical, political, social, or racial ideas facilitate the construction of European space, either unifying it as ‘one great country’ (Complete System of Geography, 1747), or dividing it into smaller, regional or national spaces? Where are the boundaries of Europe and what distinguishes European space from non-European space? Did spatial understandings of Europe change during the prolonged military and ideological conflicts of the revolutionary period? The project will thus address under-researched questions about the historical representations of European space, whilst also exploring issues that remain central to contemporary understandings and definitions of Europe.

Tominey, Dr Emma 
University of York, Department of Economics and Related Studies
Economics / Applied Economics 
Parental Income Shocks and Child Outcomes: The Mechanisms.

How do adolescent skills develop across childhood? We know from literature that unexpected changes to family income drive child outcomes differently, depending upon the age of the child at the time. But we know very little about the mechanisms. I plan to investigate this question. I will access a unique dataset from Denmark, combining administrative data on income with data on i) savings and assets of households ii) how parents spend time with their children iii) the neighbourhood and school characteristics in each year of the child’s lifetime and iv) child outcomes during adolescence. I will ask three main questions. The first two ask whether parents respond to an unexpected change by using their savings and time spent with children to protect children. Finally, do parents move into a more affluent neighbourhood with better schools. It is a combination of the rich Danish dataset plus the use of a structural model which allows me to investigate why there is inequality in adolescent outcomes, and how policy should be directed to improve adolescent outcomes.

van den Heuvel, Dr Danielle 
University of Cambridge, Faculty of Economics
History / Economic History 
Shadow economies. Informality, institutions and economic development in northwest Europe (1600-1800)

This project analyses the role of the informal sector in the economy of early modern northwest Europe. The streets of many pre-industrial European towns were filled by small-scale traders, often operating outside the official framework, lacking permission from governments and guilds. From modern developing economies we know this could have a large impact on their lives and the economy at large, but in historical studies this issue has hitherto received hardly any attention. This project will fill this lacuna by investigating informal retailing in a period in which large commercial transformations took place. It will examine who was operating in the shadow economy, why they did so, and what effects this had on the people involved and the wider economy. Through a comparison of various urban economies with different institutional frameworks over two centuries, this project aims to explain how the economic participation of marginal groups, institutional flexibility, and economic development were linked in early modern Europe.

Wilson, Dr Susannah 
University of Warwick, Department of French
Modern Languages / French language and literature 
Inscribed on the Body: Self-harming Women in Nineteenth-Century France

Focusing on physically self-destructive behaviour, such as self-mutilation, anorexia/ bulimia, suicide, addiction, excessive intoxication, and ritual self-harm (stigmata), this project seeks to gain greater understanding of how and why nineteenth-century French women harmed their bodies. It will provide a comprehensive evaluation of primary records in order to offer an interpretation of the psychological and cultural significance of self-harm during a period of great social restriction for women, and one commonly associated with medical progress and the making of modern France. The research will focus on primary medical literature; autobiographical accounts by contemporary French women; and fictional depictions of self-harm. This project builds upon existing historical scholarship on the emergence of individual diseases, such as anorexia, and will provide a unique investigation into the three-way exchange between clinical, autobiographical and literary discourses in terms of how self-harming behaviours by women were experienced, observed and understood in nineteenth-century France.

Wort, Dr Oliver 
University of Cambridge, Faculty of English
English Language and Literature / Renaissance literature 
Reformation Conversion

During the sixteenth century a protracted process of doctrinal and legislative reform attempted to drive catholicism from English churches and replace it with a new creed, but under Queen Mary England witnessed catholicism’s official return and, following her death, its second exile. At each stage during the reformation, institutional change called for (or assumed) the spiritual reorientation of individual souls, and yet as Peter Marshall attests, ‘to date there has been little or no attempt to explore the phenomenon of evangelical conversion in the early Tudor period in any systematic or broadly thematic way’. My project – a study of religious change from the perspective of converts, reconverts, serial religious adherents and dissemblers – remedies this. I ask what conversion meant at the level of the individual, and by revealing the ways in which different authors – including Bale, Barret, Barclay, Elyot, Forrest and Heywood – were able to traverse rapidly shifting religious landscapes in their works, I discover what the literary consequences of religious change were.

Worthington, Dr Martin 
School of Oriental and African Studies, Department of the Languages and Cultures of Near and Middle East
Oriental and African Studies / Ancient Near Eastern languages and literature 
Style in Babylonian Narrative Poems of the First Millennium BC

My research interests embrace several topics in Ancient Mesopotamian languages, literatures and culture. During my PDRF I will attempt to study the individual style of Babylonian literary compositions, pursuing such questions as what is stylistically characteristic and distinctive of each composition, how the style change within a composition, whether there were stylistic 'modes' which ran across compositions, etc. I will be doing this in terms of selected variables, including the construction of the poetic line, the use of the particle -ma, choice and range of vocabulary, and word order. I will concentrate on the major narrative poems of the first millennium BC, as these are longest and best preserved. My hope is that the findings will both enhance interpretations of Babylonian literature and refine our understanding of the role of agency and individuality in its history.

Sign up to our email newsletters