Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards 2018

Funded by

Dr Silvianne Aspray

University of Cambridge

Human Creations: Artefacts in the Theology of Nicholas of Cusa and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

If signs and tools are invented by human beings, but human beings can only think and act through signs and tools, do human beings produce signs and tools or the reverse? This aporia was noted by the contemporary philosopher Bernhard Stiegler, and it indicates the necessity to go beyond an often-assumed dichotomy between the views that either we control the artefacts that surround us, or they determine us. My proposed research will revisit two thinkers at the threshold of modernity whose thought arguably accomplishes this ‘third way’: Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) and Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494). This project will offer a novel framework in which better to comprehend the genesis and contingency of contemporary notions of the human person and the material world.

Dr Andre Barros Penafiel

University of Oxford

From manuscript to print: the publication of Camões’s Os Lusíadas in the sixteenth century

Os Lusíadas, by Camões, is the foremost work in the Portuguese literary canon. Camões’s status as Portugal’s national poet projects him beyond Renaissance literature and his masterpiece has been a cultural reference throughout the Lusophone world and beyond. Despite its importance, its textual history is obscure. It was first published in 1572 but the text survives in different versions. The first edition and the version closer to Camões’s original has yet to be determined. This project will investigate its earliest sources, emphasizing a manuscript copied before 1572, the surviving exemplars of 1572 and later editions produced in the sixteenth century. It will establish which surviving exemplars represent the first edition and how it was produced. This will reveal how texts transmitted in manuscripts were being printed in sixteenth-century Europe. Lastly, it will consider other books printed in the same workshop casting light on sixteenth-century printing practices in Portugal more generally.

Dr William Barylo

University of Warwick

The Diaspora Strikes Back: lived religion, arts and activism among Sikh and Muslim millenials in Europe

A new, powerful religious movement is on the rise. Through voluntary social initiatives, arts collectives and alternative media, young and often highly skilled people from ethnic and religious minorities give communities a voice and a new shape, marrying activism to the celebration of their religious and cultural heritage. Previous research has demonstrated how faith-based grassroots initiatives are cradles for the development of an active form of citizenship and alternative forms of democracy. They are safe spaces of expression and resistance to modern hegemonies through their collective dimension, their focus the environment, mental health and arts. This research focuses on Sikh and Muslim organisations in Paris and London, involved in different community programmes and in the public sphere. This work assesses their various modes of engagement and how they articulate their culture and religion in every day life with their contemporary challenges for becoming spaces for healing, growth and self-determination.

Dr Richard Bethlehem

University of Cambridge

Genetics of atypical brain network development

Until recently it was not possible to combine findings from brain imaging with genetic analyses. In the past few years the Allen Brain Institute has publicly released extremely detailed spatial information on the levels of gene expression in the human brain that make it possible to overlay brain network maps onto gene expression profiles. In my PhD I assessed the genetic contribution to basic neuroanatomical brain features in autism using this data. In my proposed research, I will further develop this approach to disentangle if and how genetic factors contribute to brain organisational differences in autism over the course of development. Knowing how genes effect atypical brain development in autism will provide us with a better understanding of its underlying biology. This in turn will allow for better biologically informed treatment options and early assessment of potential atypical neurodevelopment.

Dr Tammy Campbell

London School of Economics and Political Science

Month of birth and special educational needs diagnoses in primary school: inequalities, interactions, and trajectories

Throughout primary school and beyond, relatively younger children within each year-group cohort are disadvantaged. Older, autumn-born pupils attain far higher academic levels than their summer-born peers, and, at age seven, August-borns are 'nearly 90% more likely' to be attributed Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) than September-borns (Department for Education).

So do inequalities here span all degrees and types of SEND, across primary ages and cohorts? Do other characteristics (income-level, language background, gender, ethnicity) interplay with month of birth in determining disparities? Do inequitable patterns of earlier SEND ascription relate to later birth month gradients in educational attainment?

These questions will be explored in detail, using a decade of information from the National Pupil Database, a census of all state-educated children in England. Analyses will unpick and highlight inequalities, and identify whether there are groups of children for whom SEND attribution may be working more, or less, efficiently and fairly.

Dr Abrar Chaudhury

University of Oxford

New kids on the (climate finance) block: Intermediaries and dedicated funding agencies in emerging policy fields?

Social scientists are increasingly interested in the processes that give shape to global policy solutions. This project investigates the issues of intermediation and the role of intermediaries in emerging policy spaces. I use the case of Green Climate Fund (GCF), a new consortium of global agency established to assist developing countries respond to climate threats, to ask a fundamental research question: what role do intermediaries play in shaping global climate finance? The research has three dimensions. 1) To revisit the intermediation literature for current developments. 2) To examine the role of intermediaries in origins, development and operations of the GCF from 2005 to 2018. 3) To identify the impact on rules, practices and operations of global funding schemes. Based on this three pronged investigation, the research aims to offer fresh theoretical perspectives on emerging policy fields through a) setting up a dedicated funding agency and b) the role of intermediaries.

Dr Andrew Chubb

Lancaster University

Domestic Public Opinion and International Escalation: Perceptions and Crisis Control in the Shadow of Networked Nationalism

How do outbursts of hawkish, pro-war public sentiment affect perceptions of the risk of escalation in an international crisis? When do foreign policy elites view nationalist constituencies in other countries as an important factor in their counterparts’ behaviour, and when do they dismiss public opinion as irrelevant? In a world of rising nationalism and popular technological empowerment, these questions are critical to the prospects for peace in the twenty-first century. This project seeks answers via cross-national survey experiments with elite foreign policy analysts, centred on a hypothetical crisis in East Asia – home to the world’s most vibrant economies, highly networked citizenries, and the world’s most intense maritime territorial disputes. Supplemented by laboratory experiments, in-country fieldwork interviews with policymakers, and other outreach activities, the findings of this project will not only underpin a series of significant scholarly publications, but also help generate new strategies for real-world crisis management.

Dr Igor Contreras Zubillaga

University of Huddersfield

Learning Freedom: Democracy and New Music in Post-Francoist Spain

This research project will analyse the relationships between music and democracy in post-Francoist Spain (1975-1986). The Spanish dictator Francisco Franco died on 20 November 1975, after nearly 40 years in power. There followed a process aimed towards the creation of a democratic state, an episode which historians have interpreted as a complex and collective learning of freedom that, in a few years, was to change the country thoroughly. My project seeks to provide a ground-breaking study of this period as it played out in the domain of new music – i.e. contemporary classical music. I will examine how musical practices and institutions formed ways of imagining democracy, and how they participated in the wider social struggle to define freedom and equality for the post-Francoist era.

Dr Gioacchino Curiello

Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln

Robert Grosseteste’s Translation of and Commentary on “The Divine Names” Study and Critical Edition

During the Fellowship I will make the first critical edition of Robert Grosseteste’s “Translation of and Commentary on The Divine Names.” Grosseteste was an original philosopher, scientist, theologian, poet and translator from the Greek into Latin. He is known to be the first Chancellor of Oxford University and Bishop of Lincoln, from 1235 until his death, in 1253. “The Divine Names” is one of the four treatises of the “Corpus Dionysiacum,” written by Neo-Platonic thinker Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (5th-6th century), which is absolutely central to the intellectual history of the Middle Ages. The edition will be based on eleven extant manuscripts dated from the 13th to the 15th century.

The edition will provide new and concrete textual material for a complete assessment of Pseudo-Dionysius’s contribution to Grosseteste’s thought and his legacy in Late Medieval and Renaissance philosophy and theology.

Dr Pragya Dhital

Queen Mary University of London

Proscribed pamphlets in colonial India

The British Library’s collection of publications proscribed in colonial India is one of the largest archives of primary sources relating to any twentieth-century independence movement. Through study of the circumstances for the production, distribution and reception of a selection of proscribed pamphlets, I aim to go beyond centre-periphery models of the diffusion of 'western' cultural and political forms, be it the novel or the nation, using methodologies derived from literary studies and book history. By doing both close and contextual readings of these texts, I suggest another kind of movement and relation – more volatile and contingent – through attention to how they play out in particular contexts, whilst remaining aware of the broader networks they fit within and the genealogies of these forms themselves.

Alongside articles and a monograph draft, plans for dissemination include a multi-layered digital map, a multilingual manifesto reading group, and a conference in Delhi.

Dr Brendan Doody

University of Oxford

Changing drivers: Knowing, imagining and shaping autonomous car users

Advances in vehicle connectivity and autonomy have increased speculation around the future of the car. Dominated by techno-economic views, these debates currently tend to overemphasise the scale, speed and benefits of a shift to connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). ‘Non-technical’ factors (e.g., costs, regulatory frameworks, public acceptance) are typically seen as presenting the main barriers to deployment. Such accounts fail to recognise how cultural, institutional and everyday practices will shape CAV developments. Focusing on the interactions between car manufacturers and users I will examine how: 1) manufacturers seek to know, imagine and shape users; and 2) users interpret and adapt to connected and automated features (CAFs). This will advance existing empirical and theoretical approaches to automobility that have not extensively explored how these actors’ interactions shape car-related practices, identities and imaginaries. Moving beyond dominant techno-economic, deterministic and linear understandings of change, my project will critically inform emerging debates on CAVs.

Dr Sarah Elliott

Bournemouth University

Investigating Neolithic villages and farming communities in Jordan: developing and validating new scientific multi-methodologies.

During the Neolithic (c 12,000-8000 BP), the Levant saw one of the most important transformations in human history, the transition from mobile hunter-gathering to sedentism, agriculture and animal husbandry. The social and cultural changes that occurred at this time, ultimately led to the foundation of modern civilisation. Investigating this transition has traditionally relied on the interpretation of visible archaeological remains. However, an exciting new possibility to investigate past human activities more fully and effectively is the analysis of sediments and their microscopic remains.

This project will focus on Jordan, a key region where the Neolithic first developed. It will involve the analysis of sediment samples from known activity areas in modern villages and dung samples from targeted animal species, which will then act as a comparative dataset to interpret samples from

Neolithic sites. This will enable key concepts such as sedentarisation, domestication, and the use of space to be investigated.

Dr Charlotte Faucher

University of Manchester

The rise of European cultural diplomacy: expatriate communities, nationalism and transnationalism from the 1880s through the interwar period

This project offers the first history of European cultural diplomacy in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe. It transcends Foreign Office-centered and bi-national approaches that dominate the historiography of cultural diplomacy to assess the influence of entangled national competitions and the role of civil society individuals in this area of diplomacy. One innovation of the project is to explore how French, British and German expatriate communities as well as academic and intellectual transnational networks shaped European cultural diplomacy practices and discourses. Second the project examines how France, Britain and Germany capitalised on the experiences of their expatriate communities to develop cultural diplomacies within their Foreign Offices. By exploring how these diplomacies built upon interconnected transnational discussions and responded to neighbours’ cultural policies, experiments and attitudes, the project assesses asymmetric ways in which France, Germany and Britain conceptualised the significance of culture for their European diplomacies.

Dr Federico Favi

University of Oxford

The fragments of Epicharmus. A critical edition and commentary. Part one: Fragments from a known comedy title.

Writing at the very origin of Western theatre, before all other comic playwrights known to us and contemporary with the first tragic authors, Epicharmus is a towering figure in early classical Greek literature. Active in Syracuse in the early 5th century BC, this comic poet created a theatrical language that is rich and allusive in content and form. This project will provide the first commentary devoted to the authentic fragments of Epicharmus. This new assessment will help in the philological reconstruction of the fragments and will offer a new understanding of Epicharmus’ production as a whole, taking into account its intertextual relations and generic interactions with archaic and early-classical literature. This project builds on previous work that I have done on the pseudo-Epicharmean fragments for my PhD (I aim to publish the dissertation in 2018), where I argued for a new approach to authenticity questions and to Epicharmus’ production.

Dr James Fraser

Durham University

Renormalization: A Philosophical Study

When physicists initially tried to treat the electromagnetic field quantum mechanically they ran into problems with infinities in their calculations. Renormalization was devised as a method for removing these infinities and obtaining sensible predictions from quantum field theory. Despite their central role in modern physics however, worries linger about the cogency and physical respectability of renormalization techniques. The goals of this project are twofold.

i) First, to clarify the confusion surrounding renormalization by subjecting it to close historical and philosophical study. My thesis is that advances in renormalization theory in the 1970s have largely solved the conceptual issues that plagued the original formalism.

ii) Second, to extract broader philosophical morals from the renormalization programme. I will argue that renormalization theory motivates a view according to which current quantum theories capture non-fundamental aspects of the world and therefore has important implications for philosophical debates surrounding scientific realism, emergence and reduction.

Dr William Gamester

University of Leeds

Meta-Alethic Expressivism: A New Theory of Thinking and Talking about Truth

Truth is perplexing. Often, truth-ascriptions look redundant: ‘It is true that grass is green’ doesn’t say much more than ‘Grass is green’ does. But truth is also of crucial importance: it makes a great difference whether what we believe is true or false. And to complicate things further, truth readily gives rise to paradox: is ‘This sentence is not true’ true? Regrettably, the literature on truth has split into largely-isolated sub-literatures, myopically concerned with one or another aspect of truth’s perplexing behaviour.

I will develop a novel, unifying theory of what we do when we think or say that something is true. According to expressivism about truth, truth-ascriptions like ‘What Ludwig said is true’ do not express representational states, like beliefs, but motivational states, like the intention to believe what Ludwig said. Expressivism, I argue, provides systematic, compelling solutions to a diverse array of long-standing philosophical problems.

Dr Marie Godin

University of Oxford

Refugee-led social protection, digital technologies and the 'Refugee Crisis '

The so-called ‘European refugee crisis’ that has unfolded over the last few years has generated a dynamic response from a novel and diverse constellation of social actors in the European context: from humanitarian organizations, local authorities, international and local NGOs, private actors and grassroots actors including citizens and refugees themselves. However, refugees are still studied, overwhelmingly, as recipients of aid in the design of state welfare policies. In this regard the development of digital technologies has played a significant role in providing new opportunities for refugees while on the move but also on arrival in Western societies especially in regard to fulfilling their social protection needs. This project aims to answer this research question: How is the development of tech-social protection initiatives led by, with or for refugees, contributing to a reshaping of the politics of welfare at the local, national and transnational levels?

Dr John Hanson

University of Reading

Beyond Pompeii and Herculaneum: Re-contextualizing the economic roles of ancient settlements in the urban system of the Roman Empire

Although we now have excellent information about sites like Pompeii and Herculaneum, it is difficult to assess whether their extraordinary wealth was the result of unique geographical and historical conditions or mechanisms common to all settlements. This project offers a new account of the economic roles of settlements in the Roman Empire, moving beyond individual sites towards a more holistic understanding of the urban system. It will draw on recent work on complex systems, which suggests robust relationships between the scale of settlements and their infrastructure and outputs. It will use a sample of sites to model the relationship between their populations and specific measures of their structure and performance, then use these models to extrapolate from individual settlements to the urban system. It will offer a radical reassessment of ancient settlements that explains their relative success or failure in terms of the structure and scale of the urban system.

Dr Lena Hassani Nezhad

Royal Holloway, University of London

The impact of maternity leave on labor supply and child outcomes: Validating a structural model using a reform in Switzerland.

My research project studies the effects of maternity leave on mental and physical capabilities of children. Maternity leave protects jobs and incomes of mothers while allowing them to spend sufficient time with the new-born child. Leaves may decrease the future earnings of mothers through lower work experience resulting in lower income that could be spent on child care and schooling of the child. On the other hand, leave policies could improve the future outcome of the child due to a longer time spent by mother with the child. Therefore, in taking up leaves, mothers face a trade-off in child's outcomes. How maternity leave affects the child’s outcomes depends on the relative contribution of time and income of mothers on child's outcomes as well as the degree of replacement between income and time spent on the child. My research tries to quantify the impact of each factor.

Dr Ezra Horbury

University College London

Biblical Paratexts in Early Modern England

This project will produce the first substantial investigation into the paratexts (glosses, indices, summaries, etc.) of early modern English Bibles from the 1526 Tyndale to the 1611 Authorised Version. These Bibles are the most influential texts in English literature but their paratexts remain neglected by scholarship. They were crucial to scriptural interpretation, conveyed seditious politics, and provided a literary battleground for the Reformation. Despite their cultural importance, very few of these paratexts have been studied due to the relative youth of paratextual scholarship. Each chapter of this work will focus on a different form of paratext, investigating its origins, development, and effects, and contextualising it among contemporary religious writings. This project will present a thorough investigation into a severely overlooked aspect of the most influential books in the English language and will have major implications for scholarship on literature, early modern history, and English Christianity.

Dr Yaling Hsiao

University of Oxford

The Impact of Written Language Exposure on Grammatical Learning and Processing in Children Pre- and Post-literacy training

Written language is central to modern life. Writing depends on grammar – combining words together to convey messages. Evidence suggests that aspects of grammar are different in writing than in spoken language. However, we know little about when children acquire this knowledge from reading experience, how it influences their processing of complex sentences, and when they begin to produce them in their own writing. Using corpus analyses, I will chart the developmental trajectory of grammatical usage in children’s reading experience and discover how this is reflected in children’s own written productions. I will then relate these findings to children’s learning and processing of complex grammar in experiments designed to establish causal links between different types of written language exposure and learning outcomes. My findings will reveal how written language experience shapes children’s grammatical development and in turn highlight how best to provide input to nourish children’s language and literacy development.

Dr Stephanie Janes

King's College London

Immersive Promotional Media (IPM) in the Contemporary Media Landscape

Immersive technologies and experiences (AR/VR/360 degree film/immersive theatre) have received an increasing amount of attention and funding in both public and private sectors over the past 5 years. One area which has received significant investment is promotion and advertising. Yet as marketers explore the various modes of engagement offered by these media, there is very little clarity about the aesthetic, narrative and affective connections between immersive promotional media (IPM), brands and consumers, and their impact within an increasingly convergent media landscape.

This project uses interviews with producers and focus groups with consumers to paint a clearer picture of what immersive promotional media are, their role within media marketing strategies, who they benefit and in what ways. It seeks to clarify the role, impact and value of immersive media in promotional spaces and in a rapidly developing Creative Economy in the UK.

Dr Rhys Kaminski-Jones

University of Wales

William Owen Pughe and Archipelagic Romanticism

William Owen Pughe was a vital figure in British Romanticism. As a Welsh-speaking poet, antiquarian, and lexicographer he (amongst other things) helped to re-found the eisteddfod as a Welsh national institution, and introduced controversial linguistic reforms that had a lasting effect on literary Welsh. Based for most of his life in London, Pughe was also, however, an English-language writer and an influential member of literary networks frequented by canonical Romantic authors: he made translations used by Robert Southey, commissioned artwork by William Blake, dined with William Godwin, and corresponded with Walter Scott. He nevertheless remains a shadowy figure within contemporary Romantic Studies, derided for his eccentricity in Wales, and marginalised within mainstream anglophone scholarship. This project aims to bring Pughe back into focus, editing and translating a selection of his writings, reassessing his role within a more inclusive ‘archipelagic’ Romanticism, and revealing his importance to an international scholarly audience.

Dr Rachael Kiddey

University of Oxford

'Migrant Materialities: the material culture of forced and undocumented migrants in Europe'

This research focuses on migrants' material culture in Europe: how forced and undocumented migrants use and adapt materials to serve practical and emotional purposes; how they sustain and re/create collective and personal identity through material culture along their journeys, and inside and outside formal settings: the Khora Community Centre (Athens), several privately rented flats in Berlin (Germany), Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre (Bedford, U.K.), and at accommodation provided through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), in Exeter (Devon, U.K.). I conceptualise migrant belongings and possessions in the context of social and interpretive theory that recognises the importance of material culture – even for people who have very few ‘things’ left – to human life. I situate this participatory cultural heritage work as a form of advocacy to offer new, public archaeological approaches to studying forced and undocumented migration in contemporary Europe.

Dr Benjamin Kirby

University of Leeds

The politics of religious infrastructure: Christian and Muslim urban worlds in Africa.

This project seeks to provide an original account of Muslim mobilisation and religious politics in Kenya and Tanzania. It does so by foregrounding the everyday lives of Christians and Muslims who share urban habitats in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, and more specifically the concrete entanglements that exist between their lives and the urban worlds that they interact with. To this end, I seek to develop an explanatory frame which illuminates how different forms of Muslim activism and religious politics in these settings operate as part of particular urban-religious dynamics.

This project marks an explicit development of my doctoral project insofar as it introduces a second urban setting and speaks to a regional frame. It aims to make an original contribution to efforts to reinvigorate conversations about African cities, religious politics, and Christian-Muslim relations, all of which too often rely on tired categories indebted to colonial paradigms and problematic metanarratives.

Dr Conor Leahy

University of East Anglia

Henryson's Legal Fictions

Robert Henryson is without doubt Scotland’s greatest medieval poet. Thanks to the advocacy of Seamus Heaney, a new generation of readers has encountered afresh the subtlety, the delicate humour, and the ethical profundity of Henryson’s works. The accessibility of his poetry, however, has often led to a neglect of the historical contexts in which Henryson first put pen to paper. I propose to use a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship to write a monograph entitled Henryson’s Legal Fictions, which will be the first study to integrate the works of this remarkable poet into the extensive archival materials that attest to fifteenth-century legal practices. It will offer a portrait of an artist whose love of farce was piqued by legal niceties, whose fury was roused by judicial corruption, and whose understanding of the written word was shaped by the flurry of bills, testaments, and summonses that flew through life and literature alike.

Dr Max Leventhal

University of Cambridge

‘The Septuagint and the Graeco-Jewish Literary Imagination’

This project will explore how Jews of the Hellenistic period responded to the shock of having their Scripture translated into Greek, and the importance of this linguistic transfer for later Western conceptions of literature. Earlier scholarship on the Septuagint – notably Protestant historiography, Jewish scholarship, and recent lexical analyses – has pursued many parallel tracks. But inter-cultural approaches to the Septuagint as literature have yet to be fully worked out. My research considers the consequences of analyzing the Septuagint as a hybrid work, produced by an ancient polyglot culture. My innovative approach will ask how Alexandrian Jews first conceptualized this literary cross-pollination by comparing subsequent Graeco-Jewish works’ representations of literary practice and contextualizing these representations within both Greek and Jewish literary cultures. In so doing, I will better delimit the relevant horizon of expectations for understanding how Alexandrian Jews came to conceive of the Septuagint as their literature's foundational text.

Dr Ceren Lord

University of Oxford

How Religious Minorities Develop Transnational Consciousness: Mapping Alevi Mobilisation since the 2011 Middle East Upheavals

Transnational politics of religious minorities has gained increased attention amid the post-2011 Middle East upheavals. Existing works assume this transnationalism is underpinned by shared identity and neglect mechanisms by which it is mobilised. This project offers fresh insight into how transnational consciousness is developed. I will conduct multi-sited research into ways previously unconnected Alevis (20-25 million heterogeneous religious minorities straddling Middle East and Europe commonly mistaken as Shi’a Muslims) are developing common discourses and politics catalysed by post-2011 conflicts. Employing an interdisciplinary approach alongside quantitative and qualitative methods, I will trace emerging formal and informal Alevi networks. This will illuminate how processes of developing transnational consciousness: i)involves constructing new common identity and interests (e.g. merging Alevism and Alawism), transforming the ethno-religious landscape; ii)is structured by organisational capacities, institutional environment, dominant identity narratives. I will further understanding of the links between identity, political mobilisation and its implications for nation-states and conflict.

Dr Susan MacDougall

University of Cambridge

Beyond Manager-Selves: Developing Leaders in Qatar

Can the pursuit of professional advancement be ethical? Through a study of leadership development trainings in hydrocarbon-rich Qatar, this project investigates the overlaps between work, citizenship, and ethical self-cultivation. Qatar’s ongoing national initiatives to increase the number of Qataris in its workforce include heavy investments in leadership development. A pedagogical format arising from management theory and honed in Western corporations, leadership development trainings use self-observation techniques to help elite professionals maximise their potential. Theoretically, leadership development resembles what anthropologists refer to as ethical self-cultivation. In practice, Qatar-based business apply it instrumentally to meet targeted outcomes established by corporate boards and by the Qatari government. Through ethnographic research, this project will study the institutional, experiential, and social dimensions of leadership development trainings to consider whether the pursuit of self-interest and ethical self-cultivation conflict in this context, and what that conflict reveals about the anthropology of ethics.

Dr Jai Mackenzie

University of Nottingham

Marginalised families online: Exploring the role of digital media for parents in diverse family groups

More individuals than ever before can now form familial bonds, for example through marriage, reproduction and adoption. However, the persistence of dominant cultural norms and expectations (discourses) that construct heterosexual, mother-centric, two-parent families as the ‘norm’ can marginalise family groups that do not fit this mould. A growing body of interdisciplinary scholarship recognises the increasing diversity of family configurations, but little research has focused on the important role digital media can play in the lives of a diverse range of family groups. The proposed study will bridge that gap, through an innovative analysis of interviews with LGBT, single and adoptive parents, and their digital interactions. Its primary aim is to explore whether and how connecting with others through digital media can support these groups as they work to make sense of their own lives and roles in relation to potentially competing discourses of gender, sexuality and family life.

Dr Elizabeth Marcus

University of Leeds

Paris and the Global University: International Students and Cultural Internationalism at the Cité Universitaire, 1945-1975

This project uncovers how the Cité internationale Universitaire, a residential campus in the Parisian outskirts, after its 1925 founding in the spirit of international humanism, became a hotbed of transnational political and cultural activism (during the Trente Glorieuses, 1945-1975). Comprising 3,000 students from 38 nationalities, the campus became a vital node of exchange for intellectual migrants over a sustained period. There, students formed new and unexpected south-north and south-south relationships; Cambodian Khmer Rouge members, for example, agitated alongside Senegalese and Belgian students. Through networked case-studies and tracing trajectories of residents, including their return home, this research examines the period, often considered through the lens of post-war economic expansion, in a new analytical light. Reconfiguring entrenched scholarly boundaries between the post-war and post- colonial periods as well as between discrete migrant groups, I argue that these temporary migrants were intrinsic to the restless political, social and aesthetic landscape of the period.

Dr Martha McGill

University of Warwick

Bodies, Selves and the Supernatural in Early Modern Britain

This project will examine how supernatural beliefs influenced conceptions of the body and self in Britain, focusing on the period from the Reformation to the mid-eighteenth century. According to early modern physiology, the body was in a constant process of interchange with the environment. Bodily fluids were altered by the climate, the season, and astronomical motions. However, to be in exchange with the natural environment was also to be in contact with a host of supernatural forces. Invisible spirits could change the external form of the body, manipulate the emotions, or invade the blood and organs. Ideas about the supernatural thus became fundamental to understandings of selfhood. The project will consider diverse religious and folkloric traditions, and explain the prevalence of the idea that the body could– even should–be controlled by greater powers. In the process, it will reflect more broadly on how identities have been constructed over time.

Dr Rebecca McKee

University College London

The political representation of ethnic minorities in the UK

Racial and ethnic inequalities are high on the UK policy agenda, exemplified by Theresa May’s pioneering Racial Disparity Audit. Since 1987, 66 Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) MPs have been elected to the House of Commons. Existing research shows that BME MPs matter for the promotion of minority issues, but there are still gaps in our knowledge. This research asks “how does the representation of ethnic minorities happen in the UK”? I will look at how BME representatives view their own role. Secondly, I will ask who has access to the decision makers and how might ethnic inequalities in the outside world translate into parliament. Finally, I will conduct an audit of the diversity of MP’s staff, generating data for wider use. I propose three distinct projects, significantly extending my PhD research, under the mentorship of Professor Meg Russell, a leading authority on the UK parliament.

Dr Shona Minson

University of Oxford

A study of the effects of prisoner re-entry on children and their caregivers in England and Wales

Research has found that family support enables released prisoners to re-establish themselves within society, however the cost of this to family members is unknown. Children suffer when their parents are imprisoned, particularly if the parent is the primary carer, enduring significant upheaval and distress as a consequence of dealing with emotional and physical changes to their lives. It is likely that they are affected by a parent’s re-negotiation of the parental role post-release but children’s experiences of parental re-entry have not been considered within criminological literature. Using family process and social networks theories the impact of parental re-entry on children and their caregivers will be investigated within the context of children’s rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. The cost of family involvement in desistance will be considered from the perspective of children and those with whom they lived during their parent’s imprisonment.

Dr Sam Mirelman

School of Oriental and African Studies

Sumerian-Akkadian Language Contact During the First Millennium BCE

Sumerian-Akkadian language contact is a phenomenon of central importance, not only to historical linguistics but also to Mesopotamian intellectual history. The close bond between the fundamentally distinct languages of Sumerian and Akkadian, is rooted in their shared use of the cuneiform writing system. During the second millennium but especially during the first millennium BCE, Sumerian-Akkadian bilingual texts are characterized by an analytical method of converting morphological units of Sumerian into Akkadian. In many cases the result is less “translation”, than a transformational process which may be described as a branch of hermeneutics. By means of an analysis of one case study, the proposed research will investigate the transformational techniques of Mesopotamian Sumerian-Akkadian language contact during the first millennium BCE. The resultant monograph and edited volume will offer contextualised studies of a critically important, yet hitherto neglected, period in the history of written bilingualism

Dr Jonathan Mitchell

University of Manchester

Emotions as Feelings Towards Value

This research project will examine how emotions connect us with our environment. I will argue for a novel theory, according to which emotional experiences can be understood as feelings towards values, in that they present evaluative properties of their objects (e.g. the dangerousness of a dog) through attitudes of favour and disfavour. The project will therefore elucidate the important connection between emotions and evaluative properties of objects in our environment. Further, it will emphasize, in a way often overlooked by emotion theorists, the need for a substantive account not just of what emotions represent, but how they represent. The account will also be used to provide new perspectives on long-standing debates in philosophy of emotion, with connections to philosophy of mind. My approach is to treat emotions as sui generis states, not to be modelled on more familiar mental states, but given their own analysis within our mental economy.

Dr Ella Parry-Davies

Central School of Speech and Drama

Home-Makers: Urban expertise in the Philippine diaspora

The proposed project explores the ways in which female domestic and care workers from the Philippines create a sense of home while living and working in London and Beirut, and the ways in which migration shapes how returnees re-make their home in the Philippines. Expanding the notion of ‘home-making’ beyond domestic labour, I seek to capture the expertise of members of this group in creating home on the move through social and spatial practices that I understand as performative: live, embodied and collaborative. My interdisciplinary background will allow me to develop a method of performance-ethnography in which I conduct city walks devised and guided by the research subjects. This aims to capture migratory and returnee practices that will be of particular interest to emergent dialogues between performance studies and mobility studies, as well as – through its dissemination – contribute to the broader project of self-representation in the Filipina diaspora.

Dr Philip Proudfoot

University of Bath

Humanitarianism as a Social Movement: Activism, Aid and The European Refugee Crisis

In 2015 one million refugees crossed the Mediterranean. Others did not make it: boats capsized and authorities failed to respond. A horrified public demanded governments do more. Refugee camps were inundated with volunteers and activist networks flourished. This project, through 16-months of participant-observation, will examine two very different models of this 'activist-humanitarianism' operating under conditions of austerity in the UK and Greece.

In the UK, it will survey movements working ‘within the state’ through their provision of refugee services and political lobbying. In Greece, it will study anarchist movements working ‘outside the state,’ providing assistance in gaps opened through state withdrawal and activist militancy. By engaging with activists and refugees alike the project will reveal the mechanisms through which activists are challenging European border regimes and failures in official-level refugee protection. It asks, to what extent, if at all, have these movements successfully politicised humanitarianism in the age of austerity?

Dr Salam Rassi

University of Oxford

The Summa Theologica in the Christian Arabic and Syriac Traditions: An Intellectual Historical Study

My project examines a widespread genre of literature produced by Christian communities in the medieval Middle East: the summa theologica, summary expositions of the Christian faith. These texts provide key insights into how authors articulated a Christian world view within a broader cultural setting. Yet, despite their critical importance, there has been no study of the genre’s historical development. Such a study will enable a better use of summae as sources for how Christians in the Middle East confronted the major religious issues of their time. My working hypothesis is that the didactic strategies of these texts helped ecclesial communities preserve a dynamic body of dogma that was crucial to Christianity’s survival in the region. By examining the connectedness of the summa with neighbouring traditions, this project also opens up new perspectives on literary cultures shared between Christians and Muslims.

Dr Charles Read

University of Cambridge

The causes and consequences of financial crises in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, c.1801-1922.

This project will investigate the importance of financial crises in the United Kingdom's history (1801-1922). The novelty of this project is that it looks at what caused these crises, as well as how they changed the course of British and Irish history. In terms of causes, it will show for the first time how Britain’s macroeconomic policies contributed to a series of severe financial crises in the UK in the early 19th-century, by exposing the UK to international capital flows that constrained independent fiscal and monetary action. In terms of the consequences, these constraints stopped the British government from deploying policies to counteract asymmetric shocks on Ireland. Exploring these questions together will transform how historians look at economic policy in Victorian Britain. Macroeconomic policies designed in the early 1800s to promote the stability and cohesiveness of the UK, instead damaged the Union by resulting in financial instability, particularly in Ireland.

Dr Philip Riris

University College London

Connected Communities: Network approaches to rock art in lowland South America

Despite the evidence for widespread prehistoric rock art traditions across South America, isolated site-based studies remain the norm. Breaking from traditional focuses, this project aims to understand how artistic communities form and interact by mapping connectivity between rock art sites on an unprecedented scale. I will adapt methods from network science to compare rock engravings and paintings in two illustrative regional case studies: the Orinoco River, and Atlantic coast of Brazil. Combining spatial, iconographic, and archaeological data with cutting-edge computational methods will produce new insights into key questions facing archaeologists: Are rock art sites part of dense interconnected clusters, or dispersed hub-and-satellite structures? How does geography influence the locations of important sites? Do rock art networks mirror prehistoric social structures? Through the comparative analysis of hundreds of sites, I will close a critical gap in our understanding of how indigenous communities of artistic practice formed and interacted.

Dr Megan Ryburn

London School of Economics and Political Science

Navigating borderlands: Colombian migrant women in Chile and experiences of violence

Migration in Latin America is increasing and diversifying rapidly; it forms part of the severely under-researched South-South flows that account for around 50% of migration globally. Of particular interest and concern is marginalized migrant groups’ movements through multiple cross-border spaces that are pervaded by structural, symbolic, and physical violence. Colombian migrant women in Antofagasta, Chile are one such group. Colombian migration to Chile has increased by 345% in ten years, and is highly feminized. Many women come to Antofagasta to escape gang-related violence and economic precarity in the Valle de Cauca, Colombia. In Antofagasta, they are often employed in gendered, low-paid labour niches, including sex work, where they face exploitation. Through ethnography and interviews, and using the innovative conceptual lens of ‘navigating borderlands’ to interrogate how these women negotiate transnational violence, this project makes empirical and conceptual contributions to new paradigmatic areas of migration research.

Dr Gul Deniz Salali

University College London

Is shared childcare shared knowledge? The role of cooperative breeding in the evolution of human culture

Cooperative care of children is among the hallmarks of human evolution. Help from community members (alloparents) in childcare enabled women to look after multiple children simultaneously and facilitated the evolution of long childhoods that is necessary for the acquisition of complex skills. Cooperative care of children also provides a medium for knowledge and skill exchange that is necessary for the combination of information and emergence of complex cultural traits. Previous studies of cultural transmission in hunter-gatherers mainly focused on vertical (parents to offspring), horizontal (peer to peer) and oblique (older to younger generations) transmission. Nevertheless, investigating the link between the composition of caregivers and transmission of cultural traits may provide a better framework for understanding human cultural evolution given the importance of cooperative breeding in human evolution. This project aims to investigate the role of cooperative breeding in the transmission of different domains of knowledge in BaYaka hunter-gatherers of Congo-Brazzaville.

Dr Ana Catarina Sanches Ferreira

University of Birmingham

Shaping overlapping memory representations via retrieval-mediated learning

New learning largely depends on our memory system's ability to organize memories. An adaptive system needs to integrate new information that shares features with previous knowledge, but also preserve idiosyncrasies of individual events. Together with my co-workers, I recently proposed that active retrieval, much like offline (e.g. sleep-dependent) memory reactivation, affects overlapping representations in two ways: strongly co-activated memories are integrated into pre-existing knowledge structures, whereas moderately co-activated competing memories are differentiated. In this project, I will test these predictions through a series of behavioural, functional neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies. Specifically, I will test whether pre-existing semantic knowledge can lead overlapping memories to become integrated or differentiated, and will aim to identify the precise temporal dynamics of the hippocampal-neocortical interactions underlying these effects. The project will allow the direct observation, in human brain and behaviour, of how episodic and semantic memory systems interact to adaptively shape newly acquired memories.

Dr Saumya Saxena

University of Cambridge

Democracy, Family, and Religious-Customary Law in South Asia

Questions of secularism, constitutionalism, rights of minorities and women dominated the political and judicial discourses in independent India and produced contestations which were formative of India’s democracy. Family law, arguably the most visible sphere of such contestation, emerged as a particularly hospitable arena for conversations between religious and legal regimes to institute the normative framework that could govern the domestic lives of citizens.

This work will demonstrate how the codification of religious personal laws permitted governments to enter into intimate dialogue with citizens, which was largely mediated through religion. Through the process of codification, the state secured a monopoly over determining what constituted religion, as well as the right to determine the validity and scope of religious practices. Thus religious personal law played a key role in determining the legal place for religion in India’s ‘secular’ democracy as well as in informing the ‘Islamic’ in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Dr Vilija Velyvyte

University of Oxford

The 'Multilogue' Among National Courts: Implications for the Legal Authority of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Contributing to the scholarship on European integration, my project offers an original perspective on how inter-institutional relationships within the EU's legal space shape the authority of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to interpret EU law across the Member States. It does so by investigating the growing practice among national constitutional courts to refer to one another's legal reasoning for resolving conflicts and tensions between national constitutional law and EU law. I suggest that this practice, which I call the 'multilogue', might cause a gradual decline in the legal authority of the CJEU in domestic legal systems because it encourages the fragmentation of EU law and promotes the institutional disengagement of national courts from the CJEU. Accordingly, I will explore what form of cooperation could re-invigorate the dialogue between the CJEU and national constitutional courts, thereby preserving CJEU authority and the integrity of the EU legal order.

Dr Radu Voica

School of Oriental and African Studies

Information Structure and Intonation in Blanga, an Austronesian Language of the Solomon Islands

Pragmatic structuring of propositions is formally manifested at sentence level through units of information such as topics (hearer-old information) and foci (hearer-new information). Such structuring also enables a comprehensible distribution of sentences within the discourse. This project, which will be the first of its kind in the Oceanic (and Austronesian) literature, aims to produce a thorough account of information structure (IS) in Blanga (Solomon Islands) based on primary data collected in the field and on my previous research on its phonology and syntax. It will investigate the role of constituent order, individual particles and prosody in encoding different aspects of IS in the language. While all these three factors will be analysed in detail, special attention will be given to intonation. In order to approach the relations between intonation and IS, an overall sketch of the Blanga intonational phonology will be produced within the Autosegmental-Metrical framework with adjusted ToBI transcription.

Dr Alexandra Vukovich

University of Oxford

Performing History in Early-Modern Russia

The ideology that crystallised in Muscovy during the reigns of Ivan III (1462-1505), his son Vasilii III (1505-1533), and his grandson Ivan IV (1533-1584) reflected an interpolation of Byzantine ideas about rulership with the ruler at the centre of a heavenly kingdom on earth. Due to new pathways of transmission and reception (marriage alliances, diplomatic missions), a set of new Byzantine sources were made available to structure the self-representation of the Muscovite state conferring upon it a new type of legitimacy. Ceremonies of inauguration and commemoration externalised new notions of rulership, within a Byzantine framework, while maintaining the semblance of antiquity. This study explores the means of transmission and translation of Byzantine sources that were deployed in the writing of Muscovite myth-history, and how these sources shaped political practice. My research will further contribute to debates about how historical consciousness, through history-writing and performance, shapes notions of identity.

Dr Sandra Wachter

University of Oxford

AI and the Right to Reasonable Algorithmic Inferences

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly used to make automated decisions about humans. These decisions include assessing creditworthiness, hiring decisions, and sentencing criminals. Due to the inherent opacity of these systems and their potential discriminatory effects, policy and research efforts around the world aim to make AI fairer, more transparent, and explainable. This project will show that, due to the flawed assumption that individuals have a right to receive reasonable decisions from AI, current work on explainable AI has reached a deadlock. The project is structured around three research questions that will (1) map the existence of a flawed legal premise underlying research and policy on algorithmic interpretability and accountability; (2) define legally and ethically significant differences between human and algorithmic decision-making; and (3) propose a new right, ‘the right to reasonable inferences’, to prevent discrimination and guarantee a meaningful right to privacy and identity in the 21st century.

Dr Matthew Wargent

University of Reading

The politics and practices of private sector provision in local governance: the case of local planning in England

The shift from government to governance in most Western democracies has expanded the constellation of non-state actors involved in local decision-making and precipitated the rise of the ‘consultocracy’. However existing research tends to present the expanding role of private sector organisations in ‘public’ decision-making as an inevitable outcome of the growing complexity of policy landscapes. There is therefore a paucity of empirical research concerning public/private sector interactions and in particular how private actors’ agency shapes the regulatory and decision-making structures that govern their own and others’ conduct. Employing an ethnographic case study of a Local Planning Authority in England, the originality of this project therefore lies in exploring consultants’ role in local decision-making and their influence on continuing public sector reforms, in particular how ‘expert’ knowledge is interpreted and deployed by local government officers and politicians, and the effects this has on the (post-)political relationships that define local governance.

Dr Rachel Warriner

Courtauld Institute of Art

Feminist Arts-Activism, New York: Collectives, Actions, Agitations.

In this project I will establish the important contribution of activist collectives to the feminist art movement. Focusing on three groups based in New York in the 1960s and ‘70s—Women Artists in Revolution, the Ad Hoc Committee of Women Artists, and Women Students and Artists for Black Art Liberation—the resulting study will chart the neglected histories of collectives who fought for art world access for women, and especially women of colour. Diverging from a conventional study of individual artists, I will reflect the collective nature of art-making at this moment and interrogate the impact of collaboration for artists working to address the gendered and racial biases of the art world. The book resulting from this fellowship, Feminist Arts-Activism, New York: Collectives, Actions, Agitations, will provide a definitive account of these groups, which examines how artworks illustrate progressive tactics, and considers the implications of collectivity for feminist arts practice.

Dr Dingeman Wiertz

University College London

Moving for the Kids: Residential Choices, School Choices, and Ethnic and Socioeconomic Segregation

Residential segregation poses a critical threat to social cohesion—certainly also in Great Britain, where ethnic diversity, economic inequality, and house prices are on the rise. Yet, much is still unclear as to what exactly drives people’s decisions on where to live and thereby segregation. My project will address this gap by investigating residential choices among households with children. Those choices can be particularly long-lasting and shape children's early-life experiences and opportunities. Focusing on Great Britain, I will go beyond previous research by studying how parents’ residential choices depend on both the ethnic and socioeconomic make-up of neighbourhoods but, importantly, also local school opportunities. Furthermore, I will assess variation in how parents of different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds respond to neighbourhood and school characteristics, and how such variation can be explained. Finally, my project will examine the aggregate implications of these household-level patterns for the evolution of ethnic and socioeconomic segregation.

Dr Birgul Yilmaz

University College London

Translanguaging as a means of survival in refugee contexts: The case of asylum seekers in Greece

The outbreak of war and political instability in the Middle East and North Africa has brought nearly 60.000 refugees to Greece since the beginning of 2015. This project is based on data about spoken language patterns collected from refugees who have experienced war and conflict and who are now residing in Athens. Identified as “translanguaging,” these patterns reflect the ways in which multilingual individuals strategically integrate the linguistic features of their home language with those of the various languages spoken by the individuals with whom they interact, in order to maximize communication between themselves and others. Translanguaging has been studied since the 1980s in politically stable contexts such as Wales but this project examines it for the first time in a politically unstable context, seeking to make a significant contribution not only to its theoretical conceptualisation but also to its practical applications.

Dr Adrian Zancajo

University of Glasgow

Is it Possible to Decommodify Education? Evidence and Lessons from the Chilean Education Market Reform

Chile has initiated an ambitious policy process to reform its education market and mitigate its negative effects on social and educational inequalities. By investigating the policy processes that led to the adoption of this reform and the factors that shaped its implementation, the research proposed will elucidate the extent to which it is possible to reverse the commodification of education in national contexts with a long tradition on market policies. Firstly, I will focus on the political economy of the reform by looking at the actors and drivers that have triggered and configured the adoption process, and the challenges that it has encountered. Secondly, I will analyse the effects of the reform on educational actors’ practices, particularly the effects on market logics and dynamics among educational providers and households. Project findings will be highly relevant to international and national debates on the role of the state and markets in education.

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