Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards 2020

Funded by

Rasika Ajotikar

School of Oriental and African Studies

Music and the politics of cultural citizenship in contemporary India

This research seeks to examine cultural citizenship in India through a critical analysis of music and its evocation in cultural policies since the Hindu majoritarian BJP government came to power in 2014. Current policies resonate with early 20th century nationalism which involved appropriating and marginalising traditional performance cultures of Dalit (formerly outcaste) populations and sanitising them for consumption of the elite. Today, the surveillance and incarceration of many Dalit musicians/activists and simultaneous patronisation of others to ensure a vote-bank reflects similar processes. Musicianship not only reveals the ironies of citizenship in postcolonial India but also the strategic use of cultural policies to appropriate marginality and silence opposition. Through ethnographic fieldwork, this study will examine current national and regional cultural policies and resistance to them observed in music of anti-caste-feminist movements. Given the global rise of populist, right-wing politics, this research will uncover music’s weaponisation to uphold jingoist, majoritarian, patriarchal ideologies.

Drew Altschul

University of Edinburgh

The evolutionary origins of assertiveness within social hierarchies

Dominance hierarchies are a fundamental form of social organization and play a central role in the lives of many animal species, including primates. Hierarchies are still relevant in humans, as they support social and economic inequalities, and human personality contains "assertiveness", a trait aligned with social dominance behaviours. However, despite the similarities between human and non-human primates' social hierarchies and personality structures, and their wide-spread use in the literature, it has not been established that personality traits and social hierarchies function in the same way across humans and other

primates. Through a combination of psychometric, cohort analysis, and experimental work, this project aims to determine the aspects of social dominance (such as behaviours and resources) to which assertiveness is related, and recommend when, if ever, it is appropriate to view animal studies of social dominance as being relevant to humans.

Oliver Baldwin

University of Reading

Queer Tragedy

Ancient tragedy has been used to explore pressing issues for centuries. One has proven particularly prevalent in the last fifty years: queerness. Since 1968-1969, the years of Dionysus in 69 and the Stonewall Riots, queerness has often been embodied, assessed, exposed, subverted and enacted through performances of ancient tragedy. Tragedy’s plots, themes and characters have helped many to explore what it means to not conform to, or not embody, the prescribed binarisms of heteronormativity, to understand queerness and to establish spaces of resistance and activism. The ‘Queer Tragedy’ project will bring new insights into this phenomenon and to the socio-cultural uses of ancient tragedy, thus answering a series of essential questions: Why is ancient tragedy such a fertile tool for queer theatre? What does a queer reading of Tragedy imply? How does ancient tragedy inform the LGBTQI+ community of their identity, desire or discourse? What is queer about ancient tragedy?

Timotheus Bodt

School of Oriental and African Studies

Substrate language influence in the southern Himalayas

The Kusunda language of Nepal is spoken by only two people and its imminent extinction entails an irreplaceable loss to humanity. Particularly because, like Basque in Europe, Kusunda is a language isolate: a language unknown to be affiliated to any other language or language family of the world. As Basque may once have been spoken more widely across Europe, Kusunda speakers may once have lived throughout the southern Himalayan region, an area of exceptionally high linguistic diversity. This research will identify the linguistic traces left by Kusunda as lower prestige ‘substrate’ language in later, more dominant and higher prestige ‘superstrate’ languages, such as Tshangla and the Kho-Bwa varieties, spoken over 1,300 kilometres away in Northeast India. Thus, this research will provide new insights into the prehistory of Asia at a time depth and from a perspective not yet explored before and contribute to the developing sub-discipline of substrate language studies.

Bysshe Coffey

Newcastle University

Amateurs and Professionals: The Reception History of Percy Bysshe Shelley 1851-1922

As we approach the bicentenary of Shelley’s drowning, his work seems as timely as in the years between the death of his first editor (Mary Shelley) and his first centenary. During this period (1851-1922), Shelley was canonised in the anglophone world, Europe and even the Far East. Streets were named after him. My proposed interdisciplinary research project examines this phenomenon of “High Shelleyanism” from an original viewpoint: the examination of the differing ideologies and methodologies of Shelley’s numerous editors, amateur and professional. But it aims beyond textual scholarship and colourful competing personalities. It charts the diffusion of Shelley’s works through cheap reprints, illustration, music and networks of influence. It seeks to present a new reception history of Shelley, and to contribute to the study of Romanticism as an international movement. Its outcomes will be: (1) a monograph, (2) a website/gallery, (3) a conference.

Arthur der Weduwen

University of St Andrews

The Culture of Catastrophe. The Dutch Republic and the Legacy of the Disaster Year, 1672-1748

This project explores the cultural consequences of political crisis. What happens to the fabric of one of the wealthiest states in the world when it is overrun and nearly destroyed? How we experience disaster collectively has a decisive impact on our memory. Catastrophe changes a nation as fundamentally as it changes individuals: it is through studying the cultural effects of crisis that we can analyse how this process takes shape. To explore these issues, this project focusses on a single prominent case study: the devastation of the Dutch Republic in the summer of 1672, when the country was simultaneously attacked by an international alliance of four states. This struggle and its troublesome aftermath fundamentally reshaped Dutch society. This programme will explore how the Disaster Year and its reverberations were experienced, remembered and appropriated by Dutch citizens, thereby offering a model for historical research into the cultural consequences of catastrophe.

Taras Fedirko

University of St Andrews

Creating a nationalist elite: pedagogy and politics in a Ukrainian far–right leadership school

In 2018, Azov, Ukraine’s strongest far-right movement known for its paramilitary wing and recruitment of militants from Britain, partnered with the Ukrainian government to establish a political leadership school for adults in Kyiv. The Aksion and Khoma Leadership School (AKLS) aims to cultivate a ‘national consciousness’ among its students and raise a new generation of ultra-nationalist elites. The School’s curriculum sets the students on a path to a political career, while Azov’s organisations and networks, promise them opportunities for social mobility. Through an ethnographic study of the School, this project investigates how a far-right movement seeks to reinvent itself as a mainstream force via pedagogy and political organising. Examining how the AKLS makes new political persons and brokers pathways to power, this project will be the first to analyse how a marginal far-right groups mobilises and reasons against liberal democratic institutions, while striving for power within them.

Diana Felix da Costa

School of Oriental and African Studies

"Youth in crisis"? The effects of post-independence violent conflict and displacement on Murle socio-political institutions in Pibor, South Sudan

The project challenges the popular ‘youth in crisis’ narrative by investigating how young people who engage in violence may be driven by the need to assert their social status and roles, ultimately adhering to moral and political codes from their respective communities. Through ethnographic research in rural areas of South Sudan as well as in Ugandan refugee settlements, the research draws on the case of the Murle ethnic community of south-eastern South Sudan to investigate how political conflicts and subsequent displacement have shaped Murle age-sets as socio-political institutions and how in turn, these are actively re-shaping traditional generational and gender roles and relations. Drawing on the case of one of the most ostracised communities in South Sudan, the research theoretically contests the ‘youth in crisis’ paradigm and examines how young people are navigating the pressures of modern political forces, contributing to scholarship on the interplay of youth, politics and conflict.

Christopher Fleming

University of Oxford

Equity and Trusts in Sanskrit Jurisprudence

This project will investigate Equity and Trusts in Sanskrit Jurisprudence. Sanskrit juridical literature (Dharmaśāstra) contains sophisticated accounts of the sorts of legal phenomena that, in Anglo-American jurisprudence, are associated with ‘courts of equity’: trusts, charitable endowments, and the administration of the estates of minors, women, etc. Sanskrit jurisprudence approaches these phenomena from the perspective of fiduciary relations (wherein a person holds a legal and ethical relationship of trust towards other parties). One of Dharma’s semantic valences, I argue, is Equity: a second-order intervention incumbent on kings to ensure the proper administration of temples and monasteries and to protect the property of legal dependents. The East India Company crafted a hybrid, Anglo-Hindu jurisprudence of Equity and Trusts that lies at the heart of some of the most contentious legal disputes in contemporary India. The primary outcome of my project will be a monograph illuminating this influential branch of jurisprudence.

Christopher Foster

School of Oriental and African Studies

This Tripiṭaka of Ours: How Chinese Buddhists Defined Their Canon

In China, the Confucian classics stood as the ultimate basis for moral and political norms. In order to understand the classics, however, scholars relied upon glossaries and other reference works. These indispensable companions to the classics, labeled as “primary education,” enjoyed an esteemed status throughout Chinese history. When Buddhism arrived in China, it encountered a strong native tradition of classical exegesis, based on these primary education works. How did native classical exegesis influence Chinese Buddhists, as they formed their own canon (the Tripiṭaka) of authoritative scriptures (the sutras)? How did monks manipulate methods of classical exegesis to better fit their Buddhist audiences? By comparing Buddhist glossaries, known as the Yiqiejing yinyi series, against the Confucian glossary titled Jingdian shiwen, “This Tripiṭaka of Ours” investigates the complex cross-fertilizations that occurred between Buddhist monks and Confucian scholars in medieval China, as each attempted to interpret and define their respective canons.

Taline Garibian

University of Oxford

Anatomy of Violence. Forensics in the Age of Mass Violence

This project will outline how modern forensic science has shaped twentieth-century perceptions of war violence and genocide. Located at the crossroads of history of medicine and history of mass violence, it examines the role of forensic scientists in the assessment of war atrocities during and in the aftermath of the Second World War. Forensic pathologists carried out autopsies and closely examined medical experiments and mass killing techniques. They had a significant role that has been mostly overlooked because of a focus on legal history. By looking at their operating procedure, the reports they produced and their influence on the legal proceedings that followed the war, this research project aims to provide a new insight on the history of mass violence and atrocities by demonstrating the influence of science in our understanding of violence phenomena and analysing its historical implication.

Joe Greenwood

University of Strathclyde

Capital, Privilege, and Political Participation in Britain and Beyond

This research tackles a core conundrum of political behaviour: why do people participate in politics in different ways and to different extents? Drawing on sociology and social psychology, it examines the links between economic, social, and cultural capital, perceptions of privilege, and political participation. It exploits unique, original, and detailed quantitative and qualitative data to shed light on those relationships in pre-Brexit Britain, and links them to the outcomes of the 2015 and 2017 general elections, and the 2016 EU referendum. It also deploys original conjoint survey experiments in the UK, Sweden, Poland, and India to examine how the privilege of politicians impacts on their perceived ability to represent, and on self-perceived status amongst electorates. These findings will be used to prompt the identification of solutions to participatory inequality in Britain, which will be produced in collaboration with political parties and organisations focusing on political engagement.

Claire Hodson

University of Reading

Bringing up baby: Investigating change and continuity in early life-course experiences and health for fetal-infant individuals from archaeological and historical populations in Britain.

The very earliest moments of our lives are frequently acknowledged as the most fundamental to our longevity and success. Today, investigations into the impact of poverty, maternal well-being and sociocultural practices on fetal-infant development and health have demonstrated the fragility of the early life-course. Yet our understanding of this brief but vital period, and the factors that impact it, is severely lacking for past populations. With fetal-infant individuals commonly overlooked in our investigations and narratives of the past, this project will be the first to examine relationships between fetal-infant survival, health, and the social worlds in which they were born and nurtured. Assessing individuals from geographically and temporally diverse populations, this research will investigate fetal-infant mortality, morbidity, and sociocultural treatment, exploring change and continuity in these early life-course experiences between populations. Through skeletal and funerary analysis, this project will establish a comprehensive narrative of fetal-infant life in Britain.

Maiya Jordan

University of Cambridge

The Nature of Self-Deception

During the last 60 years, analytic philosophers have agreed on this basic assumption about self-deception: if we maintain that self-deceivers literally self-deceive, contradiction will follow. This is because we shall hold that the self-deceiver (considered as the deceiver) does not believe some pleasing proposition, P (e.g., that she is in good health), but also that she (considered as the one deceived) does believe P. I argue not only that this assumption is false but also that its denial points to a new and fruitful conception of how to understand self-deception. Central to this conception is the claim that the self-deceiver misrepresents her self-deception (to herself) as a belief. Developing this notion of self-misrepresentation in terms of imaginative pretence and denial, I will construct a general ‘literalist’ theory of self-deception, showing how this theory solves the paradoxes usually associated with self-deception while explaining our experiences of (our own and others’) self-deception.

Sorana Jude

Newcastle University

The Gendered, Affective and Spatial Dimensions of War Preparedness: The Geopolitics of NATO's Military Exercises in Romania

This ground-breaking project explores civil and military engagement in war preparedness in order to develop the academic research on militarism, militarisation and military power in Critical Military Studies (CMS). Due to Russia’s assertiveness in Europe and beyond, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has started preparing for a Russian invasion by conducting military exercises, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. This interdisciplinary project will draw on original ethnographic research with soldiers and civilians who participate at NATO’s exercises in Romania and develops the innovative concept of ‘corporeal militarism’, which will lead to a novel theoretical programme on the gendered, spatial, and affective dimensions of war preparation in international politics. Therefore, this original project will steer the literature on militarisation, militarism and military power towards foregrounding the symbolic, demographic and geopolitical role of military exercises in war preparedness and parlay this analysis into significant innovations in the academic research on CMS.

Emilija Leinarte

University of Cambridge

Accountability of International Financial Institutions

Lending activities of international financial institutions (IFIs), such as the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, have significant environmental and human rights implications. Due to their large-scale nature IFI-financed development projects may have substantial benefits and costs. Notwithstanding, international law fails to set clear rules of responsibility of IFIs. This project provides a comprehensive, systemic investigation into accountability of IFIs. Specifically, it aims to resolve a perennial problem in international law theory: the allocation of responsibility between different subjects of international law. This question bears a special practical relevance today because last year the US Supreme Court has opened a Pandora’s box of litigation against IFIs. Building on the functional approach to responsibility developed in my doctoral thesis, I reveal principles of shared responsibility arising out of IFI-financed projects. My ultimate goal is to suggest rules which could be utilised by adjudicators.

Emily McGiffin

University College London

Environmental Trauma and the Cultural Response: Arts, Extraction, and Democracy in Guinea

My project examines the response of Guinean artists to the country’s extractive sector in order to understand how social and environmental upheavals, past and present, fuel contemporary civil unrest in Guinea and in francophone West Africa more broadly. The protests that have rocked Conakry in recent months as well as repeated terrorist attacks in the broader region point to an urgent need for the international community to better understand West Africa’s neo-colonial present. My research examines the cultural politics of Guinea’s booming bauxite industry, asking how Guinean performers and literary artists articulate experiences of environmental damage, support social cohesion in the face of poverty and exploitation, and interact with tensions that can erupt into political violence. Through interviews, ethnography, and archival research, my research will document effects of the industry and responses to cultural and environmental traumas linked to it, resulting in the creation of a website and monograph.

Alex McLaughlin

University of Cambridge

Climate Change, Global Development and Existential Risk

Scenarios associated with climate change pose an existential risk to humanity. However, mitigating these risks, in the context of a scarce carbon budget and widespread noncompliance with emissions reductions, raises problems of global justice with a tragic structure. This structure arises in cases where very poor states seek to pursue development policies which would push us outside of the safe carbon budget, significantly increasing the likelihood of the risky scenarios coming to pass. These cases are tragic because they pit two of our most fundamental commitments in tension. We will think both that we must reduce exposure to existential risks and that states have a right to development. My project will, first, develop a normative framework for understanding and responding to these cases, with the aim of providing moral guidance to agents situated within them. Second, it will use this framework to generate policy recommendations for alleviating the tragic tension.

Catriona McMillan

University of Edinburgh

"Femtech" and the process of becoming a "better" woman: how should law and regulation respond to health technologies targeted at improving women’s health and well-being?

This research is motivated by the concern that law and regulation fail to adequately protect women as users of ‘Femtech’. Femtech is a relatively new personal health technology (PHT) aimed at women, however it has been met with little legal or ethical scrutiny. I suggest that - if women are to continue to be marketed technologies which aim at improving their bodies and biological processes (e.g. fertility and sexual pleasure) - then we need a framework that adequately reflects their needs and priorities as Femtech's users. How might we do this? In answer, I will investigate and test a novel framework for regulation that accounts for biological processes and technological change. By exploring Femtech in this way, my research will generate a bedrock to (i) specifically influence Femtech policy and development, and (ii) inform broader contemporary debate about the law and ethics of PHTs, as these directly impact women's health.

Lydia Medland

University of Bristol

Working for "five a day": risk and resilience in the changing food system, a multi-sited ethnography of the labour that feeds one city

Food security is a major concern as the UK moves towards exiting the European Union. For many decades, rural sociology and economic geography have been of little concern to the public yet, in the wake of economically re-configuring agricultural systems, it is of renewed significance. With a city-wide community interested in deep social questions of the food system, Bristol is the urban starting point for this rurally-orientated research. This project will explore the changing social context that provisions the UK with its government-recommended ‘5 a-day’ fruit and vegetables. As the UK is about to undergo radical change in areas of trade and subsidies, livelihoods are at risk. This also means that the 50% of food produced and consumed in the UK is under question. Through a methodology that examines five enclaves of fruit and vegetable production, this project will explore who bears the costs and risks to our food system.

Mila Mileva

University of Plymouth

Multimodal person perception

We form a first impression every time we encounter someone new. These impressions are important in our personal lives, but also influence a range of judgements such as voting choice and jury decisions. Research typically addresses perception of faces, but in real life we usually have access to more information channels, e.g. someone’s voice and name when being introduced. The perception of these additional cues and their integration is poorly understood. The proposed project aims to investigate key sources of impression-relevant information – their main principles, underlying structure and real world consequences. The research uses natural stimuli and a wide range of statistical techniques to produce generalisable findings. Most importantly, it focuses on the integration and interaction of multiple cues which will bring about significant theoretical advances in social evaluation research, as well as a deeper understanding of their role in everyday social interactions.

Ionut Moise

University of Exeter

Theology of Difference: Antyaviśeṣa, Haecceitas and Logoi in Indian and Western metaphysics

The theory of religious pluralism is nowadays one of the most urgent tasks of theology, and Hick’s "paradigm shift" has divided theologians’ consensus on truth (D’Costa, Ward, Craig). This project revisits Hick’s ‘pluralistic theology of religions’ (1989) and puts forward instead a ‘theology of immanent pluralism’ (a ‘theology of difference’) according to which pluralism is not to be explained in relation to an ‘ultimate divine Reality’ but, as I argue, should be explained in relation to an ‘immanent plurality’. Contrasting with Hick’s ‘phenomenological unity’ which he identifies in the ‘ultimate ineffable Reality which transcends all our visions of it’, the ontological unity I argue for is to be found in the realistic metaphysics of Candrānanda, Duns Scotus and Maximus the Confessor through a specific ‘theory of individuation’ (antyaviśeṣa, haecceitas, and logoi, respectively). This project’s contribution is both conceptual (ontological unity) and methodological (philosophical theology through comparative philosophy).

Samantha Neil

University of Oxford

Reconstructing lifeways during the Mesolithic and Neolithic in north-west France

The transition to farming is one of the most important processes to have taken place in the course of human history, with agriculture providing the basis for evolution of modern subsistence and societies today. North-west France is one of the most significant regions for understanding this process in Europe. It hosts some of the most important sites dated to this period. However, despite decades of excavation in this region, key questions about the effect of the development of agriculture on settlement patterns, social organization and individual dietary practices remain unanswered. By applying innovative isotopic techniques, this project will provide direct evidence for population mobility patterns, the nature of social organization, gender relationships and diversity in individual dietary practices during this period. In doing so it will shed new light on how the agricultural transition helped to shape development of human societies in this important region of Europe.

Sarah Parkhouse

University of Manchester

Coptic Apocrypha, Lived Religion and the Egyptian Landscape

In late antique Egypt a number of gospel-like texts were in circulation that ecclesiastical authorities prohibited Christians from reading. The manuscript evidence (primarily Coptic codices) shows that the prohibition was not wholly effective. This project asks: who was reading this literature, in what contexts, and what practices it validated and reinforced? Since practices are interlinked with locations, the project takes a spatial approach to determine how Coptic apocrypha interacted with the cultural and physical landscape of Egypt. The spatial foci are the discovery sites of gospel-like texts, especially Oxyrhynchus, and the monastic settlements and their surroundings in Upper Egypt. Using the concept of ‘lived religion’ to analyse practices in light of local reading contexts, the project offers a new paradigm for early Christian scholarship that has conventionally prioritized elite Greek and Latin authors. This paradigm will develop broader theoretical perspectives regarding religious diversity, practices and locality.

Michelle Pentecost

King's College London

Biosocial beginnings: The social life of a preconception trial in South Africa

This project investigates how new scientific knowledge about human development is reshaping interventions in early life. Life course scientists are turning to the preconception period as a window of opportunity to shape intergenerational health and decrease rates of obesity and non-communicable disease. Clinical trials that intervene preconception and measure outcomes in the next generation offer novel methods of testing these hypotheses. As preconception research begins to influence global health policy, it is increasingly important to understand how social context is translated into science. Working with the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative in Johannesburg, this project will be the first ethnographic study of a preconception trial in Africa. Drawing on my expertise as a clinician and anthropologist, I will examine the preconception trial as a new site of epidemiological knowledge production. I will produce a fine-grained account of trial participation that will contextualise trial outcomes using social theory, with implications for policy.

Reuben Phillips

University of Oxford

Collecting, Canonization, and Musical Creativity in Late 19th-Century Vienna: A Material History of Brahms’s Library

This project considers the nineteenth-century music library as a place of creativity and bookish forms of musical experience by providing a material history of the library belonging to the composer Johannes Brahms (1833-97). My study will explore Brahms’s personal collection of books, manuscripts and scores, now held in the archives of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, while reflecting on the idea of this library and its complex roles in the gathering and ordering of knowledge and the preservation of culture. I seek to situate Brahms’s distinctive mode of musical creativity in the context of his interactions with objects of musical literacy - particularly collected editions, theoretical treatises, miniature scores, and autograph manuscripts. By considering the afterlife of Brahms’s collection from the early twentieth century to the present, I will also use this remarkable library to contemplate the shifting significance of the material musical archive in our digital age.

Matthew Porges

University of Oxford

Where Would We Be Without Utopia?: Migration and Political Imagination in the Northwestern Balkans

This project will explore how overlapping and competing notions of utopia—idealised futures which transcend the ills of the present—shape political struggles over migration in the Balkans. The primary fieldsite for this project is a disused factory in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which has served as a waypoint and self-organised community for migrants moving through (or settling in) the Balkans on their way to Western Europe. Within the factory, migrants and activists (neither of which are monolithic groups) imagine and work towards overlapping political futures, defined in relation to the European Union, Slovenian nationalism, and the legacy of Yugoslav socialism. This project will examine how migrants organise politically following their “arrival” in Europe, and how utopian movements work within and outside existing institutions. This project seeks to make a novel contribution to the study of migration in Europe, the political legacy of socialism, and ideologies of the future within the European Union.

Cosmin Popovici-Toma

University of Oxford

Politicising Maurice Blanchot’s ‘neuter’: writing between text and context in 1960s France

This project will study the political implications of the ‘neuter’, an elusive term developed by the 20th century French writer and literary critic Maurice Blanchot. Broadly speaking, the neuter refers to the unstable nature of literary language, but it also overlaps with the concept of neutrality. How is it, then, that Blanchot began theorising the neuter in the late 1950s, just as he was returning to the French political scene after a prolonged absence? In keeping with Blanchot’s own seemingly apolitical uses of the neuter, previous research has focused on its philosophical, rhetorical and aesthetic aspects. By contrast, this project will fully re-contextualise the neuter in order to clarify Blanchot’s distinctive understanding of the relationship between the literary and political spheres. As a case study, it will thus shed new light on the move from a text-based paradigm of literary studies to a context-based one in the 1960s and beyond.

Andrew Primmer

University of Reading

"Railway Imperialism" in the Global South in the First Period of Globalisation: Lessons from History

This proposal focusses on the development of railway imperialism in the global south through seven case studies of individual British railway companies operating in Latin America, Africa and China. These case studies will analyse the financial performance, business strategy and ownership structure of individual railway companies in order to evaluate how profitable “railway imperialism” was in of itself for British investors, how it operated, and who controlled it. Company shareholding records are used to ascertain the dominant interests and linkages with other secondary economic activities supported by the railways. This will address four major concerns which have not been adequately answered by the existing historiography: who controlled “railway imperialism”? how profitable it was? How did it operate on an individual basis? And, what were the principle motivations for its establishment?

Jack Quin

University of Birmingham

Dual Forms: Modernist poetry and the poetics of sculpture (1880-1940)

From Edmund Gosse and the Victorian New Sculpture movement, to collaborating poets and sculptors of the Celtic Revival; from Algernon Charles Swinburne’s translations of Michelangelo, to Ezra Pound’s inter-arts Vorticist manifestos, and H.D.’s fascination with classical statuary, modern poetry is profoundly shaped by the art of sculpture, and vice versa. Nevertheless, no major critical study of the relationship between these two art forms in the modern period has emerged. Drawing on literary criticism and art historical scholarship, this interdisciplinary project charts the collaborations of poetry and statuary in Britain and Ireland from the late nineteenth-century to the Second World War, before the emergence of Concrete Poetry. This will be the first monograph-length study of the relationship between modern poetry, poetics, and the art of sculpture. The project is unprecedented in its wider appraisal of contemporary periodicals, exhibition reviews, lectures and ekphrastic poems about statues, decorative sculpture and abstract sculpture.

Zahra Shah

London School of Economics and Political Science

The Wazir Khan Mosque, Islam and the Everyday in Early Modern Lahore, 1641-1858

This project explores the ways in which experiences of Islam shaped daily lives and historical consciousness in the early modern world, seen through the prism of the Wazir Khan Mosque Lahore. Departing from the dichotomy traditionally posed between ‘popular’, shrine-based Islam and ‘official’, mosque-centred Islam, this project argues for an interpretation of the mosque, along with the shrine in its courtyard, as a microcosm of the dynamics of Islam in South Asia. Drawing on a unique collection of manuscripts associated with the Mosque, alongside private Naqshbandi Sufi collections, the project proposes that everyday experiences of Islam shaped attitudes towards decline, destruction and the preservation of the past. Global in its relevance due to the cosmopolitanism of centres such as Lahore, this is also the first serious attempt to situate Lahore in the historiography of early modern South Asia, currently dominated by the geographies of the modern Indian state.

Zoe Strimpel

University of Warwick

Breakups in Britain, 1971-1993

This is a history of breakups in Britain between the introduction of no-fault divorce in 1971 and the cresting of the divorce rate in 1993. Crisis emerged as a dominant theme in relational life in the late 20th century as relationship types proliferated, investing romantic bonds with a new precarity. While marital breakdown is a key focus, this project is distinct in moving beyond the dyad of marriage and divorce, examining how the romantically-sundered – from teenagers to the long-married – managed their romantic failures in conjunction with experts during a period in which expectations surrounding intimate relationships had dramatically intensified. In doing so it will offer new understandings of how the meanings of romantic commitment and selfhood were shaped in relation to the new gender order, therapeutic narratives, and burgeoning individualism of late 20th century Britain.

Matthew Tyce

University of Manchester

The political economy of renewables and competing energy pathways in Ghana and Kenya

This project will explore the political economy of renewable energy in sub-Saharan Africa, whose competing energy pathways have received relatively little attention. Utilising a political settlements approach that emphasises the role of power relations, it will map the actors that support and oppose renewable energy across SSA. Fieldwork will be conducted in Kenya and Ghana, where adoption has contrasted significantly. Kenya is SSA’s second-biggest investor in renewables, whereas they remain negligible within Ghana’s energy mix. Both have comparable economies and similar institutional/policy frameworks for renewables, suggesting that their political economies may explain the divergence. This hypothesis will be tested through comparative case-study analysis and qualitative methods, including interviewing conventional and renewable energy stakeholders, to examine the factors influencing adoption. This will allow the project to contribute to policy formation around renewables, which theory claims can mitigate climate change while also transforming societies by redistributing jobs, wealth, health, and political power.

Emily Ward

University College London

Adolescence and Belonging in Medieval Europe, c.1000 – c.1250

In most societies, changes impress themselves with particular strength on young people. My project will analyse how individuals approached that age of marked psychological, physical and social development we call adolescence during an acute period of religious, social, economic and political change between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. Throughout this period, most young men faced similar expectations and pressures even if their paths to adulthood were different within specific knightly, monastic, urban and clerical environments. Interweaving evidence from across Europe – with emphasis on Britain, France and Germany – the project's central aim is to pair adolescence with the politicized concept of belonging to illuminate wider societal changes: from generational conflict between young and old, to intra-familial differences between elder and younger siblings; from frictions between secular and religious communities, to discord between imposed concepts of adult identity and individual notions of adolescent selfhood.

Ana Laura Zavala Guillen

Queen Mary University of London

Blackness in Resistance: Territory and Regime Violence in Uruguay

This research will expand academic debates on race and territory by examining emerging spatial practices of resistance of largely disregarded groups namely African-descendant communities in countries where they have been predominantly erased or marginalised in politics and academia. Analysis of these spatial practices against violence suffered by these communities in Uruguay will demonstrate that Blackness matters in resistance in Latin America by bringing together, in an original fashion, Maroon studies, a vibrant literature in Black geography and history, and scholarship on socioterritorial movements, a southern approach to geographies of social change, by way of a radical participatory research method in historical geography. African-descendant communities will challenge archival records, which deny resistance as part of the history of their settlements, shaping them as passive objects without any mobilisation against regime violence that affected them during slavery and a military dictatorship. This vision has negatively impacted on reparation for African-descendants communities.

Tomasz Zawisza

University College London

Retirement pensions and disability insurance for the 21st century

In order to address problems of population aging, governments of many countries have increased the state pension age and made disability eligibility more stringent. This project will evaluate policies aimed at encouraging older workers to continue working in old age, using unique datasets from Poland and the UK, and a state-of-the-art model of labour supply, benefit claiming, and savings behaviour. It will characterize the equity efficiency trade-off of these reforms. The research will answer these questions through a two-pronged approach. Firstly, it will use natural experiments in retirement provisions in Poland and disability insurance provision in the UK to evaluate how individuals respond to changes in existing systems. Secondly, it will use modelling from the research frontier to match the observed responses, and evaluate alternative reforms, such as raising of the pension age while providing an old-age income floor and enhanced disability-insurance provision will be analysed.

Chi Zhang

University of St Andrews

Challenges and Conditions for Counter-Terrorism Cooperation with China

Terrorism is an ongoing global challenge. Beyond the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, international counter-terrorism cooperation with China has been ad-hoc and superficial. Recent developments demonstrate a trend whereby China’s efforts in justifying its counter-terrorism policy, especially its detention of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region, became increasingly important in shaping the evolving discourse relating to counter-terrorism. Flexing its diplomatic and economic muscle, China gained support from a number of Muslim-majority countries in the oppression of its own Muslim community. Having developed the legal framework that allows its army to conduct operations abroad for counter-terrorism purposes, China is honing its skills in military operations other than war through peacekeeping operations.

Linzhi Zhang

Courtauld Institute of Art

Unrecognised Bodies: Migrant Workers in Contemporary Chinese Art

This project concerns a unique but much neglected fact about contemporary Chinese art: the faces and bodies we see in the images and videos are mostly from migrant workers. As cheap labour provided by the mass migration in the Chinese urbanisation process, migrant workers are widely used in contemporary Chinese art as performers and models. Their identities and contribution, however, remain largely unrecognised. This project seeks to reveal the aesthetic consequences, intended or unintended by the artists, arising from workers’ participation in the production of contemporary Chinese art. Through ethnographic research in artists’ studios in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, I will uncover the interactive process in which artists and migrant workers have jointly produced artworks. In a systematic analysis of major artworks produced since the 1990s that employed migrant workers, I will identify the role of migrant workers’ bodies as corporeal material and artistic medium for contemporary Chinese art.

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