Wolfson Research Professorships Awards 2013

Funded by

The British Academy and the Wolfson Foundation have confirmed the award of four new BA/Wolfson Research Professorships to run from the autumn of 2013. The four successful candidates were chosen from a field of 55 applicants, giving a success rate of just over 7%. The Academy's Research Awards Committee faced some very difficult decisions in making these awards. 

Professor Nicholas Cook, FBA
1684 Professor of Music, University of Cambridge, Faculty of Music
(Music / Theory and analysis, including empirical approaches)
Musical encounters: studies in relational musicology
An important function of music is to create relationships among those who participate in it. Choral singing affirms community values; string quartet performance audibly embodies human interaction; outside the concert hall, music is used to construct and negotiate identities, to foster interpersonal communication in music therapy, and as an agent of conflict transformation. Yet such functions of music, arguably crucial for its evolutionary development, are neglected by established musicological approaches dominated by the patterning of sounds or subjective experience. I propose a book that combines perspectives from relational practice, sociology, and ethnomusicology with musicological practices of close reading; deploys ethnographical research methods alongside analysis of texts, scores, and performances; and ranges from Britain, South Africa, and the West Pacific Rim to the virtual communities and participatory cultures based on the internet. By showing how the social is inscribed within the musical, my project contributes to a more balanced and inclusive musicology.

Professor Sheilagh Ogilvie, FBA
Professor of Economic History, University of Cambridge, Faculty of Economics
(Economics / Economic History - Economics)
Human Capital and Economic Outcomes in a European Developing Economy, c. 1600 – c. 1900
Does human capital, specifically education, cause economic growth? If so, how? And what causes human capital itself to grow? These questions are central to understanding long-term improvements in economic growth and human well-being. This project addresses them using an extraordinarily detailed household-level database recording educational, economic and demographic decisions in a late-developing European economy across three centuries (1600-1900). The project design makes it possible to transcend the limitations of existing aggregate studies, by analyzing the relationship between education and economic outcomes at the level at which human capital investment decisions are taken, namely the household. While taking comprehensive account of qualitative evidence, its primary methodological approach is quantitative, specifically multivariate regression analyses directed at distinguishing causal effects from mere correlations. The project offers a new empirical strategy and new theoretical perspectives for illuminating human capital as a central component of long-term economic development.

Professor Peter Wade
Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester, Social Anthropology, School of Social Sciences
(Anthropology / Social & Cultural Anthropology, other branches)
Race, nation and genomics: biology and society
This Fellowship seeks to advance our understanding of the relationship between genomic science and concepts of race, nation and gender. Genetics generally rejects the notion of race as a valid biological category, yet scientific mapping of genetic diversity across the globe - often in search of genetic variants affecting health - has widely been seen to paradoxically reinforce race-like and other social categories. My research explores how these categories circulate between genetics labs and public spheres, being reshaped in the process and entailing social consequences, related to notions of identity, citizenship, well-being and discrimination.

Professor Alan Williams
Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion, The University of Manchester, Department of Religions and Theology, School of Arts Languages and Cultures
(Oriental and African Studies / Modern & Medieval Middle Eastern lang and lit)
The Restitution of Rumi's Masnavi
The project is intended to give the Masnavi of Rumi, one of the most celebrated literary and mystical works of all Islamic culture, its due place in the 21st century. The 6-volume Persian classic of the Islamic Sufi tradition, “Spiritual Verse-Couplets”, was composed in the 1260s C.E., and is the most influential of Islamic spiritual works, dubbed by the Classical Persian poet Jami “The Qur’an in the Persian Language”. It is a truly unique work, both in content, style and power. It has been greatly influential on writers and Muslim communities since its composition. Though Rumi is now famous in the West, nowadays this work remains in the background, either in old translations or partial, new popular versions, occluded by a hagiographical persona of “Rumi”. A new and complete edition and translation, fully explained and annotated, bringing out its full potential, is needed to bring this altogether different exposition of Islam to contemporary understanding. In this project I propose to complete my edition and translation of the first four volumes.

Sign up to our email newsletters