The British Academy awards 11 new Senior Research Fellowships for 2023-24

3 May 2024

The British Academy is pleased to announce funding for 11 recipients of the 2023/24 BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowships cohort.

This year, 130 applications were submitted for assessment, from which 11 Senior Research Fellowships were granted, resulting in a success rate of under 10%. In total, the British Academy awarded £681,686.00 towards the Fellowships.

Ten awards were funded by the Leverhulme Trust while an eleventh award was provided by the Thank-Offering to Britain Fellowship. The Thank-Offering to Britain Fellowship is funded from the proceeds of an endowment raised in the 1960s by the Association of Jewish Refugees to say thank you to the people of Great Britain for the assistance given to refugees fleeing from Nazi persecution. Many of these refugees became prominent in the UK academic community.

The Senior Research Fellowships enables established scholars to focus on research, away from the normal demands of their academic careers, allowing them to complete a significant piece of research through sustained period of leave for one year.

The 2023/24 Senior Research Fellowships awardees are:

Please note: Awards are arranged alphabetically by surname of the grant recipient. The institution is that given at the time of application.

Thank-Offering to Britain Fellowship:

Professor Richard Anderson


University of Edinburgh

Value awarded: £68,828.26

El Lissitzky as Critic: Writings on Architecture and the City

Abstract: This is a study of the relationship between writing, art, and architecture. It focuses on the work of El Lissitzky (1890-1941), one of the twentieth century’s most gifted polymaths. His contributions to fields including painting, exhibition design, architecture, and the graphic arts are widely recognised, but his lucid and iconoclastic prose is not well understood. Lissitzky’s words provide a new perspective on the fate of avant-garde experiments in Europe and the former Soviet Union; they also offer a genealogy of the social, economic, and discursive positions familiar to textual workers today. This study draws on the applicant’s extensive knowledge of art and architectural history and rare facility with languages to address the wit and precision of texts originally written in Yiddish, Russian, and German throughout the 1920s and 1930s. It will produce an open-access book that presents many of Lissitzky’s texts in English translation for the first time.

Funded by the Leverhulme Trust:

Professor Sam Barrett


University of Cambridge

Latin Song in Aquitaine around the Year 1100

Value awarded: £64,814.30

Abstract: Two developments that proved decisive for Western music history occurred during the second half of the eleventh century, the separation out of two dependent voices (‘polyphony’) and the fashioning of song repertories with independent, newly written verse texts set to newly composed music. Both innovations have been traced to Aquitaine, to a sacred Latin song repertory and its secular counterpart, troubadour song. My recent discovery of two-voice settings of poems from Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy and a Horatian Ode (3.13) in Aquitanian manuscripts copied ca. 1100 challenges this long-held view. These songs provide the starting point for a book that situates ostensibly new developments within a much richer culture of Latin song in Aquitaine around the year 1100 than previously suspected. The book will demonstrate unexpected continuity between the sung reception of classical poetry by diverse communities and pivotal developments in Western music at the turn of the twelfth century.

Professor Katherine Burrell


University of Liverpool

Hospitable Homes: Refugee Settlement, Hosting and the UK's Homes for Ukraine Scheme

Value awarded: £51,157.68

Abstract: Since March 2022, over 100,000 displaced people from Ukraine have been hosted in people’s homes across the UK through the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. This development signals a move to less state orientated refugee settlement policies, deliberately placing more responsibility for refugee support with communities and individuals. This Fellowship will support the production of a timely, sensitive and original monograph which examines this scheme in depth, bringing together and deepening discussions on refugee governance, theories of hospitality, and geographies of the home. It will shape critical discussions about how refugees are governed, what kind of sanctuary and welcome is on offer, and what happens when this support is moved into domestic spaces. To do this, the book will draw on 58 in-depth interviews, already completed, with hosts, ‘guests’ and people working in relevant charities, central and local government, the first and largest study of this scheme to date.

Professor Ming Du


Durham University

“De-risking” and the Future of International Trade and Investment Law

Value awarded: £54,962

Abstract: China’s rapid rise as a great economic and military power with ambition to reshape the international order is leading Western governments to grow increasingly wary of potential economic and security risks from China. In May 2023, the G-7 countries agreed that a central part of their economic strategy towards China is “de-risking, not de-coupling” from the Chinese economy. Yet, there is no consensus on what ‘de-risking’ is or what it entails, resulting in diverging actions and strategies. This project is the first to unpack the concept of de-risking and its impact on the various stakeholders in the global economy, as well as exploring the implications of de-risking from China for the future of international trade and investment law. The target audience of this project are UK and international policymakers, scholars of international trade and investment law, international relations/international political economy, and Chinese studies.

Professor Yoram Gorlizki


University of Manchester

A Soviet Rule of Law: Justice and the Constitution in Soviet Russia

Value awarded: £58,687.77

Abstract: After the end of the Cold War, it was widely assumed that democracy and the rule of law always moved in unison, with the one automatically reinforcing the other. This built on a legacy from the Cold War which linked Western states with the rule of law and authoritarian states, most notably Marxist-Leninist ones, with its absence. This project will provide the first in-depth analysis of a major policy in a key period of Soviet history to ask whether it might be possible to have a particular form of the rule of law in an authoritarian state. In doing so it builds on and extends a growing body of work on the “authoritarian rule of law” and poses questions—such as “How does a rule of law emerge?” and “What is the role of constitutions in dictatorship?”—which can shed new light on how authoritarian regimes function.

Dr Onur Ulas Ince


School of Oriental and African Studies

Before the Color Line: Empire, Capital, and Race in Asia, 1800-1850

Value awarded: £75,679.13

Abstract: The proposed project investigates the formation of nineteenth-century racial categories under British colonial capitalism in South and Southeast Asia. The project addresses several shortcomings in the burgeoning literature on capitalism and race, namely the provincial focus on the Atlantic world, lack of conceptual rigor, and insufficient attention to the historicity of the language of “race.” First, the project situates capitalism and race in a transimperial framework that encompasses Asia. Second, it elaborates the concept of “capitalist racialization” to illuminate the racial ordering of colonial populations according to capitalist agendas of reorganizing colonial land and labour. Third, it contends that such racial ordering was originally articulated in the intersecting discourses of civilization and savagery and classical political economy. These arguments are developed through a detailed historical study of the racial stereotypes of the “Hindoo” and the “Chinaman” and their inception in nineteenth-century visions of liberal-capitalist reform in British Asia.

Professor Daniel Margocsy


University of Cambridge

Transported: Maritime Logistics in the Dutch East India Company World

Value awarded: £65,694

Abstract: This project aims to offer the first in-depth account of how the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ran and maintained a seaborne empire in the early modern Indonesian archipelago. It examines the intense financial and technoscientific investments of colonial officers, natural historians, physicians and craftspeople into the maritime logistics of keeping ships afloat and sailors alive. Based on extensive research in Indonesia, India and the Netherlands, this project offers a novel perspective on how the VOC appropriated a variety of Southeast Asian technologies of maintenance and repair, and how it extracted the requisite natural resources, to manage its violent commercial and imperial ventures. In doing so, this project connects the rise of science and technology to the history of colonial expansion and large-scale environmental transformation.

Professor Richard Parkinson


University of Oxford

'The Life of Sinuhe': A Reader's Commentary to the Middle Kingdom Version(s)

Value awarded: £64,180

Abstract: 'The Life of Sinuhe' (c. 1850 BCE) is generally considered the masterpiece of Ancient Egyptian writing and is the best known literary work from that culture, featuring in biblical studies and comparative literature, and forming the basis of a Hollywood epic ('The Egyptian', 1954) and a recent play by Ben Okri (Changing Destiny, 2021). In a dramatic monologue, it articulates an examination of cultural identity through a narrative of exile, and is a major source for many aspects of Egyptian culture. There has been no integrated commentary on this work since 1916, despite many publications on individual passages, aspects and manuscripts. The proposed research will provide the first modern complete commentary on the Middle Kingdom version of the poem, with a review of previous discussions and a full philological and contextual analysis, and it will provide a literary interpretation of the poem as a whole, drawing on experimental performances.

Professor Catherine Rider


University of Exeter

Understanding Infertility in the Middle Ages: Medicine, Theology and Experience

Value awarded: £45,769

Abstract: As in many periods, couples in medieval Europe experienced pressure to have children. However, much medieval thinking about infertility remains unexplored despite key developments in medical history and marriage law occurring from the twelfth century onwards, which shaped knowledge and practice surrounding reproductive disorders for centuries to come. My project draws together largely unpublished sources (theology, Bible commentary, sermons, medicine) from the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, to explore their understandings of infertility, the factors that shaped them, and how they were disseminated to wider audiences. It will show that learned ideas about infertility were surprisingly varied, and academic authors discussed what they thought was the lived experience of infertility as well as theoretical knowledge. In this way, the project will offer a nuanced view of the period and its legacy, drawing the European Middle Ages into the broader histories of infertility which are currently being written.

Professor Neil Vickers


King's College London

A revisionary history of the medical humanities

Value awarded: £64,268.57

Abstract: There is no book-length history of the medical humanities even though there are many anecdotal accounts of how the field developed in various parts of the world. These are, almost without exception, ‘internalist’ histories, focusing on activities and institutional connections of particular individuals who identified themselves as medical humanities scholars at certain times and places. My aim is to write the first comprehensive history of the field. Although it will largely be centred on the English-speaking world, I will trace parallel histories in France (through Canguilhem and his disciples) and Germany (through Gadamer). I will pay particular attention to kinds of transdisciplinary collaborations it has led to, stressing the importance of attempts to link humanities learning with findings from the natural sciences. This aspect of the field has fallen into abeyance in recent years as scholars from English studies have come to lead it. It needs to be brought back.

Professor Ting Xu


University of Essex

Diversity in Property and Legality in Uneven Development: The Case of Post-Mao China

Value awarded: £67,646

Abstract: This fellowship would enable me to complete a monograph on ‘Diversity in Property and Legality in Uneven Development: The Case of Post-Mao China’, under contract with Palgrave Macmillan (Springer). This research examines an important and timely question on the relationship between property, legality, and development in the context of the rise and fall of China’s economy. It adopts approaches that look beyond the scope of state law, paying attention to diversity in property, and examine development as an uneven process. The key components of the new analytical framework include diversity in property, (extra)legality and the ways it is defined and interpreted in state law, development policies and community norms, and uneven development. The findings will provide insights for post-Mao China and other countries, especially developing and transition countries moving towards a market economy, to rethink the relationship between property and development and identify a more sustainable approach to development.

The awards listed are those for the 2023-24 BA/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowships. Previous award announcements can be found on the BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowships past awards page.

Contact the press office

For further information contact the Press Office on [email protected]  / 07500 010 432.

Sign up to our email newsletters