Global Professorships 2022

Funded by

Professor Jane Duncan


University of Glasgow

“Public Oversight of Digital Surveillance for Intelligence Purposes: A Comparative Case Study Analysis of Oversight Practices in Southern Africa”


Digitisation has provided intelligence agencies with the capabilities to conduct surveillance at an unprecedented scale, which requires effective oversight to limit the potential for abuse. In many countries, oversight is usually carried out by official institutions such as Parliament, courts, independent statutory offices, or an ombudsman, whose role is to monitor and review surveillance capabilities to ensure that intelligence agencies use them effectively and lawfully. However, across southern Africa – where digital surveillance is expanding - these official oversight institutions lack the power and resources to perform these functions. Consequently, oversight in these countries typically is conducted by the public, through, for instance, challenging unjustifiable secrecy, publicising abuses and organising campaigns to rein these agencies in. Through comparative case study research exploring lessons from key moments when public oversight has been attempted in the region, my research will develop a model for successful public oversight of digital surveillance.

Professor Marcus Milwright


University of York

“Making Meaning: Craft Practices and the Process of Change in Islamic Art”


Despite growing attention to the socio-cultural contexts of art, the intentions of patrons and the reception of artworks continue to dominate the interpretation of the stylistic and technical evolution of Islamic visual and material culture. This model underestimates the role of materiality in artistic production networks and individual products. The proposed programme argues that meaning was shaped in decisive ways through the action of external political, economic, and cultural challenges on groups of craftspeople, their knowledge and practices. The guiding hypothesis will be that the choices made through manufacturing processes are crucial to the generation of style and meaning. By concentrating on the context of making through four thematic case studies, we can address the diversity of media covered under the label of Islamic art and examine meaningfully the connections across craft traditions, craftspeople and materials while re-considering where the art stands between its patrons, makers and consumers.

Professor Eric Winsberg


University of Cambridge

“Complex Modelling and Political Decision Making: Addressing Technical and Moral Problems”


In the 21st century, crucial political decisions—such as how to respond to the climate emergency—depend on computer models of complex systems. Yet such models have an epistemic limitation which complicates political decision-making: it is generally impossible for models to rule out extreme events, or to assign probabilities to ‘worst-case scenarios’ in a value-free way. At Cambridge, I will leverage my internationally-recognized work on the epistemology of computer simulation and philosophy of climate science to tackle interrelated technical and moral problems affecting modelling and decision-making. Specifically, I will explore two candidate methods for improving the objectivity of model forecasts: 1) ‘Model Ensembles’, which inform what scenarios are considered ‘reasonable’; 2) Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, which influence model parameterizations. Furthermore, I will undertake collaborative workshops with UK stakeholders to advance the development of philosophically-informed normative guidance, advising how to represent worst-case scenarios in complex computer models for political decision-making.

Professor Kathryn Sampeck


University of Reading

“A New Culinary Archaeology of Chocolate: Food Histories of Mesoamerica in Holistic Perspective”


Chocolate is at the heart of this project. It has a complex history of profound social, economic, and political impacts on the societies who produce and consume it. Central America is pivotal to this global story, but its place in chocolate’s history has been neglected because we have lacked the material evidence and the interpretive tools to evaluate its real contribution. I will fill this gap by integrating archaeological, documentary and other contextual sources and using cutting-edge biomolecular techniques to build a multi-scalar interpretation of Mesoamerican cuisine networks through time, from AD300-1900. This will recentre the story on indigenous societies’ agency in the global commodification of chocolate, revealing how they were transformed by the adoption of chocolate elsewhere in the world. By providing a deep-time perspective on issues of sustainability and structural inequality, the results will speak directly to social and ecological challenges surrounding chocolate today.

Professor Tendai Mangena


University of Leeds

"Uncoupling Heteropatriarchy in African Feminism: Unmarried Women and Indigenous Knowledges of Gender and Sexuality among the Shona of Zimbabwe"


Using the experiences of unmarried Shona women of Zimbabwe as represented in indigenous knowledges and in their biographies, this project seeks to explore the decolonial implications of such representations for African feminism. It constitutes a critical response to calls for African feminism to decolonise, particularly problematising the concern with heterosexual marriage which, although deeply embedded in indigenous cultures, can arguably be seen as a legacy of the colonial, Euro-Christian influence in African societies. The project’s broader questions revolve around the voices and experiences of unmarried Shona women, and how these complicate, challenge or disrupt dominant ideas regarding the norms of gender, marriage, and family life in contemporary Africa. The project establishes the nascent field of singles studies as an urgent and important sub-field of inquiry that advances our understanding of major questions in African and gender studies at large, such as about gender and modernity, socio-cultural change, and decolonisation.

Professor Saliha Belmessous


University of Oxford

"Legal Encounters at the Origins of International Law"


This project seeks to reassess the way we think about international law. Over the past two decades, legal scholars have investigated how international law and order have come to be dominated by Western powers. They have argued that while the theorists of international law claimed to create a universal legal system applicable to global society, in reality, they shaped international law by building on their own legal traditions and in a way that best served their interests. In this project, I will test that scholarly consensus against the backdrop of the legal negotiations that Europeans and non-Europeans conducted in the Americas, Africa, and the Pacific from the 16th to the 19th century. I am interested in investigating whether the legal world in which European and non-European societies interacted was far more flexible and inclusive than what past jurists, and scholars studying them, have asserted.

Professor Arkebe Oqubay Metiku


School of Oriental and African Studies

"The Greening of African Economic Development: A Comparative Study of Productive Transformation and Drivers of Industrial Hubs"


The greening of African economic development is urgent, but there is no consensus on how best to promote this, and it is not at the centre of policymaking. Nor is there remotely sufficient evidence on lower carbon industrialisation in Africa. This research explores what greening of industrialisation has actually started taking place in Africa: What can we learn from the comparative study of policies and firms in industrial hubs in Africa about the prospects for a ‘green industrial policy’ on the continent? What are the constraints on faster and more effective green productive transformation? How can they be overcome? What are the drivers of green change in Africa? What are the implications for feasible policy on the continent? This research will collect primary, comparative evidence from selected case studies of countries, sectors, industrial hubs, and firms through a mixed-method approach comprising interviews, surveys, document reviews, focus groups, and site observations.

Professor Irini Papanicolopulu


UK Host Institution: School of Oriental and African Studies

"Freedom of the Seas and Human Rights Protection"


The project explores how freedom of the seas affects protection of human rights at sea. It has three goals: to trace and critically assess the interaction between the genesis and development of the principle of freedom of the seas and its impact on people, including legacy of colonial domination and the slave trade; to analyse the emancipatory potential of freedom of the seas for individuals, going beyond sectorial approach (e.g. migration or piracy) and adopting a holistic outlook on human activities at sea; and to offer a conceptual framework for reconstructing this principle to align with the modern aims of the international community concerning protection and fulfilment of human rights for all people, including those at sea. The project will produce a monograph, three journal articles, a database of legal practice and a Code of Practice on maritime businesses and human rights.

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