CURRENT SeNSS STUDENTS BY PATHWAY

We have listed all our current students on this page, under their Pathway Groups. Please click on a Pathway to see what they are researching for their PhDs.

BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

EIRINI BERSIMI (University of Kent)

Main supervisor: Dr Ekaterini Panopoulou; second supervisor: Dr Nikolaos Voukelatos

Research project: Volatility forecasting and asset allocation in portfolio management.

Research description In the first part of my project, I will review and examine the forecasting power of large number of univariate and multivariate volatility models. I will produce volatility forecasts using various models and approaches. I will also use linear and non-linear combinations of forecasts produced by different univariate models and assess the gains in forecasting accuracy. The second part of my research will shift the emphasis to the choice between volatility forecasts derived from historical models against option implied volatility measures. Finally, the third part of my research will move to Markowitz’s framework of portfolio selection. More specifically I will examine how we can optimize asset allocation in a portfolio through the use of multivariate volatility models. I will focus on shrinkage methods estimators of the covariance matrix.

CHRISTY HEHIR (University of Surrey)

Main supervisor: Professor Caroline Scarles; second supervisor: Dr Joseph Kantenbacher

Research project Beyond good intentions: tourism as a driver of emotion and philanthropic behaviour change

Research description Climate change for some provides a rationale to visit areas, like Polar Regions, before they disappear (Dawson et al., 2011), but the act of travelling to threatened areas raises the spectre of tourists loving an already dying destination to an early death.

Partnering with leading tour operators and international wildlife charities, this research uses an innovative combination of biometrics, interviews and surveys to understand whether travelling leads to increases in conservation-oriented philanthropy. Outcomes of knowing how people’s relationships with nature form, and what behavioural implications they may have, could provide critical insight into how destinations can effectively meet conservation goals and facilitate greater collaboration between the tour operator and non-profit sectors.

YOO RI KIM (University of Surrey)

Main supervisor: Professor Allan Williams; second supervisor: Jason Chen

Research project: The impact of spatial clustering on the labour productivity of hotels in the UK

Research description With the recent Brexit, awareness of the persistent issue of the labour productivity gap has intensified in the UK service sector, especially in the tourism and hospitality industry. Given its strong reliance on migrant and transient labour, and high turnover rates, both academics and the industry have long been aware of the gap, but new ways are required to address this. The productivity problem has both internal and external dimensions, and there has been relatively less focus on the external, especially on the role of spatial clustering in relation to productivity, which this research will investigate. The implications of spatial clustering are especially important in the context of tourism and hospitality due to its inter-sectoral nature, which leads hotels, restaurants and bars, tourist attractions, etc. to cluster in tourist destinations. This generates externalities, in the form of agglomeration economies, that can influence labour productivity. However, these are often taken for granted; the actual effects of spatial clustering on labour productivity remain uncertain. Thus, this research will contribute to the operationalisation of agglomeration economies in the tourism and hospitality labour market.

The research aims to investigate the impact of spatial clustering on the labour productivity in the UK hotel sector. The research objectives are:

  1. To examine the impact of the degree of clustering of tourism and hospitality firms within a spatial unit on hotel labour productivity.
  2. To examine the impact of agglomeration economies – labour pooling and knowledge spillovers – of a spatial unit on hotel labour productivity.
  3. To examine the non-economic locational characteristics within a spatial cluster and their impact on hotel labour productivity.

STEFANO MAIANI (University of Essex)

Main supervisor: Professor Michael Lamla; second supervisor: Jason Cen

Research project The impact of monetary policies and the risks of carry trade speculation

Research description

I conduct an analysis of the effects of non-FDI capital flows to China that spillovered from prolonged unconventional monetary policies held by advanced economies. In particular, I analyse to what extent these capital flows can be associated to global carry trade speculations, associated to positive interest rate spreads arising between advanced economies and emerging markets, and to the so-called global financial cycle. Finally, I will perform a firm-level analysis of the way in which capital flows influence firms' financing and the implications of this for their profitability and risk exposure.

SIMON OLDHAM (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Main supervisor: Professor Laura Spence; second supervisor: Dr Diego Valzquez-Brust

Research project: How does organisational growth affect the construct and practice of values within small and medium sized enterprises?

Research description The preponderance and accompanying study of ethics, but specifically values, within corporations has received much attention within the academic literature. Per contra, rather less research and investigation into the practice of values within Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) has been conducted. Yet the SME sector provides a unique and compelling opportunity to undertake research on values, due to the antipodean nature of these organisations to their corporate cousins; particularly, SMEs possession of a plethora of unique characteristics, in tandem with the economic and the financial turbulence they frequently endure. Given SMEs particular propensity for change this research seeks to investigate the construct and practice of values within SMEs as they grow, evolve and adapt, from start up to maturity.

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

Rachel Claydon (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Dr Nick Nisbett; second supervisor: Dinah Rajak

Research project: Selling nutrition? Reception and impact of fortified packaged foods in Odisha, India

Research description

My project will research the reception and impact of recent market-based interventions in nutrition from the perspective of the household in peri-urban India. Fortified packaged foods have become a key means of addressing micronutrient deficiencies amongst undernourished people. They are both celebrated as an example of the market’s ability to address the pressing development challenge of malnutrition, and criticized as part of corporate capture of the development agenda, and as a potential gateway to a lifetime dependency on processed/packaged foods, with attendant health consequences. However, relatively little is known about how fortified packaged foods are received in practice by poor households, nor about how they impact upon people’s understandings of nutrition and food consumption practices more broadly. Empirical investigation of the intended and unintended effects of this highly topical nutrition intervention is urgently needed given the short time within which the “nutrition transition” can take place, and problems of undernutrition be replaced with those associated with overweight/obesity. The research will use critical anthropological techniques and other qualitative methodologies interrogate how this highly topical nutrition intervention is playing out on the ground in Odisha, India. The findings will provide development researchers, policy makers and practitioners with grounded insights into the potential and limitations of fortified packaged foods in improving nutrition outcomes, as well as contributing to these wider, critical debates.

Jessica Goodenough (University of Reading)

Main supervisor: Dr Hilary Geoghegan; second supervisor: Giuseppe Feola

Research project: Citizen science in the global South: effects on participation in urban agriculture in Rio de Janeiro’s informal settlements

Research description Taking the informal settlements of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as my focus, this PhD asks: (1) How is knowledge about urban agriculture projects currently produced and transmitted in Rio’s favelas? (2) What are people’s motivations for participation in urban agriculture in informal settlements? (3) What role can citizen science approaches play in enhancing, sustaining and advocating for participation in urban agriculture in informal settlements? (4) How can grassroots organisations, NGOs and state-led organisations embed citizen science in their urban agriculture projects in the global South?

Paul Fenton Villar (University of East Anglia)

Main supervisor: Dr Edward Anderson; second supervisor: Elissaios Papyrakis

Research project: Investigating the impact of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

Research description Advocated by the international community for 15 years, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is recognised as a leading anti-corruption scheme concerning public receipts from oil, gas and mining activities. Today, hosting a membership of 31 countries (with a further 18 countries applying for membership), it practically promotes institutional accountability and financial transparency by demanding that member countries enforce contract and revenue disclosure standards, forgo regular independent audits, and maintain a national multi-stakeholder group to promote public dialogue. Yet, despite EITI’s long-lasting international prominence, a recent evidence review has highlighted a deficiency in quantitative evidence assessing either the direction or magnitude of the possible impacts of EITI. Meanwhile, other critics have further suggested that the quantitative evidence that is available uses insufficient evaluation approaches to adequately control for selection bias. As such, building on my previous research (Fenton Villar and Papyrakis (forthcoming)) on the effects of EITI on corruption in Zambia, this research offers to extend the application of an innovative quasi-experimental technique, called the Synthetic Control Method (SCM), in order to more broadly investigate the effects of EITI across other member countries and outcome domains (including accountability, economic growth, FDI and aid) in addition to corruption. Furthermore, given that the SCM approach is a relatively recent methodological development, it has been subject to limited review to date. Thus, beyond the thematic contributions of this investigation, this research offers to compile a review of methodological developments and practical guidance surrounding the implementation of the approach.

Jonathan Franklin (University of East Anglia)

Main supervisor: Dr Ben Jones; second supervisor: Professor Adrian Martin

Research project: Putting climate change to work, the case of Tanzania

Research description My research explores how climate change is being interpreted, contested and put to use by different groups in Tanzania - and how this is shaping the response to the issue. To do this I will undertake ethnographic fieldwork in Tanzania, placing my first-hand insights in perspective with wider social and economic transformations taking place alongside climate change.

ECONOMICS

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

Marta Alvaro-Taus (University of Surrey)

Main supervisor: Dr Cristiano Cantore; second supervisor:

Research project: The sustainability of public finances given an ageing population.

Research description The proposed approach follows a three step-process. Firstly, I will undertake an in-depth study of the demographic structures and the functioning of labour markets in European countries. This will involve a literature review of outstanding work on labour economics, business cycle and dynamic macroeconomic models. At this stage, I will also conduct an empirical analysis on the effects of immigration on public finances at national level, given that in the past decade there were significant migration flows both intra-EU and from outside into the EU. For instance, while Southern European countries were net receivers of generally low skilled migrants from North Africa and Eastern Europe, other countries like Germany and the UK have received many highskilled European immigrants.

Secondly, I will carry on a theoretical analysis of the effects of migration on macroeconomic variables by using a multi-region overlapping generations (DSGE) model within the incomplete market approach with the aim of understanding how different shocks affect the steady state and the transitional dynamics to a new equilibrium. The model will account for life-cycle dimensions as identified in my initial analysis (i.e. age productivity profiles, savings distributions, demographic structures), fiscal authorities and open-economy properties (Auerbach & Kotlikoff, 1987; Börsch‐ Supan, Ludwig, & Winter, 2006; Storesletten, 2000).

Finally, I will undertake an empirical analysis of spatial correlations between immigration and regional government deficits in Germany using instrumental variables.

Vicenc Esteve (University of East Anglia)

Main supervisor: Professor Kai-Uwe Kuhn; second supervisor: Professor Bruce Lyons

Research project: Thirty years of water privatization: What have we learned?

Research description Assessing the experience of the water privatization of England and Wales. Exploring the relative success of the price cap regulation scheme that was put in place. Scotland and the introduction and competition on the downstream market of water distribution. The tendency towards re-nationalization around the world.

Anthoulla Phella (University of Surrey)

Main supervisor: Professor Valentina Corradi; second supervisor: Dr Vasco Gabriel

Research project: Factor augmented quantile autoregression

Research description Quantile regression (QR) has emerged as a powerful alternative to standard least squares regression in a variety of econometric applications including labour economics, demand analysis and finance (Koenker and Hallock, 2001).The QR approach enables a researcher to analyse a continuous range of conditional quantile functions which provides a more complete picture of the conditional dependence structure of the variables examined rather than a single measure of conditional location. The more detailed description of the conditional distribution of the response variable that can be obtained through QR proves to be extremely helpful in the case of inflation where policy makers need to consider not only the most likely path but the whole distribution of outcomes that inflation can take.

Parametric quantile regressions in particular, have been shown to be a useful and flexible modelling strategy in the case of economic and financial variables, especially in the context of forecasting. QR has been the primary tool in the estimation and forecasting of Value-at-Risk, a standard tool for measuring market risk (Engle and Manganelli, 2004) and studies of the wage and income distribution (Koenker and Xiao, 2002),(Machado and Mata, 2005) among others. The presence however of time dependent data in economic and financial scenarios deems the Quantile Autoregression (QAR), as proposed by (Koenker and Xiao, 2006), the more suitable framework for relevant studies.

Nevertheless, it is well understood that inference regarding parametric quantile models critically depends on the validity of the parametric functional form that is specified for the quantiles under consideration. Therefore, in the case of QAR any post-estimation inference is heavily dependent on the implicit assumption that the linear quantile specification is correct. In accordance with the developments in the empirical field, tests for the correct specification of conditional quantiles functions over a continuum of quantile levels have been proposed by several authors (Escanciano and Goh, 2014) ,(Escanciano and Velasco, 2010).

Meanwhile, in an empirical context another development has been the increased use of factors in different macroeconomic models as a way to summarize large amounts of information into a smaller subset of variables. Factors have therefore been proven useful in overcoming the limited information bias arising from the fact that the information sets of decision makers is sufficiently larger than the information set captured by conventional empirical models. Particularly in the context of inflation, a substantial portion of the literature also supports that (average) inflation forecasts based on such factors seem to outperform univariate regressions (Stick and Watson, 2002), (Bernanke et al., 2005). Nevertheless, to the best of our knowledge nobody has examined whether the above also holds in the case of conditional forecasts of the distribution of inflation through the QAR approach.

Therefore, in accordance with the developments in these two strands of the literature I am working on the development of a new consistent test for the correct specification of the linear QAR against the alternative of a Factor-Augmented QAR(FA-QAR) conditional on a given information set, with an empirical application to the distribution of inflation.

Erkin Sagiev (University of Essex)

Main supervisor: Dr Jayant Ganguli; second supervisor: Professor Christian Ghiglino

Research project

Research description

EDUCATION

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

ROSA MARVELL (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Dr Tamsin Hinton-Smith; second supervisor: Dr Louise Gazeley

Research project: Exploring postgraduate taught (PGT) trajectories through the narratives of first-generation students enrolled on Master's Programmes in England

Research description This project is focused on how social (dis)advantage influences trajectories into Master's-level study, explored through life-history narrative interviews and visual timelining with first-generation scholars. It is particularly interested in what structural, material and symbolic resources, networks and moments help, hinder or otherwise shape those journeys. It is also interested in the intersection between Widening Participation research/practice and higher-level study.

MICHAEL ROY (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Professor Mario Novelli; second supervisor: Professor Yusuf Sayed

Research project: Macedonia: Policy disjuncture between global education, ethnicity and conflict

Research description With the increasingly complex nature of violent conflict today, there is renewed interest within the international community in the ameliorative role of education. Hence, Western organisations export education and development projects to non-Western countries, which have significantly different socio-historical contexts, but share in common a struggle to balance diversity and unity in efforts to counter the danger of ethno-religious conflict engulfing the nation. A case in point is the post-communist and post-conflict states of the former Yugoslavia, and primarily the small and troubled state of the Republic of Macedonia, the site of this study. Following the armed insurgence in 2001 involving the country’s two largest ethnic groups, the state’s education programme was significantly altered. Driven by Western intervention a number of liberal multicultural policies were adopted: to actively encourage Macedonia to employ education as a tool to manage its diverse populaces in constructing a secure form of national unity. Nevertheless, this appears to have faltered and has only reinforced existing ethnic divides and contributed to the escalation of tensions and political controversy in recent years. This is mirrored by an increasingly segregated education system as a consequence of decentralisation and language policies.

Underscoring the importance of this research is the lack of empirical research concerning supranational education agenda setting, its legitimacy, and its ability to address the needs of conflict-affected societies. Greater analysis is now needed regarding policy disjuncture between the powerful multilateral institutions involved in these interventions in Macedonia with regards sustainable ‘peacebuilding’. Whilst education interventions may represent Western modernity, under closer scrutiny they not only hold conflicting and competing education agendas, but also often overlook the contextual indicators concerning ‘difference’ in the way they handle ‘the Other’. This has a significant impact on the success of such initiatives being realised, particularly in contexts affected by armed conflict and its legacies. As Macedonia well illustrates, such disconnect and oversight can actually contribute to creating a more ethnically entrenched and segregated education system. Therefore, this research will be built around the questions of what has been the logic behind Western intervention in the reform of curricula in the compulsory education system of the Republic of Macedonia since 2008 and in what ways has this contributed to sustainable peace building? But also what can this tell us of the role of Western interventions in the education systems of ethnically divided conflict affected contexts?

At the core of this project will rest a prism fashioned from three education interventions, to provide ‘tangible’ access to a micro to macro level understanding of the factors constraining the design and implementation of global education reforms in facilitating long-term conflict resolution within this consociational context.

CAITLIN SHAUGHNESSY (Roehampton University)

Main supervisor: Professor Adam Ockelford; second supervisor: Dr Arielle Bonneville-Roussy

Research project: Music, autism and learning: a transdisciplinary approach to autism interventions using theories and practices of interaction, pedagogy and perception

Research description For those with autism, music is widely regarded as an effective means of engagement, and there are numerous examples of the unique relationship between autism and musical talent. Music provides a unique platform for interaction as it encourages reciprocity within an environment separate from the social and environmental cacophony autistic individuals often encounter in everyday life. Within such a setting, a mutual musical relationship can be developed, where imitation and turn-taking can encourage musical dialogues and interaction in a situated musical space. As these behaviours are often linked to social development in early childhood (Meltzoff and Prinz 2002), they could have positive implications for behaviour outside musical environments. Therefore my current project proposes to investigate how through the observation of existing educational and therapeutic practices of music with autistic children in conjunction with practice-based research of musically interactive games, it may be possible to identify which specific aspects of music can promote social engagement, and how these may be utilized to develop social skills more widely.

JAMES WAGSTAFFE (University of Reading)

Main supervisor: Dr Suzanne Graham; second supervisor: Dr Holly Joseph

Research project: Processing cohesive devices as a second language reader: A mixed method study

Research description This research aims to investigate the ways in which second language (L2) users of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) process cohesive devices in written academic texts. Specifically, it will firstly use eye-tracking technology to identify to what extent L2 readers engage with grammatical and lexical cohesive markers during reading, as well as areas where comprehension difficulties may occur. Secondly, it will use stimulated recall interviews to investigate potential causes for any processing difficulties identified through analysis of the eye-tracking data.

This research seeks to make contributions to both practical pedagogy as well as theoretical understandings of L2 reading processes. In terms of pedagogy, it aims to investigate whether there are differences in the ways that successful and less successful readers process cohesive devices in academic texts, in the hope that such insights may be used to inform the development of materials and class room approaches used to help struggling readers achieve their academic goals.

In terms of its theoretical aims, this research intends to build on the work of linguists and written discourse analysts, such as Michael Halliday, Eugene Winter and Michael Hoey, to investigate the extent to which their findings regarding grammatical clause construction, inter-clausal grammatical relationships, as well as extended discourse patterns and their grammatical or lexical signaling, appear to have psychological reality to second language readers.

As a corollary, this research further intends to shed light on the ways in which L2 readers use lexical and grammatical cohesive markers to establish relationships of coherence between ideas in adjacent sentences, paragraphs and extended passages of text as they attempt to develop an extended cognitive model of the text being read.

HUMAN GEOGRAPHY

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

MIMI MCGANN (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Dr Fae Dussart; second supervisor: Carl Griffin

Research project: How the folk resurgence in England is influenced by recent changing conceptions of national identity i.e globalisation, multiculturalism, nationalism, Brexit and the breakup of the British Empire

Research description I'm going to be doing fieldwork at locations and events of recently revived or created folk rituals in England. My methods will include participant observation, in which I will attempt to analyse the representations contained within the rituals, and individual interviews, through which participants will give me their own beliefs about the representations within the rituals, after which I will ask wider questions about nationality, race, Brexit and the English political climate, folk history and what it means to be culturally from the region in which the ritual takes place (and wider, England). I'll also be doing archival research to create an understanding of the motivational context in which each ritual was originally revived or created.

EMILIA MELOSSI (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Professor Russell King; second supervisor: Ben Rogaly

Research project: Black labour: African migrant networks and agricultural work in the south of Italy

Research description This project is an analysis of the cultural and socio-economic impacts of undocumented labour migration from Africa to Europe. The aim of the research topic is to investigate and analyze the political and economic issues that the illegal entry and stay of migrants produces on European local economies and labour standards. The case study takes into consideration the labour migration flows from Sub-Saharan African countries to Europe with Italy as the first step in the migration project towards Northern European countries. The research topic focuses, more precisely, on seasonal Sub-Saharan African migrant labour in the agricultural sector in the South of Italy. The research project analyzes the “caporalato”, the migrant labour contracting system based on ethnic and kinship ties. The “caporalato” labour contracting system originated in the 1950s and spread throughout the Southern part of Italy among local Italian workers until it was fought back by trade unionist and slowly disappeared.

Since the 1970s however there has been an increase in migrant flows from Sub-Saharan Africa toward Italy, changing Italy’s role in the migration patterns from solely a departure country to a destination country. The increase in Italy of low-skilled African migrant labour has coincided with the re-emergence of the phenomenon of the “caporalato”, which has taken resurfaced since the 1980s, with undocumented migrants as its main target labour force, and rendering the agricultural sector in the South of Italy completely reliant on the migrant labour contracting system.

The function of the “caporalato” is to offer high numbers of temporary seasonal workers in a very short time, sometimes even just overnight. In fact, most of the migrant workers are contracted on a daily basis and will offer their labour in the early hours of the day. I will be conducting ethnographic field research in the province of Foggia in the “pista” shantytown in the outskirts of Borgo Mezzanone, in the Puglia Region, where there is a high density of migrant work force contracted in the agricultural sector.

While undergoing field research I will be investigating the legal and economic system that allows for the exploitation of the migrants’ “illegal entry and stay” status in Italy and their reasons and willingness to leave Italy and its exploitative conditions and proceed “North” in order to better their lives. I will investigate the modes of action of systemic structural undocumented migrant exploitation in Italy and the reasons behind a South-North internal European migrant flow trajectory. In fact, throughout ethnographic participant observation and interviewing processes, I will address the rhetorical construction of migrant utopias and destination countries, such as England and in particular the London area.

I believe that understanding the dynamics and limits of this system of structural illegality represents the first step in bringing about a change in the ways in which migrants enter Europe, are subsequently “allowed” to remain, and are forced to contend with myriads of constraints and impediments along the way. This type of research is fundamental for the management of migration throughout Europe.

SASKIA PAPADAKIS (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Main supervisor: Professor Phil Crang; second supervisor: Professor Ben Rogaly

Research project: Northerners in London: Englishness, place and mobilities

Research description

In my PhD, I am researching the identities and experiences of people from the North of England who have migrated to London. I aim to contribute to understandings of issues of migration and locality and how they play into the formation of national identities and cultural distinctions. My research interests are in nationality, culture and identity; the English North-South divide; and transregional migration within England.

LINGUISTICS

Forthcoming

POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

REBECCA DOBSON (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Professor Dan Hough; second supervisor: Liz David-Barrett

Research project: An analysis of policy intractability: Can institutional corruption shed light on the climate change mitigation challenge?

Research description

As 2016 claims the title of the hottest year on record, this study asks why the challenge of counteracting climate change has proven so intractable. In particular, given scientific assessments of the devastating consequences of the planet’s changing climate, it seeks to understand how discrepancies arise between governments’ stated intentions to tackle climate change and their actual performance.

With a focus on the UK – which with the 2008 Climate Change Act styled itself as “an example to the world of what ambitious climate action looks like” (Hansard 14 Dec. 2015) – this study assesses whether government policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (and meet carbon budgets) lives up to its aspirations, and where discrepancies can be found what their causes might be.

Is climate change mitigation simply the quintessential “wicked” policy problem, difficult to resolve and so understandably slow to develop and deploy? Can discrepancies be explained by political compromise, unintended consequences, government incompetence or inefficiencies? Or is it possible to identify another more disturbing root to its insolvability: one best explained by corruption and more specifically institutional corruption (IC)?

GOZDE HUSSAIN (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Main supervisor: Dr Jonathan Seglow; second supervisor: Dr Michael Bacon

Research project: Are Islamic doctrines compatible with Political Liberalism?

Research description

The rapidly growing Muslim presence in Europe makes more urgent the longstanding conflict between Islamic and Western understandings of the political world. Islamic scholarship advocates a political order grounded in faith, which is in tension with liberal democratic ideas that reject the legitimacy of political systems established on the basis of religious principles. This research seeks to address the question of the compatibility of Islam with liberal values by conducting a comparative analysis of the moral language of Islamic faith and the liberal democratic ideas articulated in John Rawls’s theoretical framework. As the pre-eminent liberal political philosopher, John Rawls, articulates a fundamental set of liberal ideas and optimistically assumes that the moral and religious doctrines of a pluralist society would not conflict with the principles underlying a liberal democratic political culture. This project assumes that a liberal democratic society requires the support of different doctrinal traditions in order to enjoy legitimacy and political stability. Furthermore, it criticises the scholars who seek a liberal/Islam reconciliation for underestimating the significance of political stability or over-estimating Islamic doctrines capacity for radical change. This project proposes to reinterpret Islamic scholastic theology (ilm al-kalam) and moral theology (usul al-fiqh) in a way of which is supportive of a fundamental set of liberal ideas, as well as re-assess key Rawlsian liberal ideas to avoid being needlessly demanding on the Islamic doctrinal tradition. The reconciliation of Islamic doctrinal tradition and fundamental political liberal ideas could assure that Muslims would not withdraw their support to liberal societies as the presence of Islamic faith becomes more prominent, thus, the political stability can be sustained. This original reconciliation of Islam and Rawlsian Liberalism will enrich both the Islamic and liberal intellectual traditions, deepen their understanding of each other and engender respect for the doctrinal pluralism that characterizes liberal democratic societies.

LAURA JUNG (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Professor Cynthia Weber; second supervisor: Dr Synne Dyvik

Research project: Caring for the body, crafting the state - analyzing the treatment of “failed soldiers” in late Wilhelmine and early Weimar Germany

Research description

My thesis explores how the concept and practice of “care” functions to uphold and reproduce sovereignty. It focuses on the treatment of “failed soldiers” – deserters, malingerers, so-called war neurotics, revolutionaries, and gender non-conforming individuals – in Germany during the First World War, the revolutionary period, and the early Weimar Republic. Their role in collective renegotiations of national identity and the rise of fascism shows how their various “failures” had not just personal but collective resonance. Therefore, the subjection of failed soldiers to different forms of medical, psychiatric, and disciplinary treatment aimed to both stabilize the state and increase the health of the body politic.

I investigate these technologies of power empirically and analyze theoretically the complex ways in which care functions as a technology of security. Crucial here is how care is not necessarily a benign practice but operates primarily to constitute a nation by means of discipline, exclusion, and exposure to precarity of those deemed risky to the well-being of the larger collective. Drawing on queer, feminist, poststructuralist, critical disability, and de-/postcolonial approaches to sovereignty and the human, I develop an understanding of care as an ambiguous yet powerful technology of statecraft and sovereignty.

MORVAN LALLOUET (University of Kent)

Main supervisor: Professor Richard Sakwa; second supervisor: Dr Adrian Pabst

Research project: Being a liberal in contemporary Russia

Research description

Since 2013, the crisis in Ukraine has exposed an important feature of Russian politics: the relation to the “nation” has become crucial in shaping and deepening political cleavages. One is either a “liberal” or a “patriot”, two fundamental categories in Russian politics. A “liberal”, in broad terms, designates proponents of democracy, the rule of law, and the market economy. The term is not limited to those opposing Vladimir Putin’s regime: some liberals have moved from critical support into opposition, others have moved in the opposite direction. They are divided in their ideology, from free-market economic liberals, to “civil society” liberals focusing on the defence of civil liberties and the establishment of the rule of law. Though marginalized, they still form a crucial part of the the Russian political field.

In the 2000s, Russian authorities have increasingly resorted to a form of “patriotism” centred on the Russian state. The question of patriotism is related to a set of issues concerning: the national identity of Russia; its borders; its ethnic minorities and the form of the state; its relationships with neighbouring states and the West. I will therefore examine how Russian liberals have raised and responded to the “national question”.

This research is concerned with the social history of political ideas. It seeks to understand where and in which context liberalism is produced in Russia, and how have Russian liberals adapted to the uses of “patriotism” and “nationalism” as tools of social consensus? I argue that the idea of the “nation” structures the main political cleavages in Russia and propose to study how liberals relate to this concept, with reference to the Russian political field, following the conceptualization of Pierre Bourdieu.

The central methodological claim will be that political positions are produced though competition within the field. The analysis should therefore focus on how political actors react to other positions: whether these positions come from actors close to or distant from them. In order to study these positions, I will form a corpus of political texts gathered from the Russian liberal press, from discussions on social networks, and from political parties. This analysis will be supplemented by interviews with key liberal actors that will provide insight into the context of the events discussed, and the strategies of those involved. The purpose of these interviews will be to identify more closely the defining issues that provoked the cleavage between “liberals” and “patriots.” Strategies and interpretations of events by actors will be understood by the consideration of their positions within the field.

Well represented in the Western media, Russian liberals have not received the attention they deserve. This research will contribute to the knowledge of a fundamental group in Russian politics, present both in power and in opposition to Vladimir Putin’s regime. It will shed light on the cleavage between “liberals” and “patriots, crucial to the understanding of Russian politics as a whole.

LAURA SAAVEDRA-LUX (University of Essex)

Main supervisor: Professor Kristian Skrede Gleditsch; second supervisor: Professor Han Dorussen

Research project: Dynamics of violence and peace in post-conflict societies

Research description

More than 60% of all armed conflicts recorded by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program reignite after they initially terminate (Gates, Nygård, and Trappeniers 2016). Explanations as to why warring parties return to violence have mainly addressed unresolved grievances, the commitment problem, or low opportunity costs of violence. In essence, scholars have argued that removing these ‘threats’ to peace will successfully end conflict. One of the most prominent propositions is that political inclusion (e.g. political power-sharing or the ability for former warring parties to compete in the electoral arena) will help former warring parties overcome the above-mentioned ‘threats’ to peace. Yet, there are various cases in which political inclusion might have halted violence temporarily or not at all. Further, current quantitative studies assume that peace equals the absence of intrastate conflict, although many post-conflict countries are characterised by sporadic violence, rather than peace.

Across different papers and using different methods this PhD project explores the dynamics behind violence and peace in post-conflict societies and disaggregates the rationale behind choosing violence or peace across the elite level and broader society. In broad terms, it highlights the role of inequalities within the population and its interaction with the political envioronment in which elites act, to understand why some post-conflict societies return to conflict, while others consolidate peace and manage to lower levels of structural violence all together.

THOMAS SHIPLEY (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Professor Dan Hough; second supervisor: Liz David-Barret

Research project: Comparing Nigerian states: Anti-corruption and the sub-state environment

Research description

My research project will consider how corruption varies across different states in Nigeria and what implications this has for we approach anti-corruption reform.

PSYCHOLOGY

Forthcoming

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SUSTAINABILITY STUDIES

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

Forthcoming

SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

TOM BELL (University of Kent)

Main supervisor: Dr David Henig; second supervisor: Dr Jonathan Mair

Research project: Taking responsibility for climate change: The ethical foundations of New England-based climate change activism in Trump-era USA

Research description Responding to the need to investigate the creative responses of civic actors to an issue of such profound complexity and severity, this project will examine the ethical foundations of New England-based activism about climate change in Trump-era United States. Primarily engaging with debates within the anthropology of ethics, a burgeoning field of research, I will study the ways in which climate change and energy come to matter as issues of especial ethical concern for particular actors. In particular, I seek to provide unique perspectives on the forms of social, economic and political transformation advanced by activists by examining how they attempt to ascribe responsibility for ‘taking action’ to themselves and to others, including institutions, states, and nations. I also want to understand how these issues, especially activist attempts to respond to discourses oppositional to their aims, such as those of the fossil fuel industry and the Trump administration, relate to longer cultural histories of democratic practice, active citizenship, and progressivism in New England.

JASON IRVING (University of Kent)

Main supervisor: Dr Anna Waldstein; second supervisor: Dr Raj Puri

Research project: The trade in medicinal plants between Jamaica and the UK

Research description This PhD will investigate the wild harvesting of medicinal plants traded from Jamaica to the UK. It will provide a case study to contribute to research questions of ethnobiological knowledge systems, plant conservation, value chains of herbal medicines and migrant medical ethnobotany. It will ask “How is local ecological knowledge about the wild harvesting of medicinal plants developed within the context of global trade and social networks, and what can this tell us about human-environment relationships?”

To answer this I will carry out an ethnography and ethnobotanical survey of harvesters in Jamaica. I will investigate and document their motivations for the selection of medicinal plants, their choice of harvesting techniques and methods of knowledge transmission. This focus responds to a call for medical anthropology to focus on the materials used in healing and the environmental context in which they are sourced. The research will explore how harvesters influence and are influenced by their local environment, and the implications this has for the use of herbal medicines.

Recognising the global influences of trade on local knowledge and practice (and therefore on the environment), I will document different stages of value chains from harvesting to processing to sale from Jamaica to the UK. By exploring the actors involved and their relationships, I will provide a fuller picture of the trade by situating it within the cultural and socio-economic context of the people involved.

Through undertaking ethnobotanical field work, I will discover which plants and plant parts are traded, providing the first such study of wild harvesting in Jamaica. This will support research in migrant medical ethnobotany by overcoming the challenge of accurately identifying the ingredients of medicines in study locations remote from where the plants are sourced and processed.

The PhD will focus on ‘root tonics’, a common preparation method in Jamaica and the Caribbean, made from a base decoction of roots and barks mixed with other plant parts. Though often marketed as an aphrodisiac, a wide range of health benefits are reported by users and producers. Root tonics are the focus of this project because of the local environmental importance of their ingredients, their recent commercialisation and their historical and contemporary significance within the Black Atlantic.

These medicinal preparations are relevant to questions of diasporic processes of cultural hybridity in the colonial and postcolonial context raised by Black Atlantic studies, as they have an origin in West Africa and have travelled with migrants from Jamaica to the UK. Contextualising the selection of species and the medicinal value associated with them within this network will contribute to research into change and continuity of healing practices under conditions of globalisation and migration.

CATHERINE NUGENT (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Main supervisor: Dr Massimiliano Mollona; second supervisor: Professor Sophie Day

Research project: Engineers at work: the practices and politics of transforming the UK's internet infrastructure

Research description Government, industry and experts claim ultra-fast fibre optic telecommunications are essential to deliver the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution of big data applications, cloud computing, the “Internet of Things” and automation of work. Yet at the heart of the upgrade is an intricate task for engineers working in a congested urban landscape — replacing copper wiring, and threading fibre optic cables under pavements and roads. My ethnographic research will follow the changing work conditions and livelihoods of the London engineers involved in upgrading broadband to “ultrafast”. The research will examine what these infrastructure workers produce, how they produce it, the perspectives they have on bringing connectivity to society, and how these perspectives impact on trade union organising. A parallel oral history project will examine working lives in telecommunications, looking back at the industry since its 1984 privatisation.

The research will: investigate the socio-economic role of the often invisible labours of the people who maintain and renew a complex network; look at how the valorisation of private corporate and consumer interests reconfigure perceptions of telecommunications as a public good; trace the material complexities of “rewiring” — how do the skills and knowledge of workers interact with the likely resistant materials, as legacy technologies are combined with new ones?

CHLOE PLACE (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Dr Rebecca Prentice; second supervisor: David Orr

Research project: Investigating kinship care in dementia: an ethnography of dementia in families in Andalusia

Research description This research will critically unpack cultural meanings behind dementia care within families in Andalusia, Spain. A demographically ageing world population has led dementia to become a global health crisis, with the World Health Organization urging governments to prioritise dementia public healthcare strategies. More countries and families are turning to institutions to care for their relatives with dementia. Andalusia, however provides an intriguing local cultural context to explore dementia care, as despite the ‘western’ status of Spain, an EU country rooted within advanced processes of economy, politics, media and technology, people are adapting care-giving into long-established patterns of family life rather than turning to modern private/state-run institutions. Andalusia, a region whose culture is embedded with strong family networks and kinship ties, forms a useful case study to explore how family structure, public health and dementia care interplay, contributing to global debates on dementia care.

RICHARD THORNTON (University of Sussex)

Main supervisor: Professor Filippo Osella; second supervisor: Geert de Neve

Research project: Teaching and learning in contemporary Delhi

Research description This research will explore the contemporary landscape of primary education in India, with a focus on Delhi. The research will be ethnographic and conducted among teachers, children and educationalists. The broad aim will be to understand the institutions, conditions, organisation and ethos of primary education. The specific focus will be on the role of the teacher in the neo-liberal classroom: how they perform, adapt or resist in schools oriented by neoliberal rationality, and how this response is experienced by the children they teach.

The research focuses on the explosion of education social enterprise 'start-ups' in India, and especially Delhi, and questions how these projects both carry neoliberal rationality and aesthetics, and yet have the potential to instigate learning environments based on emotional reflection that derail the individualist subjectification inherent to neoliberal schooling. The research follows relational, queer, feminist ontologies as imagined by theorists such as Gilles Deleuze, Karen Barad, and Bronwyn Davies as a way to reconceptualise the moments of interaction between teachers and students within the classroom.

As method, I will be working as a full-time teacher in a start-up schooling project in Delhi; I will use previous teacher training experience in India joined with further training provided by my employer to examine my own teacher-subjectification process. This emotional self-examination will be conducted alongside an exploration of the relations I build with the children I teach, and the forms of knowledge and imagination we discover. The aim is to construct an image and analysis of what social and political possibilities these new teacher/schooling initiatives could hold, and ultimately explore what such projects mean for neoliberalism and individualism in India more widely.

YATHUKULAN YOGARAJAH (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Main supervisor: Professor Rebecca Cassidy; second supervisor: Dr Massimilliano Mollona

Research project: A Derridean perspective on uncertainty in finance

Research description As politicians, economists, and social scientists have alluded to, the way finance deals with uncertainty raises important ethical issues. The treatment of uncertainty, especially the uncertainty that the future brings, as something that can be reduced by mathematical models and financial analysis has played a key role in allowing finance to make huge sums of profit, whilst at the same time also playing a critical role in recent financial crashes. Explanations for this mishandling of uncertainty by the financial world, from the main interpreters of the financial markets, mainstream economists, have been found wanting. In light of this, this project proposes an anthropological perspective to examine the workings and decision-making process of finance, to complicate the rational actor, to take a social and cultural approach to the understanding of finance; to reveal the perspectives that mainstream economics suppresses. To this end, this project utilises Jacques Derrida’s concept of ethics and justice to explore the ethical landscape created by finance’s interaction with uncertainty.

SOCIAL WORK AND SOCIAL POLICY

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

Forthcoming

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

Forthcoming

SOCIOLOGY

2017-18 STUDENT COHORT

Forthcoming