The Cambridge Data School is arriving. Join us!


The main purpose of the Cambridge Data School is to bring together participants with diverse professional backgrounds to receive training on digital methods. 


Cambridge Data School: 3 – 6 June 2019 
Call for applications – closing date: 1 May 2019 
Click here to learn more and here to apply.


We, at Cambridge Digital Humanities (CDH), are all thrilled with the prospect of welcoming the first cohort of the Cambridge Data School, which will take place at the University of Cambridge from the 3rd to the 6th of June. 

The main purpose of the School is to bring together participants with diverse professional backgrounds to receive training on digital methods at the University of Cambridge. Conceived as a bridging exercise between people and organisations across sectors, professions and disciplines, the School will provide a space to exchange ideas about the ethical and technical challenges of digital data investigations. Attendants from academia, civil society, the public sector and industry will have the opportunity to work with a teaching team from the University of Cambridge and 'learn by doing' the essentials of ethical digital research projects. We will cover topics such as research design, digital data collection, data cleaning and preparation, analysis of social network data, digital data verification methods, and good practices of data management and preservation. Whether it is an NGO willing to use online information in their monitoring and reporting activities, an investigative journalist looking to develop skills in digital research, a small business enterprise wanting to make sense of their social networks or a student eager to integrate digital methods in her research, all can profit from the contents offered by the Cambridge Data School. 

Besides being open to a wide range of participants, the 2019 edition of the Cambridge Data School is also free (as in gratis). We believe that waiving attendance fees and providing accommodation to all participants in a Cambridge college during the 4 days/3 nights of the event will remove some of the obstacles standing in the way of great applicants with little financial resources. Also for this reason, the selection procedure will privilege individuals and organisations with limited access to digital data-driven training. Participants will be selected on a rolling basis until the 1st of May, so the sooner the applications are submitted the better. Join us! 

We are looking forward to greeting you in Cambridge.  
 

Posted: Thursday 25 April 2019

Contributor: Hugo Leal


Newsletter: What’s On at CRASSH, Easter Term 2019 – CRASSH

Newsletter: What’s On at CRASSH, Easter Term 2019


The Easter term offers a rich array of intellectual inducements and provocations, in the form of lectures, workshops and conferences.

Professor Steven Connor, Director of CRASSH



Newsletter: What’s On at CRASSH, Easter Term 2019

Image by Metamorworks/Shutterstock.com

Director’s Welcome: What’s On at CRASSH, Easter Term 2019 – CRASSH

Director’s Welcome: What’s On at CRASSH, Easter Term 2019


The Easter term offers a rich array of intellectual inducements and provocations, in the form of lectures, workshops and conferences.

Professor Steven Connor, Director of CRASSH



The Easter term offers a rich array of intellectual inducements and provocations, in the form of lectures, workshops and conferences. In May alone, we have three distinguished visiting lectures, kicking off on Mayday itself with UCLA writer, book artist and theorist of visual text Johanna Drucker. As part of the Cambridge Digital Humanities Distinguished Lecturer Series, she will reflect on the tensions between humanities methods and the demands of formal systems, in her lecture entitled Looking Back and Thinking Ahead: Humanistic Methods and/in Digital Humanities.

On 2nd May, the Centre for Global Knowledge Studies (gloknos) is delighted to welcome Johan Östling (Lund University) to present Circulating Public Knowledge: Towards a New History of the Postwar Humanities.

On 23rd May, Leverhulme Visiting Professor Karen Pinkus from Cornell University will give the first in a series of Leverhulme Lectures, Thinking Decarbonisation with Literature, in which she will ask what narrative and language brought together can offer to a discussion of climate change mitigation.

On 7th June, Quentin Skinner Fellow Emma Hunter will give the annual Quentin Skinner Lecture and participate in the related symposium, Rethinking Liberties in Twentieth-Century Africa. The lecture and symposium will explore the history of liberalism, broadly defined, in twentieth-century and twenty-first-century Africa, and consider how to move the study of the history of political thought beyond Western contexts.



Events arising from our Research Networks and Research Projects will also have designs on your diary-space.

In May, the International Black Radicalism Network will welcome Journey to Justice, a UK charity that galvanises people to act for social justice through learning about human rights movements and the arts.

The Health, Medicine and Agency Network will host the launch of Abortion Across Borders: Transnational Travel and Access to Abortion Services, presented by co-editor Christabelle Sethna.

In a one-day interdisciplinary workshop on Urban Energy and Housing in Africa and Asia, the Global Energy Nexus in Urban Settlements Network will weigh issues related to domestic energy in India and Africa. 

Rethinking Repetition in a Digital Age, a half-day symposium by the 'Re-' Interdisciplinary Network, will wonder: How does digital repetition trigger emotions, nudge behaviours, (re-)form habits, (re)perform traditions, (re)produce beliefs?

CRASSH pushes forward its exploration of the challenges of Artificial Intelligence with the workshop on The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Language, Gender, Technology, mounted by our Centre for the Humanities and Social Change. It will consider the social impact of AICT, Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology (smart stuff that talks to you), focussing in particular on the complex relationships between language, gender and technology.

The conference Exuviae (skins, sheddings, cast-offs, from Latin exuere, to strip off) will use the work of Alfred Gell to explore historical ideas of the propagation and distribution of the self through images and objects. 

Beyond Marriage: Philosophy, Politics, Law will join together academics and practitioners to analyse how the institution of marriage has changed in recent years, and what its future might be.

Over two weeks in July the CRASSH project Religious Diversity and the Secular University will hold its 2019 Summer School. A group of junior scholars will work with three scholars-in-residence, along with project members, to analyse primary sources and engage critically with work-in-progress by each participant.

CRASSH is presenting 60 other events this term that I have no space to mention. And, to crown a copious year of exhibitions that have entranced and intrigued visitors to the Alison Richard Building, we are excited to announce the inaugural Cambridge Summer Open exhibition from 24 June to 2 August 2019. Artists are invited to submit their work to Art at the Alison Richard Building
 



Collect your copy of the latest CRASSH What's On from the Alison Richard Building (Sidgwick Site) from 23 April – or page through the digital version above. For details of specific events, please visit our online events calendar – and don't forget to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter. 
 

Posted: Thursday 11 April 2019

Contributor: Steven Connor


Director’s Welcome: What’s On at CRASSH, Easter Term 2019

Image by Metamorworks/Shutterstock.com

The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Language, Ethics, Technology – CRASSH

The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Language, Ethics, Technology


What might more ethical AICT systems look like?

How could users be better protected against hate speech on social media?

(How) can we get rid of data bias inherent in AICT systems?


This post was first published on the Humanities and Social Change International Foundation website





The Giving Voice to Digital Democracies project hosted its inaugural workshop on 25 March 2019 at CRASSH. The project is part of the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge, funded by the Humanities and Social Change International Foundation.

This significantly oversubscribed event brought together experts from academia, government, and industry, enabling a diverse conversation and discussion with an engaged audience. The one-day workshop was opened by Project Manager Dr Marcus Tomalin who summarised the main purposes of the project and workshop.

The focus was specifically on the ethical implications of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology (AICT). While discussions about ethics often revolve around issues such as data protection and privacy, transparency and accountability (all of which are important concerns), the impact that language-based AI systems have upon our daily lives is a topic that has previously received comparatively little (academic) attention. Some of the central issues that merit careful consideration are:

• What might more ethical AICT systems look like?
• How could users be better protected against hate speech on social media?
• (How) can we get rid of data bias inherent in AICT systems?

These and other questions were not only key on the agenda for the workshop, but will continue to be central research objectives for the project over the next 3½ years.  

Olly Grender (House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence) was the first main speaker, and she argued that we need to put ethics at the centre of AI development. This is something to which the UK is particularly well-placed to contribute. She emphasised the need to equip people with a sufficiently deep understanding not only of AI, but also of the fundamentals of ethics. This will help to ensure that the prejudices of the past are not built into automated systems. She also emphasised the extent to which the government is focusing on these. The creation of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation is a conspicuous recent development, and numerous white papers about such matters have been, and will be, published. The forthcoming white paper concerning ‘online harm’ will be especially influential, and the Giving Voice to Digital Democracies project has been involved in preparing that paper.

In her talk, Dr Melanie Smallman (University College London, Alan Turing Institute) proposed a multi-scale ethical framework to combat social inequality caused and magnified by technology. In essence, she suggested that the ethical contexts at different levels of the hierarchy, from individual members of society to vast corporations, can differ greatly. Something that seems ethical justifiable at one level may not be at another level. These different scales need to be factored into the process of developing language-based AI systems. As Smallman reminded us, “we need to make sure that technology does something good”.

Dr Adrian Weller (University of Cambridge, Alan Turing Institute, The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation) gave an overview of various ethical issues that arise in relation to cutting-edge AI systems. He emphasised that we must take measures to ensure that we can trust the AI systems we create. He argued that we need to make sure people have a better understanding of when AI systems are likely to perform well, and when they are likely to go awry. While such systems are extremely powerful and effective in many respects, they can also be alarmingly brittle, and can make mistakes (e.g., classificatory errors) of a kind that no human would make.

In his talk, Dr Marcus Tomalin (University of Cambridge) stressed that traditional thinking about ethics is inadequate for discussions of AICT systems. A more appropriate ethical framework would be ontocentric rather than predominantly anthropocentric, and patient-oriented rather than merely agent-oriented. He also argued that algorithmic decision-making can be hard to analyse in relation to AICT systems. For instance, it is not at all simple to determine where and when a machine translation system makes the decision to translate a specific word in a specific way. Yet such ‘decisions’ can have serious ethical consequences. 

Professor Emily M. Bender (University of Washington) presented a typology of ethical risks in language technology and asked the question: ‘how can we make the processes underlying NLP technologies more transparent?’ Her work centres on the foregrounding of characteristics of data sets in so-called ‘data statements’, providing information (e.g., nature of the data, whose language, speech situation, etc.) about data at all times. The underlying conviction that such statements would help system designers to appreciate in advance the impact that a specific data set may have on the system being constructed (e.g., whether or not it would reinforce an existing bias).

Dr Margaret Mitchell (Google Research and Machine Intelligence) also discussed the problem of data bias. She showed that such biases are manifold and that they interact with machine learning processes at various stages and levels. This is sometimes referred to as ‘bias network effect’ or ‘bias laundering’. Adopting an approach that was similar in spirit to the aforementioned ‘data statements’, she proposed the implementation of ‘model cards’ at the processing level.

The workshop ended with a roundtable discussion involving the various speakers, with many of the questions coming from the audience. This provided an opportunity to consider some of the core ideas in greater detail and to compare and contrast some of the ideas and approaches that had been presented earlier in the day.

The considerable interest that this inaugural workshop generated confirms once again the great need for genuinely interdisciplinary events of this kind, which bring together researchers and experts from technology, the humanities, and politics to reflect upon the social impact of the current generation of AI systems – and especially those systems that interact with us using language. 

The second workshop, The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Language, Gender, Technology, will take place on 17 May 2019. 

 

Olly Grender (left), Marcus Tomalin (middle), Stefanie Ullmann (right)
 

Marcus Tomalin
 

Adrian Weller
 

Melanie Smallman (left), Marcus Tomalin (right)
 

Workshop audience
 

Roundtable discussion (from left to right): Marcus Tomalin, Olly Grender, Margaret Mitchell, Melanie Smallman, Emily M. Bender
 

Photos by Imke van Heerden and Stefanie Ullmann

 

Posted: Tuesday 9 April 2019

Contributor: Stefanie Ullmann, Marcus Tomalin


Meet the Researcher: Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche


I am engaged in how humanities can produce expertise on experts to help qualify, uncover and check the power of ideas.

Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, Research Associate on Expertise Under Pressure


In October 2018, two research projects – Expertise Under Pressure and Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology – joined the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge.

We are delighted to welcome Dr Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, Research Associate on Expertise Under Pressure, to the Centre and asked about her hopes for the project.
 






Q. Dr Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, which aspect of Expertise Under Pressure do you find most exciting?

I was attracted to the project by its interdisciplinary outlook. Expertise is a frontier-object. It has always been uncomfortable for me to study it from only one disciplinary angle. That’s why it is really exciting to work with a team coming from different backgrounds, disciplines and intellectual traditions. As an historian, the fact that the project adopts both a descriptive and analytical, but also a normative and practical perspective is challenging but also really stimulating.

Q. How does your own area of interest relate to the project’s primary research questions?

I am broadly interested in the practical consequences of ideas. Are social scientists influential? How could we characterise this influence? In other words, do ideas change the world? I work more specifically on social scientists’ expertise in the legal arena. In this context, the temporality and translation of expertise, from academia to the courtrooms, as well as the ambivalence and responsibility of those who provide it, has been fiercely debated and, to some extent, formally codified. Historical analysis offers insights into failures and successes of influence. History also helps to uncover the practical consequences of the type of knowledge that gains attention, especially when implemented via socio-economic devices such as measurements, indicators or decision models. 

Q. What are your hopes for the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change?

I hope the Centre will foster changes on how expertise is practiced, including expertise that develops within the center itself. Reflexivity is at the core of what humanities can contribute to the practical side of policymaking. I am looking forward to the creative alliances and knowledge dynamics that will emerge from the original institutional arrangement that the Centre creates.
 


From left to right: Robert Doubleday, Anna Alexandrova, Emily So, Michael Kenny

Meet the Expertise Under Pressure Team 

• Dr Anna Alexandrova, Principal Investigator
• Professor Michael Kenny, Co-Investigator
• Dr Emily So, Co-Investigator
• Dr Robert Doubleday, Co-Investigator
• Hannah Baker, Research Associate
Dr Federico Brandmayr, Research Associate
• Dr Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, Research Associate
 

Posted: Tuesday 9 April 2019

Contributor: Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche


Meet the Researcher: Hannah Baker – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Hannah Baker


Expertise is under increasing scrutiny. This scrutiny needs to be embraced and understood if we are to resolve this age of disinformation.

Hannah Baker, Research Associate on Expertise Under Pressure


In October 2018, two research projects – Expertise Under Pressure and Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology – joined the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge.

We are delighted to welcome Hannah Baker, Research Associate on Expertise Under Pressure, to the Centre and asked about her hopes for the project.







Q. Hannah, which aspect of Expertise Under Pressure do you find most exciting? 

I thoroughly enjoy researching and expanding my knowledge and feel that working within a multi-disciplinary team is a great way for facilitating this. So far in my education and academic career I have worked in architecture, town planning and engineering departments. I have not yet worked directly alongside social scientists. I am looking forward to utilising this collaboration to learn from the rest of the team and other researchers within CRASSH to gain an in-depth understanding of the variety of research approaches used to assess the concept of expertise. I also hope that this relationship can go both ways and I am able to offer input from my research in the built environment. 

Q. How does your own area of interest relate to the project’s primary research questions?

I will be researching expertise within the context of the UK’s Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). SAGE is a scientific advisory group that provides advice to support government decision-makers during an emergency. Our aims are to identify who the experts within SAGE are and how they are chosen, the processes that are undertaken to convert expert opinions into action, and how to deal with uncertainty in the scientific information.

My PhD researched the decision to demolish or adapt existing buildings by using case studies and determining the viewpoints of different stakeholders including experts from different disciplines, such as heritage, architecture, engineering and planning. Although expertise was assessed in a different context, there is a high degree of overlap in the underlying principles. For instance, whose opinions are considered and why? Who are the final decision-makers? How do you deal with a plurality of viewpoints about a problem? All of which are applicable to decisions made by SAGE in an emergency situation. 

Q. What are your hopes for the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change? 

I would like to see the knowledge which is uncovered by the research practically implemented and lead to improvements in the use of experts during times of emergency. I would also like to see CRASSH continue embracing the interdisciplinary nature of research and expand even further as I think this approach is what is required for research to lead to genuine humanitarian and social change, rather than viewing a problem through a single lens which often has limited impact on complex multifaceted problems. 
 


From left to right: Robert Doubleday, Anna Alexandrova, Emily So, Michael Kenny

Meet the Expertise Under Pressure Team 

• Dr Anna Alexandrova, Principal Investigator
• Professor Michael Kenny, Co-Investigator
• Dr Emily So, Co-Investigator
• Dr Robert Doubleday, Co-Investigator
• Hannah Baker, Research Associate
Dr Federico Brandmayr, Research Associate
• Dr Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, Research Associate
 

Posted: Monday 8 April 2019

Contributor: Hannah Baker


Meet the Researcher: Jack Wright – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Jack Wright


QUALITY aims to investigate the different forms of causal inference techniques used in the social sciences.


Jack Wright is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on Qualitative and Quantitative Social Science: Unifying the Logic of Causal Inference? (QUALITY). This ERC-funded project brings together cutting-edge work in epistemology with the expertise of leading social scientists.
 

Q. Jack, you recently joined the QUALITY team. Could you tell us a little about what the project is interested in?

QUALITY aims to investigate the different forms of causal inference used in the social sciences. In particular, it seeks to compare causal inference techniques associated with qualitative research with those associated with quantitative research and to ask if there are any general principles that run across both. The project is in part motivated by the difficulty in evaluating competing causal claims in public policy. When competing claims cite evidence based on different causal inference techniques how are they to be compared?

Although we are interested in causation, we focus less on what causation is or might be (from a metaphysical perspective) but rather on how causes can be identified more or less reliably whatever they may be. This means our focus is epistemological. The fact that the project is motivated by policy also highlights that we are concerned with political issues and that our epistemic framework is informed by pragmatism. We aim to think about what should be done and how policies and political institutions should be structured given different kinds of causal claims about the social world.

Q. How does this topic relate to your own areas of interest? Have you worked on similar topics previously?

The three of us on the project (meRosie, and Chris) each have different perspectives. I think what unites us is an interest in how politics and claims about how the world (or certain aspects of it) works interact. My previous work and my research interests lie in how scientific and social scientific knowledge and expertise should fit into political discussions and in how scientific institutions should be structured to best achieve their epistemic and political goals. The project’s focus on how different kinds of causal claims should be evaluated and integrated to aid policy and political discussions is very much in line with this.

My specific role as part of QUALITY is to investigate the political implications of different quantitative causal inference and measurement techniques. Are there certain forms of measurement or modelling that are more democratic or more conducive to particular political ends than others? In addition to fitting in with my previous philosophical work on topics at the intersection of philosophy of science and political philosophy, this fits with my background in mathematics and economics.

Q. Which aspects of the project and Centre do you find most exciting?

I really like the mix of epistemic and political considerations at the heart of QUALITY. We have a lot of great discussions about the kinds of actions that are justified by different kinds of evidence. I really like the dynamic we have as a team and find that Rosie and Chris regularly offer insightful thoughts on whatever we discuss.

I also really like working in CRASSH. I was previously the organiser of a Research Network in the Centre (on the Politics of Economics) and enjoy the interdisciplinary environment that CRASSH offers.

 

 



QUALITY is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (ERC grant agreement no. 715530)

             

Posted: Tuesday 12 March 2019

Contributor: Jack Wright


Q&A: Ground Zero Earth – CRASSH

Q&A: Ground Zero Earth


Risks to the whole of civilisation can be hard to get your head around. Art can help re-examine our place in the world and rethink our responsibilities. We’re delighted to work together with these artists to explore this vital subject.

Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and CSER Co-founder


Judith Weik, Coordinator of Art at the Alison Richard Building, speaks to Yas Rix, curator of Ground Zero Earth. The exhibition is located on three floors of the Alison Richard Building at the University of Cambridge (click here for directions) and runs until 22 March 2019. 

Artwork by Olivia Domingos

 

Q: What is your exhibition about? 

Ground Zero Earth is a bid to find optimism in the study of catastrophe, a curated collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge (CSER) one of the first research centres dedicated to the research and mitigation of risks that could lead to extinction or civilisational collapse. The five artists selected for this show explore themes relevant to CSER's research, with a focus on man-made catastrophe. Alongside addressing how we think about existential risks the exhibition focuses on emerging technologies, food production, security, climate change and how many of these risks are interconnected. By attempting to understand the risks we face as a species, learning from those at the forefront of cutting-edge research, we have a better chance of mitigating such disasters that may be low-risk but high impact.

There is now more thought taking place into safeguarding our future, our planet and the potential for transhumanism, with gravitas on decision makers to start considering longer-term strategy and generations not yet born who will be impacted by our current actions. This exhibition sets out to communicate what is at stake and provide a grounded perspective on ways in which we should be looking at the future with consideration on how they may too look back at us.

Q: How did you conceive this exhibition?

I had an initial interest in the subject of existential risk stemming from early discussions about the impact of nuclear war, alongside observing internet 'prophecies' which attempted to predict close-call asteroid impact without much scientific basis!

To realise at a young age the technological capabilities we have to destroy each other is unsettling, but it determined my view of the fragile world we live in and it’s something I think about often and informed my conceiving of this collaboration.

I have followed CSER’s work for three years, attending their lectures and events. Namely, the first talk I went to was by Dr David Denkenberger, Director and Founder of Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disaster (ALLFED), who discussed how we can grow food and sustain life if our sun was blocked out as a result of nuclear winter or asteroid impact. I began observing trends in exhibition making around themes of artificial intelligence and began to think to myself how this could be approached differently. Furthermore, the Art at the ARB programme felt very relevant to approach for this exhibition since CSER originally started at CRASSH.

The future is currently an ever-trending subject matter. I decided to combine my vocation in curating with exploring the concepts of risk, bringing together artists I was familiar with and a vision of how their approaches can inform the audience coherently in a witty and heart-felt manner. I was interested in artistic practices that were based on research and wanted to shy from anything overly fictional and fear mongering.

The term ‘Ground Zero’ summarised these risks as a collective beginning and conclusion, and in full, the title is provocative of our earth being subject to these risks whether directly or indirectly, as previously opposed to one specific geographical location. 
 

Artwork by Daniel Sean Kelley

 

Q: What can we expect from the exhibition display? 

Expect romantic drone walks, a sculpture you can sit on and future protest materials.

Displayed is a range of media to absorb, from sculpture to video, painting and illustration. I was aiming for a museum feel, with a lot of context and information provided with wall text and quotes. The diversity in mediums complement each other and provokes conversation; there are bold statement pieces and overall a high quality of artistic practice that can be identified and resonated with by each visitor.

Q: Apart from those interested in art, who would this exhibition be of interest to? 

This exhibition is of interest to anyone that considers the future of humanity on a regular basis, and I would hope that is most audiences. It should appeal to students, the scientific community, conservationists, and those within the political sciences and humanities.

There is a scarcity of platforms to exhibit in Cambridge, especially to young emerging artists exploring cutting edge ideas, so to have this opportunity was a fantastic experience. I hope that it can prove that more exciting things can happen in contemporary art within the city outside of establishments and cater for an audience looking for something more challenging than the status-quo. Most importantly, I would like the general public to take an interest. Whether people come for the theme or the artwork, I hope many can take something away from it. 

Q: Is there a book or catalogue to go with the exhibition, and where is it available?

There is a physical copy of the exhibition booklet at the Alison Richard Building and shortly a digital PDF available on CSERs website.

Please feel free to tweet or Instagram the exhibition with hashtag #groundzeroearth to ensure a digital record of the experience for future generations.
 

Artwork by David Lisser 

 

Yasmine Rix (b.1991) is an independent curator and collaborator. Supporting emerging artists, she has written for Young Artists in Conversation since 2015 and previously collaborated on events in the Midlands with live art provision and workshops. More recently she was guest curator of isthisit? online digital platform and upcoming for Rung Issue 02. She takes particular interest in arts development and sector sponsorship.

Olivia Domingos (b.1991) is an artist and illustrator based in London. Exploring installation and drawing, she has produced works with a focus on celebrity culture and challenging the public domain of wellbeing. Her rendering of specific events and their detail brings attention to falling victim to voyeurism of celebrities or news sensationalism.

Bob Bicknell-Knight (b. 1996, Suffolk) is a London-based artist and curator working in installation, sculpture, video and digital media. Using found objects and tools made readily available by the Internet, as well as drawing from a unique sensibility influenced by participation in online communities and virtual games, Bicknell-Knight’s work explores the divergent methods by which consumer capitalist culture permeates both online and offline society. 

Daniel Sean Kelly (b.1989, Leicester) is an artist and co-director of Two Queens artist-led gallery and studios. Working largely in painting, printmaking and ceramics, his work seeks to create a speculative space for the imagining of other realities – a science fictional universe comprised only of objects existing in the world up to this point.

David Lisser (b. Wolverhampton 1987) is an artist based in Newcastle who investigates our relationship with food and emerging technologies, playfully creating artefacts excavated from an imagined past, documentation of protests that haven’t yet materialised, and mechanisms for producing novelty meats.

Jillian Mayer (b. 1986) is an artist and filmmaker living in Miami, Florida. Through video, sculptures, online experiences, photography, performances and installations, she explores how technology affects our lives, bodies and identities. Mayer investigates the points of tension between our online and physical worlds and makes work that attempts to inhabit the increasingly porous boundary between the two.

 

Posted: Tuesday 12 March 2019

Contributor: Judith Weik

Tags: exhibitionartsart galleryart at the arb


A Conversation About Re-: An Errant Glossary with Cristina Baldacci and Francesco Giusti – CRASSH

A Conversation About Re-: An Errant Glossary with Cristina Baldacci and Francesco Giusti


All of a sudden, while our groups were discussing, we realised that the prefix ‘re’ could be a strong, yet at the same time open-ended, unconstraining way of binding together our interdisciplinary research.


After applying to CRASSH to set up the idea of a Re- Interdisciplinary Research Network, Clare Foster visited Berlin’s Institute for Cultural Inquiry, whose ERRANS, in Time project seemed to be thinking along similar lines. The CRASSH Research Network looks at cultural repetition more pragmatically, interested in the politics of culture; the ICI Berlin with a more theoretical, philosophical angle – a complementarity that was exciting to all. And both projects express an interdisciplinary ethos and mission that CRASSH, Cambridge and the ICI Berlin hold profoundly in common. ICI Fellow Cristina Baldacci became a Re- Interdisciplinary Network co-convenor, and she and co-Fellow Francesco Giusti visited CRASSH on February 6th, 2019 to respond to the annual ‘Re-‘ lecture given by Richard Coyne. The ICI’s Re-: An Errant Glossary (2019) was published just the week before, so the Re- Network was delighted to also celebrate its launch at CRASSH. Looking forward, Foster, Baldacci and Giusti are planning a series of Re- events for 2019-2020 under the heading Canons Vs Icons
 

Clare Foster (CF): How did the book come to be? 


Cristina Baldacci (CB): While we were Fellows at the ICI Berlin as part of the Core Project ERRANS, in Time (2016-18), we started to think what common topics and questions could correlate both our personal research interests and our collective work on different notions of time and temporality. In September 2017 Francesco was organizing a symposium on the idea and practice of return in medieval culture (with Daniel Reeve); while, at the same time, I was planning a symposium on reenactment in contemporary arts and theory (with Clio Nicastro and Arianna Sforzini). All of a sudden, while our groups were discussing, we realised that the prefix ‘re’ could be a strong, yet at the same time open-ended, unconstraining way of binding together our interdisciplinary research, and a great prompt around which to continue our pondering of non-linear and non-teleological time. It was one of those moments after which, as they say here, it was a tale already told.

Francesco Giusti (FG): So on 25th September 2017 we had a first workshop of all the ICI Fellows, and it was called just Re-. Something really happened that day; the workshop was an ‘event’ in the proper sense of the word. We discovered that this simple prefix made room for a truly interdisciplinary discussion: as a formal constraint, it worked to bring together papers from literary studies, art history and theory, psychoanalysis, philosophy, disability studies, gender studies, film studies, history, politics, and medieval studies. Each ICI Fellow was asked to give two 10-minute papers, both focused on a ‘re-’ word, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and these morning and afternoon multidisciplinary sessions each led to an animated discussion. We were all so enthusiastic about the results that the idea of a publication came up immediately.

CB: On that day we all discovered something we hadn’t noticed before. Unlike the ‘de-’ or ‘un-’, for example, the ‘re-’ prefix doesn’t establish a predetermined critical methodology but instead generates unpredictable resonances. It can actually help to unsettle particular ideas, and most importantly, rethink critical approaches and far too linear temporalities.

FG: The only question was how to translate such ‘event’ into a book without losing its quickness and all the internal resonances it had generated. That’s why we came up with the idea of a kind of brief dictionary, or glossary.

CF: Yes – what appealed to you about using that format? 

CB: As Francesco just said, we wanted to maintain the open structure of the ‘Re-’ workshop, which was a kind of experiment. The glossary format allowed us to maintain the vitality of the work, both as individual researchers and as a group. We discussed the format of the book a lot. On the one hand we were determined to keep it as lively and open as the initial event, on the other hand we wanted to bring out for readers all the unexpected connections among our papers/entries. We were attracted to the form of a glossary, but with a loosened strictness. For instance, there is more than one entry for the same word in our ‘errant’ glossary.

CF: So this was part of converting a live experimental event into a print publication.

FG: It was the policy of the workshop that one person could explore the same re- word twice, if they wanted, and the same terms could be explored by different people. What we found out during the process is that while talking or writing about any ‘re-’ word, many other ‘re-’ words came up in the text, as if a different critical vocabulary was suggesting itself. For this reason, and to generate further connections among the entries, we added an index of all the re-words that appear in the contributions at the end of the publication, so that the reader can navigate the glossary, beyond the individual entries. If the ‘re-’ prefix, with its double meaning of ‘back’ and ‘again,’ signals complex movements and multidirectional processes in time and space, we wanted to allow for those movements also within our glossary. This ‘randomness’ underlined for us that just by gathering together or collecting these different explorations we were also raising questions about deeper, translinguistic connections. For us it is this question-raising that is the value of such interdisciplinary, open-ended inquiry. 


CF: That is very much the ethos of the Re- Interdisciplinary Network too – and of CRASSH more widely. Raising new questions and issues that don’t necessarily fit in any one disciplinary vocabulary, or tradition. 

CB: For us this was one of the things the form of a glossary announced. Such a short glossary, which resembles more an ongoing list, is overtly an elementary form of knowledge, which signals potential, openness and inclusiveness. We liked the structure of incompleteness the book allowed. It seemed to suggest that new words could be progressively added to the index, a virtual space saying ‘Insert other re- words here’. At the beginning we were thinking of – if not an entire series – then certainly future related volumes. 

CF: That's great – you are taking the list form and using it to create openness, when it is often associated in other contexts with closure, definition, and authority.

CB: Yes, that was the idea of subverting the glossary form with a short, playful publication. And that was the idea that made Christoph Holzhey, the ICI director, and the academic staff think of the Institute itself starting a new publication series for its ‘Cultural Inquiry’ strand, both in print and online. We have another book about to come out, a selection of the papers that were given at the symposium I co-organised in November 2017: Over and Over and Over Again: Re-enactment Strategies in Contemporary Arts and Theory. These books are significant because they mark the ICI beginning its own publication series and (after publishing fourteen books with Turia + Kant) producing its own open access volumes – quickly, cheaply and immediately available. We want the books to circulate and the ideas to circulate with them – and to connect across each volume. The books that are part of the ICI’s longer project ERRANS, which was started in 2014 and is still ongoing, will all resonate with each other, as well as stand alone. 

CF: This is a very ‘Re-’ idea – that any individual item is always meaningful both on its own and in terms of various aggregates it is seen as part of... 

CB: Yes, this is one of the points made in my chapters on reenactment and on recirculation in the book – referring to Philippe Parreno’s and Hito Steyerl’s work – that an image is always more than just a ‘thing’, whether virtual or material. If one considers it – like Parreno does – as no longer a single entity but a kind of cluster or chain (of different images) it becomes part of a circulation process, a dynamic and operative structure (see Reenactment: Errant Images in Contemporary Art). Steyerl sees images as ‘nodes of energy and matter’ bound to a relentless peregrination, which shape and affect the world. That means they do not only present but also re-present reality; that is, fundamentally, they make it (see Recirculation: The Wandering of Digital Images in Post-Internet Art). 

CF: Francesco – is that ‘never standing alone’ idea part of your chapter too, about Recitation (and Re-citation) – the idea that a repeated poem is always simultaneously both itself, and an example of its category or ‘genre’, which, when recognised, gives it a special relationship to time?

FG: Yes, I am interested in asking how present poems relate to past and future poems and how two readings of the same poem can connect with each other across time and space without losing their respective historicity. This is obviously connected with the modalities in which a ‘genre’ establishes itself. The lyric poem presents an interesting case, because this is a genre that has been associated for a long time with the idea of ‘song,’ thus, the dimension of performance is particularly relevant to its understanding. Two and a half millennia of literary production have contributed to the shaping of the Romantic idea of the lyric poem, but that idea just as much has contributed to produce poems that intend to be ‘lyric.’ In my first contribution, I deploy the English word ‘recite’ (from the Latin recitare: ‘read aloud, repeat from memory, declaim’) activating two different meanings at different moments: ‘to repeat aloud’ and ‘to quote again’ (citare – as in the English word ‘cite’). There is a kind of double act going on: the recitation of the poem and the re-citation of prior lyric gestures (Recitation. Lyric Time(s) I). You can see an awareness of this double act in the earliest lyric poems – Sappho, for example. 

CF: It was interesting doing the Re-: An Errant Glossary book launch at CRASSH with Richard Coyne, because both your approaches see repetition in terms of patterns – whole worlds or environments, and how they work. Both of you look at how repetition works to create worlds (in his case, the everyday experience of urban space), offering propositional, rather definitive responses to thinking about the cultural affordances of repetition. And both your approaches tried to think about cultural repetition beyond language – in your case, by including re- words in multiple European languages (Proust’s ‘recherche’ for example).

CB: The key thing we both understood was that difference, or rather specificity, of time and place means a repeated thing can never be the same twice. Sameness is a paradox – it both is and is not. In Western culture, at least from ancient sculpture onwards (I am thinking for example of Salvatore Settis’ exhibition on Serial/Portable Classic, your Re- event) to contemporary art and its renewed obsession with copy, repetition, multiplication, and seriality, this paradox has always been both a challenge and a productive source of inspiration for artists.

FG: Lyric poetry provides an opportunity to reflect on the repetition of language and on language as repetition. Indeed, it seems to consist of words to be repeated in diverse contexts with different meanings. And I think that in the lyric this happens not only at the level of words (diction), but also at the deeper level of gestures (action). If we look at the European lyric tradition, it is evident how different poems re-enact a limited selection of gestures across the centuries, such as the praise of the beloved, on which I focus in my second contribution to the errant glossary (Reversion. Lyric Time(s) II). So I am interested in the lyric not only as a literary genre of short verse writing, but also as a specific set of gestures that can be found in other literary contexts, in non-verbal arts, and even in certain speech acts that we perform or receive in our daily life (Richard Coyne mentioned a few interesting cases in his talk). 

CF: You can never step in the same river twice... as the ancient Greeks put it (Heraclitus). This condition of ‘both/and’ is the essential condition of theatre and performance – which is partly where the thinking behind the Re- Network at CRASSH came from. In our Re- seminars we have already found the interesting question is often to ask: who wants to claim ‘sameness’, when, and why? What does it enable? 

CB: Can we really speak of sameness? Does it really exist, especially when we think in aesthetic terms, when we refer to visual and performing arts? Warhol once said that what was thrilling about the silkscreen process was that you could ‘get the same image, slightly different each time’. 

CF: That’s why I’ve coined the term ‘recognition capital’. Seeing sameness is part of seeing culture in terms of separately-existing things, rather than people – rather than the collective experiences that ‘things’ enable.

FG: Yes – ‘sameness’ can only be claimed retrospectively as part of a discourse. What should be investigated with a renewed effort, especially in our current socio-political situation, is not so much whether such a thing as ‘sameness’ may or may not exist but, given that it provides ground for identity discourses of any kind, who claims it and for what reasons and ends. That’s why the Re- Interdisciplinary Network at CRASSH is embarking in a critical endeavour that seems to us at the ICI extremely significant today.


 

Posted: Tuesday 12 March 2019

Contributor: Clare Foster


Meet the Researcher: Marta Cacho Casal – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Marta Cacho Casal


I am interested in artistic training and education of painters in Spain and Italy from the late sixteenth century.


Dr Marta Cacho Casal is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ERC-funded project Genius Before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science. She is mainly interested in iconography, the education and social life of artists, history of collecting and material culture.  
 




Q. Marta, you recently joined the Genius Before Romanticism team. Could you tell us a little about what the project is interested in?


The project approaches, in a multidisciplinary way, how the concept of ingenuity was used and understood in the early modern period. Rather than concentrating on the figure of (often artistic) genius which is the one we are all familiar with today, the project sees to study the culture of ingenuity which was widespread at the time in Europe.

Each member of the project is specialised in at least one European country with one researcher also specialised in the New World.

Q. How does this topic relate to your own area(s) of interest? Have you worked on similar topics previously?

I am interested in artistic training and education of painters in Spain and Italy from the late sixteenth century. I have been working on artists’ libraries and my research fits nicely with the popular two-fold concept of ‘Ars et ingenium’, (skill, workmanship that can be acquired with practice versus Ingenuity that is supposedly innate). These opposing/complementary words were newly applied in the Renaissance to painters, particularly in relation to poets and writers.

I am interested in skill, theory and imagination and how these become subjects of debate among painters themselves. The term ‘disegno’ which can be translated as drawing but that meant, in fact, much more at the time, makes a good case-point for ingenuity: while anyone can learn how to draw, only good artists would possess the innate talent and quick wit to have disegno.

Q. What will you be contributing to the project? Are there particular research outputs, events or publications that you will be involved in?

At the moment, I am working on two main outputs. One article will focus on the Self-portrait on an easel, by Bolognese painter Annibale Carracci, circa 1604 (The Hermitage, St Petersburg). This painting plays with art and illusion and I am interested in studying how some biographers contemporary to Annibale constructed his persona and turned him into what we can call an ‘ingenuity icon’. I am also working, along with my colleagues, on an innovative database which will include examples of visual culture of ingenuity. It has been really fun to source images for the database, which includes examples from all over Europe. I have been particularly interested in aspects such as Melancholy and artists' studios, but some of my colleagues have been bringing in interesting examples of calligraphy, or fascinating emblems, which show just how much Ingenuity was a pan-European assertion.

Finally, we are excited to have organized an end-of-the-project conference in Cambridge in April, and a week later, most of the team will launch the database at the International congress on Visual Culture which will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 


• Get to know the CRASSH community.
• Read about Genius Before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science.

 



The Genius Before Romanticism project is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ ERC grant agreement no 617391.
 

Posted: Monday 11 March 2019

Contributor: Marta Cacho Casal


Meet the Researcher: Matthew Holmes – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Matthew Holmes


I greatly enjoy writing about nineteenth-century natural history, which cannot be divorced from a wider global context. Empire crops up time and again, often in unexpected places. 


Matthew Holmes is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ERC-funded project The Global as ARTEFACT: Understanding the Patterns of Global Political History Through an Anthropology of Knowledge – The Case of Agriculture in Four Global Systems from the Neolithic to the Present (ARTEFACT) and a member of the Centre for Global Knowledge Studies (gloknos). 





Q. Matt, you recently joined the ARTEFACT team. Could you tell us a little about what the project is interested in?

ARTEFACT seeks to understand how global political history developed as it did by examining the history of human knowledge. To carry through this ambition, the project examines one of the most fundamental and ubiquitous human activities: agriculture. My colleagues and I examine four major agricultural revolutions: the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution, the ‘Arabic’ Agricultural Revolution of the ‘medieval’ era, the British Agricultural Revolution of the ‘modern’ period and the ‘Green’ Agricultural Revolution of the 1950s. ARTEFACT really is a project with a global reach and a longue durée vision of human history! I focus upon the British Agricultural Revolution in the context of the British Empire from 1500-1900. Like the other case studies investigated by the ARTEFACT team, this period is fundamental for how we understand the global. Crops, livestock and agricultural techniques were distributed across the world. New forms of knowledge were also in play, as ideas about heredity were hotly contested, a process traditionally seen as culminating with the rediscovery of Mendel’s Laws in 1900. 

Q. How does this topic relate to your own areas of interest? Have you worked on similar topics previously?

As a historian of science and environmental history, ARTEFACT is a natural fit with my research interests. I greatly enjoy writing about nineteenth-century natural history, which cannot be divorced from a wider global context. Empire crops up time and again, often in unexpected places. For example, while writing about the near-terminal decline of the red squirrel in Scotland, I found that one British traveller had attempted to send a squirrel to Scotland from India in 1803. Such was the novelty of the animal that a local magistrate mistook it for a bird! My other research interests focus on the history of plant breeding and biotechnology. I’m fascinated by lost or forgotten means of manipulating life, whether through cell fusion, irradiation or grafting. Working on the development and spread of agricultural technology and knowledge for ARTEFACT is therefore familiar ground for me, albeit on a much larger scale and with a fantastic team backing me up! 

Q. What will you be contributing to the project? Are there particular research outputs, events or publications that you will be involved in?

One of my first contributions to the ARTEFACT project will be to present a joint talk with Dr Inanna Hamati-Ataya at the Cambridge Festival of Science in March. This talk will look at the mixed reception of genetically modified crops from a historical perspective. I also hope to contribute to ARTEFACT through my related project ARTEFACT-Hybrid. In this monograph project I uncover the controversial history of plant and animal grafting and transplantation. This story is very much about how politics and knowledge intertwine on a global scale. On the one hand, I explore how classical genetics, underpinned by Mendelian laws of heredity, became a globally accepted norm. On the other, I demonstrate how accounts of grafted plants and animals exchanging hereditary material seemingly undermined the foundation of classical genetics. When the Soviet Union turned against genetics during the 1930s, this dispute took on a decidedly political feel. Or, as we might put it in the context of our project, debates over the knowledge produced in laboratories, greenhouses and orchards influenced the development of global political structures and institutions.  
 


 

ARTEFACT is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (ERC grant agreement no. 724451)

    

 

Posted: Monday 4 February 2019

Contributor: Matt Holmes


Meet the Researcher: Matthew Holmes

Image: Citrus aurantium var. bizzarria, Arancio Bizzarria. Disegnato da A. Poiteau nel 1811, acquarellato da D. Del Pino nel 1821

Britain’s Long Relationship with Agricultural Chemicals Since the Mid-Eighteenth Century – CRASSH

Britain’s Long Relationship with Agricultural Chemicals Since the Mid-Eighteenth Century


My latest article examines how, since at least the mid-eighteenth century, British farmers have used some pretty noxious substances to prevent pests and diseases from destroying their crops.


Postdoctoral Research Associate Matthew Holmes recently published a paper in Environment and History arguing that agricultural chemicals have long been subject to public health and environmental concern. 

Q. Dr Holmes, congratulations on your new article 'Melancholy Consequences: Britain's Long Relationship with Agricultural Chemicals Since the Mid-Eighteenth Century'. What is the article's primary focus and why do you think it is important? 

My latest article examines how, since at least the mid-eighteenth century, British farmers have used some pretty noxious substances to prevent pests and diseases from destroying their crops. Today chemical pesticides are used extensively in industrialised agriculture. It is common knowledge that, while these pesticides help keep our crops safe, they come with health and environmental costs, as articulated by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book Silent Spring. What is less well known is that chemicals such as arsenic and copper sulphate were used on British farms over a century before the anxieties of the 1960s. By soaking seeds in solutions of arsenic or copper, eighteenth and nineteenth-century farmers hoped to ward off common fungal diseases. My article shows that the use of agricultural chemicals goes back much further than we once thought. I also investigated what consequences the use of seed steeps had and how legislation was eventually introduced to limit the use of seed steeps and protect public health. This history forms an important background to modern debates over the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture, particularly as copper sulphate is still used as a fungicide by organic farmers today. 

Q. How did you conduct the research? 

To understand how seed steeps were used in Britain, I first turned to eighteenth-century agricultural textbooks. These books, produced by wealthy landowners, were understandably concerned with how to mitigate the impact of fungal diseases on crops. One controversial measure was the use of arsenic. Although most landowners agreed that arsenic was more or less effective at protecting crops, they were also aware it posed serious danger. Farmhands were at risk from handling arsenic and seeds soaked in arsenic might be consumed by cattle or birds. The problems of using arsenic on the farm really hit home in the mid-nineteenth century, when game birds such as partridges were discovered to have died after eating poisoned seeds. Critics of the practice were alarmed by the prospect of unwary consumers eating these poisoned birds, with one doctor even suggesting that poisoned partridges might have contributed to an outbreak of cholera! To further understand concerns about health and seed steeps, I turned to nineteenth-century newspapers. Regional newspapers carried out their own investigations, interrogating farmers and checking that game sold in local markets had been shot, not poisoned. 

Q. Which aspect of environmental history do you find particularly interesting, and why did you decide to specialise in British agriculture?  

My interest in environmental history largely focuses on the movement of plants and animals around the world. I am also interested in the closely related subject of human attitudes towards certain species: why we label some as vermin, others as native or alien and so on. Agriculture and land use are hugely important to understanding how we perceive different plants and animals. I have previously written about how foresters and farmers were hostile to animals beloved by many, such as the red squirrel, which they believed damaged their livelihoods. Yet I arrived at the history of agricultural chemicals quite by accident! While looking into nineteenth-century attitudes towards different birds I happened upon an account of partridge poisoning written by Dr Henry William Fuller in 1848. I realised that the similarities between this account and Rachel Carson and the DDT controversy were quite remarkable and decided to investigate further. The rest, as they say, is history.  

 


 

ARTEFACT is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (ERC grant agreement no. 724451)

    



 

Posted: Friday 1 February 2019

Contributor: Matt Holmes, Imke van Heerden


Meet the Researcher: Federico Brandmayr – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Federico Brandmayr


I hope that the Centre will start a conversation about the production, diffusion and application of scientific knowledge in our society.

Federico Brandmayr, Postdoctoral Research Associate on Expertise Under Pressure


In October 2018, two research projects – Expertise Under Pressure and Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology – joined the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge.

We are delighted to welcome Dr Federico Brandmayr, Postdoctoral Research Associate on Expertise Under Pressure, to the Centre and asked about his hopes for the project.







Q. Dr Brandmayr, which aspect of Expertise Under Pressure do you find most exciting? 

I like the fact that the project is based on a broad conception of expertise. Scholars in STS, philosophy of science and cognate fields have been focusing mainly on natural and medical scientists when studying expertise. Extending our attention to social scientists and scholars in the humanities should bring a fresh look to the study of the role and authority of experts in contemporary societies. And such breadth is reflected in the diversity of the team members: philosophy, politics, sociology, history, architecture and engineering are all well represented in a small group of people. 

Q. How does your own area of interest relate to the project’s primary research questions? 

I’ve been working on expertise for several years during my doctorate, focusing on expert testimonies in court cases. One of the prominent cases I’ve analysed is the L’Aquila trial, in which scientists belonging to different disciplines were both in the dock as defendants and on the witness stand as experts. By and large, I have a longstanding interest in understanding how and why people are sceptical of different forms of expertise in contemporary societies and in analysing what kind of assumptions experts make when giving advice to decision makers.  

Q. What are your hopes for the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change? 

I hope it will bring together researchers from a wide range of different disciplines and create a forum where they can formulate concrete and realistic proposals to address social problems, set up collaborations with other key actors, intervene in the public sphere, and outline alternative visions of society. And I hope that it will start a conversation about the production, diffusion and application of scientific knowledge in our society. 
 


From left to right: Robert Doubleday, Anna Alexandrova, Emily So, Michael Kenny

Meet the Expertise Under Pressure Team 

• Dr Anna Alexandrova, Principal Investigator
• Professor Michael Kenny, Co-Investigator
• Dr Emily So, Co-Investigator
• Dr Robert Doubleday, Co-Investigator
• Hannah Baker, Research Associate
Dr Federico Brandmayr, Research Associate
• Dr Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, Research Associate
 

Posted: Thursday 31 January 2019

Contributor: Federico Brandmayr


Meet the Researcher: Felix Anderl – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Felix Anderl


I am an International Relations scholar by training, but I have always been interested in historical and sociological aspects of transnational politics rather than a narrow focus on politics between states. 


Felix Anderl is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ERC-funded project The Global as ARTEFACT: Understanding the Patterns of Global Political History Through an Anthropology of Knowledge – The Case of Agriculture in Four Global Systems from the Neolithic to the Present (ARTEFACT) and a member of the Centre for Global Knowledge Studies (gloknos). 

Q. Felix, you recently joined the ARTEFACT team. Could you tell us a little about what the project is interested in?

The project wants to trace patterns of global political history through an anthropology of knowledge. We look at agricultural revolutions in quite different stages of human history. I will personally focus on the rather recent example of the “Green Revolution”, especially in South and Southeast Asia. But the general aspiration of the project is to approach socio-political processes from a cross-disciplinary and cross-temporal perspective. We start with the aspect of knowledge and look at how it travels across time and space. Agriculture seems to be a very good case to study these processes because it is so fundamental to our existence, but especially because agricultural knowledges have transformed so strongly over time. These changes, in turn, had vast effects on the ways in which humans have been organizing societies. Therefore, I am confident that our findings can contribute strongly to other fields of social inquiry such as sociology, political science and global history.

Q. How does this subject relate to your own areas of interest? Have you worked on similar topics previously?

I am an International Relations scholar by training, but I have always been interested in historical and sociological aspects of transnational politics rather than a narrow focus on politics between states. Especially, I have been analysing resistance, protest and other forms of critique and how these forms of discontent are brought together across difference in order to form transnational – and sometimes intersectional – social movements. Although I am from a rural area with a lot of cows and farms, it took my research partners from Indonesia to really inspire me to think about agriculture. Hence, my perspective has been shaped by those who resisted against “Green Revolution” policies as they were implemented in Southeast Asia in the course of neoliberal development schemes. Within ARTEFACT, I want to zoom out a little bit and understand the bigger historical significance of the “Green Revolution” with all its epistemological prerequisites and effects on knowledge. This knowledge, in turn, has enormous political consequences, for instance for the question of land ownership, technology, distribution, and most profoundly for what we eat and drink every day.

Q. Which aspect of the project do you find most exciting?

My hunch is that a precondition for making the Green Revolution possible was a particular understanding of the self as a “global subject”. This is especially visible in the underlying belief in progress, universal solutions and place-independent governance measures introduced by the “Green Revolution’s” proponents – who were otherwise relatively heterogeneous. This “globalism” is also what fascinates me in my Post-Doc project ARTEFACT-Solidarity that I will conduct within the mothership of ARTEFACT. There is a certain dialectics at play here: the global provides a necessary horizon in order to relate across difference, but it also has an expansionist, homogenizing tendency. Within ARTEFACT, we approach these questions from a distinctly epistemological perspective that is theoretically ambitious and empirically open. Our team has very diverse takes on these questions, and this open-minded spirit is actually something that I am very excited about.
 


 

ARTEFACT is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (ERC grant agreement no. 724451)

    

 

Posted: Wednesday 30 January 2019

Contributor: Felix Anderl


New Dark Age: Technology and How Bridle Gets It Right – CRASSH

New Dark Age: Technology and How Bridle Gets It Right


Without qualitative questions which ask how that thing is emotionally affective in the world and the power relations within which it functions, we end up with a lot of information but no idea how or why it matters.


Written by Francesca Root (Cambridge), this post was originally published on the ‘Re-’ Network blog.  


Technology allows us to access more information than ever before. But too much information is so often confused with an overload of knowledge, when in reality, they are very different things. Knowledge implies a full understanding, networks of information, rather than functional “bits”. Knowledge is also linked to language, to our ability to speak about a thing and its emotional affect in the world, rather than just of the thing itself. As far as our understanding of the impact of information technology goes, we are lacking knowledge, as well as the language with which to express it.

In his recent book New Dark Age, this is the crux of James Bridle’s argument [1]. I came to Bridle’s book having just completed my MPhil thesis where I focused on how people mourn in the digital age, how national grief and tech intersect with power. What is brilliant about Bridle’s book is that, refreshingly, it sees its job as framing the right questions about tech rather than rehashing the tired stories we’ve already heard. It pays attention to the way that processes of knowledge-accumulation about “things” are never neutral: it recognises that the way that we arrange and share information – about a new technology, for example – is always useful to someone. This is exactly the kind of thinking behind the ‘Re-’ Interdisciplinary Network. What is so good about Bridle’s book is that he acknowledges these dominant cultural narratives about tech, building them in to his overall view of it. However, refusing to stop at explaining what a form of tech is, he focuses instead on what it does, to and for people: in other words, how tech is powerful, and who the current narratives about its significance might serve.

Bridle maintains that a ‘simply functional’, or information-based understanding of technology and its systems is insufficient. A functional understanding is a bit like learning how to code without understanding what a piece of code can do, and how coding can be powerful. A functional knowledge of coding is solid gold as far as skills go these days. It allows you to mould and build digital space, from designing a website to hacking government systems. But without being accompanied by knowledge, and language, without qualitative questions which ask how that thing is emotionally affective in the world and the power relations within which it functions, we end up with a lot of information but no idea how or why it matters. Understanding the power of something or what something “does”, qualitatively, is a crucial first step in developing safeguarding processes and protective legislation. Developing language about the affect of a thing is a key first step in making something responsible, accountable and visible to its publics.

So, while you might have a great functional knowledge of Twitter, Facebook, or Amazon you’re relatively powerless in the face of those who know how the systems of these spaces work, who own the information, can organise it and make use of it to their advantage – who know what that information does. A vast amount of digital space is unaccountable in this way. It’s a kind of funny place to be in: we’ve got more information than ever, but the power to actually see, process, use and understand these enormous quantities of information is rarely in our hands.

What happens when we have lots of information and not enough understanding? Myth. Myths are just another form of knowledge – stories that get repeated enough to act as placeholders for truths that are denied to us, or we can’t yet access. Myths are useful for organising people and what they produce, which is why they get manufactured socially, politically, and culturally. Roland Barthes acknowledged this when he wrote that “myth is always motivated” [2]. What Barthes is referring to when he makes this observation is that a narrative about something usually benefits someone, somewhere. Think about the dominant narratives we currently hear about things like AI or VR gaming: who is creating and financing the popular stories about these emerging technologies? Who will benefit from a particular version of a story which, in reality, they know has yet to be fully told?

In place of real, accessible, networked knowledge about technology then, you often find two competing myths about what tech “does”. On the one hand there is techno-pessimism: the idea that technology is somehow corrosive, or inherently dangerous for “us” as a society. Popular with the media, this myth fits neatly into long-standing narratives of paranoia about science, and change. “Dating apps are ruining our lives”, “Facebook is destroying society”, “Social media is anti-politics” [3] and so on. On the flip side, you have techno-utopia: stories of “the Twitter revolution”, and instances of technology saving people (rather than the innovative behaviour of the people using that technology). The utopian narrative depends on a functional understanding as well, pushed of course by big tech firms. It says technology will save us, that it’s “bigger” than us, that we should just trust it and let the companies get on with improving our lives. The central problem with both these myths is that they are technologically and socially deterministic. This means that in both cases, tech, “the tools”, are given agency and seen to possess inherent qualities, which are then either good or bad for humanity.

Myths are meant to simplify the complexities of relationships – but their danger lies in the basis of their success: their repeatability. They’re easier to understand than the truth. What Bridle repeatedly warns of in his book is that we don’t know what we don’t know, particularly when it comes to tech. There is an urgent need to develop a more-than-functional or technologically-deterministic knowledge of tech and its systems. This is our greatest challenge because the problem is so immanent and so networked. In order to create deep, sufficiently complex, repeatable, new stories about tech we need more shared language, more interdisciplinary collaboration, more cross-border conversations because tech transcends all of these borders. It is not enough to de-bunk the myths we currently have for talking about tech, we must replace them with alternatives. This is, for me, what ‘Re-’ is – it’s a space where we can have these conversations, ask the right questions, find common experience across diversity and collectively, iteratively, re-write the myths.

References:

[1] Bridle, James. (2018). New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future. London: Verso.

[2] Barthes, R., Lavers, A., Reynolds, S. and Badmington, N. (2009). Mythologies. London: Vintage Books.

[3] Pappas, S. (2015). “French Flags on Facebook: Does Social Media Support Really Matter?” [online] Live Science. [Accessed 8 Jan. 2018] and Gladwell, M. (2010). Small Change. [online] The New Yorker. [Accessed 16 Dec. 2017].

 

Posted: Tuesday 29 January 2019

Contributor:


Getting away from the noise: Jewish-Muslim interactions and narratives in E1/Barbès – CRASSH

Getting away from the noise: Jewish-Muslim interactions and narratives in E1/Barbès


It is important to understand a neighbourhood, what is thought and said of it and its history, through the eyes and words of its inhabitants and workers.


Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr Sami Everett recently co-authored a study on Jewish-Muslim interactions and narratives in E1/Barbès with Dr Ben Gidley from Birkbeck, University of London.

The article offers a comparative lens on intercultural and interreligious encounter in urban contexts in France and the UK, focusing on the commonalities and specificities of different national and municipal contexts. 



Q. Dr Everett, congratulations on the new publication in Francosphères. What is the article’s primary focus and why is it important? 

The article is about two very well known, and increasingly touristic, neighbourhoods in London and in Paris which most people know by a single street name: La Goutte-d’Or and Brick Lane. Local residents tend to call them differently, referring instead to “Barbès” or “Bes-bar” (in verlan*) and E1 or Tower Hamlets; thus the title of the piece. We make this point because we try and show that it is important to understand a neighbourhood, what is thought and said of it and its history, through the eyes and words of its inhabitants and workers. This is called urban ethnography and it is the methodology used by Dr Ben Gidley and I (him as a Sociologist and me as an Anthropologist). The reason for choosing these geographic areas is because they have been in the eye of the sociological hurricane, so to speak, for many years, in debates about migration, national identity, and Muslim communities. In other words, there has been a lot of ‘noise’ made about them, and, as is so often the case, this noise often comes from the outside, from simplistic narratives of ‘uncontrolled migration’, ‘a broken national identity’ and theories abound about a violent, radical ‘Islamization’ of working class neighbourhoods. Needless to say both Tower Hamlets and Barbès are densely populated by people who moved there—Protestant French, Ashkenazic Jewish (Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania), and South Asian, particularly Bangladeshi for Tower Hamlets, and Polish, Italian and Ashkenazic, North African and Sub-Saharan African for Barbès: at least, those are the ways the ‘story of migration’ gets ordered. That said, we do not argue that the two sites can be equated to one another.

What Ben and I argue in this is that the story of migration that gets told—the doxa if you will—is successionist, that is, it is a little too narrowly linear and a little too centred on a simple picture of ethnic or national categories replacing one another over time. For example Tower Hamlets, in terms of its Jewish heritage is not simply Ashkenazic: Mizrahi Jews live and observe Judaism there. Similarly, while most of the synagogues in Barbès have a congregation from Morocco and Tunisia or descendants thereof, one synagogue in particular was set up by pogrom escapees from Kislev. Moreover, the existence of these narratives makes these neighbourhoods targets for populist rhetoric and action see, for example the Apéro géant saucisson, pinard (dried pork sausage and wine apéritif) movement in 2010 by fringe hard right groups in Barbès or the EDL marches on Tower Hamlets. Since anti-Muslim hate speech is a leitmotif for these groups and a way of generating a moral panic, it was important for us to show that in spite of negative representations of the other in the everyday which one might presume would distance Jewish and Muslim inhabitants and workers, there are in fact significant commercial interdependences that operate in both areas. We pinpoint these interactions, histories and working relationships in local eateries, music venues, and in the extant textiles industry (leather in E1 and maghribi** dresses). 




Q. How did the idea come about and how did you conduct the research? 

This written ‘output’ is part of a long-term research agenda that Dr Gidley and I are pursuing in France and the UK that questions certain commonly held sociological ideas concerning the use of national models for social cohesion among non-majority religious groups: the ‘multicultural’ British model on the one hand and the ‘assimilationist’ model of France on the other. Of course in interrogating those ideas we bump up against questions of the interface between the state and religion i.e. secular system of governance. A large and interdisciplinary future to this article is therefore our current research work in progress. But the article also has an interesting history in itself. Dr Gidley and I met in 2015 when he came to a seminar that I organised between Cambridge and the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) on the topic of comparing British and French perceptions of religion and politics with a focus on the local level i.e. neighbourhood organising, interreligious contact, public policy at the local versus the national level. I found that what Dr Gidley had discovered in the marketplaces of E1 broadly mapped on to my experiences with shopkeepers in Barbès in relation to quite banal forms of discrimination which police the linguistic borders of ‘communities’. While stereotyping is prevalent, local Jewish and Muslim working people work closely together and need each other in order for their businesses to work properly. I give the example of the Algerian Muslim seamstress who is integral to Monsieur El Khiyat’s north African dress business.

The time that I spent in Barbès can be divided into my life ‘before’ anthropology as a telecoms engineer and commerce person (prior to having studied for an MA and a PhD in Anthropology and Politics and the Middle East); the process of becoming an Anthropologist which is bound up with one’s thesis fieldwork which I conducted 2010-12; and the postdoctoral work that I did on the sociology of religious communities in Paris 2015-17. Most ethnographers would agree, it takes a long time of being deeply embedded within an area, a community, a family, or a group (of any description) in order to produce an ethnographic account that is of historical and social value and which contains insight. Furthermore, there is a period of reflection, thematization and theorisation that can only really be undertaken after this period ‘in the field’ so the question becomes not so much ‘how’ you conducted your research—which was through a mixture of qualitative methods such as participant observation, hours and hours of informal (“semi-structured”) interviewing, the capture of group conversation, critical interpretation of relevant literatures (about the neighbourhood)—but rather the stages in the process of reflection and writing between the field, understanding the themes to emerge in that time and reading about applicable methodological and philosophical theories to that work. To give you an idea, among the things that helped both Ben and I to articulate the coming together of those elements was our involvement in a French radio documentary series by Ilana Navaro called l’angleterre et la france au bord de la crise de nerfs (England and France on the verge of a nervous breakdown) which you can find below or here. We gave a historical overview of the sucessionist narratives that I mentioned to you, we showed how these play out in the two neighbourhoods and then related these phenomena to the theme of secularism between the two countries.

For 2019 alongside colleagues in Paris Dr Gidley and I have started working on a fully comparative, large scale, cross-city, Franco-British research project proposal to extend these themes. We hope to submit that this year.



Mes lettres persanes: De Bricklane à la Goute d’Or. Image credit: Iris Miské.





Footnotes:
* French back to front slang
** North African dress in Barbès




 

Posted: Tuesday 29 January 2019

Contributor: Sami Everett, Imke van Heerden


The Latest Update of the Doomsday Clock Shows How Our World Is Burning in a Fire of Misinformation – CRASSH

The Latest Update of the Doomsday Clock Shows How Our World Is Burning in a Fire of Misinformation


Human extinction and the probability of a coming global catastrophe, either nuclear or environmental, are not just a problem for scientists, policy makers and elites, they are a problem for all of us.


According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists the world is stuck in a new abnormal, where we remain as close to an existential catastrophe as we have ever been – two minutes to midnight. In the 1950s, the last time we faced such peril, this risk came from a world conflict in which generals and politicians were willing to play with the future of the planet in order to secure military and political advantage. However, in 2019 we face a new landscape of risk driven by ignorance as much as strategy.

The Bulletin this year highlighted two key threats the world faces. On the one hand, nuclear weapons remain far too numerous for comfort, with the potential for nuclear tensions to turn into a global catastrophe. As Former Governor of California Jerry Brown pointed out in responding to the Doomsday Clock, much of this risk now comes from the potential for accidental launch. In addition to the longstanding threat that nuclear weapons may be launched by accident or as the result of a false alarm we now face even more challenges because the policy makers who will ultimately decide whether nuclear weapons get launched are increasingly faced with a news and intelligence environment that cannot be secured against cyber-attack and coordinated disinformation.

Meanwhile, climate change is an existential threat due to its capacity to disrupt the fragile global systems on which we depend. Yet, we are not taking the actions that we know we must, and that international governments have agreed to, because of a wilful blindness to the facts and their significance. For example, in her response to the announcement, Susan Solomon pointed to President Trump’s recent dismissal of a scientific analysis of climate change from his own staff on the basis that 'I don’t believe it'. Once again it is the prevalence of misinformation and bad epistemology that are fuelling this new abnormal.

Yet, the Doomsday Clock, the most well-known assessment of the level of existential threat facing humanity, is far from perfect. It is the considered judgment of a panel of experts. The fact that the clock has remained at the same time as it was in 2018 should not be understood as giving any great degree of certainty that the level of risk is not rising. The study of existential risk is a science in its infancy. I am proud to be a researcher at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk who are helping this science grow.

However, as the Bulletin’s announcement indicates, the conditions that are driving this risk in 2019 strongly mean that even were we to achieve a well-developed science of the threat that we face, and to understand everything that is needed in order to mitigate these and move towards a safer world, this may not be enough. The challenges that are preventing us from bringing about the changes that we need to get us further from midnight are as much cultural and political as they are scientific.

Human extinction and the probability of a coming global catastrophe, either nuclear or environmental, are not just a problem for scientists, policy makers and elites, they are a problem for all of us. We have the power to affect how our leaders make their choices by holding them to account for their willingness to accept that there is such a thing as scientific truth and objective reality, and that we ignore these at our peril. This should not be a matter of political disagreement, it is the very foundation of our safety and our future.

Posted: Friday 25 January 2019

Contributor: Simon Beard


Influential Group Suggests Changes to Business School Rankings at Davos – CRASSH

Influential Group Suggests Changes to Business School Rankings at Davos


The report, Business School Rankings for the 21st Century, suggests 20 actions to improve evaluation and ranking and encourage 'a race to the top' in business education.


Davos, Switzerland – A new report on business school rankings is being simultaneously launched in Davos and Shanghai, with business school deans discussing the report in Davos on January 23. The report, published under the aegis of the UN Global Compact and with the support of Aviva Investors, gives an overview of the current state of the business school rankings and suggests possible changes to help align business school education with the needs of the 21st century.

Business school rankings are produced by organisations such as the Financial Times, the Economist, US News, Business Week, and Forbes. These rankings strongly influence business schools, which in turn influence their students: the next generation of decision-makers. However, these rankings have been critiqued for overemphasising graduate salaries, penalising business schools who educate graduates who work for non-profits, and not properly taking into account sustainability, ethics, or teaching quality.

The report, Business School Rankings for the 21st Century, suggests 20 actions to improve evaluation and ranking and encourage 'a race to the top' in business education. Possible actions include:

  • Eliminate entirely, or reduce the weight of, the salary differential measure
  • Incorporate criteria that measure environmental, social, and/or SDG-linked factors within core curricula, research output, hiring, and special research clusters
  • Award credit to schools that train students who work for low-paying but societally valuable organisations after graduation

The report draws on consultations with business schools, progressive businesses, rankings publications, accreditation agencies, and relevant civil society organisations. Contributors include AABS (African Association of Business Schools); ABIS (the Academy of Business in Society); AMBA (Association of MBAs); Aon; the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism; CSER (Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge); EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development); GMAC (Graduate Management Admissions Council); GRLI (Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative); Oikos International; and the UN PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education).

Read the full report.

Posted: Wednesday 23 January 2019

Contributor: CRASSH News


Why ‘Re-’?: Thinking Twice About Repetition – CRASSH

Why ‘Re-’?: Thinking Twice About Repetition


Like applause in an auditorium, a tradition or narrative can be started by a single agent or event, but crucially depends on the complicity of others to exist.


This post was originally published on the ‘Re-’ Network blog.  
 

The ‘Re-’ Network asks what repetition does. Why do we repeat, revive, re-enact, restage, reframe, remember, represent, and refer – to whom, when, where and why – and why is this a topical question in a digital era?

From history, heritage, tradition, canons, icons, revivals, re-enactments and archives to celebrity, brand and social media, the aim of the Network is to help equip the public with a more fluent grasp of how cultural repetition offers an identity, frames a particular worldview, implies a consensus and performs a persuasive past.

Our discussions raise issues such as the manufacture of consensus, the power of label, category, and association, and how different technologies have different social and political affordances. ‘Re-’ asks what starts, and changes, a prevailing narrative, and for whom. Public perceptions persist to a remarkable degree across huge changes in populations, media and infrastructure – why? Part of the answer lies in the fact that familiarity itself is its own value. Everyone wants the collectively recognisable: it is the means by which we can publicly say something. But in the process other often unnoticed dynamics work to subtly establish, legitimise and persuade. The kinds of questions ‘Re-’ asks are, for example, how we should approach artworks (e.g. Shakespeare, Mozart) that exist in reciprocity with their own notoriety. Or the relationship between material heritage and immaterial heritage – not as easily separated as it might first appear. Should archives be seen as engaging primarily with the past, or the future? How is a ‘tradition’ similar to and different from a ‘fashion’ – and how might both offer insights about the dynamics involved when something goes viral?

Whatever heading or label we are working under – history, tradition, adaptation, allusion, revival, reproduction, heritage, cultural memory – these and other iterative and referential practices are all engagements with the collectively recognisable. As such, they have three things in common:

First, circularity: the best known become the best known, the most often repeated the most often repeated. Analysing these dynamics in other cultures and periods offers useful models for understanding the various digital economies we are all now shaping and shaped by.

Second, reification: of both individual item and the aggregate of which it is seen as a part. Repetition gives things weight: lends them their existence. Copying makes an ‘original’, as many have said. Traditions make ‘firsts’ in the same way. A focus on firsts and originals is characteristic of a particularly Western cultural history that likes to locate, define, classify and order: to claim a ‘source’ is an evaluative and organising gesture. But the role played by the passage of time in these processes turns out to be key: an idea, practice or position becomes normal or dominant by simply appearing to have survived, or to have received sustained attention, over time. This observation applies more widely. Contesting something – saying a statement is false, for example – can make it stronger, or sustain it, by making it more recognisable. But equally, not contesting something at a time when definitions are in flux can allow it to gradually become legitimised. Seen through this lens, inaction at a key moment of cusp can be highly consequential. ‘Re-’s subject matter, then, is not traditions, but the traditional. Not the ‘thing’ repeated, but the practice of repeating it. On reflection, the two can’t easily be separated.

Third, collectivity. Like applause in an auditorium, a tradition, narrative or label can be started by a single agent or event, but crucially depends on the complicity of others to exist. And a ‘first’ is often declared retroactively (not always: many predict or hope for ‘firsts’, and have repetition or an afterlife precisely in mind). In fact the starting point of a collusive tradition, story or trend can be located by anyone, anywhere, at any time: what is key is to keep it being repeated, being shared, being spread through collective capacities to recognise in the present: in other words, traditions only exist as performed. It is no accident that the ‘Re-’ Network arose in part from exploring the interdisciplinary concept of performance at CRASSH over the past five years [1]. Discussions in ‘Re-’ seminars always come around to who or what controls the frame or stage.

Everything can be seen as ‘performance’ in some way, as has often been said. In the same way, everything can be seen as involving ‘repetition’: it is embedded in all human practices inevitably, as well as deliberately. What gives the ‘Re-’ Network its particular focus is the question of what else is being performed other than the thing ostensibly being repeated – values such as community, identity, continuity, status, participation, nation etc. ‘Re-’ asks the basic question ‘who is it for?’ – i.e. what constituencies or audiences are implied by any particular statement, work of art, language, or other form of (re)address. These implied audiences are sometimes obviously targeted (‘not for me’), and sometimes precisely mixed, where an effort is made to capture multiple, often incongruous groups, in a single act of communication. In famously repeated works of consensual value, such as Shakespeare or Greek drama, the ability to appeal to many different levels of assumed knowledge or degrees of familiarity is often the point. Repetition connects, groups, assembles, gathers.

‘Re-’ is about constantly going back to the question of what this or that instance of repetition is doing – or did in its time, or might do in the future. The ‘same’ thing will not only mean different things to different people, but will mean different things at different times. So however accurately reproduced, no work can remain exactly the same, except in so far as it performs this paradox. The thing to ask, then, is what capacities to recognise a repetition is addressing, and whether it aims to reinforce existing expectations, challenge them – or both. And whose interests might be served by promoting belief in one, rather than another, claim to importance, priority, or ‘truth’.

As the short non-word ‘Re-’ suggests, these kinds of questions don’t necessarily belong to any one existing discipline or vocabulary. And they arise in the context of rapid change that increasingly calls for a need to move away from seeing culture as encounters between individual objects and subjects, towards seeing the sets of relations, tensions, and reciprocities that cultural practices put into play. ‘Re-’ prompts us to notice what is not being repeated, as well as what is; how attention is being distracted, as well as directed; how to include can also be to exclude, and vice versa. It advocates a systems-based approach to ‘truth’ over decontextualised analyses of objective instances; one that privileges multiple perspectives, networks of associations, and preponderances of evidence. Living under the aegis of the ‘technology of persuasion’ as the Facebook executive board recently described their field of business [2] we all need to think twice about who repeats what and why. We need to become experts not only about objects and events, but what the public repetition of objects and events makes possible.


[1] The Cambridge Interdisciplinary Performance Network and its associated seminars and conferences, e.g. the ‘Re-performance’ roundtable discussion. Also important was a 2017 conference at UCL’s Institute for Advanced Studies.

[2] ‘Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?’ Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, Sept 17 2018.



 ‘Re-’ Network: Term Card, Lent 2019 

View the Network's programme of events.
Video: Adam Lowe and Simon Schaffer – Replicas in the Histories of Art and Science
 

Posted: Tuesday 22 January 2019

Contributor: Clare Foster


Interdisciplinary Approaches to Energy Studies: Q&A with GENUS – CRASSH

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Energy Studies: Q&A with GENUS


Alongside practicing an interdisciplinary approach to our research on urban energy, we are also committed to critiquing assumptions that interdisciplinarity is universally beneficial.


Global Energy Nexus in Urban Settlements (GENUS) is one of twelve interdisciplinary CRASSH Research Networks running fortnightly seminars in the 2018–19 academic year. We asked co-convenor Ruth Massey to introduce the activities and aims of this new network. 



Q. Ruth, how did GENUS come about? 

The Global Energy Nexus in Urban Settlements network (GENUS) was formed in early 2018 in response to the growing need for improved interaction, collaboration, and communication across various disciplines working on energy and urban settlements, particularly in the Global South. This network responds to widespread knowledge that the world faces an energy crisis (i.e. natural resources cannot maintain current energy demand) that is particularly acute in the rapidly expanding urban areas of Africa and Asia.

GENUS has two core aims: 1) Conducting research on sustainable and innovative forms of energy for urban dwellers and 2) Implementing an interdisciplinary approach to research that both values and critiques disciplinary difference. 

Q. By definition, a CRASSH research network has an interdisciplinary question at its core. What's yours? 

Alongside practicing an interdisciplinary approach to our research on urban energy, we are also committed to critiquing assumptions that interdisciplinarity is universally beneficial, while also developing models that address the practicalities of interdisciplinary research. Our network explicitly focuses on addressing the practical challenges of interdisciplinary research as a core challenge. 

Q. Could you tell us a bit more about this year's convenors, speakers and attendees and the perspectives they bring to the discussion? 

The entire GENUS team assist with the CRASSH seminars but the core convenors for this year are Dr Ruth Massey and Dr Charlotte Lemanski. 

  • Charlotte is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography. She is an Urban Geographer interested in the everyday and structural realities and constraints of inequality within the Southern city, focusing specifically on inequalities related to housing and infrastructure, as well as urban governance and citizenship. 
  • Ruth is a Postdoctoral Research Associate based in the Department of Geography. She is an Urban and Development Geographer whose core research interests lie in understanding governance and social dynamics within low-income communities in the Global South using the lens of housing and energy infrastructure. 

We have three speakers lined up for this term: 

  • Professor Stefan Bouzarovski from the Department of Geography, University of Manchester. Prof Bouzarovski is the Director of the Collaboratory for Urban Resilience and Energy, Manchester Urban Institute, and is a world-leading authority on issues of energy poverty, justice and equity. He chairs the European Union Energy Poverty Observatory, and the ENGAGER (European Energy Poverty: Agenda Co-Creation and Knowledge Innovation) network funded by the European Co-operation in Science and Technology scheme. 
  • Dr Catherine Mei Ling Wong is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Université du Luxembourg. Her current research looks at governance networks that underpin globalisation processes in small but global cities. Her current project GLOBAL compares the trajectories of Luxembourg, Geneva and Singapore and examines their relative positions in the global economy and the implications for urban development. 
  • Dr Kathryn Janda is a Principal Research Associate in Organisations and Non-Domestic Buildings in the Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London. Dr Janda is a socio-technical scholar interested in the intersection of people, energy, and buildings. She has studied energy innovations, transitions, and their drivers since 1990 and is particularly interested in the dual role of organisations as both adopters and providers of sustainable innovations. 

This year the focus of the GENUS CRASSH seminars will be socio-technical interdisciplinary approaches to energy studies, asking: 'How Does Interdisciplinarity Function in Practice for You?'. These speakers, as well as those we anticipate will attend these sessions (PhD students, postdoctoral associates, researchers, academics etc.), will share and discuss their experiences, challenges, and the opportunities associated with interdisciplinary practice. 


GENUS Term Card, Lent 2019 

Q. What can we expect from GENUS in 2019? 

GENUS will continue meeting and collaborating on various research projects currently underway and will explore further opportunities and funding options that become available during the year. 

Q. How can people learn more about your network? 

Visit our project web page here.  
 



About the Author 

Dr Ruth Massey answered the questions on behalf of the network – biography provided above.
 







 



About CRASSH Research Networks

The CRASSH Research Networks Programme supports groups of Cambridge graduate students and faculty members with a common interdisciplinary research interest, bringing together early-career researchers, established academics and guest speakers on particular research topics for a year of collaborative work. The groups run bi-weekly events which are free and open to all.

Do you have an exciting, new idea that needs detailed exploration? Apply to us for funding. 




 


 

Posted: Monday 21 January 2019

Contributor: Imke van Heerden


Patient Experience: Q&A with the Health, Medicine and Agency Network – CRASSH

Patient Experience: Q&A with the Health, Medicine and Agency Network


Our theme for Lent term is Patient Experience, and we will focus on the lived experiences of people that are seen as patients and consumers at the same time.


Health, Medicine and Agency (HMA) is one of twelve interdisciplinary CRASSH Research Networks running fortnightly seminars in the 2018–19 academic year. Imke van Heerden asked convenors Hande Güzel and Yuliya Hilevych to introduce the activities and aims of this new network. 


 Hande Güzel and Yuliya Hilevych

Q.  Hande and Yuliya, how did Health, Medicine and Agency (HMA) come about? 

HMA originated from the burgeoning need across the university to bring together academics and researchers who work on different facets of health, illness and medicine, yet who do not necessarily collaborate. The network provides the necessary hub to create a dialogue between those who practice medicine and those who research it. 

Q. By definition, a CRASSH Research Network has an interdisciplinary question at its core. What's yours? 

HMA heavily relies on bridging the gap between practitioners and researchers of medicine, and the question we ask is: In what ways do individuals influence the kinds of medical treatment options widely available? Much of what is done in social studies of health, illness and medicine carries the danger of sacrificing praxis for theory. Our network is an attempt to establish this balance. Furthermore, we invite all attendees to think about creative ways of self-expression in relation to academic research in the field. Hence, we have sessions coming up on public engagement and performative arts. 

Q. Could you tell us a bit more about this year's convenors, speakers and attendees and the perspectives they bring to the discussion?  

The convenors of HMA come from a variety of backgrounds and are at different stages of their career. We have PhD students and post-docs from Sociology, Social Anthropology, History, and Public Health and Primary Care. Our speakers have come from institutions across the UK and Europe to reflect on problems such as patients’ needs, inequalities in health, and new medical technologies. They have shared a wide variety of exciting and stimulating research that generated discussions around embodiment, gender, and race, among others. 

Q. What can we expect from Health, Medicine and Agency in 2019? 

Our theme for Lent term is Patient Experience, and we will focus on the lived experiences of people that are seen as patients and consumers at the same time. We will also highlight public engagement activities in the field, which will serve as a torchlight for those interested in going beyond scholarly writing in communicating one’s research. 



Q. How can people learn more about your network? 

We have our programme located on the CRASSH website. We also have a dedicated FB page and a mailing list crassh-hma@lists.cam.ac.uk.

All are welcome to join our lively events! 
 



About the Authors

Hande Güzel is a PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge. Her research interests cut across sociology of health and illness, gender, sexuality, and the body. Her PhD research focuses on re-virginisation practices in Turkey.

Yuliya Hilevych is a Newton International Fellow at the Faculty of History and an Affiliated scholar at the Reproductive Sociology Group (ReproSoc). She combines historical and sociological approaches to the study of reproduction, social relations, and demographic policy across time and space.
 



About CRASSH Research Networks

The CRASSH Research Networks Programme supports groups of Cambridge graduate students and faculty members with a common interdisciplinary research interest, bringing together early-career researchers, established academics and guest speakers on particular research topics for a year of collaborative work. The groups run bi-weekly events which are free and open to all.

Do you have an exciting, new idea that needs detailed exploration? Apply to us for funding. 




 


 

Posted: Monday 21 January 2019

Contributor: Imke van Heerden


Patient Experience: Q&A with the Health, Medicine and Agency Network
New Book: Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them – CRASSH

New Book: Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them


Why do so many people believe in conspiracy theories? What are their effects? What can or should be done about them?


CRASSH is delighted to announce the publication of Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them (Oxford University Press, 2019). Edited by Joseph E. Uscinski, the book includes contributions by members of Conspiracy and Democracy, a Leverhulme-funded project based at the University of Cambridge from 2013 until 2018.

CRASSH Contributors:

Hugo Drochon
Tanya Filer
Andrew McKenzie-McHarg
Alfred Moore



About the Book

Conspiracy theories are inevitable in complex human societies. And while they have always been with us, their multiplication and proliferation is unprecedented due to increasing knowledge, a sense of powerlessness, and a distrust of elites, that have merged to generate conspiracy theories on a vast scale in our era. In recent years, scholars have begun to study this genuinely important phenomenon in a concerted way. In Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them, Joseph E. Uscinski has gathered forty top researchers on the topic to provide the foundational tools and evidence to better understand conspiracy theories not just in the United States, but around the world. Each chapter is informed by three core questions: Why do so many people believe in conspiracy theories? What are their effects? What can or should be done about them? Using systematic analysis, rich discussion, and cutting-edge research, this volume will help us better understand an extremely important, yet relatively neglected, phenomenon.

• Click here for more information and to order a copy of the book. 


About the Project

Theories and beliefs about conspiracies are an enduring feature of modern societies. This is partly a reflection of the fact that real conspiracies do exist, and have existed in the past. But the pervasiveness of conspiracy theories in the twenty-first century suggests that many other factors are also at work, and studying them provides opportunities for understanding how people make sense of the world and how societies function. What does the prevalence of conspiracy theories tell us about trust in democratic societies, and about the differences between cultures and societies? How have conspiracies and conspiracy theorising changed over the centuries and what, if any, is the relationship between them? Have conspiracy theories appeared at particular moments in history, and why?


This ambitious, five-year, interdisciplinary research project explored these and related questions. It set out not to debunk particular theories but to provide a 'natural history' of conspiracy theorising. To do that, Conspiracy and Democracy combined the perspectives, investigative methods and insights of historians, political theorists, network engineers and other disciplines to produce a deeper and richer understanding of a fascinating and puzzling phenomenon.

• Click here for more information. 




 

Posted: Wednesday 16 January 2019

Contributor: CRASSH News


Q&A with International Black Radicalism – CRASSH

Q&A with International Black Radicalism


We pushed for this CRASSH network so that we could examine intellectuals, and intellectual systems of thought, that are traditionally excluded from the academy.


International Black Radicalism is one of twelve interdisciplinary CRASSH Research Networks running fortnightly seminars in the 2018–19 academic year. Imke van Heerden asked convenors Ali Meghji, Tanisha Spratt, Rachel Sanchez-Rivera, Daphne Martschenko and Sharon Walker to tell us more.
 


Sharon Walker, Tanisha Spratt, Daphne Martschenko, Ali Meghji and Rachel Sanchez-Rivera
 

Q. How did International Black Radicalism come about? 

Our CRASSH network on International Black Radicalism came about by pulling together several streams. Firstly, a group of us realised that there were/are many people researching multiple dimensions of racialisation, racism, and anti-racism across the University from a variety of disciplinary perspectives – sociology, politics, education, psychology, philosophy, history, English, African studies and Latin American studies, to mention a few. Our CRASSH network brings these people together into a collaborative dialogue. Secondly, the network engages with recent student-led activism to ‘decolonise’ the University. We pushed for this CRASSH network so that we could examine intellectuals, and intellectual systems of thought, that are traditionally excluded from the academy. Lastly, as organising members, each of us cares deeply about racism and all seek transformative justice, and we think a comprehensive examination of Black radicalism is important for this social project. 

Q. By definition, a CRASSH Research Network has an interdisciplinary question at its core. What's yours? 

What is 'international Black radicalism' and how has it been changed in a digital age? Black radicalism has always been inter, or trans, disciplinary. To think of one story, CLR James (an historian who is also co-opted as the pioneer of cultural studies, with sociologists also owing a lot to him), gave a copy of his Black Jacobins to Martin Luther King Jr (a theologian, civil rights activist), via Louis Armstrong (a musician) – so we have the transmission of Black radical knowledge stretching across and influencing multiple disciplines, travelling across a network of Black radicals all of whom also came from different disciplinary backgrounds and brought a particular disciplinary perspective to issues of Black liberation. MLK Jr himself claimed that ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ – Black struggle for liberation in one place is inherently connected to Black struggle globally. How has the digital age accelerated the internationalism of Black radicalism, as we have seen in Twitter revolutions against police brutality such as #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName? This question itself requires that trans-disciplinary network that Black radicalism has always relied upon. 

Q. Could you tell us a bit more about this year's convenors, speakers and attendees and the perspectives they bring to the discussion?  

Convenors: The convenors represent three departments at the University of Cambridge: the Department of Sociology (Dr Ali Meghji and Tanisha Pratt), the Department of Latin American Studies (Rachell Sanchez Rivera) and the Faculty of Education (Daphne Martschenko and Sharon Walker). Their research addresses a range of issues including race and class, intersectionality theory, decolonial theory, race and medical sociology, the processes of racialised beauty, race, ‘biomedicine’ and biopolitics, and race and educational policy. This collaboration builds on past work to support the establishment of reading groups focused on theories of race and racism in their respective departments. 

Speakers: The programme is supported by a range of speakers. Michaelmas term saw contributions from Dr Brian Alleyne (Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths University) and Professor Hakim Adi (University of Chichester). In Lent and Easter term, planned contributions include Rachell Sanchez Rivera (Centre of Latin American Studies, Cambridge), Alicia Garza (Leader of the BlackLivesMatter group) and Journey to Justice (Volunteer led UK human rights education charity). When inviting speakers, the network has aimed to draw on intellectual contributions from academia (both well established and emerging), as well as from grassroot and activist social movements and organisations. 

Attendees: We have been pleased to host attendees in Michaelmas 2018 from a range of disciplinary backgrounds. This has greatly enriched the groups discussions and sources of expertise. We have also been pleased to see participation from undergraduate students through to University research fellows. We hope to continue this rich exchange of ideas over the coming terms.  

Q. What can we expect from International Black Radicalism in 2019?

We have a number of exciting discussions planned for 2019. In the first week PhD student Rachell Sanchez Rivera (Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge) will discuss performances of Black radicalism in a 'colourblind' era. This session will explore the global emergence of colourblind ideology, and how Black radicalism has countered transnational political discourses of post-racialism, post-racism, and mixed-ness. It will focus on the Latin American emergence of ‘mixed-ness,’ and how Black radicals sought to resist this colourblind racial rule. The second session, An Exception to Colourblindness: Black Consciousness in Apartheid South Africa, will focus on the question of how Black radical thinkers in South Africa – including Steve Biko and Nelson Madela – drew upon the thought of contemporary and past Black radicals, including Frantz Fanon, W. E. B Du Bois, and Angela Davis. In the third session we will discuss the role of international Black radicalism in international music. We will consider how Black radical thought from the 1970s emerged in the cultural sphere, particularly in music. By selecting four songs, two from the 1970s (Bob Marley’s 'Slave Driver' [1973] and G. Scott-Heron’s 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' [1970]) and two from the present day (Beyonće’s 'Formation' [2016] and Kendrick Lamar’s 'The Blacker the Berry' [2015]), we will discuss how each reflects on similar messages and connections to Black radical thought. In the final session, The Suppression of Black Radicalism: In Memory of Marielle Franco, we will consider how contemporary Black radicals are threatened by their political states and the police. Specifically, we will focus on how Black radicalism often leads to aggressive reactions from racial regimes, as highlighted by the recent murder of Afro-feminist activist Marielle Franco in Brazil.




International Black Radicalism: Term Card, Lent 2019 


Q. How can people learn more about your network? 

We welcome anyone and everyone to come join our network and discuss and learn more about international Black radicalism. We are an interdisciplinary group and our door is open to any members from any faculty and those outside of the university.

We meet alternative weeks during term time on Wednesdays from 12:00-14:00. You can follow along on our webpage to get further details on sessions, reading materials, and meeting location.

Please also join our Black Radicalism mailing list to receive updates on our upcoming events and session materials (crassh-black-rad@lists.cam.ac.uk). To request addition to our mailing list you can email Sharon Walker (sw703@cam.ac.uk) or Ali Meghji (am2059@cam.ac.uk).
 



About the Authors 

Sharon Walker is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on race and educational policy in the UK, and in particular the widening participation policy agenda in higher education.

Ali Meghji is a Research Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, and will join the Department of Sociology as Lecturer in Social Inequalities in September, 2019. He is a cultural, critical race sociologist of race and class.  

Tanisha Spratt is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge. Her research centres questions of (in)visibility in the lives of US patients with one of two chronic diseases (alkaptonuria and vitiligo). Specifically, she explores the role that social (in)visibility plays in the lives of patients from both disease groups who experience their disease in relation to other social identities that they simultaneously occupy (including race, class and gender).

Daphne Martschenko holds a PhD from the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Her scholarship explores the social and ethical dilemmas of behavioural genetics research for the American education system, focusing in particular on how it engages with teacher perceptions of intelligence, race, and socioeconomic status.

Rachell Sanchez Rivera is a PhD candidate in the Centre of Latin American Studies, specializing in gender, race and eugenics in Latin America and the Caribbean. Before starting her PhD in Cambridge, she did her B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus and a M.A. in Regional Studies – Latin America and the Caribbean from Columbia University in the City of New York.

 



About CRASSH Research Networks

The CRASSH Research Networks Programme supports groups of Cambridge graduate students and faculty members with a common interdisciplinary research interest, bringing together early-career researchers, established academics and guest speakers on particular research topics for a year of collaborative work. The groups run bi-weekly events which are free and open to all.

Do you have an exciting, new idea that needs detailed exploration? Apply to us for funding. 





 

Posted: Tuesday 15 January 2019

Contributor: Imke van Heerden


Q&A with International Black Radicalism

Image by Scott Beale via Flickr

Newsletter: What’s On at CRASSH, Lent 2019 – CRASSH

Newsletter: What’s On at CRASSH, Lent 2019


We enter the new year and what Cambridge calls the Lent term with a menu of intellectual attractions and excitements that is anything but penitential.

Professor Steven Connor, Director of CRASSH



Newsletter: What’s On at CRASSH, Lent 2019

'Notices' (2018, oil on canvas) by Mandy Hudson

Director’s Welcome: What’s On at CRASSH, Lent 2019 – CRASSH

Director’s Welcome: What’s On at CRASSH, Lent 2019


We enter the new year and what Cambridge calls the Lent term with a menu of intellectual attractions and excitements that is anything but penitential.

Professor Steven Connor, Director of CRASSH




We enter the new year and what Cambridge calls the Lent term with a menu of intellectual attractions and excitements that is anything but penitential.

There is still time before the deadline of 21st January to enter for the Nine Dots Prize, which seeks to recognise agile, original, cross-disciplinary thinking about contemporary societal issues. Entrants this year are invited to submit 3,000 words on the question: 'Is there still no place like home?' For the winner, there is US$100,000, a Fellowship at CRASSH and a contract for a book with Cambridge University Press.

Applications are also open until 25th January for the CRASSH Conference Support Competition 2019–20. We offer £2,500 along with full administrative provision to support conferences organised by college and university faculty and graduate students. We are also accepting applications, until 25th April, for the CRASSH Research Networks Funding Competition 2019–20.

And, as the holiday allurements start appearing everywhere, it is not too early to start planning your academic summer, by applying for one of the two CRASSH summer schools. Religious Diversity and the Secular University is a two-week summer workshop supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. And gloknos (say glow-nos, not glock-nos), the newly-established Centre for Global Knowledge Studies, is running a summer school on Global Epistemics (details to follow soon).

More immediately, look out for the Ideas Lab which gloknos is launching this January, with an event exploring Norming Knowledges on 29th January. We are also eagerly anticipating three more events in the gloknos Annual Lecture Series, two sessions at the Cambridge Festival of Science in March and biweekly meetings of the two reading groups Ontopolitics of the Future and Knowledge and Digital Capitalism.

Our twelve research networks will also be fizzing and bubbling with events (and don't forget that CRASSH reading groups are open to any interested participants).

Our funded research projects are also contributing to the intellectual festivities.

  • The ERC-funded project Qualitative and Quantitative Social Science will be running a weekly reading group throughout the term. Measuring Wellbeing by Eliciting Preferences? seeks to understand how wellbeing can be defined and understood, before discussing how it may be usefully measured.
  • The project Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology at the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change is hosting its first workshop on 25th March, The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Language, Ethics, Technology.


Finally, visitors to many of our events in the Alison Richard Building (ARB) can look forward to some pleasurable shivers from the Solitudes and Seasons exhibition, which includes five painters and one filmmaker whose work deals with the weird, the eerie and the uncanny in the English landscape. A painting by one of the artists, Mandy Hudson, is featured on the cover of this term's What's On.

Professor Steven Connor
Director of CRASSH





Collect your copy of the latest CRASSH What's On from the Alison Richard Building (Sidgwick Site) – or page through the digital version above. For details of specific events, please visit our events calendar – and don't forget to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter. 
                             

Posted: Thursday 10 January 2019

Contributor: Steven Connor


Director’s Welcome: What’s On at CRASSH, Lent 2019

'Notices' (2018, oil on canvas) by Mandy Hudson

Q&A: Solitudes and Seasons – CRASSH

Q&A: Solitudes and Seasons


Hauntological themes of the past repeating into the present, and lost futures that also allude to man’s relationship to nature. 

Ben Walker, Artist


Judith Weik, Coordinator of Art at the Alison Richard Building, speaks to Ben Walker, curator and participant of Solitudes and Seasons. The exhibition is located on all four floors of the Alison Richard Building at the University of Cambridge, and runs until the 8 February 2019. 

Ben Walker: Library Music 1.4

Ben Walker, Library Music 1.4

 

Q: What is the exhibition about?

‘Solitudes and Seasons’ is an exhibition of work about time, memory and place. The five painters and one filmmaker make work that deals with the eerie in the English landscape, bringing together different ideas of folklore, the unknown, the weird, science fiction and the supernatural. Much of the work refers to a distinct era of British culture and TV programmes and films – 1970s and 1980s educational programmes for schools, films and public information films. Looking back, television broadcasts and films from this time often seemed imbued with a strange, 'otherly' quality. For example ‘Children of the stones’, an HTV production from 1977, was concerned with subject matter and atmospheres that seemed odd or even unsettling for a broadcast aimed at children - eerily presented supernatural forces and the breakdown of normal society.

The landscapes, whether rural, suburban or edgelands, in these films were sometimes interchangeable, featureless, or mundane, yet there was an atmosphere of realised or implied unease or suspense. Much of the source imagery seems familiar, reassuring, and yet it is also unsettling or eerie. It is these qualities I hope are evident in the artists’ work in this exhibition.

 

Q: How did you conceive of the theme? And who are the artists?

I had begun making work that drew heavily from imagery from television broadcasts and films from this particular era of British culture. Some of these programmes I could remember distinctly, some I could not specifically remember but nevertheless, they seemed strangely familiar, which felt comforting yet unsettling. So the paintings I started to make were, I felt, impressions of a half-remembered, misremembered or imagined past, that exists on the edges of memory and nostalgia. I think it is the notion that the familiar, the everyday, could carry something that remains hidden or becomes somehow significant, that lies at the heart of my paintings, and it was a quality I found in the work of the other artists included in ‘Solitudes and seasons’.

The idea for the exhibition came about from conversations I had with Robin Dixon and Mandy Hudson, who I have known since we all rented studios at Bow Arts Trust in East London, 15 years ago. Both make understated, modest paintings. Robin Dixon’s subject matter included mysterious, anonymous figures in bleak wastelands as well as laboratories and experimental places, painted in an understated and economical way. Mandy Hudson made mainly small scale paintings, again modest and quiet, depicting mainly interiors, flowers or plants. There was an absence of people, as though the plants were growing over the remnants of a collapsed society. There was a definite link between the work we were all making, it seemed to be about memory and the past, but a particular time in the past. We began to think about putting together an exhibition of work that could explore this hauntological theme of the past repeating into the present and of lost futures and that also alluded to man’s relationship to nature. 

Mandy Hudson, Night Pland and Blind

 

Another vital aspect of the exhibition would be a ‘handmade’ quality to the work. A sense of something having been discovered during the process of making the work, how paint is placed on the canvas, how it is removed, how images are lost and found, these are the things that are important to me. Work that calls attention to the medium itself. Even the one artist who makes work via mechanical means, Adam Scovell, makes films in which, in his own words, “the grain of the film stock hides many spectres and memories waiting to be unearthed once more”. I had been an admirer of Adam Scovell’s writing on arts and film on his blog ‘Celluloid Wickerman’ and various publications and of his shadowy Super 8 short films so was pleased when he agreed to write the text for the exhibition proposal and to show three films. His films seemed to me to be in search of lost memory and misplaced time, finding tranquillity regained alongside the uncertainty of things to come. I also wanted to include Sam Douglas’ work. His paintings are carefully painted layer upon layer over time, and they have a real presence, the landscape almost seeming to possess a personality. Sam Douglas travels and undertakes residencies, and his paintings depict English pastoral landscapes, but often with manmade industrial structures or another common occurrence in eerie work, the presence of standing stones or menhir. They remind me of the importance of the natural world and of man’s place in it. Rhys Trussler was a graduate of Turps Art School, an independent artist-run organisation with whom I am currently working on a correspondence course, and his paintings brought a slightly playful edge to the exhibition. In his work, childlike, almost cartoonish characters are subverted into something darker, like recollections of some of the wyrd and mysterious 1970s tv plays. There is a dark humour contained in much of his paintings, and I found a lot of interest in the surfaces and handling of paint.

 

Q: Who would this exhibition be of interest to?

I would hope to attract an art-interested audience of course, but would also like to reach a wider audience, and I hope those with an interest in perhaps history, literature or British cultural history generally would find something enjoyable and stimulating. While those who remember the era of some of the source material I hope it might find it particularly resonant, knowledge or memory of some of the source material is definitely not essential. The work made should be strong enough to stand on its own, with enjoyment and satisfaction to be found from looking at the handling of paint and how it is placed on the canvas, the choice of colours, the composition. Also, I hope how the paintings have been arranged and hung will work well in the University environment.

Robin Dixon, Red Laboratory

Posted: Tuesday 8 January 2019

Contributor: Judith Weik

Tags: paintingexhibitionarts


Meet the Researcher: Rosie Worsdale – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Rosie Worsdale


Since good public policy is supposed to have some kind of desirable impact on society, we want to be able to assess, as accurately as possible, whether or not a given policy is likely to have the effect we want it to.


Rosie Worsdale is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on Qualitative and Quantitative Social Science: Unifying the Logic of Causal Inference? (QUALITY). This ERC-funded project brings together cutting-edge work in epistemology with the expertise of leading social scientists.

Q. Rosie, you recently joined the QUALITY team. Could you tell us a little about what the project is interested in? 

The overall goal of the QUALITY project is to investigate the way in which different principles of causal inference operate in qualitative and quantitative social scientific research, and the possibilities for reconciling and weighing up pieces of evidence which rely on different principles of causal inference. The motivation for the project lies, in large part, in the realm of public policy, and the increasing desire for evidence-based public policy proposals: since good public policy is supposed to have some kind of desirable impact on society, we want to be able to assess, as accurately as possible, whether or not a given policy is likely to have the effect we want it to. Social scientists use a variety of research methods – qualitative, quantitative and some combination of both – to try to offer such assessments. The problem, however, is that these different methods often employ different principles of causal inference to draw their conclusions – and this makes it very difficult to know how different pieces of evidence for the same proposal should be weighed up against each other. The aim of the QUALITY project is to interrogate the epistemological issues underpinning this problem. 

Q. How does this topic relate to your own areas of interest? Have you worked on similar topics previously? 

My areas of expertise are in feminist theory and social and political philosophy; I am interested in what I see as a basic tension in all kinds of critical social theory between, on the one hand, the difficulties involved in making causal claims about the kinds of social phenomena in which the distortive effects of ideology, epistemic inequality and silencing might be at work – namely, in instances of oppression and domination – and on the other, the political necessity of being able to make systematic causal claims about such phenomena, viz. how they operate and how they can be challenged.

My work on the QUALITY project involves examining this tension as it manifests in social scientific research designed in some way to further emancipation and social justice. Specifically, I want to investigate the way in which critical social theorists can draw on the evidence provided by social scientific research to inform their diagnoses of oppression, domination and injustice, whilst being faithful to the crucial insights from the tradition of critical theory that call into question the methodological and epistemic norms of the more orthodox social scientific methods. The work, then, is a continuation of themes I have worked on previously; but it is also quite a big departure, insofar as I have not worked previously on these kinds of topics in relation to philosophy or social science. So, it’s an exciting combination of familiar ground and new territory.

Q. Which aspects of the project do you find most exciting?

I think I am most excited about working closely with social scientists as part of the project. It is quite rare as a philosopher to get the opportunity to think philosophically about social and political issues alongside experts from other disciplines who are motivated by the same concerns as you. The project presents an exciting opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration on subjects that I am very passionate about. For instance, I am very interested in the theoretical underpinnings of the fraught public debates about the best way to legislate sex work, and the challenges associated with researching this topic in a way that is, methodologically speaking, feminist. Working on the QUALITY project is allowing me to think through these issues in collaboration with social scientists facing these challenges in their own research projects, which is invaluable. 
 



QUALITY is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (ERC grant agreement no. 715530)

             

Posted: Monday 17 December 2018

Contributor: Rosie Worsdale


Mapping AIDS: Q&A with Lukas Engelmann – CRASSH

Mapping AIDS: Q&A with Lukas Engelmann


AIDS is far from over. This is a history that is moving on rapidly, characterised by an incredible pace and vast changes.


Former CRASSH Research Associate Lukas Engelmann has just published an innovative monograph entitled Mapping AIDS: Visual Histories of an Enduring Epidemic (Cambridge University Press). The book examines visual traditions in modern medical history through debates about the causes, impact and spread of this devastating epidemic. We asked the author, now Chancellor's Fellow in the History and Sociology of Biomedicine at the University of Edinburgh, a few questions about this important  book.




















Q. Lukas, how did Mapping AIDS come about? 

The book is based on my PhD. Already in my undergraduate studies, I was fascinated by AIDS writings from the 1980s and 1990s and was surprised to find hardly any being taught and referenced. Many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences had developed a rich scholarship dedicated to the epidemic during its crisis years but it was obvious that much of that work was discontinued in the late 1990s. I was quite often told that ‘everything had been written about AIDS.’ But looking at my own field, the history of medicine, at least one fundamental question had not been answered: Medicine was thrown into a substantial crisis with the emergence of AIDS in the 1980s as doctors were incapable of delivering treatment and many struggled to relate to the epidemic’s sexual politics. But about twenty years later, the authority of biomedicine appears to have remarkably recovered. There has not been enough scholarship looking at this important restoration of medical authority. I wanted to contribute to this question and write about the ways in which medical knowledge about AIDS had been established to find out what we can learn about the normalisation of the epidemic over the last thirty years. 

Q. Around which themes did you decide to structure the monograph? 

The book follows a series of medical atlases, which had been produced to visualise medically significant information about AIDS. I was stunned to see that clinicians had reinvented an epistemic ‘heavyweight’ to re-establish the authority of medical discourse. The genre of the atlas is often associated with the nineteenth century and, as Daston and Galison have suggested, was in essence a visual instrument, a ‘dictionary of the eye.’ The first atlas dedicated to AIDS was issued in 1986, the same year Paula Treichler published her famous essay on the ‘epidemic of signification’ and I was intrigued by the tensions between these entirely different accounts of the epidemic. The first – and every following atlas – offered three different ways of visualising AIDS: First, clinical photography and the visualisation of the body with AIDS. Second, the epidemiological map to visualise the space of AIDS and finally, diagrams, models and icons of HIV, making the unseen pathogen visible. The book’s three main chapters follow these three ways of seeing and knowing AIDS and HIV.  

Q. In your view, wherein lies the book's main contribution to the field?

My aim was to show how these atlases of AIDS make use of a long history of medical visualisation. Century-old traditions were invoked by the atlas makers to integrate the newly emerging epidemic into the medical canon. I think we can learn a lot from the history of clinical photography, medical geography and the visualisation of pathogens to understand how medicine regained its lost authority over AIDS. And each of these well-established traditions of medical visualisation also carried specific meaning and investments into the medical understanding of AIDS. I have then brought these fragments of the history of medicine into conversation with the visual politics of AIDS and HIV. In each of the three chapters, I embed the medical way of seeing from the atlas within the larger visual framework of AIDS. Clinical photography and artistic or journalistic photography of people with AIDS has more in common than many people would assume. The epidemiological map has been a substantial instrument for public health policy, crucial for establishing a sense of political urgency in the globalisation of the epidemic. Models of the virus on the other hand carry the representation of a techno-scientific success-story into the world and, curiously, lack any practical purpose within a teaching instrument for medical practitioners.  

Q. What is the book's contribution to the historiography of AIDS.

AIDS is far from over. This is a history that is moving on rapidly, characterised by an incredible pace and vast changes. With PreP, an entirely new paradigm of prevention has emerged, which yet again challenges settled assumptions of how this epidemic is supposed to be seen and how it might be brought to its end. The book discusses clinical photographs, epidemiological maps and virus models also as visualisations of AIDS history, as pictures that do not only enable a certain embodiment of disease and pathology, but also as pictures of the epidemic’s history. Photographs of bodies with AIDS bring us close to the crisis of its first decade, the experience of suffering and the overwhelming effects of the immunodeficiency onto social fabrics, sexual identities and political struggles. Epidemiological maps draw out images of the epidemic’s deep history, tracing the pathogen over continents and decades. Virus models suggest an almost timeless persistence of HIV, shifting the appearance of the epidemic to one of a chronic, manageable and enduring condition. 





You may also like these recent CRASSH Books Q&As:

Plague and the City – Q&A with Lukas Engelmann, John Henderson and Christos Lynteris
Histories of Post-Mortem Contagion – Christos Lynteris and Nicholas Evans
Ethnographic Plague – Christos Lynteris
Why We Disagree About Human Nature – Tim Lewens
Paper Tiger – Nayanika Mathur
Global Epistemics – Inanna Hamati-Ataya
Evolution Made to Order – Helen Anne Curry
Witchcraft, the Devil and Emotions in Early Modern England – Charlotte-Rose Millar
Translating Early Modern Science – Sietske Fransen
Rock, Bone & Ruin – Adrian Currie
 

 

Posted: Wednesday 12 December 2018

Contributor: Lukas Engelmann, Imke van Heerden


Meet the Researcher: Lorraine de la Verpillière – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Lorraine de la Verpillière


Our team is working collaboratively on the production of a fascinating database of images linked to the concept of ingenuity.


Lorraine de la Verpillière is a Research Assistant on the ERC-funded research project Genius Before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science. As part of the project, she will be analysing ingenuity through visual representations of early modern physiology.



Q. Lorraine, you have recently joined the CRASSH research project Genius Before Romanticism. Could you tell us a little about what the project is interested in? 

The Genius Before Romanticism project focuses on the early modern notion of ‘ingenuity’. This complex notion was in fact both related to and highly distinct from the concept of ‘genius’ which later emerged during the eighteenth century and still pervades today. While the romantic ‘genius’ usually refers to a solitary, melancholy-blessed, and exceptional individual, the notion of ingenium encompassed a much larger range of meanings. It could, for instance, refer to innate capacities and natural character, to the brain, to the faculty of imagination, or to materials and techniques.

Linked to the special talents of the artist and to the aesthetic properties of artworks, ingenuity as imagination and ingenious materials and techniques are specific meanings our team is currently working on – the project has reached the last phase of its research which is on the topic of ‘Ingenious Images’.

Q. How does this topic relate to your own area of interest? Have you worked on similar topics previously?

My interest in the notion of ingenuity stems out of my PhD research in Art History. My thesis, entitled ‘Visceral Creativity’, analysed the related concept of artistic creativity, and how Northern artists from the early modern period visually represented this concept in relation to the body’s physiology – and, more specifically, in relation to the physical and metaphorical process of ‘digestion’.

I am therefore particularly interested in the embodied and sensory aspects of ingenuity, that is to say, how food, liquids (like liquors and wine), as well as different kinds of bodily substances (humours, medical ‘spirits’, or vapours) could influence the mental and intellectual processes taking place in the head (especially imagination), or the physical making of an artwork.

Q. What will you be contributing to the project? Are there particular research outputs, events or publications that you will be involved in?

During this last year of the project, our team is working collaboratively on the production of a fascinating database of images linked to the concept of ingenuity. It will involve images directly attempting to represent this concept, as well as images that were thought in the period to specifically require exercising ingenuity, whether from the part of the artist or the viewer. We aim this database at being useful to researchers across all disciplines.

Aside from taking my research on ‘embodied’ or ‘earthbound ingenuity’ further through working on several publications, I am increasingly interested in the topic of laughter in relation to images and I am currently organising for the project a workshop on ‘Early Modern Caricature and Ingenuity’, due to take place in the Spring.

• Get to know the CRASSH community.
• Read about Genius Before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science. 



The Genius Before Romanticism project is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ ERC grant agreement no 617391.
 

Posted: Thursday 6 December 2018

Contributor: Lorraine de la Verpillière


Q&A: The Itinerary – Tracing the Refugee Routes – CRASSH

Q&A: The Itinerary – Tracing the Refugee Routes


This exhibition is about exodus, suffering and searching. It is about humans being treated like numbers – but it is also about dreams and hope.

Milos Bicanski, photojournalist


Judith Weik, Coordinator of Art at the Alison Richard Building, speaks to some of the eleven photographers whose work is represented in the exhibition The Itinerary – Tracing the Refugee Routes. The exhibition is located on the ground, first, and second floors of the Alison Richard Building at the University of Cambridge and runs until the 21 December 2018. Photographer biographies and further information about the exhibition can be found here: The Itinerary Exhibition.
 

 

Q: What is The Itinerary exhibition about?

Orestis Seferoglou: The eleven photographers in this group traced the journey of refugees arriving from Turkey into Europe through Greece. The exhibition focuses on the different stopovers between their point of departure in the large-scale camps in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Sub-Saharan Africa, through Greece, and beyond to the so-called Balkan Route.

Anna Pantelia: All of the photographers come from different backgrounds, but we were documenting the same situation, each of us focusing on our personal perceptions of what we were witnessing.

Andrea Bonetti: Through my pictures, I wanted to show the huge importance of those people working behind the scenes – volunteers and others who are there 24/7 in order to help refugees find safety. 

 

Q: How did you conceive the theme of this exhibition?

Anna Pantelia: Undoubtedly, media attention of the refugee crisis was already over-saturated by the time the decision for this exhibition was taken. But for us as photographers who live and work in Greece, we had the chance to spend some time following the stories of the people who became stuck in limbo. It was a chance for more in-depth reporting and this is what makes this exhibition particularly interesting.

Milos Bicanski: When more than a million refugees and migrants were passing through our country escaping war, our concern as a photo-journalist was how we could document the refugees' circumstances. Their suffering, the deadly dangers they put their lives and children in, like crossing a sea in small dingy. We wanted to show the world that something is wrong, that this must be fixed as fast as it can be.

Andrea Bonetti: When I was photographing the arrivals of hundreds of rubber boats per day to the shores of Greek islands I realised that there was something really powerful going on in those dramatic moments. There were so many volunteers working to help refugees finding safety ashore, transforming those desperate moments into something so powerful and joyous. Refugees could feel so relieved once welcomed by all those warm people who were offering them warm clothes, food or just a big hug. The fear of the dangerous journey was over – at least for a moment.

 

Q: How did you interpret and work with the theme?

Anna Pantelia: I think this exhibition came at the right moment and in the right place. Greece, along with Italy, are the countries that have been burdened with this crisis the most. The exhibition was a decision taken after the EU-Turkey deal agreement that is totally inhumane and is based on trading human lives. Through our exhibition, we are trying to show the dangerous journey that people are taking in order to ensure a better life for themselves and their families. We show what children, women and men are going through for things that most of us have taken for granted. 

Andrea Bonetti: When I take pictures that I really care about, I try to blend in with my surroundings, be it people or nature. I try to be as respectful as possible because I know how I would feel if I was on the other side of the lens. For my refugee story, I tried to work in a way that allowed me to be as much as possible in touch with my subjects, with respect for them as my first priority.

Orestis Seferoglou: I always try to search for the human side inside the events. I don’t want to see a refugee as something exotic or alien. Every person arriving on the shores of a Greek island or being stuck in a refugee camp brings with them a personal story. In many cases, this story might be the only thing keeping this person connected with their home. Through my images, I try to bring these stories in front of you.

Milos Bicanski: It was physically exhausting and painful. When I look back now at all photos I took on the Balkan Route, I can see that I subconsciously concentrated on mothers travelling alone with one or more children, most of them underage. It was probably because I believe that men are mostly the instigators of war but women and children suffer disproportionately.

 

Q: Apart from those interested in art/photography, who would this exhibition be of interest to?

Anna Pantelia: I believe this exhibition is for those interested in current affairs, those who want to learn more about the refugee journeys from the Middle East to central Europe.

Andrea Bonetti: Of course it should interest a wide public, because the issue of migration is a very old one, but ever more important today. Inequality and the climate crisis are becoming stronger year after year, the world is going to see more and more people moving away from their homes in search for a better livelihood. We are the lucky ones living in the rich world, what if we were on the other side? What would we do if our land was destroyed by bombs or if our soil would become so arid that we couldn't grow our crops anymore? Unfortunately, the world is becoming a more difficult place to live for so many people. We have to become aware of that. And we have to help find solutions to make amends.

Louisa Gouliamaki: Literally Everybody! Those involved in social sciences, humanities, those who ever cared about those ordinary people on their extraordinary journeys ... 

 

Photography by Orestis Seferoglou

 

Posted: Tuesday 4 December 2018

Contributor: Judith Weik

Tags: refugeesphotographyphoto journalismmigrationart at the arb


Q&A: The Itinerary – Tracing the Refugee Routes

A refugee grabs onto the razor wire at the closed Greek-F.Y.R.O.M. border crossing, March 2016

Image © Louisa Gouliamaki

Centre for Global Knowledge Studies Launches Website – CRASSH

Centre for Global Knowledge Studies Launches Website


The colour palette I started from was inspired by the agricultural themes of the ARTEFACT project (wheat, water, sun, earth) that are characteristic of ancient Egyptian and Minoan art.


Founded in September 2017, the Centre for Global Knowledge Studies (gloknos) is concerned with the past and contemporary global production, diffusion, exchange, and use of human knowledges across their different cultural configurations and ideational-material manifestations. In celebration of the launch of www.gloknos.ac.uk, we asked Founding Director Inanna Hamati-Ataya to tell us how the website came to be.





Q. Inanna, congratulations on launching gloknos’s website. How will it help you achieve the aims of the Centre? 

Thank you, it’s an important milestone for the ARTEFACT project and I’m very happy to see the website (developed by Chameleon Studios) go live a few weeks after gloknos’s inauguration at CRASSH.

As you know, the Centre’s mission is to develop a network of researchers and partner institutions working on knowledge, its circulation and uses; to foster transdisciplinary research projects across this network and disseminate their results within and beyond academic circles; and to serve local and broader communities invested in, or affected by, contemporary scientific and technological transformations. The website will serve this mission by providing a platform for the ARTEFACT team and the Centre’s associate members and partners to connect, exchange expertise, explore and develop collaborative projects and activities, make their work visible, and disseminate their research in simple and accessible formats to a wide audience. Several projects of this sort have already started (see our Activities pages) and since the website went live new initiatives have been proposed that are under consideration.

As gloknos’s online platform, the website will gradually develop its dissemination and communication functionalities to serve academic and public access to research. We have already launched its blog, which is open to anyone wishing to contribute to gloknos’s mission, and we are preparing the launch of a podcast series later this year. In the meantime, an audio-visual database of gloknos’s activities will also be made available soon. These online fora will complement our in-site dissemination activities happening at Cambridge and other locations, as well as more conventional channels of dissemination that will be announced soon. 





Q. Could you tell us more about the logo? 

I wanted the logo (pictured above) to illustrate the holistic, anthropological approach to knowledge endorsed by ARTEFACT and gloknos, and also to reflect the mix of historical and contemporary, future-oriented consciousness that animates the whole project. I was very lucky to find a designer (Tarek Kandil), who delivered exactly what I was hoping for, by combining a sleek, modern rendering of the centre’s acronym with the rough contours of an ancient wheel — an object representing one of the most basic and ubiquitous human creations, and associated with a geometrical concept that has informed and inspired human thought from architecture to the philosophy of history. The wheel of the logo carries the four colours that were subsequently used for the website’s main categories. The colour palette I started from was inspired by the agricultural themes of the ARTEFACT project (wheat, water, sun, earth) that are characteristic of ancient Egyptian and Minoan art, and was calibrated more specifically on ARTEFACT’s reference image, Brueghel’s Summer Harvest



Pieter Brueghel the Younger: Summer: The Harvesters (1623)


Q. How did you decide on the look and feel of the website? 

Aesthetically I wanted a simple, elegant, and bright design that served the website’s objective of making our research and activities visible, and of disseminating intellectual output to academic and non-academic audiences in accessible and efficient ways, without unnecessary visual or informational distractions or overload. The structure and design serve the website’s overall purpose while being adapted to the content of the different pages and the expected needs of our members and visitors. I think this makes it both informative and user-friendly, while stimulating interest in gloknos and inspiring others to engage with the community of researchers involved and with the work they are doing. 

Q. What do you like most about the new site? 

The fact that its organisation, content, and aesthetics convey well the scope and spirit of gloknos’s mission, but also of ARTEFACT’s original ambition to develop a different intellectual space where new conversations can be initiated and sustained across traditional academic boundaries. I think the website will help like-minded researchers identify gloknos as their natural community and stimulate them to contribute to its mission, while also providing appealing and inviting access to non-experts interested in the themes we investigate.

Q. What's coming up next for gloknos

We are still at the beginning of gloknos’s journey, with a range of activities that are being gradually rolled out over the next two years, and additional dissemination fora adapted to different types of research and events. The centre’s community is growing and a few collaborative projects are already being developed with our partners, such as the Objects project we are starting this year with the Global Food Security Interdisciplinary Research Centre with funding from the Isaac Newton Trust. This is part of the gloknos Transdisciplinary Initiative, which is the most exploratory and ambitious in our range of long-term activities. The next major annual events will be the first editions of the Global Epistemics summer school and of the Deep History symposia respectively, currently in preparation. All future activities will be announced on the website and in our forthcoming newsletters. In the meantime, anyone interested in contributing or proposing events or projects is welcome to contact us. 

• Visit www.gloknos.ac.uk.
• Learn more about gloknos.
• Learn more about ARTEFACT.

 



ARTEFACT is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (ERC grant agreement no. 724451)
 


 

Posted: Friday 30 November 2018

Contributor: Inanna Hamati-Ataya, Imke van Heerden


Third Plague Pandemic: Over 2,000 Photos Made Available to Public – CRASSH

Third Plague Pandemic: Over 2,000 Photos Made Available to Public


The general public will be able to access for the first time the visual record of a pandemic that changed the course of modern medicine, but which is also generally forgotten today.

 


Between 2013 and 2018 Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic researchers at the Department of Social Anthropology of the University of St Andrews and at CRASSH, University of Cambridge collected and analysed thousands of photographs of plague produced in the course of the third pandemic of the disease (1894–1959), over 2000 of which have become freely available online in Apollo, University of Cambridge Repository.




1. ‘By the plague brigade collected hollow bamboo containing rat nests, obtained from Javanese houses.’ Credit: Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen.
2. ‘Man being shaved in one of the hospital camps, during the outbreak of bubonic plague in Karachi, India.’ Credit: Wellcome Collection.
3. 'A segregation camp during bubonic plague outbreak, Karachi.' Credit: Wellcome Collection.



The Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic Photographic Database provides scholars and the general public with a unique visual resource of one of the most important infectious disease pandemics in modern times. Offering rich information on colonial governance, architectural and urban planning intervention, global trade, medical practice and scientific research across the globe, it reveals neglected yet vital aspects of social, economic and political life at the turn of the nineteenth century. Social scientists and historians will be able to access unique new data on the historical development of plague outbreaks and their social and political impacts, as well as on medical, governmental and popular responses to them. Life and medical scientists will be given access to data for historical epidemiological investigations, and for the understanding of the disease ecology of plague. The general public will be able to access for the first time the visual record of a pandemic that changed the course of modern medicine, but which is also generally forgotten today.




1. 'Seamen's Hospital for infectious diseases in Jurujuba, Rio de Janeiro; the interior of one of the wards, with plague patients by their beds. Photograph, 1904/1911.' Credit: Wellcome Collection.
2. ‘Half conscious tarabagan, April 1923. Could move slightly but with eyes closed and in erratic manner. T is cat-size’ [‘Wu 11.XI.1923’ from reverse of photo, in Wu Liande's handwriting]. Credit: Wu Liande Family.
3. 'Seamen's Hospital for infectious diseases in Jurujuba, Rio de Janeiro; a plague patient in bed, viewed from behind, his head supported by a member of the medical team. Photograph, 1904/1911.' Credit: Wellcome Collection.



In celebration of the launch of this open access database, the project team have created a helpful guide (below), including information about the Third Plague Pandemic, how to find the database, and the images you will encounter while searching.





The Database displays photographs alongside the following data: a) their original caption and accompanying text, where this is available; b) provenance data, c) chronological and location data, d) information regarding what is depicted in the image, e) contextual information regarding the outbreak depicted in the image, f) information that clarifies errors and misconceptions included in the photograph or its accompanying original text. The Database is searchable by keywords, including location, which can be combined in searching, for example, for photographs of rats in British India, or disinfection in Hong Kong.


• View the database here.
• More information about the project can be found here.  


Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic is an interdisciplinary research project funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant (European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme/ERC grant agreement no. 336564).




 

Posted: Thursday 29 November 2018

Contributor: Christos Lynteris


Plague and the City: Q&A with Lukas Engelmann, John Henderson and Christos Lynteris – CRASSH

Plague and the City: Q&A with Lukas Engelmann, John Henderson and Christos Lynteris


It is important to recognise and think with the resilience of the urban image of plague so that we can understand how it continues to impact our perception of urban environments as sources of infection. 


Edited by Lukas Engelmann, John Henderson and Christos Lynteris, Plague and the City (Routledge, November 2018) uncovers discourses of plague and anti-plague measures in the city during the medieval, early modern and modern periods, and explores the connection between plague and urban environments including attempts by professional bodies to prevent or limit the outbreak of epidemic disease. We asked the three editors to tell us more. 

























Q. How did this edited collection come about? 

Plague and the City resulted from the first annual conference of the project Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic (ERC grant agreement no 336564, PI Christos Lynteris) which took place at CRASSH in December 2014. As part of the Visual Plague project we looked at the ways in which during the third pandemic of the disease (1894-1959), plague was depicted photographically as an urban phenomenon. Of course, plague in itself is principally found in non-urban ecosystems, as it is sustained amongst wild rodents like marmots and gerbils. However, in spite of the discovery of this key sylvatic aspect of the disease (first observed in 1894 in South Siberia), since its first description by Procopius in the time of Emperor Justinian, plague has consistently been depicted and imaged as an urban phenomenon. This has led to both an imagination of the disease and to methods aimed at containing, preventing or eradicating it that are inexorably linked with understandings and problematisations of urban space as a pathological and pathogenic environment. Indeed from the time of the Black Death and before there was a constant concern that smelly, insanitary conditions were the cause of disease which led to the frequent enforcement of regulations across Europe to clean up the environment. Bringing together plague scholars studying different eras of plague discourse, science and intervention (from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century) and in different parts of the globe, the volume provides for the first time a diachronic and global portrait of perceptions of and reaction to plague as an urban problem and their impact on social life. And as the volume is the result of a project aimed at understanding epidemic visualisation, many of the chapters tackle the ways in which plague has been rendered visible as an urban phenomenon, thus underlining the synergies between epistemic, aesthetic and biopolitical framings of the disease. 

Q. Around which themes did you decide to structure the book?

Urban space has long been associated with filth and disease. Population density, squalor, immoral behaviour and civil unrest were often brought forward to explain specific outbreaks and to fortify the convergence between the city and epidemic disease in general. In this volume we have sought to unpack different themes of this relationship to find out how stable these themes have been over time. While the chapters cover a period reaching from the middle ages to the twentieth century they speak to three different themes. First, we are interested to find out how urban pathologies were imagined through the lens of plague so as to understand how exactly the city were associated with the disease. The contributions connect the medieval and early modern focus on dirt and stench to the spatial pathologies of the late nineteenth century with its principal focus on the ‘ailing city’, working class living conditions, and ethnic separation. Second, we emphasised the social life of plague to compare the ways in which urban populations reacted to and acted upon the plague. The chapters consider the emergence of principles of sanitation and isolation as well as different ways in which stigmatisation and marginalisation structured the experience of plague in urban spaces across time. Third, all chapters focus on urban interventions, as we were keen to ascertain to what extent plague had a lasting impact on urban infrastructures. Systematic inspection, the establishment of health boards as well as substantial transformations of materials and structures of housing are just some of the pertinent measures adopted by authorities with the aim to disentangle urban space from the ever-lasting threat of plague. 

Q. In your view, wherein lies Plague and the City's main contribution to the field?

The volume presents a unique opportunity for historian of medicine and public health to compare and contrast the relationship between plague and the urban space over time. Furthermore, it adds a considerable volume of research on the third plague pandemic with its unique global geography and thus integrates the medieval motif of an urban disease to the scholarship on plague in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It also provides an important yet neglected visual angle in the examination of the history of plague as an urban phenomenon, especially as regards the third pandemic. From a medical anthropological perspective, the volume’s contribution is that it shows how the urban environment has been invested with epidemic properties (or even agency) over the ages, and how the latter have persisted and yet transformed across diverse political and epistemological frameworks of infection and contagion. 

Q. What is the volume’s contribution to understanding the relation between infectious diseases and the urban environment today?

The volume is a collection of historical and anthropological works, so its aim is not the study of the urban ecology of plague. The contribution of the book to contemporary understandings of the relation between infectious diseases and the urban environment is hence a critical one. Plague and the City underlines how the urban focus of plague studies and anti-plague interventions over the ages led to a framing of this disease in ways that underlined the contribution of urban structures and ways of life in the spread of the disease. Yet rather than simply being an error is epidemiological judgment, this has shaped the image of the plague to such an extent and at such depth in Western cultures that the scientific correction of this error has had very little impact on the way in which the disease operates symbolically and affectively. It is important to recognise and think with the resilience of the urban image of plague so that we can understand how it continues to impact our perception of urban environments as sources of infection. 

Q. Where might one find a copy?

The book is distributed by Routledge in paperback, e-book and hardback formats. If your University Library does not already offer e-copies of the book, you can purchase copies of the book online

          
 



Lukas Engelmann is Chancellor’s Fellow for sociology and history of biomedicine at the University of Edinburgh. His doctoral research focused on the visual medical history of AIDS/HIV. His current research focuses on the digital transformation of epidemiology and the history of epidemiological models and concepts in the long twentieth century.

John Henderson is Professor of Italian Renaissance History in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London; Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge; and Research Professor, Monash University, Melbourne. His previous publications include The Renaissance Hospital (2006).

Christos Lynteris is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews and Principal Investigator of the European Research Council funded research project Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic (2013–2018). His work focuses on the anthropological and historical examination of infectious disease epidemics. His previous books include The Spirit of Selflessness in Maoist China (2012), Ethnographic Plague (2016) and Histories of Post-Modern Contagion (edited with Nicholas Evans, 2018).
 





You may also like these recent CRASSH Books Q&As:

Histories of Post-Mortem Contagion – Christos Lynteris and Nicholas Evans
Ethnographic Plague – Christos Lynteris
Why We Disagree About Human Nature – Tim Lewens
Paper Tiger – Nayanika Mathur
Global Epistemics – Inanna Hamati-Ataya
Evolution Made to Order – Helen Anne Curry
Witchcraft, the Devil and Emotions in Early Modern England – Charlotte-Rose Millar
Translating Early Modern Science – Sietske Fransen
Rock, Bone & Ruin – Adrian Currie
 

 

Posted: Monday 26 November 2018

Contributor: Lukas Engelmann, Christos Lynteris, Imke van Heerden


Meet the Researcher: Thomas Colville – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Thomas Colville


Genius Before Romanticism takes the premise that before the Romantic notion of ‘the genius’ (the brilliant, inventive scientist or artist) there existed discourses of genius and ingenuity which were highly complex and had substantial impact on art and science.


Thomas Colville is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ERC-funded research project Genius Before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science. He works on the broad and fluid concept of mental capacity in the seventeenth century, specifically looking at how this idea interacts with the pursuit of knowledge about the natural world and society.



Q. Tom, you have recently joined the CRASSH project Genius Before Romanticism. Could you tell us a little about what the project is interested in? 

Genius Before Romanticism takes the premise that before the Romantic notion of ‘the genius’ (the brilliant, inventive scientist or artist) there existed discourses of genius and ingenuity which were highly complex and had substantial impact on art and science. Basing our research in the early modern period (c. 1450-1750), we examine the language of ingenuity, the concepts behind that language, how ingenuity appeared in crafts and materials, and how it was represented in images.

The resulting research can be incredibly diverse. The project discusses great scientists and artists, as you might expect, but we also consider such varied topics as visual illusions, metaphors of digestion, geographic understandings of wit, the relationship between the hand and mind, and the intrinsic ingenuity of precious stones.

Q. How does this topic relate to your own area(s) of interest? Have you worked on similar topics previously?

I approach this topic from the perspective of my PhD research. My thesis analysed conceptions of mental capacity (or intelligence) in the seventeenth century, particularly as it related to natural philosophy and the pursuit of knowledge. I am therefore particularly interested in how ingenuity functions as part of a wider spectrum of beliefs about the qualities and powers of the mind. I aim to bring discourses of ingenuity into conversation with other notions such as wit and fancy.

I am also increasingly interested in how ingenuity exists outside of a straightforwardly intellectual frame of reference. It was also a social, cultural and even theological phenomenon. By looking out for ingenuity in unexpected places (such as the fair or the tavern), I believe we can broaden our understanding of what ingenuity really meant to early modern communities.

Q. Which aspect of the project do you find most exciting?

For me, the most exciting aspect of this project is the way that its breadth takes all of us out of our comfort zones and exposes us to new materials and new methods. This year we are focussing on ‘Images of Ingenuity’ and producing a database of visual representations of the concept. I personally have no background in Art History so it has been a wonderful opportunity to immerse myself in something unfamiliar.

We work together very closely on the project, meeting every week to discuss our own research or external contributions to the field. I have learned a huge amount from my colleagues in these sessions, as they gradually try to convert me into an art historian. Though they may still have some way to go! 

• Get to know the CRASSH community.
• Read about Genius Before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science.

 



The Genius Before Romanticism project is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ ERC grant agreement no 617391.

Posted: Friday 23 November 2018

Contributor: Thomas Colville


Brexit and Trump voters more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, survey shows – CRASSH

Brexit and Trump voters more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, survey shows


These findings provide important clues to understanding the popularity of populist and nationalist parties

Hugo Leal



Findings suggest that a large number of people across the surveyed countries think their governments are “hiding the truth” about immigration. In particular, researchers found that Brexit and Trump voters are significantly more likely to believe in this and a wide range of other conspiracy theories – including that “Muslim immigration to this country is part of a bigger plan to make Muslims a majority”, that “man-made global warming is a hoax”, and that “the truth about the harmful effects of vaccines is being deliberately hidden from the public”.

The research, produced as part of CRASSH’s Conspiracy & Democracy project, and based on survey conducted by YouGov, covers nine countries – US, Britain*, Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Hungary – and will be presented at a public launch in Cambridge on Friday 23 November.



The Conspiracy & Democracy project team, from left to right: Professor David Runciman, Dr Nayanika Mathur, Dr Rolf Fredheim, Dr Alfred Moore, Professor Sir Richard J Evans, Dr Hugo Drochon, Professor Steven Connor (CRASSH Director), Dr Hugo Leal and Professor John Naughton 


According to project researcher Dr Hugo Leal, anti-immigration conspiracy theories have been “gaining ground” since the refugee crisis first came to prominence in 2015. “The conspiratorial perception that governments are deliberately hiding the truth about levels of migration appears to be backed by a considerable portion of the population across much of Europe and the United States,” he said.

In Hungary, where controversial Prime Minister Viktor Orban is regularly accused of stoking anti-migrant sentiment, almost half of respondents (48%) said it was true that their government is hiding the truth about immigration. Germany was the next highest (35%), with France (32%), Britain (30%) and Sweden (29%) also showing high percentages of this conspiracy among respondents, as well as a fifth (21%) of those in the United States.

Close to half of respondents who voted for Brexit (47%) and Trump (44%) considered it was true that their government is hiding the truth about immigration, compared with just 14% of Remain voters and 13% of Clinton voters.  

The researchers also set out to measure the extent of belief in a version of the conspiracy theory known as "the great replacement", the idea that Muslim immigration is part of a bigger demographic conspiracy to take over the West.

“Originally formulated in French far-right circles, the widespread belief in a supposedly outlandish nativist conspiracy theory known as the 'great replacement' is an important marker and predictor of the Trump and Brexit votes,” said Leal. Some 41% of Trump voters and 31% of Brexit voters described as true the statement that “Muslim immigration to this country is part of a bigger plan to make Muslims a majority”, compared with 3% of Clinton voters and 6% of Remain voters.

Researchers also looked at a number of other popular conspiracy theories. Both Trump and Brexit voters were more likely to believe that man-made global warming is a hoax, that vaccines are harmful, and that a group of people “secretly control events and rule the world together”. “We found the existence of a conspiratorial worldview linking both electorates,” said Leal.

He describes the levels of science denial as an “alarming international trend”. In general, researchers found the idea that climate change is a hoax to be far more captivating for right-wing respondents, while scepticism about vaccines was less determined by “ideological affiliation”.

The view that “the truth about the harmful effects of vaccines is being deliberately hidden from the public” ranged from lows of 10% in Britain to a startling quarter of the population – some 26% – in France.    

The conspiracy belief that a secret cabal “control events and rule the world together” varies significantly between countries such as Portugal (42%) and Sweden (12%). Dr Hugo Drochon, also a researcher on the Leverhulme Trust-funded Conspiracy & Democracy project, suggests this “has public policy implications because there are structural issues at play here too.”

“More unequal countries with a lower quality of democracy tend to display higher levels of belief in the world cabal, which suggests that conspiracy beliefs can also be addressed at a more ‘macro’ level”, said Drochon.

The research team assessed the levels of “conspiracy scepticism” by looking at those who refuted every conspiratorial view in the study. Sweden had the healthiest levels of overall conspiracy scepticism, with 48% rejecting every conspiracy put to them. Britain also had a relatively strong 40% rejection of all conspiracies. Hungary had the lowest, with just 15% of people not taken in by any conspiracy theories.    

Half of both Remain and Clinton voters were conspiracy sceptics, while 29% of Brexit voters and just 16% of Trump voters rejected all conspiracy theories.  

The question of trust, and which professions the public see as trustworthy, was also investigated by researchers. Government and big business came out worst across all countries included in the study. Roughly three-quarters of respondents in Italy, Portugal, Poland, Hungary and Britain say they distrusted government ministers and company CEOs. Distrust of journalists, trade unionists, senior officials of the EU, and religious leaders are also high in all surveyed countries.

Trust in academics, however, was still relatively high, standing at 57% in the US and 64% in Britain. “We hope these findings can provide incentive for academics to reclaim a more active role in the public sphere, particularly when it comes to illuminating the differences between verifiable truths and demonstrable falsehoods,” said Hugo Leal.

Apart from academics, only family and friends escape the general climate of distrust, with trust reaching levels between 77% and 90% in all countries. Leal argues that this might help explain the credibility assigned to “friend mediated” online social networks.

In all surveyed countries, large numbers of respondents included social media in the stated list of news sources they access at least 2-3 times per month, with Facebook being the preferred platform for social media news consumption in every country, followed by YouTube and Twitter (but not always in that order). Getting news from social media was less likely to be associated with complete scepticism of conspiracy theories – much less likely in countries such as the US, Germany and Italy.

Researchers found that consuming news from YouTube in particular was associated with the adoption of certain conspiratorial views, such as anti-vaccine beliefs in the US and climate change denial in Britain.

“A telling takeaway of the study is that conspiracy theories are, nowadays, mainstream rather than marginal beliefs,” said Leal. “These findings provide important clues to understand the popularity of populist and nationalist parties contesting elections across much of the western world”, he concluded.  


Methodology

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample sizes were: Italy=1012; Portugal=1003; Poland=1016; France=1019; United States=1223; Sweden=1009; Germany=2065; Hungary=1005; GB=2171. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13-31 August 2018. The survey was carried out online. For each country sample, figures have been weighted and are representative of the adult population aged 18+. 


Contacts for Interviews and Comments 

Dr Hugo Leal (hjl51@cam.ac.uk)
Dr Hugo Drochon (Hugo.Drochon@nottingham.ac.uk)

 

 


 

Posted: Friday 23 November 2018

Contributor: CRASSH News


Meet the Researcher: Stefanie Ullmann – CRASSH

Meet the Researcher: Stefanie Ullmann


My hopes are that the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change will further the interdisciplinary exchange between the humanities and technical disciplines.

Stefanie Ullmann, Postdoctoral Research Associate on Giving Voice to Digital Democracies


In October 2018, two new research projects – Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology and Expertise Under Pressure – joined the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge.

We are delighted to welcome Dr Stefanie Ullmann, Postdoctoral Research Associate on Giving Voice to Digital Democracies, to the Centre and asked about her hopes for the project. 






Q. Dr Ullmann, which aspect of Giving Voice to Digital Democracies do you find most exciting?

What excites me most about the project is that it sets out to look at the role and function of language-based artificially intelligent agents from a perspective that all too often remains unaddressed, i.e. the ethical and moral concerns tied to these systems. We live in a time in which we become witness to the very first generation of young people growing up in a culture where information technology and social media are omnipresent and likely to be taken as naturally given. They become trusted companions. Against this backdrop, it is all the more important to think about potential moral demands and the advancement of an ethical framework for developers, policy-makers and users.

Q. How does your own area of interest relate to the project’s primary research questions?

My background is in empirical linguistics and my greatest interest and motivation lie in studying the different functions of language in socio-political contexts. The ways in which this project looks at the role of language in new media and communications technologies as well as its potential consequent effects on social imbalances and conflicts offer a significant opportunity for finding answers to some of society’s most pressing issues and questions in regard to the handling of artificially intelligent systems.

Q. What are your hopes for the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change?

Given the wide range of researchers and institutions involved and working together, my hopes are that the Centre will, on the one hand, further the interdisciplinary exchange between the humanities and technical disciplines and, on the other hand, enable the development of new theories and innovations that have the potential of actually contributing to positive changes in society, culture and politics. 
 



Meet the Giving Voice to Digital Democracies Team: 

Professor Ian Roberts, Principal Investigator
Professor Bill Byrne, Co-Investigator
Professor Ann Copestake, Co-Investigator
Dr Marcus Tomalin, Senior Research Associate
Dr Stefanie Ullmann, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Posted: Thursday 22 November 2018

Contributor: Stefanie Ullmann


Women and the Future of Energy: Q&A with Ronita Bardhan – CRASSH

Women and the Future of Energy: Q&A with Ronita Bardhan


There is no truly sustainable development without social equity and inclusivity.


Ronita Bardhan is Assistant Professor at the Center for Urban Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. As the 2018–19 Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow, she is spending the Michaelmas Term at CRASSH. 



Q. Ronita, congratulations on your new publication in Energy Research & Social Science. What is the article's primary focus? 

Titled Gender, domestic energy and design of inclusive low-income habitats: A case of slum rehabilitation housing in Mumbai, India, the article’s primary focus is to understand the social practices and energy decision-making in slum rehabilitation housing through a gendered lens. Especially in the urban context of the Global South, women's involvement in domestic energy decision-making is an under-studied regime. The intention was to decipher the missing links and untangle the complex system of socio-cultural practices through which women exercise their decisions in constrained environments. This is more important because in the Global South women's traditional role at home leads to them having far more influence than men on domestic energy consumption. Yet, men are key agencies of household decision-making. This makes a compelling case to study the ubiquitous links between the built environment, energy decisions and gender equality a reminder that there is no truly sustainable development without social equity and inclusivity. We took the case-study of Slum Rehabilitation Housing (SRH) in Mumbai, an emerging form of housing typology, within the urbanscape of Mumbai. The rationale for choosing Mumbai is multi-fold. The SRH is viewed as a deal breaker in the policy sphere, so much so that international governments in the Global South are aspiring to adopt it as their slum development policy. It is a success story of participatory urban planning which has yielded economic benefits for the government. The SRH is now viewed as the panacea for a slum-free city and hence will be scaled throughout the city. So much hype is difficult to resist. A closer look can make it evident that the benefits of SR policy are myopic. The way the housing is designed makes clear indications on the perpetuating inequalities. 









































Coverage of Ronita's research in Mumbai Mirror. Read the article here.


Q. How did you conduct the research? 

Energy is both a technical and teleological term mediated through various socio-cultural practices, especially when it comes to the urban poor. A quasi-qualitative approach was adopted to establish the causal relationships between women as agents of decision-making constrained by social practices and active recipients of welfare. The study is based on data collected in April 2018 that focused on semi-structured interviews with female occupants in four slum rehabilitation housing (SRH) projects in Mumbai. Focus group discussion and semi-structured interviews with representatives from the slum rehabilitation housings (SRH) and local communities forms the basis of the primary database. Personal interviews with the stakeholders of SR policy were conducted to avail in-depth insights of the social practices. The database was processed using systems approach based on Grounded theory. The systems analysis enabled in mapping the interconnected causalities between the key factors identified in the interviews and causal loop diagrams were used to understand the mechanisms of the complex system, based on the interview data, a FGD and reconnaissance. 

Q. What drew you to your subject? Why do you think it is important? 

Architecture and occupant behaviour has been my primary focus of research. The juxtaposition of my spatial association with Mumbai as Assistant Professor at IIT Bombay, and the SRH housing (from policy to practice) has been intriguing for me. I have been working on developing socio-technical solutions for thermal comfort, energy-efficiency, indoor-environment quality and health in the SRH. The economic success of SRH versus the socio-environmental efficiency of these houses provides a fascinating ground for research.

However, looking at this from the gender lens sprouts from an hour-long intense discussion with my co-author Dr Sunikka-Blank on how 'energy’ and ‘gender-equality' are the two most crucial challenges of sustainable development goals. A key point in the Mumbai’s Development Plan 2034 is gender inclusion, yet a quick chat with the stakeholder will reveal that very little knowledge exists on what a gender inclusive infrastructure entails. There were several ideas, which we decided to assimilate into a research proposal and a fellowship. This article is a collaborative product of the research grant from British Academy's Knowledge Frontiers Programme 2017 and Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship 2018–2019. We believe that gender equality can, should be influenced through energy and housing policies, and this research offers a conceptual framework for inclusive SRH to address the several disjunctures. 
 

Get to know the CRASSH community.
Read about the Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship.

Posted: Thursday 22 November 2018

Contributor: Ronita Bardhan, Imke van Heerden


New Alice Tong Sze Research Fellowship at Lucy Cavendish College – CRASSH

New Alice Tong Sze Research Fellowship at Lucy Cavendish College


The successful candidate will take an active part in CRASSH and its programme of activities. 


CRASSH is delighted to announce that Lucy Cavendish College is offering a stipendiary Research Fellowship for a woman who holds a PhD. The successful candidate for the Alice Tong Sze Research Fellowship will be accommodated within CRASSH and take an active part in the Centre and its programme of activities. 





The appointment will be for one year in the first instance from 1 October 2019 and will be renewable annually until 30 September 2022, when the Research Fellowship will terminate. The Research Fellowship will be for research in the Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences, or between these areas and the sciences, in an area that relates scholarship to current interdisciplinary issues facing the world, particularly with relevance to women.

The stipend for the Research Fellowship will be £21600 per annum, depending on funding already available to the candidate. Candidates who wish to hold the Research Fellowship on a part-time basis will also be considered, in which case the stipend would be pro-rata. The successful candidate will be expected to undertake four hours of small group teaching a week during term (for which an additional payment will be made), to become a member of the College, normally to reside in Cambridge and to participate fully in College life. 

Stipendiary Research Fellows are entitled to a meals allowance and a small travel/book grant and may also be offered subsidised accommodation in College, subject to availability, or a living out allowance. The College endeavours to be family-friendly.

The appointment will be conditional upon the successful candidate providing satisfactory evidence of the right to work in England in the capacity offered, together with proof of entry clearance/leave to remain.

Application details can be found here. Should you have any questions, please email registrar@lucy-cav.cam.ac.uk.

The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 14 December 2018 at 12 Noon. The closing date for receipt of references is Tuesday 18 December 2018 at 12 Noon.

* The College has exemption from the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 relating to gender
** The successful candidate must hold a doctorate at the time of the start of the appointment in October 2019

 

Posted: Friday 16 November 2018

Contributor: CRASSH News


New Alice Tong Sze Research Fellowship at Lucy Cavendish College
Isaac Newton Trust Funding Awarded to ‘Objects’ – CRASSH