School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

www.soas.ac.uk/
London, United Kingdom

SOAS, University of London ) is a public research university in London, United Kingdom. Founded in 1916, SOAS has produced several heads of state, government ministers, ambassadors, Supreme Court judges, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and many other leaders in emerging markets.Located in the heart of Bloomsbury in central London, SOAS describes itself as the "world's leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East", and is consistently ranked amongst the top universities in the UK.It specialises in humanities, languages and social science relating to Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and is a constituent college of the University of London. It offers around 350 undergraduate Bachelor's degree combinations, and over 100 one-year intensively taught Master's degrees. MPhil and PhD research degrees are also available in every academic department. Wikipedia.


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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-CG | Phase: ERC-CG-2013-SH2 | Award Amount: 2.00M | Year: 2015

New roads are being constructed at unprecedented rates in certain parts of the world. The proposed research will ask: Why? To what end? Who benefits? What ideas lie in the foundations of this new infrastructure? Roads are presented as solutions to poverty, development and economic growth? Are they? In what ways? What else might roads do? As cheap oil dwindles and questions of climate change remain, why are so many international institutions cultivating new roads? The project will provide the first ethnographic account of the culture of road builders, their knowledge practices, inter-relations and motivations. The research will be rooted in case studies of particular road projects in Pakistan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka. These sites have been selected to bring to the fore how nation-building, neo-liberalism, ambition, environmental vulnerability and modernity feature in contemporary road-building. We will look at the organisation of road building on the ground, in offices, and within a broader array of institutions and state bodies in national and international contexts in order to understand the global cultures of road-building practice. The project is academic in design and will contribute to various pressing and critical debates relating to power, global justice and environmental futures. The subject also merits wider discussion and at the core of the research design is an innovative collaboration between anthropologists and leading contemporary artists.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-ADG | Phase: ERC-ADG-2015 | Award Amount: 2.50M | Year: 2016

What exactly are the words which priests recite in the Yasna, the core ritual of one of the most ancient and influential living religions, Zoroastrianism? What is their meaning and how do they relate to the ritual actions? The Yasna is significant for our cultural heritage not only because of its influential thought system which arguably impacted on post-exilic Judaism, nascent Christianity and Islam, but also because with parts of it going back to the 2nd millennium BCE, it is the oldest witness to Iranian languages. Its full appreciation, however, is severely hampered by the presence of outdated editions and translations or by their absence altogether. Moreover, the relationship between the text recited and the action performed during the ritual is unexplored due to a lack of documentary evidence. The Multimedia Yasna proposes to fill these gaps in a methodologically ground-breaking fashion. MUYA combines two different, yet complementary approaches by examining the Yasna both as a ritual performance and as a text attested in manuscripts. The two approaches will be integrated to answer questions about the meaning and function of the Yasna in a historical perspective. The research methods for achieving MUYAs objectives unite cutting edge approaches from Digital Humanities, Philology and Linguistics into four interrelated work-packages. These will involve filming and analyzing the ritual performance and teaching practices in priestly schools, the creation of a suite of electronic tools for editing Avestan texts, a database of transcribed manuscripts of the Yasna and in-depth studies of selected parts of the text by combining datasets produced by electronic processes with philological methods of textual criticism and linguistic analysis. These complementary datasets and methods will be used to produce an online publication of the sub-titled and interactive film of the Yasna ritual, together with print editions, translations and commentaries of the Avestan Yasna.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: H2020-TWINN-2015 | Award Amount: 999.84K | Year: 2016

The Faculty of Artes Liberales at the University of Warsaw aims at reaching the scientific excellence in the area of participatory action research in linguistic-cultural heritage and revitalization of endangered languages. The project will make it possible to bridge several huge gaps in current humanistic research, including its relatively limited impact on a broader society, the lack of connection between research and its practical applications, restricted access to generated knowledge and strong division, artificial as it is, between linguistic and cultural studies. By overcoming these challenges, AL UW will become a leading institution in this area of research representing a strong innovation potential. The ENGHUM project will implement an innovative scientific strategy and capacity building for this institution in close cooperation with two partner institutions: the Department of Linguistics at SOAS, University of London and Leiden Universitys Centre for Linguistics at the Faculty of Humanities and the Department of Archaeological Heritage within the Faculty of Archaeology. Both partners, leading European institutions in their fields, provide high-level expertise as well as research and teaching experience related to linguistic studies, including language revitalization and community-oriented programs, digital humanities, advanced methods of fieldwork and ethnolinguistic documentation, heritage studies as well as novel forms of collaboration with non-academic partners. All these lines of expertise are essential components of participatory research in linguistic-cultural heritage and language revitalization that forms the core area of the ENGHUM project. They relate closely to a fast developing line of research at the Faculty of Artes Liberales, recognized as the main vehicle toward its research excellence, but strongly underrepresented in the research experience developed so far in this centre.


Bernstein H.,School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Journal of Peasant Studies | Year: 2014

This paper attempts to identify and assess some of the key elements that ‘frame’ food sovereignty (FS): (1) a comprehensive attack on corporate industrialised agriculture, and its ecological consequences, in the current moment of globalisation, (2) advocacy of a (the) ‘peasant way’ as the basis of a sustainable and socially just food system, and (3) a programme to realise that world-historical goal. While sharing some of the concerns of (1), I am sceptical about (2) because of how FS conceives ‘peasants’, and the claim of some of its leading advocates that small producers who practice agroecological farming – understood as low (external)-input and labour-intensive – can feed the world. This connects with an argument that FS is incapable of constructing a feasible programme (3) to connect the activities of small farmers with the food needs of non-farmers, whose numbers are growing both absolutely and as a proportion of the world's population. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-EF-ST | Phase: MSCA-IF-2015-EF | Award Amount: 183.45K | Year: 2017

The popular Arab Spring uprisings in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and their recent developments have proved the significant emancipatory potential of human rights and moved the human rights issue to the forefront of academic and political debates. This project deals with the human rights discourses and practices in the MENA region undergoing transition through the course of so-called Arab Spring by conducting a comparative analysis of two key countries; namely Egypt and Tunisia. The project has three main objectives. First, it aims to provide an in-depth knowledge of the characteristics and developments of human rights in the region. Second, it strives to explore the main political and social conditions that constitute the shift and persistence in the discourses of human rights. Third, it aims to explore the impact of the shift and persistence in human rights discourses on the actual practice of human rights in the region, with the ultimate aim of identifying the best ways for improving human rights practice in the region. To achieve the objectives of the project: First, in-depth analysis of primary and secondary sources will be conducted to discover the main patterns and characteristics of the emerging human rights discourses in post-uprising Egypt and Tunisia. Second, political, legal and social conditions influencing the human rights discourses will be explored by looking comparatively at situational variables.Third, the impact of the shift and persistence in the discourses on the human rights practice will be explored by comparatively examining the human rights situation in the post-uprising countries. The project will enhance the knowledge of academicians and politicians on the new tendencies of human rights discourses and practices in the region and will offer a valuable insight into the main patterns and political conditions of emerging human rights discourses and practices.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-STG | Phase: ERC-StG-2014 | Award Amount: 1.49M | Year: 2015

Families in Western countries have received a great deal of attention from social scientists but there is less information on family life in other regions of the world. Given its growing rapidly in global influence, China represents a crucial region for sociological advancement and understanding. There have been profound changes in the Chinese family over the last century as a result of industrialization, urbanization, the influence of the West and the political interventions carried out by the Communist Party since 1949. Existing scholarship has shown how the structure and function of Chinese families have adapted to changing political and economic circumstances but little is known about the changes in intimate spheres of Chinese families. This project will approach the subject of modern Chinese family life from an unconventional angle, analysing it as a process of practices and experiences. By setting a new agenda that moves from structures of family relationships to the quality of relationships and through examining doing intimacy, this project will take a closer, fresher, critical look at the Chinese family dynamics as they are lived. Informed by the emerging literature on gender, intimacy and modernity, this project will examine intergenerational relations as well as gender and sexual relations in the family. Is there an intimate revolution taking place? How is modernity/tradition closely linked with practices of intimacy? To what extent can doing intimacy be a site of empowerment/domination for women? What will the study of Chinese families tell us about agency and local/global change? Through a multi-sited ethnography (mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), this study will also compare practices of intimacy in various sites and examine whether/how they are by-products of particular socio-cultural configurations. It will identify the extent to which changes in Chinese families mirror changes in the West and the factors that contribute to these changes.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-ADG | Phase: ERC-ADG-2014 | Award Amount: 2.48M | Year: 2016

World literature is literature that circulates globally. It is mostly in English. Its main genre is the novel. These are caricatures of how World literature as a set of discourses is shaping the field of literary studies, but in fact Non-Western literatures are positioned with reference to a single global timeline and a single map, and translations supposedly ensure that worthy texts enter the global canon. What does not circulate globally is provincial, not good enough, not world literature. This picture bears little resemblance to the multilingual world of literature, which consists not of a single map but of many significant geographies specific to language, group, and genre. By exploring the often fractured multilingual locals and significant geographies of literature in north India, Morocco, and Ethiopiaeach with different experiences of literary multilingualism, colonial diglossia, and continuing oral traditionswe seek to establish a multilingual and located approach to world literature in place of meta-categories like global and world. Mindful of older histories and networks of literary multilingualism and critical of the monolingual straitjacket of modern literary histories that partition Anglophone and Francophone literature from Arabic, Amharic, and Hindi/Urdu, we focus on three periods: imperial consolidation, decolonization, and the current globalizing moment. We will study local transculturations, local debates on world literature, old and new forms of multilingualism, actors and technologies of print and orality, to highlight dynamics of appropriation rather than imitation, co-constitution rather than diffusion, and the multiplicity of choices and trajectories that together form local and transnational literary fields (world literature). The project will propose a theoretical approach, methods for multilingual training and research, and strategic dialogues with scholars and writers in Morocco, Ethiopia, India, UK and France.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-EF-ST | Phase: MSCA-IF-2015-EF | Award Amount: 195.45K | Year: 2018

This project aims to examine the history and politics of human shields, a growing phenomenon related to the increasing weaponization of human bodies and the fact that urban settings have increasingly become common sites for contemporary conflicts. Human shielding denotes the deployment of civilians in order to deter attacks on military sites as well as their transformation into a technology of warfare. While the majority of the scholarly literature characterizes human shielding as the weapon of the weak, one of my assumptions is that the category of human shields is also becoming a weapon deployed by the strong to justify the increasing number of civilian deaths in the battlefield. The legal significance of human shields emerges from the fact that civilians who are defined as shields lose some of the protections traditionally assigned to them by international law. Human shields, I propose, can be a weapon for those who use them, but also for those who accuse the enemy of using them. I hypothesize: 1) that the diverse situations in which civilians become shields and the specific way they are categorized shape our understanding of both the violence deployed and its ethical significance; and 2) that the different kinds of human shields operate in distinct ways and serve radically different military and political purposes. Accordingly, I will pursue two objectives: 1) offer a historical-legal investigation of human shielding, thus facilitating our understanding of the military and ethical function of this legal category; and 2) identify and theorize the various forms of human shielding currently being utilized in theatres of violence, both to improve our understanding of the diverse contexts in which human shields appear and to demonstrate how the conception of human shields shapes our perceptions of violence. Ultimately, HPHS hopes to contribute to research on political violence and EUs obligations to international law.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-COG | Phase: ERC-CoG-2014 | Award Amount: 1.85M | Year: 2015

Hatha was the name given in medieval India to a method of yoga in which physical practices predominate. Its origins are unclear, but some of its techniques can be traced to the first millennium BCE and it gradually became central to several Indian religious traditions, including, by the second half of the second millennium CE, orthodox Hinduism. Hatha yoga is also the source of much of the modern yoga practised around the world today. The history of hatha yoga is thus crucial for an understanding of both Indian religion and modern yoga, but is yet to be the object of serious study. As a result key questions about yoga such as who were hatha yogas first practitioners and why did they practise it, and which modern yoga practices predate colonialism and which are innovations are yet to be answered satisfactorily. The Hatha Yoga Project seeks to redress this by identifying the origins of both hatha and modern yoga. Its methodology will be predominantly philological and ethnographic, and it will draw on resources that are fast disappearing: crumbling manuscripts of Sanskrit texts on yoga and traditional Indian ascetic yogis whose practices are starting to change under the influence of modern globalised yoga. The primary output of the project will be three monographs. The first will analyse hatha yoga and its practitioners in the period in which it was formalised, the 11th to 15th centuries CE. The second will document its subsequent proliferation and development, and identify what constituted yoga practice in India on the eve of colonialism. The third will focus on hatha yogas physical techniques in order to chart their history and identify continuities with and differences from the practices of modern globalised yoga. A secondary output will be critical editions and annotated translations of ten previously unpublished Sanskrit manuals of hatha yoga: the six earliest texts on the subject together with four later texts that were key to its subsequent development.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-GF | Phase: MSCA-IF-2015-GF | Award Amount: 251.86K | Year: 2017

The use of multiple legal practices based on diverse normative perceptions increasingly challenges the monopoly of state law. In Europe, this issue has become especially visible in the ongoing discussions about sharia courts. However, there is only limited research about the practical implications of non-state legal orders, particularly in relation to their effects on womens rights and gender relations. The proposed research aims to start filling this gap by investigating the non-state justice systems operating in Berlin, the city with the largest Kurdish population in Europe, and Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish-dominated city in Turkey. An evidence-based foundation is needed if the legal order and conceptualizations of citizenship are to be fit for increasingly diverse societies. In-depth interviews and participant observation will be used to investigate when, why and how Kurdish communities in Diyarbakr and Berlin choose alternative dispute resolution over the official court procedures provided by the state. There will be a special focus on family cases to examine how gender norms and relations are affected by the use of non-state judicial processes. A historical perspective on the Diyarbakir-based unofficial legal order will explore the non-European and non-religious roots of unofficial dispute resolution practices used within Europe. The transnational perspective will also enable an investigation of the mutual influences across non-state and state legal orders in Europe and the Middle East. This interdisciplinary project aims to fill a significant gap in the relevant socio-legal, gender, migration, political academic studies and policy debates within the European Research Area. This proposed project will be hosted by SOAS University of London (Beneficiary) in partnership with Syracuse University (SU) (Partner Organization in TC), New York. There will be additional mobility to the the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Social Anthropology.

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