The ISRF Noticeboard is home to news, one-off articles, and updates on the interdisciplinary research of its Fellows and partners.


Global Capitalism and its National Varieties in an Era of Crisis

Former ISRF Political Economy Fellow Dr Francesca Gagliardi will present her work on work on co-ops, and varieties of capitalism at the forthcoming World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research (WINIR) Symposium at Loughborough University London, 16-18 December 2019.

Francesca will also chair a Keynote Lecture by Professor Gregory Jackson (Freie Universität Berlin & Loughborough University London), entitled “Towards Understanding Capitalisms as Comparative Contexts”.

2019 ISRF Annual Workshop: The Question of Violence

The 2019 ISRF Annual Workshop took place at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, 29th September – 2nd October.

Against the background of the ISRF’s Fellows’ work in a format of short presentations, the 2019 Annual Workshop facilitated reflective sessions and discussion in groups and panels to pursue the theme, The Question of Violence.

A selection of photos, from photographer Matt Smith, is presented below.

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The 2020 ISRF Annual Workshop – entitled Culture & Memory – will take place in Athens, Greece, 3rd-5th April 2020. For further information, please sign up to our mailing list.

Economics in Law: Law in Economics

A conference part-funded by the ISRF – Economics in Law: Law in Economics – will take place at the University of Leicester on 11th July 2019, convened by Dr Richard Craven and Dr Olivia Hamlyn.

The conference examines what “law and economics” means at this important intellectual juncture, over a decade on from the financial crisis. The conference provides an opportunity both to reflect on the evolving relationship between economics and law, and to recognise new directions and themes for research at the meeting-point of economics and law. Just as Chicago economists contributed to discourse in law, what pathways are opening for sociologists and legal scholars to influence how we think about markets? The financial crisis, in exposing the fallibility of economic analysis and expertise, continues to have important repercussions. There have been numerous events considering how the social sciences are responding and evolving in the post-crash years, but, in legal studies, especially UK legal studies, there has been very little sign of such reflection. The growing diversity of opinion and approach within mainstream economics is important for law, as is the impetus behind new and heterodox ways of thinking about markets and economic behaviour. It is in this light that the conference approaches the economics-law relationship. The conference will consist of a series of presentations related to the above theme, and will conclude with a roundtable discussion.

Participants include Professor David Campbell (Lancaster University), Professor Bruce Greenhow Carruthers (Northwestern University, USA), Professor Simon Deakin (University of Cambridge), Professor Sabine Frerichs (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria), Professor Amanda Perry-Kessaris (University of Kent), Dr Celine Tan (University of Warwick), Professor Frank H Stephen (University of Manchester and University of Cambridge), Professor Peter Swann, (University of Nottingham), Dr Francesca Gagliardi (University of Hertfordshire), and Professor Sanjit Dhami (University of Leicester).

The conference is supported by the Leicester Law School.

Burn/t Out

ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups recipient Brendan Browne will launch an exhibition – Burn/t Out – at the ArtCetera Studio in Belfast on 10th April 2019, 7:30pm – 10:30pm.

The exhibition will then continue until 22nd April 2019.

“Burn/t Out is an exhibition of research-based artwork, exploring the history of displacement in the North of Ireland. The result of a long-term collaboration between Casey and Brendan, their project aims to understand the mass-displacement of civilians caused by the eruption of violence in 1969, through a study of its remnant effects in contemporary society. Departing from documentary interviews with those burnt out of their homes during the Troubles, the work invites visitors to receive their stories in an exhausted present. Here, the study of displacement seeks to provoke reflection on a critically under-examined experience, while ruminating on the fatigue it has produced. Held at once, these opposing tendencies suggest a synthesis: that the endeavor to recall and recover from the trauma of the past is also the struggle not to burnout.”

Brendan’s work is in collaboration with Casey Asprooth-Jackson, an artist and filmmaker from Rochester, New York.

Auto/Biography, Space and Community

Former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Julie Parsons will deliver a paper at an event – Auto/Biography, Space and Community – hosted by the IHC Methodological Innovations Group at the University of Plymouth on 1st April 2019.

Exploring the benefits of the material and the virtual in the narratives of those working towards release into the community after punishment

In this paper I draw on qualitative data gathered from two consecutive research projects at a part community funded resettlement scheme (RS) that works with prisoners released on temporary licence and those at risk of going to prison (referred to as trainees). From 2016 to date, I have conducted over 85 interviews with 36 trainees, (19 prisoners and 17 people referred through probation), some of whom have been interviewed up to six times during their placement at the RS. The first funded research project explored the benefits of commensality (eating together) for those sharing a lunchtime meal at the RS, from trainee, staff and visitor perspectives. Following this I received funding to develop a Photographic electronic-Narrative (PeN) project to create a virtual social space for trainees to engage in dialogue with the wider community. In terms of desistance (cessation from criminal activity), both generativity (doing for others) and social capital(s) have proved relevant. For the former, helping to create a meal for others from scratch is significant, in the latter the creation of a virtual social space that gives trainees access to a means of expressing how they are ‘doing good’ (Maruna 2001) is beneficial. In both examples both material and virtual social spaces work in creating opportunities for dialogue between criminalised individuals and the community they have hurt.

Reluctant Refuge: An Activist Archaeological Approach to Alternative Refugee Shelter in Athens (Greece)

Former ISRF Academic Editor Rachael Kiddey – currently British Academy Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford, working on the project Migrant Materialities – has an article published in the Journal of Refugee Studies.

Reluctant Refuge: An Activist Archaeological Approach to Alternative Refugee Shelter in Athens (Greece)

The effect of the mismatch between the numbers of forced migrants that host governments are prepared to deal with and the actual number of those seeking refuge is that many forced migrants must find what I term ‘reluctant’ refuge—precarious, unofficial shelter. In this article, I first theorize ‘reluctance’, before introducing the concept of archaeology of the contemporary world in order to establish what makes fieldwork drawn on explicitly archaeological. Following this, I offer a concise history of the current political situation in Athens before describing my methodology. I then provide three ‘portraits’ of sites of temporary refugee shelter in the city—a squat, a non-governmental organization-managed hotel and a co-operative day centre—and discuss how these inter-relate to form a landscape of reluctant refugee shelter. The article contributes an explicitly ‘translational’ (Zimmerman et al. 2010) view of how experiences of shelter affect and shape forced displacement in Athens.

International Law's Objects: Book Launch and Forum

Former ISRF Early Career Fellow Jessie Hohmann will launch her recently published book – International Law’s Objects, co-edited with Daniel Joyce (Senior Lecturer and Director of Research at UNSW Law) – at an event hosted by the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context (CLSGC) and The Centre for European and International Legal Affairs (CEILA) at Queen Mary University of London.

The launch event, 6:00 – 8:00pm on 20th March 2019, will include a discussion featuring Dr Hohmann, Dr Joyce, Dr Iza Hussin (Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge), and Professor Roger O’Keefe (Professor of International Law, Università Bocconi, Milan).

“The book opens a new direction in international legal scholarship, considering the discipline and practice of international law through its material culture, objects, and materiality. The book collects together 40 chapters focusing closely on a chosen object, and a number of longer theoretical contributions, to initiate a discussion on the role and purpose of objects in international law, and to prompt a discussion of material methodologies and their potential promise for international law.”

Changing Face of Europe

Former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Sherrill Stroschein will participate in a panel discussion hosted by the Project for the Study of the 21st Century (PS21) think-tank, from 6pm on Tuesday 19th March at Juju’s Bar and Stage (15 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR).

“The looming spectre of Brexit shows no signs of resolution by the March 29th deadline and continues to generate increasing uncertainty. Furthermore, European elections in May could potentially reshape the composition of the European Parliament. Amidst this uncertainty, join us as we begin to dissect this complex environment.”

Other speakers will include Peter Apps (Reuters Global Affairs Columnist; Founder and Executive Director of PS21), Julia Ebener (Fellow, Institute for Strategic Dialogue), Georgina Wright (Senior Researcher, Brexit, Institute for Government), and David Lea (Former Europe analyst, Control Risks).

How Imagination Will Save Our Cities

An extract from former ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Paul Dobraszczyk‘s latest book – Future Cities: Architecture and the Imagination – has been reproduced in the science magazine Nautilus.

“In Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2017 science-fiction novel New York 2140, the city of the future has become a vertical super-Venice, after being flooded by rising seas caused by global warming melting the Arctic ice caps. While the lower stories of many of Manhattan’s skyscrapers have been overtaken by the sea, residents continue to live in those above, accessing them via boathouses and pontoons. A tangle of sky-bridges connect the lofty heights of many of these skyscrapers, the streets beneath now canals traversed by countless boats and gondolas. Ruins litter the intertidal zone, inhabited by the desperate and the poor; while airships agglomerate above the buildings into sky villages. Robinson’s imagined New York of the future hasn’t succumbed to the ravaging effects of climate change; rather, it has adapted to the changes by radically reshaping its built environment.”

Image: Manifest Destiny, 2003–04, oil and acrylic on wood. Courtesy of Alexis Rockman / the Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Vein, The Fingerprint and the Automatic Speed Detector

Former ISRF Early Career Fellow Catherine Charrett will perform her show The Vein, The Fingerprint and the Automatic Speed Detector at the University of Warwick (The Oculus, 6 Lord Bhattacharyya Way, Coventry, CV4 7AL), at 4pm on 27th February 2019.

“Dr Catherine Charrett will deliver her acclaimed performance ‘The Vein, The Fingerprint and the Automatic Speed Detector’. This uses the techniques of drag, melancholia and satire to directly challenge the structures that idealise technologies of war and segregation. By speaking from the position of the object and embodying its design, its circulation and its intervention into life this performance aims to dislocate the appearance of order that permits the waging and witnessing of the continued violence against the Palestinian.”

Catherine will then be performing the show for six consecutive nights at the Brighton Fringe Festival, 3-8 May 2019 at 6:15pm, at The Warren (Victoria Gardens, Grand Parade, Brighton, BN1 1UB).

“This show is brutal and tender, humorous and melancholic. It is a drag performance about Israeli soldiers, Palestinian police and European weapons designers. In each scene, I’m a different object. Come learn about Palestine and learn about the technologies that define its contemporary occupation in an inviting, provocative and darkly humorous way.”

David Graeber: Bullshit Jobs, Direct Democracy & the End of Capitalism

Former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow David Graeber joined James Butler – co-founder and senior editor at Novara Media – “to talk through the meaning of direct democracy, the ennui at the heart of neoliberalism, and examine the relationship of political thinking to political practice.”

Critical Conversations on the Neurosciences

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Alexander I. Stingl will convene a workshop on Critical Conversations on the Neurosciences at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme on 15th March 2019.

“The “brain”-sciences (neuro-/cognitive sciences) have taken hold of much of how we explain (and sometimes explain away) our everyday behavior. Even children have been known to pronounce that unwanted behavior because “my brain made me do it”. That an increasing number of people suffer from mental health issues, that depression, burn-out, and general brain-related health problems such as migraine are on the rise can be read about in the press. Even in criminal court, a perpetrator’s crimes will be judged with the input of experts on cognitive science, meanwhile crafty entrepreneurs attempt to understand the ways of the brain to better target advertisement and consumer product placements.”

Participants include Victoria Pitts-Taylor (Wesleyan University), Yvonne Foerster (Leuphana University Lüneburg), Chiara Cappelletto
(University of Milan), and Blandine Bril (École des Hautes Etudes Sciences Sociales).

The event is co-sponsored by the Paris Institute for Critical Thinking (PICT) and the Collège d’Etudes Mondiales (FMSH).

UNHCR presents: Nowhere People UK

© Greg Constantine/UNHCR

An exhibition of photography by ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Greg Constantine – UNHCR Presents: Nowhere People UK – will take place at the Migration Museum (The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, London, SE1 7AG), 7-31 March 2019.

“Nationality may be a universal human right, but at least 10 million people around the world live without it. These stateless people lack a legal identity, are citizens of nowhere and are among the world’s most vulnerable and invisible people.

Without nationality, stateless people are often denied basic rights and prevented from fully participating in society. Many are unable to register births, go to school, work legally, travel freely, own property or obtain vital documents like passports. Statelessness can leave victims with no sense of identity, and little or no voice.

Over 75% of the world’s stateless belong to minority groups like the Karana of Madagascar, the Roma in Europe, or the Rohingya, the world’s largest stateless population. Almost one million Rohingya have fled persecution in Myanmar for Bangladesh.

Stateless people in the UK may have been born without a nationality, some have fled war or human rights abuses, and some are victims of trafficking. Whatever the reason behind their situation, many face huge challenges navigating their daily existence. Nowhere People UK explores the impact statelessness has on a handful of these hidden individuals.”

Dieting: why we started and why we must stop

Former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Jayne Raisborough will participate in the Leeds Cultural Conversations series 2018/19, speaking at  the Leeds Town Hall on 6th March (12:30pm) on Dieting: why we started and why we must stop.

“Why does dieting dominate most women’s lives? We explore how slimness shifted from being a sign of illness to a symbol of emancipation before discussing more recent understandings of slenderness as a guarantee of fitness and health. The diet industry is worth over £2 billion pounds in the UK and yet there is little evidence that diets and other anti-fat measures work. This talk calls out the harms of dieting and shares research findings to help us find better relationships with our bodies.”

This event coincides with International Women’s Day on 8 March and is part of the Leeds Cultural Conversations series organised by the Centre for Culture & the Arts at Leeds Beckett University.

Future Cities: Architecture and the Imagination Book Launch

Former ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Paul Dobraszczyk will participate in a panel discussion at the Bartlett School of Architecture  in London, 6pm on 28th February 2019, to mark the launch of his new book Future Cities: Architecture and the Imagination.

Alongside Paul, the panel will feature writer Darran Anderson and editor Vivian Constantinopoulos, chaired by Douglas Murphy (Royal College of Art).

“Architects, artists, filmmakers and fiction writers have long been inspired to imagine cities of the future, but their speculative visions tend to be seen very differently from scientific predictions: flights of fancy on the one hand versus practical reasoning on the other. Challenging this opposition, ‘Future Cities’ teases out the links between speculation and practice, exploring a breathtaking range of imagined cities – submerged, floating, flying, vertical, underground, ruined and salvaged. In the Netherlands, prototype floating cities are already being built; Dubai’s recent skyscrapers resemble those of science-fiction cities of the past; while makeshift settlements built by the urban poor in the developing world are already like the dystopian cities of cyberpunk. Bringing together architecture, fiction, film and art, the book re-connects the imaginary city with the real – proposing a future for humanity that is already grounded in the present and in creative practices of many kinds.”

Financing Waterworks Infrastructure

Former ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Emanuele Lobina addressed a conference on Financing Waterworks Infrastructure in Prague on 22nd January 2019 – speaking alongside the Deputy Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic, and other governmental and water industry representatives.

Emanuele was also recently invited by the Italian Parliament to speak at a public hearing in relation to a proposed law on water remunicipalisation. The hearing took place on 10 January 2019 and the video recording (in Italian) is available here.

20th December 2018

Equality and Democracy in Local & City Government: Theory and Practice

Martin O’Neill – former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow, and Senior Lecturer in Political Philosophy at the University of York – has organised a workshop on Equality and Democracy in Local & City Government at the University of York, on 7th January 2019.

Join us in York for a one-day conference on the theory and practice of progressive local and city government.

In recent years, with the emergence of the Cleveland Model in the US and the Preston Model in the UK, there has been an enormous upsurge of interest in ways to make local economies more egalitarian and more democratic. Our one-day conference will bring together a range of academics, policy researchers and practitioners to discuss the theory and practice of building more equal and democratic economies at the local and city level, looking at isues including Community Wealth Building, remunicipalisation, and the role of local insitutions in creating a more just society. Our keynote speaker is Professor Thad Williamson, who is both an academic political theorist at the University of Richmond, and was also from 2014-16 the founding director of the Office of Community Wealth Building in the City of Richmond, VA, the first institution of its kind in the United States.

Participants will include Thad Williamson (University of Richmond), Matthew Brown (Leader of Preston City Council), Jonathan Davies (De Montfort University), Joe Guinan (the Democracy Collaborative), Dan Hind (the Next System Project), Satoko Kishimoto (TNI – the Transnational Institute), Mathew Lawrence (Common Wealth), Neil McInroy (CLES – the Centre for Local Economic Strategies), Sarah McKinley (the Democracy Collaborative), James Meadway (former chief economist at NEF), Keir Milburn (University of Leicester), Frances Northrop (NEF – New Economics Foundation), Hettie O’Brien (Demos), Peter O’Brien (Yorkshire Universities), Anthony Painter (RSA – Royal Society of Arts), Simon Parker (University of York), Luke Raikes (IPPR), Carys Roberts (Shared Assets), and Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper).

12th December 2018

The Regulation of Social Media Influencers

ISRF Flexible Grant for Small Groups recipients Catalina Goanta and Sofia Ranchordás – ‘DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Marketing: Influencer Endorsements and the Regulation of Social Marketplaces’ – have organised a workshop on The Regulation of Social Media Influencers at Maastricht University’s Faculty of Law (Bouillonstraat 1-3, Maastricht), on 11th January 2019.

This workshop brings together interdisciplinary approaches to some of the less visible issues posed by advertising on social media. Each speaker in this workshop is currently authoring a chapter in the book ‘The Regulation of Social Media Influencers’ (Elgar, forthcoming 2019), edited by Sofia Ranchordás and Catalina Goanta.

Participants will include Caroline Cauffman (Maastricht University), Christian Fieseler (BI Norwegian Business School), Isabelle Wildhaber (University of St. Gallen), David Mangan (City University of London), Simone van der Hof (Leiden University), Mark Leiser (Leiden University), Valerie Verdoodt (KU Leuven), Madeleine de Cock Buning (Utrecht University/CvdM), Stephan Mulders (MEPLI), Vanessa Mak (Tilburg University), Oreste Pollicino (Bocconi University), Ernesto Apa (Bocconi University), Isabel Ebert (University of St. Gallen), Dana Sindermann (University of St. Gallen), Rossanna Ducato (UC Louvain), Jerry Spanakis (Maastricht University), Felix Pflücke (Oxford University), Gijs van Dijck (Maastricht University), Monika Leszczynska (Maastricht University), Liselot Hudders (Ghent University), Marijke de Veirman (Ghent University) & Steffi De Jans (Ghent University).

4th December 2018

(Re)Making and Regulating Life and Livelihoods: Transnational Bioeconomy, Law, And Governance

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Alexander I. Stingl – ‘What And Whose Justice In The Bioeconomy?’ – has organised, and will introduce, a workshop on ‘(Re)Making and Regulating Life and Livelihoods’ at the Collège d’études mondiales of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH) in Paris, on 10th December 2018.

Biotechnological industry, researchers, and governments have entered a new constellation, regime, and accelerated phase, called the Bioeconomy. This agenda – which exists in the form of policy, funding programs, white papers, etc. – reimagines how we live, how we live together with other kinds of life, and, directly, reimagines these other kinds of life at the molar and molecular level. In other words: all kinds of livelihoods in their social, economic, and ethical relations are put in motion. This agenda is, geopolitically, not restricted to Global North nor contained by any national or international jurisdiction and governance.

This conference aims to bring together a group of scholars, who are willing to create a transdisciplinary conversation on the contemporary technoscience-economic agenda that is slowly becoming one of the most social and ecological transformations agendas on a global scale.

Speakers will include Clemens Driessen (Univeristy of Wageningen), Yoriko Otomo (SOAS University of London), Natalia Frozel Barros (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Fabìola Lessa Vianna (French Institute for Building Efficiency, IFPEB), Tamar Blickstein (Freie Universität Berlin), Franck Leibovici and Julien Seroussi (FMSH), Birgit Müller (Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Institutions et des Organisations Sociales, LAIOS), Nathalie Blanc (Directrice de recherche CNRS), and Gilles Lhuilier (ENS Rennes).

4th December 2018

Orders in Decay: Podcasts on Law and Disorder

Illan rua Wall – former ISRF Early Career Fellow, and Associate Professor at the Warwick Law School – is Series Editor of a newly launched podcast series, Orders in Decay.

This is a podcast about disorder: about protest, riot and revolt; about law, the state and the international realm, It is about the people who revolt and disobey, about the ideas that bring people to the streets or explain why they are there, and about the way that the state responds to them.

29th November 2018

The Eighth CSO Workshop: Towards Post-Human Society?

The Centre for Social Ontology (CSO) – recipient of ISRF funding, 2010-16 – will host its eighth annual workshop at the Grenoble Ecole de Management from January 7th to January 10th, 2019.

The workshop will be followed by an open seminar on Friday the 11th of January, 9am to 5pm. The seminar is convened by Ismael Al-Amoudi (Deputy Director of the Centre for Social Ontology; Professor of Social and Organisational Studies, Grenoble Ecole de Management) and will feature Margaret Archer (Director of the Centre for Social Ontology; President, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences), Pierpaolo Donati (Professor of Sociology, University of Bologna), Jamie Morgan (Professor of Economic Sociology, Leeds Beckett University), Doug Porpora (Professor of Sociology, Drexel University) and Colin Wight (Professor of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney).

The open seminar will feature a morning roundtable session regarding the CSO’s current project on post-human society, followed by an afternoon general discussion around the question ‘Towards post-human society?’ to generate informed dialogue with attendees.

Those interested in attending the open seminar can register here.
28th November 2018

The Finnish Basic Income Experiment – Correcting The Narrative

Former ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Jurgen De Wispelaere (Policy Fellow with the Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath) – with co-authors Antti Halmetoja (doctoral researcher, University of Tampere) and Ville-Veikko Pulkka (doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki) – addresses the topic of ‘The Finnish Basic Income Experiment – Correcting The Narrative’ on Social Europe.

The last few months have been unkind to basic income experiments. In Ontario, the newly elected Provincial Government reneged on its promises and on 31 July unceremoniously announced the experiment would be cancelled. The fallout in Ontario is considerable and the jury is still out on what will happen with the 4,000 participants in the pilot who are facing renewed income insecurity or with the data already garnered.

A few months earlier, the media announced that the Finnish government had decided to cancel its own experiment. That turned out to be fake news à la lettre; what has in fact happened is that the government decided not to extend or expand the experiment beyond its two-year schedule. The Finnish experiment is running as planned and will end on schedule in late 2018, so any reference to cancellation — unlike Ontario — has no basis in fact. So far, so good?

21st November 2018

Sarah Marie Hall Gives Urban Laboratory Lecture: 'Towards Vital, Vibrant and Material Geographies of the Mobile Phone in Austerity'

ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Sarah Marie Hall (Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Manchester) will present the paper ‘Towards Vital, Vibrant and Material Geographies of the Mobile Phone in Austerity’ on 27th November 2018 (6:30pm, Room G03, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AP) as part of UCL’s Urban Laboratory Lecture Series.

Drawing on two years of ethnographic research with families and communities in Greater Manchester, in the context of nearly a decade of recession and austerity in the UK, this paper makes the case for the repositioning and repoliticisation of the mobile phone in austere times. It draws on concepts of vital materialism and vibrant matter, and feminist politics of care, bringing these literatures to speak to one another. It illustrates the place, value and politics of the mobile phone as a necessary utility, part of the fabric of everyday social and physical urban infrastructures in contemporary austerity. Using a vignette approach to presenting the findings, we will explore the political capacities and strategies of the mobile phone to both liberate the user and obfuscate draconian austerity polities, at the same time as being an unremarkable, mundane, functional object and service provider. The conclusions reflect on where such everyday materials fit within ideas of social inequalities, urban living, and the neoliberal state.

The talk is part of UCL Urban Lab’s autumn fortnightly lecture series, investigating the meaning and renewed relevance of the term ‘urban laboratory’. The lectures are free and no booking is required.

20th November 2018

Conversation Insights

Josephine Lethbridge at the ISRF Annual Workshop Credit: Matt Smith

Research England has awarded The Conversation UK a grant to establish a Conversation Insights team, of which the ISRF-funded Interdisciplinary Editor – Josephine Lethbridge – will be a member.

The Conversation Insights team will build on the interdisciplinary experience we have already built up with the Independent Social Research Foundation to generate great investigations with academics from differing backgrounds who have been engaged in projects aimed at tackling societal and scientific challenges.

The content will be also launched via leading mainstream news media outlets that we have already collaborated closely with.

The Conversation Insights team will consist of Josephine Lethbridge and Paul Keaveny. Together they bring a strong blend of journalistic experience, knowledge of The Conversation, and an understanding of the potential that exists within the Higher Education sector to produce groundbreaking exclusives that will be not only of interest, but hopefully of great use to readers around the world.

Stephen Khan

Conversation UK Editor

19th November 2018

Audra Mitchell Appointed as Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Global Political Ecology

Audra Mitchell – former ISRF Early Career Fellow and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) – has been newly appointed as the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Global Political Ecology (Tier 2).

From WLU:

As the Canada Research Chair in Global Political Ecology, Mitchell is seeking to rethink basic assumptions about global patterns of plant and animal extinctions, reframing them as direct expressions of colonialism, extractive capitalism, environmental racism, and other systemic forms of violence.

“I really want to challenge the notion that plant and animal extinctions are unintended consequences or side-effects of otherwise ‘desirable’ activities. My work seeks to reframe extinction as an expression of multiple forms of intersecting structural violence,” said Mitchell.

16th November 2018

Inaugural lecture: ‘Freedom and equality in the Atlantic Revolutions’

Professor Annelien de Dijn – ISRF Mid-Career Fellow and Professor of Modern Political History at Utrecht University – will address ‘Freedom and Equality in the Atlantic Revolutions’ during her inaugural lecture on 7th December 2018.

Lecture Description:

From 1776 on, revolutionaries, first in America and later on the other side of the Atlantic as well, for freedom and equality; or, as the French put it, ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’. Endlessly reproduced on documents, images, and public buildings in France and the rest of the world, this became the best known political slogan of all time. But what did the Atlantic revolutionaries mean with the notions ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’? That question will be at the centre of this inaugural lecture.

15th November 2018

Former ISRF Early Career Fellow Patrick Overeem Participates in BBC Radio 4's Moral Maze

Dr Patrick Overeem – former ISRF Early Career fellow and Assistant Professor in Political Theory at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam – participated in BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze on 14th November 2018, discussing ‘The Morality of Compromise’ with former UK Member of Parliament, Michael Portillo; Director and Founder of the Institute of Ideas, Claire Fox; author and former investigative journalist, Shiv Malik; and journalist and historian, Tim Stanley.

Episode Description:

The Prime Minister’s Brexit plan is now on the table, but the table is looking very wobbly. We learned this week that the Chequers proposal, backed by cabinet ministers in July, was not so much a lollipop as a spoonful of castor oil, an “undesirable compromise” to be grudgingly accepted rather than greeted with enthusiasm. When the deal goes to Parliament for approval, will MPs and peers have a moral duty to support Theresa May’s compromise, however unsatisfactory they believe it to be? Some will say ‘No, it’s a matter of moral principle to reject it,’ either because it’s not what the country voted for or because it’s not in the nation’s interests, or both. Others will accept that the reality of Brexit has turned out to be very different from the idea; it’s not a yes-no question any more, it’s a deck of political and economic priorities being shuffled and dealt round a crowded poker table. If ever there was a time to play the odds and cut our losses, they insist that this is it. Compromise can be a dirty word, especially where moral conviction is involved. To concede any ground in a deal is to risk being accused of weakness or lack of principle. Conversely, those who refuse to give ground can be seen as impractical or downright mulish. In our politics, our business deals and our personal relationships, how should we balance flexibility and integrity?

14th November 2018

Former ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Adam Leaver Quoted in the Financial Times

Professor Adam Leaver – former ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow and Professor of Accounting and Society at the University of Sheffield – was quoted in the Financial Times article ‘Interserve concerns prompt fears of fresh outsourcing crisis’ by Gill Plimmer on 14th November 2018:

Like Carillion, [Interserve] has very few tangible assets and a lot of its value is dependent on estimates of future earnings, which may change.

[…] this shows there is something structurally wrong with the entire outsourcing model. The entire industry is in need of reform.

14th November 2018

Exhibition of work by ISRF Independent Scholar Greg Constantine

The photography of ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Greg Constantine will be showcased at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., 5-10 December 2018.

The exhibition – taking the form of a large-scale projection on the outside walls of the Museum’s Hall of Remembrance – is part of the annual program ‘Our Walls Bear Witness’, which aims to highlight places and communities around the world that have experienced human rights atrocities.

On 5th December 2018, Naomi Kikoler (Deputy Director, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) will moderate a discussion between Greg, Greta Van Susteren (‘Voice of America’ contributor and host of VOA’s Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren), Tun Khin (Rohingya activist), and Irene Weiss (Holocaust survivor).

Exhibition Description:

Burma’s Muslim Rohingya minority has faced severe discrimination and persecution for decades by the Burmese government. In recent years, the Rohingya population has suffered mass atrocities, including crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide has expressed concern about the mounting evidence of genocide against the Rohingya.

Two recent waves of brutally violent campaigns by the Burmese military against Rohingya civilians—marked by mass killings, sexual violence, torture, and forced displacement—has resulted in one of the fastest-growing refugee crises of our time. As of late 2017 more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Burma to neighboring Bangladesh where they continue to suffer from mental and physical trauma and live in overcrowded camps.

This exhibition showcases the work of photojournalist Greg Constantine, who traveled to the region to bear witness to the deadly conflict in Burma, the humanitarian catastrophe that continues to worsen, and the uncertain future the Rohingya face.

7th November 2018


ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Sarah Marie Hall has co-authored an article with Alison Stenning (Professor of Social and Economic Geography at Newcastle University) on ‘Loneliness And The Politics Of Austerity’ for Discover Society.

“On October 15th 2018, Theresa May and her minister for loneliness, Tracey Crouch, launched the government’s ‘strategy for tackling loneliness’. This was the culmination of a growing debate over the prevalence and impacts of loneliness in Britain today, which has included ongoing work by the many partners within the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness and a large-scale BBC survey, The Anatomy of Loneliness. Others have debated whether there is currently an ‘epidemic’ of loneliness, or whether we are just talking about it more.

In this piece, we add our voices to these critical debates. Reflecting our ongoing work on the psychosocial and relational geographies of austerity, we want to raise two particular questions about the framing and context of the government’s strategy, which we argue amount to a depoliticisation of the debate around loneliness.”

Discover Society is published by Social Research Publications, a not-for-profit collaboration between sociology and social policy academics and publishers at Policy Press to promote the publication of social research, commentary and policy analysis.

5th November 2018

Former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Jayne Raisborough Awarded BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant

Professor Jayne Raisborough – former ISRF Mid-Career Career fellow and Professor of Media at Leeds Beckett University – has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for the project ‘What function do representations of space and place perform in factual welfare programmes? Towards a visual grammar of benefits stigma’.


The media plays a key role in the stigmatization of benefit claimants. Important scholarly work has criticized media constructions of undeserving/ fraudulent claimants but we lack understanding of the role played by representations of impoverished urban and domestic spaces in the creation of benefit stigma. This pilot addresses this gap by drawing an interdisciplinary team and acclaimed documentary- maker into a novel visual grammar analysis of Factual Welfare Programming (FWP). An analysis of (i) the representation of cities, streets and domestic interiors in FWP (ii) their cinematography and (iii) the composition of spatial imagery into an overall narrative will expose the cultural mechanisms attaching stigma to benefit claimants in FWP. Through consultation with tenants’ anti-stigma groups the project aims to disrupt ‘commonsense’ readings of FWP through an accessible, graphic novel report of the research. The project via scholarly outputs contributes to UK stigma studies and our knowledge of urban poverty.

25th October 2018

¿Qué opciones tenemos hoy para construir una sociedad más justa?

¿Qué opciones tenemos hoy para construir una sociedad más justa?

22 October 2018
Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas

Former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Dr Martin O’Neill gave a presentation (in English) to the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas on the topic of ‘What options do we have today to build a more just society?’.

The Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (“Center for Research and Teaching in Economics”; CIDE) is a Mexican center of research and higher education, specialized in the social sciences.

19th October 2018

The Vein, the Fingerprint Machine and the Automatic Speed Detector

The Vein, the Fingerprint Machine and the Automatic Speed Detector – A Politics in Drag Performance

10 November 2018
P21 Gallery, 21-27 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD, UK

ISRF Early Career Fellow Dr Catherine Charrett will perform ‘The Vein, the Fingerprint Machine and the Automatic Speed Detector – A Politics in Drag Performance’ at the P21 Gallery on 10th November 2018.

What does it mean to call a weapon sophisticated, advanced and precise?  This performance takes on the spectacle of technology and its role in the Israeli colonisation of Palestine.  Helga Tawil-Souri describes technology as a “mechanism by which we learn to internalise values, beliefs and norms of culture and as a material device in which are encoded the dominant beliefs and norms of society.” Technologies can act as reflections of the societies that develop and use them.  They hold myths about national identities and encoded messages about hierarchies.  But what if these technologies could talk?  What if they could unveil their myths to you, share their secrets, and explain their encoded messages?  What if they could reveal the distortion of intelligence embedded within them, the destruction of trust and community they promote and the melancholy and sadness behind their design? Would we still call them sophisticated?

By tracing the technologies that shape Europe’s involvement with the occupation of Palestine this performance tells a story of the global colonial structures that maintain the oppression of the Palestinian.  This project is based on the performer’s ethnographic observations of the technologies of Occupation, as well as interviews with Israeli start-up firms who imagine the future through their technologies and interviews with Palestinian police who try to manoeuvre around the limitations imposed by these technologies.  It presents weapons fairs in Europe and in Israel where new technologies are put on display and passed around.  It discusses the restrictions Israel imposes on the equipment and movement of European police working in the West Bank.  Technologies act as windows into the inconsistencies, but also trends that compose this international order of occupation.

Timothy Mitchell’s writings on the colonial exhibition reveal the coloniser’s attraction to its own spectacle of security. ‘Life as exhibition,’ he explains favours structure over reality, appearance over essence. This performance interrogates how Israel’s technologies of occupation reflect a plan that misses an essence of life and movement. From the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, to the segregation wall, to the provision of 3g in the West Bank, to the permit system imposed on Palestinian police, this performance tackles what it may mean to be the reality that circumnavigates a colonial spectacle of order.

This 60-minute performance uses the techniques of drag, melancholia and satire to directly challenge the structures that idealise technologies of war and segregation.  By speaking from the position of the object and embodying its design, its circulation and its intervention into life this performance aims to dislocate the appearance of order that permits the waging and witnessing of the continued violence against the Palestinian.

The performance will be followed by a panel on ‘Aesthetics and Evidence of Violence in Occupied Palestine’, featuring Mustafa Abu Sneineh, Bidisha, Professor Neve Gordon, and Dr Layla Renshaw.

20th September 2018

The Micro-Dynamics of Violence

The Micro-Dynamics of Violence

17-18 October 2018
Wolfson College, University of Oxford

Former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Professor Martin Thomas will participate in the Writing Violence Roundtable on Day One of the The Micro-Dynamics of Violence conference at Wolfson College, organised by Violence Studies Oxford.

Violence Studies Oxford “is a research network which seeks to further our understanding of the phenomenon of violence, challenge assumptions and preconceptions of war, and encourage a collaborative effort to rethink the way in which we discuss conflict. Comparing conflict, on the micro and macro scale, across different periods of time, in various parts of the globe, and through different genres of human record, allows greater scrutiny and understanding of the relationship between the human condition, the environment, and the notion that the individual can in any way be predisposed to violence.”

10th September 2018

Book Launch - Studying Arctic Fields: Cultures, Practices, and Environmental Sciences

Studying Arctic Fields: Cultures, Practices, and Environmental Sciences

9 October 2018 | 5-7pm
Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge

A book by former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Dr Richard Powell will launch at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge on Monday 9th October 2018.

The book – Studying Arctic Fields: Cultures, Practices, and Environmental Sciences – portrays “the social lives of scientists at Resolute in Nunavut and their interactions with logistical staff and Inuit,” through which “Powell demonstrates that the scientific community is structured along power differentials in response to gender, class, and race. To explain these social dynamics the author examines the history and vision of the Government of Canada’s Polar Continental Shelf Program and John Diefenbaker’s “Northern Vision,” combining ethnography with wider discourses on nationalism, identity, and the postwar evolution of scientific sovereignty in the high Arctic. By revealing an expanded understanding of the scientific life as it relates to politics, history, and cultures, Studying Arctic Fields articulates a new theory of field research.”

The ISRF Book Launch Fund is available to existing or previous ISRF award recipients, who may apply for one grant of up to £500 towards the cost of holding an event at which their book (or a book to which they have contributed significantly) is launched.

4th September 2018

Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize for 2017

Morphogenesis and Human Flourishing‘ (Archer, Margaret S., ed., 2017), the final book in the ISRF-supported Social Morphogenesis series, was awarded the Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize for 2017.

“This is an edited collection on the nature of morphogenic society, the ethics of flourishing, and the relationship between social change and ethics. It is a rich dialogue which can stimulate further debate about flourishing under modern social conditions. While there is some unevenness in the 13 chapters, the book is worthy of the Cheryl Frank prize for how it pulls together and focuses a strong group of critical realists writing about ethical issues. Its approach differs from other critical realist work in the field by Christian Smith and Andrew Sayer. It is the final volume in a series of five that includes volumes on social morphogenesis, late modernity, generative mechanisms, and the crisis of normativity. Recognised as the culmination of this broader achievement, Morphogenesis and Human Flourishing is nonetheless judged on its own merits for the prize.”

The Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize is awarded annually for a book or article that constitutes, motivates or exemplifies the best and/or most innovative new writing in or about the tradition of critical realism, including the philosophy of metaReality, in the previous year.

30th August 2018

Published - Re-Mapping Archaeology: Critical Perspectives, Alternative Mappings

Re-Mapping Archaeology: Critical Perspectives, Alternative Mappings

A chapter by former ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups participant Erin Kavanagh – ‘Re-thinking the conversation: a geomythological deep map’ – features in the recently published volume Re-Mapping Archaeology: Critical Perspectives, Alternative Mappings, edited by Mark Gillings, Piraye Hacıgüzeller and Gary Lock.

The book “thinks through cartographic challenges in archaeology and critiques the existing mapping traditions used in the social sciences and humanities, especially since the 1990s. It provides a unique archaeological perspective on cartographic theory and innovatively pulls together a wide range of mapping practices applicable to archaeology and other disciplines.”

20th August 2018

Journal of Economic Perspectives: Recommendations for Further Reading

The ISRF-funded video interview series Economics: Past, Present And Future, led by Dr Ivano Cardinale & ,Dr Constantinos Repapis featured in Timothy Taylor’s ‘Recommendations for Further Reading’* in the Summer 2018 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Particular attention is drawn to Dr Repapis’s interview with Professor Julie Nelson (winner of the 2015 ISRF Essay Prize in Economics):

“[W]hen people hear ‘Women are more risk-averse,’ people tend to think of that as categorical – women over here, men over there. In my meta-analysis, I looked back at the statistical data on which this claim was based and the two distributions are almost entirely overlapping. There is at least 80%, sometimes 90 or 96% overlap between the men’s and women’s distributions. There may also be tiny, perhaps statistically signifi- cant differences in the means of the distributions, but men and women are really a lot more similar than different. Yet, if you read the titles of certain books or articles, you would be getting a big misperception. … [T]o me, feminism is not treating women as second-class citizens, as there to help and entertain men. And then my more meth- odological work has been about the biases that have been built into economics by choosing only the masculine-associated parts of life and techniques and banishing the feminine-associated ones. In my own life, I’m quite comfortable in both economics and feminist camps. I find when I give talks I get interesting labels. When I talk to a group of relatively mainstream economists I’m a wild-eyed radical leftist feminist nutcase. But because I’m an economist, when I talk to a lot of gender and women’s studies groups, and I don’t talk about the evils of global corporate capitalism and I don’t have a certain line that I take on the economy, I’m considered a right-wing apologist for capitalism. And I’m quite comfortable balancing those two.”

*Taylor, Timothy. 2018. “Recommendations for Further Reading.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 32 (3): 281-88.

12th July 2018

Nishat Awan Awarded ERC Starting Grant

Former ISRF Early Career Fellow Nishat Awan (Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London)has received an ERC Starting Grant for a research project based on research conducted during her fellowship. The project will be hosted by Goldsmiths’ Centre for Research Architecture.

Nishat AwanNishat Awan: I am really grateful to the ISRF for awarding me an Early Career Fellowship. It not only gave me the time to think and to produce work that was the basis for this bigger research project, but it also gave me the confidence to keep doing work that is at the edge of my discipline of architecture and doesn’t quite fit elsewhere. Much of the methodology that will be developed in the Topological Atlas project (see below) has its genesis in the ISRF-funded project – Edges of Europe – which traced the borders of Europe along the Black Sea, narrating stories of migrant journeys and the illicit crossing of borders.

Topological Atlas: Mapping Contemporary Borderscapes

The project starts with the acknowledgement that we live today in a world that is too disjointed, especially in relation to the discourse around migration. We cannot see the totality, either through the deliberate obfuscation of governments, or by biased media promoting a particular argument or simply resorting to hyperbole. We also live in a time of visual overload. We are surrounded by large numbers of images available on the net and social media, but increasingly also computationally derived visualisations of large scale data. Topological Atlas uses this ubiquity of the image and takes the problem of the disjointedness of information seriously by producing visual narratives and counter geographies that allow us to glimpse, if only momentarily, a version of a bigger picture. Such interpretations can prove highly useful in making sense of what are increasingly complex situations. The very abstraction of this form of representation is also a way of hiding the details of individual lives. In the current situation of the mass movement of people, there is an urgent need for such new tools that allow us to understand this dynamic situation.

This five year research project follows one migrant trajectory towards Europe and focuses on three border sites: Pakistan-Iran, Turkey-Greece, and the UK understood as a set of dispersed border practices. The aim of the research is to develop a methodology for mapping, analysing and intervening in border areas in the form of a digital atlas. The project combines digital technologies with a participative approach that attends to those at the margins of traditional geopolitical inquiry. Using topology as conceptual framework and methodology, the aim is to make maps that produce ‘seamless transitions’ from the space of the migrant to that of the security apparatus that creates barriers to her movement. In doing so, Topological Atlas seeks to disrupt the cartographic norms that are being reinforced at borders through the use of data analytics in conjunction with militarised technologies of surveillance and control. The project understands the need to address borders from the point-of-view of those who attempt to cross them as an ethical imperative that requires a form of research that is both participative and attends to the politics of location.

16th May 2018

Another public vs. private debate is necessary - Water and other public services

Another public vs private debate is necessary – Water and other public services

13 June 2018 | 2-7pm
Queen Anne Building, Room 175, Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9LS

This seminar – convened by ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Dr Emanuele Lobina – revolves around the state and possible evolution of the public vs. private debate in water and other public services. It does so by presenting the results of the Dr Lobina’s ISRF Fellowship project on Reorienting Industrial Organisation Theory: From Necessary to Possible Outcomes and with the contribution of prominent scholars in the field.

15th April 2018

Press Coverage for The Etiquette of the Arms Trade

The work of ISRF Early Career Fellow Dr Jill Gibbon received national and regional press coverage to coincide with the opening of her exhibition – The Etiquette of the Arms Trade: Ten Years Drawing in Arms Fairs – at The Peace Museum, Bradford.

The Guardian:

Among the sea of pinstripes at international arms fairs, Jill Gibbon doesn’t stand out. In her dark skirt suit, cream silk blouse, glasses and pearls, she looks every bit the global security expert she claims to be on the accreditation form. Yet she is not at the expo to broker a deal, but to secretly draw those making them.

Armed with a discreet notebook and pen, Gibbon aims to penetrate the “veneer of respectability” she says cloaks such events, revealing the vulnerabilities of those who make a living selling weapons of mass destruction. These include: the sales rep vomiting after starting on the champagne at 11am, the young woman in the tight dress bringing an incongruous glamour to a Scud missile stand, the string quartet serenading bomb-makers on the back of a military truck and the mannequins wearing gas masks.

The Yorkshire Post:

Having spent 10 years going undercover at arms fairs, Jill Gibbon tells Sarah Freeman why she is on a mission to expose and industry which trivalises the business of war.

The sweets bearing the words ‘Welcome to Hell’ might well be the most unlikely complimentary gift ever to have been handed out at an arms fair, but the competition is stiff. There are stress balls shaped like hand grenades, others which look like mini-bombs and a little squishy rubber bulldozer given away by a company whose equipment has been used to demolish hundreds of homes in Occupied Palestine.

The Telegraph & Argus:

Jill Gibbon has spent the past decade going undercover at arms fairs across the world. Disguised as a weapons industry insider, she sketches the people and various scenes she witnesses inside these events.

Now a collection of her sketches are on display at Bradford’s Peace Museum as part of its new exhibition The Etiquette of the Arms Trade, which opened yesterday.

The sketches depict scenes of arms traders showing off guns, tanks and missiles. One piece captures a string quartet playing for guests while they peruse the latest weapons of war.

9th April 2018

Unpopped: The Roots of Grime and Representation

Unpopped is a BBC Radio podcast series hosted by Hayley Campbell, which aims to “examine the biggest pop culture moments of the recent past”.

In the 9th April 2018 episode, former ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Joy White contributed to a discussion of The Roots of Grime and Representation.

Emerging from the estates of East London in the early 2000s, Grime threw together elements of garage, jungle, Jamaican dancehall and hip-hop to produce a distinct, home-grown British music genre. Usingunorthodox music distribution methods such as pirate radio, raves, mixtapes and DVDs, Grime bypassed the traditional music industry completely, developing its own identity, sound and lifestyle which has been likened to the punk movement of the 1970s.

Fiercely independent and distinctly anti-establishment, Grime developed quickly, attracting critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase. Soon it had its first breakout star in the form of Dizzee Rascal, whose debut album, Boy in Da Corner, won the Mercury Music prize in 2003.

But then Grime appeared to adopt a holding pattern. No other artists of Dizzee Rascal’s stature emerged from the scene and the genre returned to the underground, growing and developing away from the mainstream, re-emerging with Skepta’s chart-topping album, Konnichiwa and Stormzy’s international success.

Why did Grime emerge when it did, who were some of its early stars, what did the genre mean to those making and hearing the music during its development and what role do women play in the history and current success of Grime?

20th March 2018

The Etiquette of the Arms Trade: ten years drawing in arms fairs

The Etiquette of the Arms Trade: ten years drawing in arms fairs

13 April – 28 June 2018
The Peace Museum, Bradford, 10 Piece Hall Yard, BD1 1PJ

The work of ISRF Early Career Fellow Dr Jill Gibbon will form a new temporary exhibition opening at The Peace Museum on 13th April, and running until 28th June 2018.

The UK government has approved weapon sales to two thirds of the countries on its own list of human rights abusers.  Sales of bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia have soared since the start of the Yemen War, where hundreds of children and thousands of civilians have been killed in airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition.  How are such sales legitimised?

For the past ten years Jill Gibbon has visited arms fairs in Europe and the Middle East, by masquerading as an arms trader with a suit, paste pearls, and a sham business.  Once inside, she draws and collects complementary gifts.  Here, weapons glimmer under spotlights, waiting staff hover with champagne, beer, and pretzels, and a string quartet plays Mozart on the back of a military truck.  The exhibition explores the etiquette of the arms trade through drawings, gifts, and elements of her masquerade.

Launch Event: Friday 13th April, 5pm -7pm

This will be a free drop in event to celebrate the opening of the new exhibition. Refreshments will be provided – everybody welcome.

3rd March 2018

What is value?

What is value?

ISRF Political Economy Fellow Dave Elder-Vass writes the Materially Social blog, sharing his academic work in progress – ideas under development, comments on papers or presentations, thoughts prompted by teaching and students, and responses to discussions in the literature and the blogosphere.

In the first output from his ISRF-funded project – Constructing Financial Value – introduce the key elements of an alternative theory of value.

There are two dominant existing theories of value: the Marxist theory and the theory implicit in mainstream economics. In my book Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy I criticised Marx’s labour theory of value in detail, but here we can focus on just one issue. One of the mystifying things about Marx’s theory is that although he tells us how he thinks the value of a thing is determined – by the socially necessary amount of labour time required to produce it – he never tells us what value actually IS. It seems to be something to do with price, but he’s quite insistent that it’s not exactly the same thing as price. It’s clear, however, that he thinks that the value of a thing is an objective quantity, determined by objective features of the social world and independent of individual perceptions.

28th February 2018

Birkbeck Workshop: Creating An Interdisciplinary Research Environment

Creating An Interdisciplinary Research Environment

20 March 2018 | 1-5pm
Birkbeck, University of London – Room 101, 30 Russell Square, London

ISRF Editorial Assistant, Dr Rachael Kiddey, will take part in the panel discussion “What does good interdisciplinary research look like? Views from research evaluators” at Birkbeck, University of London on Tuesday 20th March 2018.

The most complex economic challenges of our time – such as ageing population, climate change, the effects of automation and globalisation – result from interlinked scientific, technical, social and individual processes, a comprehensive understanding and addressing of which require interdisciplinary approaches. Besides addressing complex challenges, interdisciplinary research is also particularly likely to produce radically novel outcomes that create innovation opportunities. Policymakers advocate greater interdisciplinarity within academia, calling for more interdisciplinary research centres, for greater funding of interdisciplinary research, and for better ways to map and measure interdisciplinary engagement and outputs.

However, universities are historically not well equipped to support interdisciplinary research, and the incentive systems that underpin most academic activities – including funding, evaluation, academic communication, publishing and career progression – militate against it. Institutions that wish to encourage more interdisciplinarity need to implement adequate initiatives to support it. This workshop intends to bring together experts engaged in the practice, study and evaluation of interdisciplinary research, in order to uncover challenges and best practices in supporting interdisciplinarity within academia.

26th February 2018

Book Launch - Enduring Time

Enduring Time

15 March 2018 | 7pm
Swedenborg House, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

A book by former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Dr Lisa Baraitser will launch at Swedenborg House in London on Thursday 15th March 2018.

Celebrating the publication of Enduring Time, a panel of scholars (Laura Salisbury, Stella Sandford and Raluca Soreanu) will engage with the book to consider the changing ways we imagine and experience time.  Climate change, unending violent conflict, fraying material infrastructures, permanent debt and widening social inequalities mean that we no longer live with an expectation of a progressive future, a generative past, or a flourishing now that characterized the temporal imaginaries of the post-war period. Time, it appears, is not flowing, but has become stuck, intensely felt, yet radically suspended. The question the book raises is how we might now ‘take care’ of time? How can we understand change as requiring time not passing? What can quotidian experiences of suspended time – waiting, delaying, staying, remaining, enduring, returning and repeating – tell us about the survival of social bonds? And how might we re-establish the idea that time might be something we both have and share, as opposed to something we are always running out of?

The ISRF Book Launch Fund is available to existing or previous ISRF award recipients, who may apply for one grant of up to £500 towards the cost of holding an event at which their book (or a book to which they have contributed significantly) is launched.

26th February 2018

Book Launch - Mass Intellectuality and Democratic Leadership in Higher Education

Mass Intellectuality and Democratic Leadership in Higher Education

8 March 2018 | 5pm
De Montfort University

A book co-edited with Professor Richard Hall by former ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups recipient Dr Joss Winn will launch at De Montfort University in Leicester on Thursday 8th March 2018.

The context for the book is that higher education across the globe is in crisis. The idea of the public university is under assault, and both the future of the sector and its relationship to society are being gambled. Higher education is increasingly unaffordable, its historic institutions are becoming untenable, and their purpose is resolutely instrumental. What form does intellectual leadership take in addressing these issues and in revealing possible alternatives? The contributors argue that mass higher education is at the point where it no longer reflects the needs, capacities and long-­term interests of global society. An alternative role and purpose is required, based upon ‘mass intellectuality’ or the real possibility of democracy in learning and the production of knowledge.

As editors, Richard and Joss will provide an overview of the context and key themes from the book. Liz will act as a respondent, analysing the application of these themes to life inside the University, and for educational projects outside. The session will critique intellectual leadership in the university, exploring ongoing efforts from around the world to create alternative models for organizing higher education and the production of knowledge. We will ask: is it possible to re­imagine the university democratically and co­operatively? If so, what are the implications for leadership not just within the university but also in terms of higher education’s relationship to society?

The ISRF Book Launch Fund is available to existing or previous ISRF award recipients, who may apply for one grant of up to £500 towards the cost of holding an event at which their book (or a book to which they have contributed significantly) is launched.

13th February 2018

Joy White on The Business of Grime

CAMEo Cuts #6: The Business of Grime

CAMEo Cuts is an occasional series that showcases reflections on cultural and media economies, written by researchers, collaborators and affiliates of the University of Leicester’s Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies.

In this January 2018 issue, former ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Joy White focusses on the emerging economy of Grime music.

The music industry is a significant economic sector that ought to provide earning opportunities for a wide variety of young people who have the necessary skills, interests and talents. And yet, this sector has some of the lowest diversity rates in terms of ethnicity and class. By contrast, Grime, and the wider urban music economy, can offer a multiplicity of routes into the creative and cultural industries for diverse and disadvantaged groups.

From its London origins, Grime has expanded regionally through the Eskimo Dance and Sidewinder events, and from Lord of the Mics MC clashes to the nascent Grime Originals events, the Grime economy has a national (UK) and international reach.

25th  January 2018

Limits of the Numerical Workshops - April 2018

What is so Special about Cancer? Perspectives from Clinical Research, Philosophy and Social Sciences

5-6 April 2018
CRASSH, University of Cambridge

This conference brings together perspectives from clinical research, medical practice, philosophy, health economics and psychology to explore what makes cancer so special. Is the current amount of funding for cancer research and treatment justifiable? Are existing arrangements consistent with public perceptions of cancer, and what can the lived experience of actual patients, carers and clinicians teach us? Where is cancer research, treatment and policy going? This conference provides an opportunity to examine whether the special status of cancer is justifiable, and to explore the implications for the future of medicine.

Speakers: Karl Claxton (University of York), Peter Gøtzsche (Nordic Cochrane Centre), Shelley Hwang (Duke University), Stephen John (University of Cambridge), Christopher McCabe (Institute for Health Economics), Christian Munthe (University of Gothenburg), Mark Sheehan (University of Oxford), and Carla Willig (City, University of London).

Crosscurrents of Commensuration

16-17 April 2018
CRASSH, University of Cambridge

Crosscurrents of Commensuration will explore commensuration – in its widest possible sense – as a focus of critical analysis across the social sciences and humanities.  Construed broadly, commensuration involves equating units or entities judged in the first instance to be essentially different and incomparable with one another.  Such operations of same-making – along with corollary processes of differentiation and distinction – are fundamentally generative aspects of sociocultural life, and have proven to be highly fecund as both objects and optics of analysis across the social sciences and humanities.

This two-day event will bring together researchers from across the social sciences and humanities to consider commensuration from different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives with the aim of broadening and deepening the critical scope of commensuration as an optic of social analysis.  What arises at the intersection of different ways of thinking about commensuration and its cognates?  How might different disciplinary approaches to commensuration and cognate problematics enrich and inform one another?

7th November 2017

Beyond The Failure Of Government Failure: A Critical Realist Agenda

ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Emanuele Lobina will give a talk – Beyond The Failure Of Government Failure: A Critical Realist Agenda – to the London Realist Workshop on 1st December 2017, at SOAS, University of London.

Abstract: Using water services as reference, this paper addresses a knowledge gap that is preventing progress in the debate on public service reform: we do not have a good theory of relative organisational efficiency under natural monopoly. First, I offer an historical overview of the conventional theory, illustrating how government failure replaced market failure as the dominant tradition in the field. Second, I discuss the explanatory limitations of theories of government failure – such as public choice, property rights and transaction cost economics – with specific attention to deductivism, linear causality and reductionism. Third, I argue that the failure of government failure is not only a failure of prediction but also of morality and prescription. Finally, I sketch elements of a critical realist agenda aimed at enabling theoretical progress beyond the failure of government failure.

2nd November 2017

And This Too

An exhibition featuring the work of ISRF Early Career Fellow Jill Gibbon will run 2-25 November 2017 at the Platform Arts gallery in Belfast.

“And This Too features seven artists whose work explores, represents or challenges our understanding of contemporary conflict.  Their work reflects the diverse and complex issues which surround responses to conflict and includes drawing, painting, sculpture and installation. Much of this work is being exhibited for the first time in Belfast.  The exhibition highlights the important role which artists play in offering alternative viewpoints of conflict. Art can change our perceptions or increase our understanding of events. This is crucial given the current state of heightened security in which we find ourselves.”

27th October 2017

Emotions, Ideologies, and Violent Political Mobilization

A symposium resulting from the ISRF-funded Emotions, Ideologies, and Unconventional Political Violence residential research group is published in the October 2017 issue of PS: Political Science & Politics.

The symposium – titled Emotions, Ideologies, and Violent Political Mobilization – “aims to go beyond structural and material explanations of conflict and mobilization. […] Contributions focus on agency and provide diverse angles on the relations between emotions, ideologies, and political violence”.

Featuring contributions from Daphna Canetti, Stefano Costalli, Francesco N. Moro, Enzo Nussio, Roger Petersen, Andrea Ruggeri, Livia Isabella Schubiger, Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, and Matthew Zelina.

25th October 2017

Book Launch - Social Sciences for an Other Politics: Women theorising without parachutes

A book resulting from the ISRF-funded Understandings of ‘Prefigurative’ and ‘Utopian’ Modes of Contemporary Politics residential research group will launch at the University of Bath on Friday 1st December 2017.

The book – Social Sciences for an Other Politics: Women Theorising Without Parachutes – opens a unique intellectual space where eleven female scholar-activists (Women on the Verge scholar-activist group) working in Mexico, USA, Sweden, Australia, and the UK, explore alternative forms of theorising this social reality.

The ISRF Book Launch Fund is available to existing or previous ISRF award recipients, who may apply for one grant of up to £500 towards the cost of holding an event at which their book (or a book to which they have contributed significantly) is launched.

21st October 2017

‘Layers in the Landscape’ - Winter Exhibition Official Opening

An exhibition resulting from the ISRF-funded Layers in the Landscape project will open with a launch event at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Lampeter Campus on Friday 3rd November, 4-7pm.

Accompanying this will be an extended seminar explaining the ongoing research behind the exhibition, including a showing of a short film which explores some of the stories and science around Cardigan Bay, along with an evening performance by Three Legg’d Mare who will present the latest branch of the project; in music. The event will be chaired by Professor Mererid Hopwood.

19th October 2017

Transcriptor: Illustration, Documentary and the Material

An exhibition featuring work by ISRF Early Career Fellow Jill Gibbon will run at the James Hockey Gallery in Farnham – part of the University for the Creative Arts – from 19th October 2017 until 10th January 2018.

“The sketchbooks in this exhibition were drawn undercover in arms fairs in Europe and the Middle East. Arms fairs are trade shows where military and security equipment are promoted to an international clientele. Tanks, ammunition, and tear gas are all on show, and between the bombs, tables are laid with champagne and canapés. Jill gets inside these events by dressing up as an arms trader; her performance a metaphor for the wider masquerade of respectability in the industry.”

5th October 2017

Ivana Radačić Appointed to the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice

ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups recipient Ivana Radačić – Comparing Croatian and Slovenian Prostitution Regimes: Surpassing Exclusions and Securing Human Rights – has been appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice.

The mandate of the working group is ‘to identify, promote and exchange views with states and other actors on good practices related to the elimination of laws that discriminate against women’.

5th October 2017

Justice, Justification, and Monetary Policy

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Martin O’Neill will give a public lecture at Harvard University’s Edmund J. Safra Centre for Ethics on 12th October 2017.

Abstract: Since the great financial crisis of 2007-8, central banks have played an increasingly important and broad role in macroeconomic management in the UK, Europe, and US. Within democratic societies, the role of technocratic institutions in setting economic policy raises important normative questions of justice and justification. This lecture considers some of these issues relating to the role of central banks, paying special attention to forms of unconventional monetary policy such as ‘quantitative easing’.

2nd October 2017

RSA Scotland: Basic Income Pilot Experiments in Europe and North America

ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Jurgen De Wispelaere will his discuss his experience of working with basic income experiments in countries like Finland, at an event hosted by RSA Scotland and CBINS.

They Say: “Jurgen will highlight the learning which has been developed from these experiments, address areas which Scotland will need to explore and offer up thoughts for the future development of basic income in our country.”

1st October 2017

The Etiquette Of The Arms Trade

ISRF Early Career Fellow Jill Gibbon will exhibit work related to her ISRF-funded project – The Etiquette of the Arms Trade – at the Leeds Arts Research Centre, 1st October – 31st December 2017.

“The world is awash with weapons. The wars of the twentieth century have skewed manufacturing in the US, Russia, France, Germany, China, and the UK towards military production. At the end of the Cold War there was a brief opportunity to diversify into other areas; instead arms companies merged into multinationals and started selling to almost anyone who would buy. Arms fairs were established in the 1990s to provide international venues for these deals.”

6th September 2017

Put down the anti-wrinkle cream - why women over 50 need to embrace the ageing process

Former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Jayne Raisborough discussed her ISRF-funded project – Learning How To Be Old: Frames, Feminism And The Production Of A Pro-Ageing Instructional Film – with The Yorkshire Post.

The publication coincided with a public lecture at Leeds Town Hall, entitled “Is There Life After 50? You’d Better Believe it! Women Celebrate Getting Older”, part of Leeds Cultural Conversations.

7th August 2017

Universal Basic Income Is About Trust and Decency

Kristian Haug interviewed ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Jurgen De Wispelaere about his research on universal basic income (UBI), for the non-profit news website Truthout.

They Say: “In this interview, De Wispelaere outlines the most important aspects of UBI — its feasibility, what we can learn from previous experiments, why the right implementation is so important and how UBI touches our basic philosophy of human nature. De Wispelaere’s core argument is that the best reason for pursuing the UBI agenda is ending poverty.”

22nd June 2017

ISRF Small Group Grant Recipient Erin Kavanagh releases film "Layers in the Landscape"

As part of the ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups project Layers in the Landscape: Deep Mapping in Cardigan Bay, Erin Kavanagh and Martin Bates produced the film ‘Layers in the Landscape’, which was screened at the ISRF’s 5th Annual Workshop on 22nd June 2017.

The film premiered at the Aberystwyth Storytelling Festival (9-12 March 2017), and has subsequently screened at the International Open Workshop in Kiel (20-24 March 2017), the Taliesin Historical Society (25 April 2017), the CASCA/IUAES2017 Conference in Ottawa (2-7 May 2017), the Aeron Valley Vintage Society (17 May 2017), and the INTIMATE Conference in Aberystwyth (6-9 June 2017).

19th June 2017

ISRF Early Career Fellowships Announced

In January 2017, the ISRF launched its fourth Early Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in June 2017, and voted to make six awards.

The recipients were Dr Matthew Burch (University of Essex), Dr Catherine Charrett (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Beverley Clough (University of Leeds), Dr Julien-François Gerber (Erasmus University), Dr Jill Gibbon (Leeds Beckett University) and Dr Jessie Hohmann (Queen Mary, University of London).

21st May 2017

ISRF Fellow Emanuele Lobina Makes the Case for Public Ownership of the Water Industry

ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow Emanuele Lobina – Reorienting Industrial Organisation Theory: From Necessary to Possible Outcomes – contributed to the debate around public ownership of the water industry in a letter published by The Guardian on 21st May 2017.

He concludes:

“What is needed in England and Wales is not tinkering with a privatised system that has failed to deliver on its promises but radically changing the priorities of water operators so that people come before profit. By abolishing the payment of dividends and lowering the cost of financing investment, nationalisation can do just that.”

23rd March 2017

ISRF Fellow Ian Loader: Crime, Justice and the Liberalism of Fear

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Ian Loader – In Search of a Better Politics of Crime – gave a lecture at the University of Melbourne on 23rd March 2017, which was subsequently broadcast on radio by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on 6th April 2017 as part of ABC’s Big Ideas series.

“The liberal philosophy which underpins much of our criminal justice system is committed to protecting individual rights and freedoms. Liberalism, by its nature, is deeply suspicious of state power and wary of the idea that the community should play a bigger role in criminal justice. Ian Loader calls this ‘the liberalism of fear’ and says it’s the reason why there’s such a divide between the views of the public, politicians and practitioners.”

17th February 2017

The ISRF is delighted to announce a pilot partnership with The Conversation

From April 2017, Josephine Lethbridge will be The Conversation’s Interdisciplinary Editor, funded by the ISRF. Josephine’s role will include working with scholars at The Conversation’s member universities, as well as past and present Fellows of the ISRF, to bring interdisciplinary social research to millions of readers worldwide. Josephine will encourage researchers to write short newsworthy articles, working with them to produce pieces with journalistic flair but no loss of academic rigour. The ISRF hope that, by promoting interdisciplinarity through this partnership with The Conversation, the usefulness of interdisciplinary approaches will reach broader audiences, and that knowledge of such work will spread beyond the confines of academia.

Any ISRF Fellows wishing to pitch an idea for an article to Josephine, or simply interested in knowing more, should contact her directly on
17th February 2017

Congratulations to Thomas Hoerber and Co-Editor Emmanuel Sigalas, on the publication of Theorizing European Space Policy

Theorizing European Space PolicyOn 17th February 2017, the European Space Agency headquarters in Paris hosted a book launch ceremony – supported by an ISRF Book Launch grant – for Dr Thomas Hoerber & Dr Emmanuel Sigalas’s Theorizing European Space Policy.

“The editors were welcomed by Dr Kai-Uwe Schrogl, Head of the Relations with Member States Department in the Director General’s Cabinet, and about 20 other distinguished guests – including the Director of the Paris office of the German Aerospace Agency, Dr Isabelle Reutzel.

Dr Hoerber started by outlining the achievements of the standing ESSCA space policy research group so far. After a timid start with a first special issue in Space Policy (2012), two rather ground-breaking books have been released, one on European Space Policy, edited by Paul Stephenson and Thomas Hoerber (Routledge, 2016) and the above-mentioned Theorizing European Space Policy, on which the book lauch event focused.”

In 2016, Thomas Hoerber was awarded an ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups award, for the project What Potential for a European Space Policy?.

Kai-Uwe Schrogl, Thomas Hoerber, Ulrike Bohlmann, and Emmanual Sigalas

More Info

The ISRF Book Launch Fund is available to existing or previous ISRF award recipients, who may apply for one grant of up to £500 towards the cost of holding an event at which their book (or a book to which they have contributed significantly) is launched.

15th February 2017

UPDATED: Audio Interviews with ISRF Fellows

ISRF Editorial Assistant Dr Rachael Kiddey speaks with ISRF Fellows past and present, to discuss their research and their time as ISRF Fellows.

New in February 2017: interviews with Ian Loader and Sherrill Stroschein.

2nd February 2017

ISRF Fellow Sherrill Stroschein: Tempo, Protest, and Emergency Ethnography in the Trump Moment

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Sherrill Stroschein – Ethnic Enclaves, Reversed Politics, and the Entrenchment of Difference – contributed a guest post to the Duck of Minerva blog, exploring three approaches to thinking more systematically about contemporary political events.

25th January 2017

Former ISRF Fellow Joy White: Growing up under the influence - A sonic genealogy of grime

Former ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Joy White – (In)visible Entrepreneurs: How Young People Use the Urban Music Economy to Create Work and Generate Wealth – presented a paper at the Reggae Research Network Symposium: Scoping the Field in Norwich.

Introduction: Grime is a specifically English musical genre. What started out as a niche practice that articulated the lived experiences of young black men from a particular place, is now an endeavour that attracts a national and international audience. A diaspora cultural form, Grime has been nourished by its black Atlantic connections to the Caribbean, Africa and North America. In this presentation, I reflect on the influence of Reggae on Grime musical production.

11th January 2017

Congratulations to Jayne Raisborough, on the publication of her book Fat Bodies, Health and the Media

Fat Bodies, Health and the MediaOn 11th January 2017, the Leeds Beckett Media Research Festival  – supported by an ISRF Book Launch grant – saw the launch of Professor Jayne Raisborough’s Fat Bodies, Health and the Media, the result of an ISRF Mid-Career Fellowship.

“Billed as the only festival that doesn’t require wellies, the Leeds Beckett Media Research Festival (#lebeme) demonstrated live Cuban dancing, took us behind the iron curtain on the back on LP covers, gave us shocking insight into the secret space of arms-fairs, made us think critically about our fitness apps, engaged us in protests, had us question the contemporary nature of recycling, and more! The real success of the day lay in the rich interdisciplinary exchange and networking that took place. Media research is alive and well and is certainly a site for cross- fertilisation of disciplinary work championed by the ISRF.”

The ISRF Book Launch Fund is available to existing or previous ISRF award recipients, who may apply for one grant of up to £500 towards the cost of holding an event at which their book (or a book to which they have contributed significantly) is launched.

22nd December 2016

2016 ISRF Essay Prize in Organisation Studies Awarded to Simon Stevens

The Independent Social Research Foundation and Organization Studies awarded the 2016 ISRF Essay Prize in Organisation Studies to Simon Stevens (Loughborough University) for his essay Life and Letting Die: A story of the homeless, autonomy, and anti-social behaviour, to be published online in the Organization Studies OnlineFirst listing in January 2017.

12th December 2016

The PeN (Photographic e-Narrative) Project Blog

The PeN project – led by ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Julie Parsons – is being hosted at LandWorks, an independent charity that provides a supported route back into the community for current and ex-prisoners (trainees). The PeN project aims are twofold, to work as a personal development tool for trainees, whilst fostering dialogue between trainees and supporters in order to challenge social exclusion.

Support and involvement from the community is vital for successful resettlement, not least in accepting the ‘reformed’ prisoner. Indeed, social reaction is essential, with positive change in behaviour recognised by others and reflected back. This is done on a daily basis at LandWorks between staff, visitors and trainees, but the PeN project broadens this positive reinforcement. Moreover, it enables the 1000+ supporters and wider community to feel more involved, as one of the supporter’s comments “finding ways to make supporters feel valued, without taking time and resources away from trainees is tricky. I’m optimistic the PeN project will really help”

Trainees are provided with basic digital cameras to take photograph whilst they are on site (only). Photographs and accompanying narratives are then posted on the PeN project blog by the lead researcher, as prisoners are not permitted any access to social media. There are no identifying photographs posted on the blog and all participants choose pseudonyms (fake names). Any photographs taken by trainees are discussed with the lead researcher and decisions made on what photographs and narratives to upload.

For example, Matthew (a 22-year-old trainee) – in his blog post entitled ‘choices’ – took a picture of work he’d been spray painting on to the door of the ‘art department’.

Matthew says:

I’m doing a mural… and it’s, basically it’s a path which splits into two, and it’s all about your decisions, like choices, like you’ve got the left path which is crime and all the s**t, and you’ve got the right path, which is you know trying to make a change, and then when it goes in here, inside there, you’ll see the path there splits again… and then you’ve got the right side, which you can stay doing what you’re doing, like well, not doing what you’re doing, like where I am now yeah, which comes off level, well, which comes off down this way a bit, but if you go in on the right like, you’re on the benefits, and you’re trying to sort s**t out, and then you’ve got another path which comes up, which is your path with a job, your own place, mortgage, and then yeah, that sort of thing… depending on what choice you make depends on where your life goes, basically… yeah, because that door’s open yeah, in the prison system the people are so used to closing doors on people, open the door you know, let them have a chance to walk through that door you know, it’s kinda, it’s trying to go positive… [it’s called] choices… it’s a door that’s open on a door…

In his post ‘no pressure’, Rodney – a 19-year-old trainee on a community sentence – took lots of photographs of what the ‘LandWorks family’ had been working on together.

Roger says:

I did construction skills, level 1 and level 2… level 1 was just pass/fail and we did carpentry, joinery, plumbing, electrics, er… brick work, block work, plastering, rendering, and then level 2 was pass, merit, distinction, and I got an overall merit, but I got distinctions for technical drawing and electrical installation…  but see back then it was just easy… I can’t remember any of it for the life of me, whereas with the carpentry… it’s just, and I really didn’t, I used to hate carpentry, I could not stand it, I couldn’t do it, it made me angry, you know, I’d do the slightest bit wrong and end up just hammering the chisel straight through [and] out the other side just to make myself feel better and then give up on it, but… I don’t know, I come here and it’s a lot… you know, in college it’s like, well you’ve only got one, don’t mess it up… Here you do something wrong and that’s alright, go grab another bit… I tend to learn a lot better in an environment where there is no pressure… and I think that here there is no pressure whatsoever… really, at all, I mean… the most pressure I’ve ever been under is playing Boules against Nolan…

Graham, a 50-year-old former trainee and now woodwork trainer at LandWorks, is shown woodturning below.

In the blog post ‘from trainee to trainer’ Graham says:

I’ve been here 15 months… so I was coming out here on a ROTL (Release On Temporary Licence/day release) from the local prison for the last 12 months [of my sentence] and I think it was around about Christmas time [last year] that I noticed on the 5 year LandWorks plan… to employ one of the trainees coming out from the prison, which I asked the project manager about, I said is that what I think it is? And he said what do you think it is? I said to employ one of the lads coming out, and he said yeah and I said well I’d like that job then… and he said oh right ok, well I’ll think about that then, and let you know, then we spoke about it after Christmas… this was last year, and then I think it was about February that he said it was all agreed with the Trustees so here I am… All of this building was like my erm apprenticeship for the job if you like… can you put it like that? I guess, well that’s what I used to talk to the LandWorks counsellor about… I remember when we were chatting, she’d say, well just get on with it, well make a nice job of it, and the project manager can see what you can do and that, and how you work with the other lads and everything, and that was, well I wouldn’t say it was a plan as such, but it sort of panned out like that, I think… it’s a kind of portfolio, here’s what I can do…

The new PeN blogsite therefore satisfies the two inter-related aims of the PeN project, to share trainees’ photographs and accompanying narratives and to engage supporters and the wider community with the desistance journey. Follow the blog at

8th November 2016

ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups Announced

In April 2016, the ISRF launched its third Flexible Grants for Small Groups competition, aimed at supporting independent-minded researchers from different disciplines who wish to work together towards conceptual innovation in Political Economy – which the ISRF here extends to include the social scientific study of economies across the whole range of the social sciences.

Having received a number of strong proposals, a pool of independent external assessors supported the funding of eight projects.

The successful projects (PIs in parentheses) were:

19th October 2016

Congratulations to Joy White, on the publication of her book Urban Music and Entrepreneurship: Beats, Rhymes and Young People’s Enterprise

2On 18th October 2016, Routledge published Urban Music and Entrepreneurship: Beats, Rhymes and Young People’s Enterprise – the first book to foreground and develop a complex reading of the socio-economic significance of urban music with particular reference to grime. The book is the culmination of five years of fieldwork – which included an ISRF Independent Scholar Fellowship – and features interviews and ‘behind the scenes’ observation in the UK and in Cyprus.

Read More
4th July 2016

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Jayne Raisborough releases film "Women And Ageing"

As part of her ISRF Mid Career Fellowship project Learning How to be Old: Frames, Feminism and the Production of a Pro-Ageing Instructional Film, Jayne Raisborough (University of Brighton) – in collaboration with filmmaker and Director of Photography Mark Bader and Bader Rudebeck Films – has produced the film ‘Women And Ageing’, which was screened at the ISRF’s 4th Annual Workshop on 1st July 2016.

4th July 2016

ISRF Academic Advisor Marilyn Strathern: "Tricking Oneself: The Cultivation of Surprise"

As the ISRF’s 4th Annual Workshop on 30th June 2016, Academic Advisor Professor Marilyn Strathern gave a pre-recorded keynote presentation entitled “Tricking Oneself: The Cultivation of Surprise”.

21st June 2016

ISRF Early Career Fellow Jacob Copeman awarded British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship

Jacob CopemanDr Jacob Copeman (University of Edinburgh), recipient of an ISRF Early Career Fellowship in 2013 for his project The Politics of Names and Naming in India, has received a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship grant for a continuation of his research. The 12-month project – Names and (dis)identity: A new approach to Indian secularism – will commence in January 2017.

13th June 2016

Congratulations to Jayne Raisborough, appointed to Chair in Media at Leeds Beckett University

Jayne RaisboroughFormer ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Jayne Raisborough – whose ISRF project investigated the real world problems associated with anti-ageing culture – has been appointed to the Chair in Media at Leeds Beckett University, commencing from September 2016.

The move sees Jayne leaving the University of Brighton’s School of Applied Social Sciences for Leeds Beckett’s School of Cultural Studies and Humanities.

24th May 2016

ISRF Mid-Career Fellowships Announced

In January 2016, the ISRF launched its third Mid-Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in May 2016, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr Deana Heath (University of Liverpool), Professor Ian Loader (University of Oxford), Dr Martin O’Neill (University of York),  Dr Julie Parsons (Plymouth University), and Dr Sherrill Stroschein (University College London).

13th May 2016

ISRF Essay Prize winner Julie Nelson becomes inaugural editor of the Journal of Business Ethics' new section on Business Ethics and Economics

Professor Julie A Nelson, winner of the 2015 ISRF Essay Prize in Economics and an attendee at the foundations’ November 2015 colloquium ‘Reframing the Moral Foundations of Economics’, has been invited by the Journal of Business Ethics to edit a new section on Business Ethics and Economics.

This section invites discussions of the relationship between economics and business ethics. Conventional economic theories about firms and the people involved in them encourage a very narrow focus on profit and monetary incentives. Yet the reality of business is far more complex, and the consequences of ethical or unethical economic behaviour are far-reaching. How can the discipline of economics—and the teaching of economics within business schools–more adequately address issues of business ethics? Are there concerns of economists, either conventional or critical, that business ethicists should take more seriously? Authors submitting to this section are welcome to explore these questions from philosophical or historical perspectives, offer conceptual insights, and/or use quantitative or qualitative methods of empirical analysis.

Click here for more information and on-line submission.
5th May 2016


Professor Mike Neary & Dr Joss Winn (University of Lincoln), recipients of an ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups award in 2015 for their project Beyond Public and Private: A Model for Co-operative Higher Education, have been awarded a Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Small Development Project grant for a continuation of their research. The 12 month project – Co-operative Leadership in Higher Education – will run until July 2016.

The University of Lincoln School of Social and Political Sciences is currently advertising for a part-time, fixed term Research Assistant to work on this project. The closing date for applications is Friday 13 May 2016 – click here for further details.
4th May 2016

Co-operative Education Conference Paper: Beyond Public and Private - A
Framework for Co-operative Higher Education

Beyond public and private: a framework for co-operative higher educationMike Neary & Joss Winn recently presented a paper and poster at the Co-operative Education Conference in Manchester (21-22 April 2016), which will form the basis for two journal articles to be submitted later in the year.

The paper will also be presented at the ICA 2016 Almeria International Reseach Conference in Spain (24-27 May 2016), and at
the UNIKE Conference: University Futures in Denmark (15-17 June 2016).

30th April 2016

Congratulations to Lara Montesinos Coleman, promoted to Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex

Former ISRF Early Career Fellow Lara Montesinos Coleman – whose ISRF project revolved around the themes of dissent and resistance, the politics of knowledge, feminist theory, and the political sociology of development and violence – has been promoted to Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex.

30th April 2016

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

In celebration of the HAU Books re-release of Marcel Mauss’ The Gift (newly translated by Jane Guyer, and with a new foreword by Bill Maurer), SOAS, University of London hosted a panel discussion – featuring, among others, ISRF Academic Advisor Marilyn Strathern and former ISRF Early Career Fellow Jacob Copeman – to reflect on the question: “What did The Gift give to anthropology and the humanities, and what can it still give?”

29th April 2016

ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups Recipients Martin Scott, Mel Bunce & Katherine Wright Awarded AHRC Funding

Dr Martin Scott (University of East Anglia), Dr Mel Bunce (City University London) and Dr Katherine Wright (Roehampton University), recipients of an ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups award in 2015 for their project The Future of IRIN, have been awarded an AHRC research grant for an expansion of their research. The 21-month project – entitled What is humanitarian news? A multi-sited study of how journalists define, debate and reproduce the boundaries of humanitarianism – will begin in July 2016.

28th April 2016

A threatening personification of freedom or: Sobukwe and repression

Former ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Derek Hook writes in Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies on Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.


What is it that underlies the growing public interest in the figure of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe? Sobukwe has been the subject of a form of historical amnesia – indeed, of a consensus of forgetting – in South Africa for at least the last 20 years. One way of appreciating both the force and importance of the retrieval of this historical legacy is by treating Sobukwe not merely as a biographical narrative or historical persona, but as a signifier. Sobukwe, I argue, functions precisely as a signifier for a cluster of ideas and aspirations routinely excluded – indeed, repressed – from the post-apartheid public sphere. I begin by exploring the various ways in which the signifier Sobukwe has been marginalized, disavowed, reduced (often to a crude form of anti-whiteism), and overwritten by rival political interests. Sobukwe, I suggest, haunts the post-apartheid historical situation; his memory is a reminder of those dimensions of political freedom that remain unattained.Ultimately, however, Sobukwe is not merely a repressed signifier; his name functions as a master signifier for an alternative political future. Sobukwe operates today as one prospective name for a more encompassing project of decolonization that expands beyond the given political and institutional structures of the post-apartheid condition.

28th April 2016


Martin BatesDr Martin Bates (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David), recipient of an ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups award in 2016 for his project Layers in the Landscape: Deep Mapping in Cardigan Bay, is currently leading a team of research staff from the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology in examining a large red deer skull and antlers believed to be around 4000 years old.

This is a wonderful discovery that really brings the forest and its environs to light. It is wonderful that this find was reported to us so that we could recover these remains for scientific study rather than it ending up on the wall in somebody’s house, lost to the world much as it has been for the last 4000 years.

Dr Martin Bates

The ISRF-funded project aims to combine a group of specialists from diverse fields (artist, storyteller, philologist, geoarcheologist, songwriter and poet) to create a new understanding regarding the interplay of flooding facts and fictions in Cardigan Bay. The recent deer skull find may now play a central role in this project.

21st April 2016

Anti-Street Harassment Workshop: Reflecting Diversity in Tactics

Anti-Street Harassment Workshop: Reflecting Diversity in TacticsOn 31 March 2016, a participatory research workshop ‘Anti-Street Harassment Workshop: Reflecting Diversity in Tactics’ was held in Cairo. This workshop was sponsored by the Independent Social Research Foundation and organized by Elisa Wynne-Hughes (Cardiff University), Jutta Weldes and Karen Desborough (University of Bristol). The workshop brought together members of anti-street harassment groups Hollaback! London and HarassMap (Cairo) to compare the strategies they use to address and combat street harassment in different contexts.

14th April 2016

Former ISRF Fellow Martin O'Neill: How to create a more equal society

Former ISRF Early Career Fellow Martin O’Neill  – Social Justice, Predistribution and the Democratization of Capital: Political Theory and the Future of Social Democracy – discussed economist James Meade’s views that public wealth could fund a fairer society in an article posted by the University of York’s research portal.

Martin’s work on wealth sharing featured in The University of York’s research showcase YorkTalks 2016:
12th April 2016

Call for Papers: Art, Activism and Political Violence | Loughborough University | 20-21 September 2016

‘Marche pour Youssef, mort à Calais’ by Marie Magnin, December 5th, 2015

‘Marche pour Youssef, mort à Calais’ by Marie Magnin, December 5th, 2015

Flexible Grants for Small Groups recipients Ruth Kinna & Gillian Whitely will convene a workshop on Art, Activism and Political Violence at the University of Lancaster in September 2016, for which papers are sought (to be submitted by Friday 6th May).

This workshop is the result of a collaboration between colleagues in the Anarchism Research Group and the Politicised Practice Research Group at Loughborough University and is designed to build new relationships between artists and political theorists and to explore questions of political violence and art activism.

31st March 2016

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow Lisa Baraitser awarded Wellcome Trust Seed Funding

Waiting Times: Waiting and Care in the Time of Modernity

Dr Lisa Baraitser (Birkbeck, University of London), recipient of an ISRF Mid-Career Fellowship in 2014 for her project Time Without Qualities, has received a Wellcome Trust Seed Award in in Humanities and Social Science grant for a continuation of her research. The project – Waiting Times: Waiting and Care in the Time of Modernity – will investigate waiting times in relation to mental health, clinical contact time and care, bringing together perspectives from medical humanities, medical history, psychosocial studies, literary studies and new studies of temporality, to think critically about waiting times in mental healthcare provision, the time-space of the GP encounter and practices of care for very elderly people.

30th March 2016

ISRF Colloquium: Reframing the Moral Foundations of Economics

At a meeting at Nice in France – 19-21 November 2015 – the ISRF consulted with a small group of social scientists, students, and others concerned with economics, about ways forward for it as both discipline and profession. What emerged was a strong emphasis on the need for support to methodological pluralism in economics, and for broadening the reach of economics research into areas such as the family and kinship, the firm, business and money; that is, in directions which would naturally involve work with other disciplines. Equally important were the complex and considerable institutional barriers to disciplinary and professional change, and the state of affairs in economics teaching where the student voice is insistent in its demand for a broader and more relevant economics curriculum.

The articles in the latest ISRF Bulletin – Economics: …Serious, But Not Hopeless – were chosen to give a sense of the content of that meeting; of the ideas that were raised, the issues that came up for discussion, the concerns raised about institutional inertia and the over-narrow education and professional formation of future economists. The conversations begun at Nice are a first step in an ongoing process of consultation which the ISRF will continue.

29th March 2016

Canada could join the space resource race – or take the high road

Writing in Canadian national newspaper The Globe and Mail, former ISRF Early Career Fellow Audra Mitchell and co-author Jessica West discuss the race to claim ownership of outer space minerals.

The Space Act was specifically designed to generate a race for space minerals by stimulating competition and private investment in space flight and space-based mining technologies. Michael Byers of the University of British Columbia recently called for Canada to create similar legislation to maintain dominance as a mining country. But we argue that Canada should, instead, lead in developing new frameworks for the peaceful and sustainable use of outer space.

11th March 2016

ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups Announced

In October 2015, the ISRF launched its second Flexible Grants for Small Groups competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, a pool of independent external assessors supported the funding of twelve projects.

The successful projects were:

26th February 2016

Is IR going extinct?

Former ISRF Early Career Fellow Audra Mitchell writes in the European Journal of International Relations on biopolitics, extinction, International Relations theory, ontology, posthumanism & survival.

European Journal of International RelationsAbstract

A global extinction crisis may threaten the survival of most existing life forms. Influential discourses of ‘existential risk’ suggest that human extinction is a real possibility, while several decades of evidence from conservation biology suggests that the Earth may be entering a ‘sixth mass extinction event’. These conditions threaten the possibilities of survival and security that are central to most branches of International Relations. However, this discipline lacks a framework for addressing (mass) extinction. From notions of ‘nuclear winter’ and ‘omnicide’ to contemporary discourses on catastrophe, International Relations thinking has treated extinction as a superlative of death. This is a profound category mistake: extinction needs to be understood not in the ontic terms of life and death, but rather in the ontological context of be(com)ing and negation. Drawing on the work of theorists of the ‘inhuman’ such as Quentin Meillassoux, Claire Colebrook, Ray Brassier, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Nigel Clark, this article provides a pathway for thinking beyond existing horizons of survival and imagines a profound transformation of International Relations. Specifically, it outlines a mode of cosmopolitics that responds to the element of the inhuman and the forces of extinction. Rather than capitulating to narratives of tragedy, this cosmopolitics would make it possible to think beyond the restrictions of existing norms of ‘humanity’ to embrace an ethics of gratitude and to welcome the possibility of new worlds, even in the face of finitude.

1st January 2016

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellowships Awarded

In July 2015, the ISRF launched its third Independent Scholar Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in December 2015, and voted to make three awards.

The recipients were Dr Paul Dobraszczyk (University of Manchester), Dr Alessandra Gribaldo (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia), and Dr Nina Moeller (University of Oxford).

31st December 2015

On Names in South Asia: Iteration,(Im) propriety and Dissimulation

On Names in South Asia: Iteration, (Im)propriety and Dissimulation

Credit: Sandeep Saxena/The Hindu

Former ISRF Early Career Fellow Jacob Copeman has co-edited (with Veena Das) a special issue of the South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, entitled ‘On Names in South Asia: Iteration, (Im)propriety and Dissimulation’.

23rd December 2015

UPDATED: Audio Interviews with ISRF Fellows

ISRF Editorial Assistant Dr Rachael Kiddey speaks with ISRF Fellows past and present, to discuss their research and their time as ISRF Fellows.

New in December 2015: interviews with Lisa Baraitser, Jacob Copeman, Jonathan Hearn, Julia Laite, Maja Petrovic-Šteger, and Jayne Raisborough.

16th November 2015

Interview with Professor Olivier Favereau

ISRF Editorial Assistant Dr Rachael Kiddey spoke with Professor Olivier Favereau from the University of Paris West to discuss French Nobel Prize winner Jean Tirole’s intervention in the opening of a new academic department of economics.

30th September 2015

Inaugural Conference on Cultural Political Economy: Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow Dr Joel Lazarus presented his paper Cultivating Self-Belief and Educated Hope: Toward a Contemporary Radical Democratic Practical Theory of and for Transformative Art at the Inaugural Conference on Cultural Political Economy, hosted by the Lancaster University, 1-2 September 2015.

1st September 2015

ISRF Early Career Research Fellowships Announced

In January 2015, the ISRF launched its third Early Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in June 2015, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr Nishat Awan (University of Sheffield), Dr Oche Onazi (University of Dundee), Dr Patrick Overeem (Leiden University), Dr Illan rua Wall (University of Warwick), and Dr Jay Wiggan (University of Edinburgh).

30th June 2015

2015 ISRF Essay Prize in Economics Awarded to Professor Julie Nelson

The Independent Social Research Foundation and the Cambridge Journal of Economics awarded the 2015 ISRF Essay Prize in Economics to Professor Julie A. Nelson (University of Massachusetts, Boston) for her essay Husbandry: A (Feminist) Reclamation of Masculine Responsibility for Care, published online in the Cambridge Journal of Economics’ advance access listing in Autumn 2015.

1st May 2015

ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups Announced

In November 2014, the ISRF launched its first Flexible Grants for Small Groups competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, a pool of independent external assessors supported the funding of nine projects.

The successful projects were:

Joel Lazarus & Joy White
Joel Lazarus & Joy White
1st January 2015

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellowships Awarded

In July 2014, the ISRF launched its second Independent Scholar Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in December 2014, and voted to make two awards.

The recipients were Dr Joel Lazarus (University of Warwick) and Dr Joy White (University of Greenwich).

30th June 2014


In January 2014, the ISRF launched its second Mid-Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in June 2014, and voted to make six awards.

The recipients were Dr Sarah Amsler (University of Lincoln), Dr Lisa Baraitser (Birkbeck, University of London), Dr Matt ffytche(University of Essex), Dr Richard Powell (University of Oxford), Dr Jayne Raisborough (University of Brighton), and Professor Martin Thomas (University of Exeter).

28th May 2014

2014 ISRF Essay Prize in Social Theory Awarded to Professor Kenneth Gergen

The Independent Social Research Foundation and the Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour awarded the 2014 ISRF Essay Prize in Social Theory to Professor Kenneth J Gergen (Swarthmore College) for his essay From Mirroring to World-Making: Research as Future Forming.

Kenneth Gergen
Maja Petrović-Šteger & David Reece
Maja Petrović-Šteger & David Reece
1st October 2013

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellowships Awarded

In August 2013, the ISRF launched its first Independent Scholar Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in September 2013, and voted to make two awards.

The recipients were Dr Maja Petrović-Šteger (Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) and Dr David Reece (University of Lancaster).

30th June 2013

ISRF Early Career Fellowships Awarded

In January 2013, the ISRF launched its second Early Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in June 2013, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr Kimberley Brownlee (University of Warwick), Dr Lara Coleman (University of Sussex), Dr Julia Laite(Birkbeck, University of London), Dr Audra Mitchell (University of York), and Dr Martin O’Neill (University of York).

30th November 2012

ISRF Mid-Career Fellowships Awarded

In May 2012, the ISRF launched its first Mid-Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in November 2012, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr David Graeber (Goldsmiths, University of London), Dr Jonathan Hearn (Edinburgh University), Dr Derek Hook (Birkbeck, University of London), Professor Matt Matravers (York University), and Professor Pál Nyiri (Vrije University of Amsterdam).

31st January 2012

ISRF Early Career Fellowships Awarded

In August 2011, the ISRF launched its first Early Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in January 2012, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr Jacob Copeman (University of Edinburgh), Dr Bregje De Kok (Queen Margaret University, Belfast), Dr Oliver Dowlen (Queen Mary, University of London) , Dr Juliane Reinecke (University of Warwick), and Dr Andrea Ruggeri (University of Amsterdam).