In January 2021, the ISRF launched its sixth Early Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, a selection panel met in September 2021 and nominated six projects for funding.
Eighth Independent Scholar Fellowship Competition
Scholars from within Europe – up to 10 years post-PhD – were eligible to apply for funding, for projects of up to one year. Awards were made to:
Thank you to everyone who participated in our selection process, across long-listing, external assessment, and the final selection panel. We are indebted to the academic community who continued to lend their time and expertise in these challenging times.
Disrupting Genocide: Restoring the ‘Potential History’ of the Rohingya
Over the last five decades, the world in which the Rohingya community from Myanmar (Burma) once existed has been destroyed. Today, nearly all visual representations of the Rohingya portray a people defined by displacement, violence, victimhood and genocide. An alternative visual history of the Rohingya has been totally lost.
Drawing on photographs, documents, letters and illustrations displaced and fragmented across the Rohingya diaspora or buried and lying dormant in public and private archives, this project aims to contribute toward re-visualizing a history that remains absent from the public sphere. The project will explore and locate these artefacts and assemble and present an alternative visual portrait and form to Rohingya history. It seeks to facilitate in the ‘unlearning’ of Rohingya identity currently fixed in contemporary visual representations of the Rohingya and present a ‘potential history’ of the Rohingya within the collective memory of those in Burma and beyond.
Youth Futures in the Caribbean: Unsettling the Coloniality of Global Mental Health through Desire-Based Research
Colonial power has (dis)ordered the world as we know and live in it, as well as our prevailing notions of “modernity,” “development,” and even existence. Amidst this reality, youth voices on present-day climate and health crises are going unheard. Indeed, the disavowal of the political agency, aspirations, and dreams of young people regarding the co-creation of socially-just and environmentally-sustainable futures remains a persistent issue of exclusion. Moreover, the insights young people have about correcting enduring historical injustices and ideas they hold about living well in the Anthropocene continue to be dismissed in policy and scholarship. This is especially the case for youth from negatively racialised and marginalised communities in the Majority World/Global South. As a response and via “desire-based” methods developed with co-researchers in the Caribbean, this participatory project will expand knowledge on youth futures by unsettling liberal-Eurocentric conceptions of wellness, sustainability, and “global health” with Indigenous and Afrodescendant youth.
The Freeport Paradox: Crime, Harm and Reregulation in Special Economic Zones
The Freeport Paradox is a pioneering interdisciplinary study of the UK’s freeports during the first stages of their implementation. It will address the following questions:
1. What are the spatial and temporal dynamics of the global SEZ model?
2. How are freeports designed and through what institutional support do they gain traction?
3. What forms of crime, harm and corruption does the global SEZ model tend to engender, and will the UK face similar social and environmental challenges?
4. How will channels of cooperation between key stakeholders and publics take place in the UK’s freeports? Are new partnerships and institutional arrangements needed to effectively (re)regulate the zones?
The project aims to advance both interdisciplinary academic work and foster cross-sector collaborations and policy recommendations in this important emerging area.This includes the design and dissemination of a penetrative conceptual framework for researchers and a set of regulatory measures for policy makers, practitioners and publics. The methodological approach draws together and critically evaluates both official accounts and the voices of community members and activists to offer a holistic picture for policy intervention. This will involve triangulating data from previous work on global illicit markets, a critical review of the interdisciplinary academic and grey literature, and in-depth interviews with stakeholders and community members living and working in and around the UK’s new freeports.
Political Gambling: Uncertainty, Prediction and the Biggest Game of All
Political Gambling vivisects 21st Century politics by bringing together critical gambling studies, anthropology, political science, and economics. It starts with a hypothesis: an upsurge in political betting during our snowballing ecological, democratic, health and economic crises reveals a profound collective anxiety about our fragile future, and the drive to profit from fear. Exploiting emerging technologies, the gambling industry has moved into decaying high streets, onto our personal devices and into politics. This project studies political gambling and the resulting ‘prediction markets,’ where ideological beliefs, historical trends and national moods are all condensed down to prices, blunting political difference. The project ethnographically researches the market-makers, bookies, bloggers, academics, political analysts, punters and arbitragers as they negotiate volatile currents of opinion, interests and insider knowledge. It aims to uncover why gambling on politics is surging and how market speculation refracts political understanding in a time of existential crisis.
Respiratory in/justice: Breathing in global social and environmental crises and the politics of shared vulnerability
Respiratory Justice offers a novel conceptualisation of breath and breathing as connecting key twenty-first century crises of climate, health, and racial injustice. By tracing breath’s rhythms and recurrences across an array of places, organisms, policies, and social movements, the project charts new connections in social and political theory through the corporeal experience of everyday life. This project moves beyond ideas of bodily sovereignty and legal autonomy (e.g. the human right to breathe) towards a novel conceptualisation of shared vulnerability, at once social, planetary and corporeal. By bringing together original historical material, scientific expertise, policy documents, and public discourse on breath and air, and through a blend of historical and contemporary cases, the project develops an embodied conceptualisation of pressing global social and environmental crises.
The Threshold of Criminalisation: Cartographies of State Vulnerabilities and Anti-Colonial Resistance in Israel
The project sets to develop a nuanced understanding of processes of formal and informal criminalisation in Israel, here regarded as a ‘liberal settler state’, and their operation on the state’s most privileged groups. In so doing, it investigates key aspects of political activism and notions of legality and criminality and unravels the logic behind the increasing repression of Jewish-Israeli dissidents in recent years, as indicated by recent legislation; the growing incitement against them by politicians and right-wing organisations; and the growing number of prosecutions of political activists. By tracing the shifting threshold of criminalisation, we gain a window into the precarity of such systems of power and how they can be challenged and transformed. Through this case study, a wider contribution to the study of resistance, criminalisation and settler colonial studies will be made, pointing to the links between the efficacy of resistance and growing state repression.
If you would like to contact any of our Grantees to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at firstname.lastname@example.org.