Posted on 31 December 2022 in awards, news

Collaborative Fellowships Competition – Awards Made

In November 2021, the ISRF launched its first Collaborative Fellowships competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, a selection panel nominated three projects for award.

First Collaborative Fellowships Competition

Pairs of researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds were eligible to apply. Awards were made to:

Thank you to everyone who participated in our selection processes, across long-listing, external assessment, and the final selection panel. We are indebted to the academic community who continue to lend their time and expertise in these challenging times.

Project Abstracts

Beyond Disasters: The Discourse of Resilience in a Sinking Jakarta

Angelika Fortuna & Dewi Tan

In the last decade, Northern Jakarta sank a staggering 2.5 meters, earning a notorious reputation as the world’s fastest sinking city. Spatially, the issue is exacerbated by rapid urbanization where booming economic activities and built-up areas accelerate the demand for water exploitation. While these findings explain the anthropogenic factors of groundwater extraction, limitations lie as follows; if centralized piped systems are a core municipal issue, then we need to understand how institutional governance perpetuates unequal distribution of piped systems by examining Jakarta during the colonial period through Western-centric resilience paradigms, embedded in technocratic interventions crafted by colonial administrators. Attention largely remains on the technical actions that local communities can undertake to respond to an environmental crisis, rather than on the structural forces that perpetuate the cause. Therefore, the question of both socio-historical and infrastructure resilience is called to question amidst an invisible yet visceral disaster in the making. We argue that resilience is a process of transformation; it has historical approaches, living narratives, shifting concepts, and how these transcend into the future, determining a path dependency to disaster praxis. Thus the technocratic solutions are rather simplistic and partial to achieve collective resilience. At the same time, this project raises the question of what it takes to mitigate impacts of land subsidence and what are the steps cities have taken to address this issue. This is not limited to technical infrastructural interventions but also sociopolitical implementations that are entangled with the issues surrounding urban planning.

Mitigation or Adaptation to Climate Change? In search of a Sustainable Development Trajectory for post-colonial Zimbabwe

Dr Nelson Chanza & Dr Eric Makombe

This study focuses on and engages with recent global environmental scholarly debates on the best-suited option that a less developed country such as Zimbabwe can adopt between adaptation and mitigation measures that simultaneously ensure sustainable long-term development. Zimbabwe, despite its low carbon footprint, is disproportionately impacted by climate change as evinced by the worst tropical cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere, i.e. the 2019 Cyclone Idai, which caused severe flooding in the country and its neighbours, Mozambique and Malawi, and a humanitarian catastrophe of deaths, crops, livestock, and infrastructure loss. This makes our research agenda urgent and relevant. The study privileges analysis of rich primary and secondary data available from semi-structured oral interviews with both expert informants and ‘ordinary’ peoples experiencing climate change, contemporary reports, journal articles, and books. The project adopts qualitative and comparative methods (with other countries in Southern Africa), case studies, and sustainable livelihood approaches. Much evidence will be collected using multiple sources; content analysis, archival/library documentary research, and participant observation. This research seeks to fill a dearth of knowledge on the nexus between sustainable development and climate change in Zimbabwe. We argue that approaches that focus on global or regional dimensions to these issues, while important, disguise other more mundane and specific local environmental problems. Further, the impact of climate change on sustainable development should be differentiated and considered discretely. In the process, our proposed study makes a historically nuanced evaluation of the extent to which local livelihoods and the environment are impacted by political economy considerations as well as proffering practicable working solutions that are both sustainable in the medium to long-term and cost-effective.

The forces of life and the energies of mind: The mobilization of concepts of force and energy in the life and psychological sciences in the 18th and 19th century

Dr Leonardo Niro & Dr Bruno Rates

Inspired by the success of Newtonian analytical mechanics and thermodynamics, in the 18th and 19th centuries life scientists made use of concepts of force and energy to understand vital phenomena. When applied to the specificity of living beings, however, the concepts underwent important changes. With the establishment of scientific psychology in the 19th, we observe a similar movement in the treatment of psychic phenomena, especially considering the physiological training of most pioneer psychologists. The group intends to investigate the intricacies of this history, having as background the continuities and ruptures between the tortuous path of constitution of biology as an autonomous discipline and the positive approach to psychological processes.

Within the context of “crisis” and fragmentation of science in the 19th century, energy conservation provided an over-arching natural law, unifying all the sciences. These concepts, we maintain, provided a unifying conceptual framework tying together disciplines such as psychology, sociology, human physiology, medical practices, and political economy to the natural sciences. This history, however, bears an antecedent in the constitution of the life sciences in the 18th century, when dynamic concepts have equally played a structuring role in the formation of the Sciences of Man – and, in particular, in the debate classically defined as between mechanism vs vitalism. In conceiving the human in dynamic and energetic terms, the concepts of force and energy were not simply transplanted but transformed. These concepts, we contend, were assimilated with other traditions, generating concepts adapted to local purposes and practices, while maintaining its function of common currency – whereby allowing the concepts to be circulated within widely different domains, thus fertilising the generation of various epistemic practices.

Contacting Grantees

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 [email protected].