The second phase of the interdisciplinary Philomathia Social Sciences Research Programme, a collaboration between the Philomathia Foundation and the University, has been launched to enable further pioneering work in addressing some of the major issues facing humanity today.
SUMMARY OF PHASE 1 (2013-2018)
Faculty of History (2013/14)
Historicising the Measurement of Inequality
PI – Dr Pedro Ramos Pinto
In my current work I am interested in understanding how contemporary inequalities are shaped by the past, bringing a more long-term view to explain how and why societies distribute resources, opportunities and capabilities. As part of this, I direct a research network on the topic of Inequality and History, which was started by an AHRC grant. Most recently I worked with Dr Poornima Paidipaty on the history of the measurement of inequality, supported by a grant from the Philomathia Trust. During 2018-2019 I will be a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics. I am also interested in the history and political economy of welfare. One aspect of this concerns the creation, evolution and implications of authoritarian welfare regimes in Southern Europe and Latin America. This has evolved from earlier work which explored the interaction between the Portuguese Dictatorship and its citizens to explain the emergence of social movements of the urban poor during the Carnation Revolution (1974-1976), a theme which is explored in my book Lisbon Rising (2013).In addition, I continue to have an interest on the study of social movements and protest, both in historical and in contemporary perspective.
Fellow- Dr Poornima Paidipaty
I hold a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University as well as an MA from Jawaharlal Nehru University and a BA from Yale University. My academic work focuses on the intersections of decolonization, governance, and modern social science. As part of the Philomathia funded project, ‘The Measure of Inequality’, I am currently researching the history and legacy of statistics and planning in postcolonial India. Alongside this work, I am completing a book, Tribal Nation, which explores the history of anthropology in the Indian subcontinent and charts the relationship between military science, political culture, and citizenship in India’s tribal borderlands.
Prior to coming to Cambridge, I was a member of the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago. In addition to the generous sponsorship through Philomathia, my work has been supported by the Isaac Newton Trust, the British Academy, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the School for Advanced Research, and the American Institute for Indian Studies.
The widening gap between India’s rich and poor is captured by the National Sample Survey (NSS), an organization founded in 1950, which gathers data from roughly 14,000 Indian villages and localities to provide a snapshot of how the population at large is faring. The NSS and its pioneering role in the measurement of poverty and inequality are some of the important subjects to explore how different modern societies have gauged social and economic disparity.
As a nation, India is undergoing a profound transformation, but rapid growth has come hand in hand with rising inequality as well as growing disparity between rural and urban areas. NSS data remains one of the best resources for understanding and tracking these changes. As more of this information circulates in the public domain, it becomes all the more crucial to appreciate how such data is produced. Paidipaty’s work on the history of the NSS offers a fascinating glimpse into one of the most significant and early mid-century precursors to contemporary developments in big data.
Summary of project
In July 2017, we held an international research conference at Cambridge University entitled Measuring Matters, which brought together leading scholars in economics, international history, sociology, anthropology and gender studies to examine the history and politics of measuring inequality. In addition to generous funds from the Philomathia Foundation, we were able to raise more than £7,000 for this event from CRASSH, the Economic History Society and the History Faculty’s Ellen McArthur Trust. Our keynote speakers were Alice O’Conner (UCSB) and Sanjay Reddy (New School University). On the final evening of our conference we held a public event that featured Sanjay Reddy in conversation with Ha-Joon Chang (Cambridge) and Omar Khan (Runnymede Trust).
The History of Political Economy has accepted our proposal to collect and publish the conference papers as a special issue of their journal. 9 essays from this event have been submitted for peer review (including an article by Dr. Paidipaty). The issue is scheduled for publication in May 2020. It will include an introductory essay by Dr. Ramos Pinto and Dr. Paidipaty, as well as an afterword by Dr. Sanjay Reddy.
Dr. Ramos Pinto and Dr. Paidipaty are finalizing plans for a book on the history of inequality, tentatively titled Inequality: A Global History. This work will incorporate many of the insights gleaned from the Measuring Inequality conferences and MPhil course at Cambridge. We are in conversation with both CUP and Princeton about publishing this work, and expect to deliver the finished manuscript by December 2021.
Department of Sociology (2013/14)
(In)fertility, Education and Reproductive Health
PIs – Prof Jacqueline Scott and Prof Sarah Franklin
Professor Jacqueline Scott trained at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where she received her PhD in 1987. She has held a variety of survey related positions before joining the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (now HSPS) in 1994. Jackie was the Director of the Detroit Area Study, from 1989-1990; and Director of the ESRC Centre on Micro-Social Change, at the University of Essex from 1990-1994, where she was responsible for the initial design and implementation of the British Household Panel Study (now Understanding Society). Jackie was a Guest Professor, Zentrum für Umfragen, Methoden und Analysen (ZUMA). Mannheim, Germany (1993, 2005).
From 2004-2010 she was the Director of the ESRC Research Priority Network on Gender Inequalities in Production and Reproduction. This was the largest research multi-disciplinary network of its kind in the UK. Jackie co-ordinated projects across eight British universities that investigated different aspects of the way women and men’s roles and lifestyles have changed. The common goal of the Network was to understand why gender inequalities remains one of the most pressing social issues of our time and to identify ways that greater equality may be achieved.
Professor Sarah Franklin moved from the London School of Economics to take up the Chair of Sociology at Cambridge in October 2011. In 2012 she received awards from the Wellcome Trust, ESRC, and British Academy to establish the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc) which has since gone on to become one of the leading research centres in the rapidly expanding field of reproductive studies.
Fellow – Dr Nitzan Peri-Rotem
I hold an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Communication (2005) and a Master’s degree in Demography and Anthropology (2009) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2015, I completed a DPhil in Sociology at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. Before moving to the UK, I gained experience working as Head of Branch for Social Statistical Analyses at the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. In 2014, I was appointed as Philomathia Research Associate at the University of Cambridge until June 2017, when I took the position of a Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Exeter.
I continue to collaborate with Professor Franklin and the Reproductive Sociology Research Group in Cambridge on various projects, including the new interdisciplinary research project ‘Changing (In)Fertilities’, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust and is aimed at exploring how assisted reproductive technologies are changing the ways in which fertility and infertility are perceived and practiced.
Summary of project
The research project ‘(In)Fertility, Education and Reproductive Health’ explored recent trends in reproductive behaviour in the UK and the rest of Europe amid global demographic, societal and technological developments of the past decades. In particular, the increase in women’s education, has been one of the major driving forces of changing fertility patterns, including the ongoing rise in age at first birth. These trends have important implications for population ageing in Europe, as well as for individuals’ ability to fulfil their own fertility aspirations. As part of this project, we analysed data from the British Household Panel Survey and the UK Household Longitudinal Study to examine changes in union formation and fertility patterns among men and women in Britain from 1991 to 2012. We found that marriage rates are declining more steeply among individuals with secondary or lower level of education compared to highly educated people, and that childbearing outside a stable union continues to be disproportionately higher among low educated women in Britain. These patterns both reflect and preserve social inequalities, since children growing up in non-intact families tend to have poorer life prospects compared to those living in more stable settings.
The findings from this study were presented by Dr Peri-Rotem in several international academic conferences, including the European Sociological Association, Vienna Institute of Demography and the British Society for Population Studies. Apart from the research work on education and fertility, in May 2016, we hosted an international forum in Cambridge on ‘Changing Fertility: Social, Demographic and Ethical Consequences of Assisted Reproductive Technologies’. This forum has brought together academic scholars, health professionals and members of non-governmental organizations to discuss the consequences of ART use on fertility patterns in post-industrialized societies. The forum has also formed the basis for a position paper, describing the spread of IVF use across Europe and its potential implications for fertility and public health, as well as recommended policies to address infertility. This paper was presented by Dr Peri-Rotem at the 3rd Annual Philomathia Symposium, as part of an organized session on ‘Reproduction in an Era of Bio-Tech Revolution’ which was chaired by Professor Sarah Franklin.
Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) (2014/15)
The consequences of the politics of austerity in the EU
PI – Helen Thompson
I am a Professor of Political Economy. I have been at Cambridge since 1994 and am at present Deputy Head of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences. I’m a regular panellist on Talking Politics. My present work is focused on the historical origins of the post-2008 economic and political world and the crises it is generating for western countries. More particularly my recent work covers the political economy of oil, Brexit and the euro zone crisis.
Fellow – Juan Munoz-Portillo
In 2013, I received my PhD in Politics and International Relations from Dublin City University. Prior to moving to Cambridge I was a Post-doctoral Fellow at Dublin City University. Between 2014 and 2017 I worked with Prof Andrew Gamble, Dr Helen Thompson and Dr Pieter van Houten on the project “The consequences of the politics of austerity in the European Union”. This project consisted of two parts. The first stage documented and analysed the specific ways in which states in the EU have implemented fiscal austerity programs. The second stage analysed various social and political consequences of the politics of austerity. My research interests lie in comparative political economy and international political economy, in particular, but not solely, electoral systems and the behaviour of legislators, the influence of political institutions on public spending, and politics and sovereign debt.
After leaving the University of Cambridge in September 2017, I returned to Costa Rica, where I worked during one year as an adjunct staff member of the School of Political Science of the University of Costa Rica. During that time I also worked as a consultant for the Latin American Faculty of the Social Sciences (FLACSO) and the Latin American Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. I have been recently appointed, in January 2019, lecturer of International Politics at the School of Political Science of the University of Costa Rica. I expect to continue my research on fiscal austerity policies in the European Union. I also aim to apply my understanding of fiscal austerity policies developed during the course of the Philomathia project to the Latin American context, using the methodology myself and my principal supervisor in Cambridge applied.
Summary of project
The project ‘The consequences of the politics of austerity in the European Union’ officially terminated on 30 September 2017. During this time two papers were prepared and two international conferences were attended. At the time of writing, Pieter van Houten, one of the principal investigators, is engaged in leading collaborative papers arising from the project. We expect to get them published in the near future.
In our Report of activities 2015 – 2016 we reported that we decided to adopt a narrative approach for our analysis of austerity policies in EU member states. A narrative method consists of the study of official records and sometimes news, based on theoretically defined criteria, seeking to identify policy decisions that are motivated by the intentions of authorities to reduce deficits and public debt, and not by other confounding factors. In other words, it is a way of isolating the effect of fiscal consolidation decisions from other variables that might simultaneously be having an influence on changes in public revenues and expenditures.
They presented this paper at the 7th Annual Conference of the European Political Science Association, held in Milan on 22–24 June 2017. Juan and Pieter, with the support of the Philomathia Programme, organised the panel ‘Comparative Approaches to the Study of Causes and Consequences of Fiscal Austerity Policies in the European Union’ that was presented at the Council of European Studies’ 24th International Conference of Europeanists, held in Glasgow on 12-14 July 2017. Prof Klaus Armingeon of the University of Bern and Prof Stefano Sacchi of the University of Milan, presented the paper ‘Austerity. Where and Why Politics Still Matters’ at this panel. Dr Michael Breen (Dublin City University) gave the paper ‘Daily Judgement: Political News and Financial Markets’. Also in this panel Juan and Pieter presented their work ‘Explaining the Magnitude and Composition of Fiscal Austerity Episodes in the European Union.’ Each of these papers was discussed by Prof Sebastian Dellepiane-Avellaneda of the University of Glasgow. All of the presenters and the discussant have published their research on austerity policies in Europe in important political science journals (Armingeon 2012; McMenamin, Breen, and Muñoz-Portillo 2015; Dellepiane-Avellaneda and Hardiman 2014)
Faculty of Law (2015/16)
The Law of Energy Transitions
PI – Prof Jorge Vinuales
I hold the Harold Samuel Chair of Law and Environmental Policy at the University of Cambridge and is the founder and former Director of the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance (C-EENRG). I’m also the Chairman of the Compliance Committee of the UN-ECE/WHO-Europe Protocol on Water and Health, a member of the Panel of Arbitrators of the Shanghai International Arbitration Centre and the Director-General of the Latin American Society of International Law. Prior to joining Cambridge, I was the Pictet Chair of International Environmental Law at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, where I keep a limited affiliation as Adjunct Professor of Public International Law.
I have a wide experience as a practitioner, both in an advisory and a litigation context. I was associate, counsel and of counsel with two major law firms specialised in international law for a decade. In addition to this work for the UNECE/WHO, I have served as arbitrator, counsel, expert and, earlier in my career, as secretary of arbitration tribunals in inter-State, investment and commercial disputes. I regularly advise governments, companies, international organisations or major NGOs on different matters of environmental law, investment law, human rights, maritime delimitation and public international law at large.
Fellow – Dr Leslie-Anne Duvic-Paoli
I am a Lecturer at The Dickson Poon School of Law. Before joining King’s College London in August 2017, I was Philomathia Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge. I am a public international lawyer, with expertise in international environmental law and climate and energy law. I am particularly interested in understanding the nature and content of its principles: her monograph, entitled The Prevention Principle in International Environmental Law, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. A recording of the book launch event held at King’s in October 2018 is available here.
My research also looks at the energy transition to a low-carbon economy from an international and comparative law perspective. I work on the global legal implications of energy democratisation and the importance of participatory mechanisms in the design of inclusive energy systems. In addition, I’m starting a new research agenda on the ‘water-energy-food’ nexus in global governance: it investigates the gap between, on the one hand, its increasing relevance as a theoretical concept describing the interconnections between complex systems and presented as a solution to foster sustainable development; and, on the other hand, the limited interactions between specialized international legal regimes.
I hold Master’s degrees in international relations / political science from Sciences Po Paris and in public law from the University of Panthéon-Sorbonne, and a PhD (summa cum laude) in international law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.
Summary of project
The PI brought a visiting Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA), Dr Tibisay Morgandi, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, whose research was closely aligned with the subject of the Project and was further supported with a small grant from the Philomathia Foundation to build a database. Dr Morgandi was also able to secure a permanent position (a Lectureship) in the University of London (Queen Mary) starting in September 2018, largely due to her involvement in the activities on global energy governance emerging from the project. This is another indication of the success of the Project in launching the career of aspiring academics. The PI secured a small grant from the Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme to hire a part-time PDRA, Dr Maria Augusta Paim, to complete some of the data collection work initially envisioned for the third year of the Project. This work is still ongoing.
In addition to launching the career of aspiring academics, the Project resulted (1) in a stream of important publications on energy governance, (2) in the organization of several events, including two high-profile ones, and (3) in some enduring extensions in the form of a Platform and Research Network, a Database on bilateral energy agreements, and subsequent research projects.
Department of Land Economy (2015/16)
Realising Genomic Medicine
PI – Dr Kathy Liddell
I undertook my doctorate in law at the University of Oxford focussing on the regulation of controversial genetic technologies in morally pluralist societies. In addition to substantial experience in academia, I worked in private legal practice and in public sector legal services for a health department. This work history has provided me with a solid knowledge of commercial realities and needs, as well as experience in legal policymaking. I have degrees in law and science from the University of Melbourne and bioethics from Monash University, and is a strong advocate of interdisciplinary research.
My research focuses on health, medicine and society, with the aim of understanding and improving the legal frameworks that govern and support innovation in this field. A key theme in my research is to examine ways in which intellectual property rights help and hinder the translation of medical discoveries into effective, affordable clinical treatments and diagnoses, and how such frameworks could be modified to be more effective and just. Currently, I’m involved with an international collaboration which aims to investigate intellectual property law in five areas of bioinnovation: (i) repurposing pharmaceuticals; (ii) antibiotics; (iii) biologics; (iv) rare diseases; and (v) machine-learning based precision medicine.
Fellow – Dr John Liddicoat
I was the Philomathia Research Associate in Law at the University of Cambridge. I was working on a research project analysing intellectual property issues that interface with the realisation of genomic medicine. My research was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Cambridge University and the Philomathia Foundation. I adopt a variety of research methodologies including doctrinal legal research and established empirical methods, as well as developing new, science-inspired quantitative methods.
The Philomathia project was very beneficial for my career and the development of the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences (LML). The Centre was established just prior to the commencement of the Philomathia project, and is now collaborating with an elite group of research centres on a range of topics. At the conclusion of the Philomathia Fellowship, I began a new position on 30 November 2018 as a Senior Research Associate with the Law Faculty at the University of Cambridge. This is a more senior role and is part of a large international research collaboration between Cambridge University, Harvard University, Copenhagen University and Michigan University. The collaboration is led by Professor Timo Minssen at the University of Copenhagen, who was inspired to work with LML after seeing its work on the Philomathia project. Furthermore, many of the lines of enquiry which commenced with the Philomathia project continue to be pursued in the international collaboration.
Alongside the collaborative research, I also continued some independent research. Notably I published several articles based on my PhD thesis, and co-authored work with colleagues around the world. I have had the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong during my tenure as Philomathia Fellow. Together with colleagues from the LML, I was the guest of Professor Terry Kaan at the Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, HKU, Dr Anthony Ng (WYNG Foundation) and Dr Ron Zimmern (Hatton Trust). This was a terrific trip, and a good opportunity for our Philomathia research team to present its research results in Hong Kong.
Summary of project
Genomic medicine is an emerging discipline that involves using genetic information about a patient as part of their clinical care. Since the sequencing of the human genome, a key goal has been to make genomic medicine an everyday reality. However, scientific research that recognises a correlation between genetic make-up and a future health outcome is not enough. Considerably more research is necessary to understand how genes, drugs and other environmental factors work together, and how they work in particular individuals. This research involves complex and high-powered data analysis, and resource-intensive translation into effective molecular test and drug-test combinations. It is a multi-faceted challenge with scientific, regulatory, legal, ethical and financial aspects. In this project we were investigating two topics in which intellectual property (IP) laws support, and potentially hinder, the realisation of clinically-useful genomic developments.
Overall, the project has been successful beyond our expectations. We have published (or have in review) nine peer-reviewed articles, three in Nature Biotechnology, and several more to be submitted for publication shortly. We’ve also organised six symposia or workshops, advised government on several issues tied to our project, and obtained seven grants (totalling around £66,000).
In summary, the Philomathia Fellowship provided an inspiring and productive three years for our research, collaboration, centre development, and engagement in broader society. We are most grateful to the Philomathia Foundation for making it all possible.
Phase 2 (2018-23)
Department of Geography (2018-21)
PI – Dr Bhaskar Vira
My research interests centre on the changing political economy of environment and development, especially in South Asia; with a particular interest in the political ecology of forests, water, food, wildlife and landuse change and the social and political context for biodiversity conservation.
I am concerned, in particular, with the often-hidden costs of environmental and developmental processes, and the need for scholarship to draw attention to the distributional consequences of public policy choices. My work focuses on the ways in which large-scale economic, societal and environmental transformations are governed, the values that frame how human societies engage with each other and with nature, and the networks of formal and informal institutions that are intertwined in everyday decision making across a variety of spatial and temporal scales. I apply a critical political economy perspective to contemporary debates in relation to ecosystem services and natural capital, and the values of nature for human wellbeing.
I have led large scale intellectual and policy-oriented projects that involve interdisciplinary conversations across the natural and social sciences. Trained as an economist, but with a portfolio of research that now engages across the critical social sciences and their interface with the biological and environmental natural sciences, I inhabit the interdisciplinary intellectual ‘borderlands’ of a number of disciplines (Human Geography, Development Studies, Institutional Economics, Environmental Studies and Conservation), while being firmly rooted in the political economy tradition.
Fellow – Dr Katarzyna Cieslik
I am a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, specializing in Development Studies. My research focuses on the interactions among society, policy and environment, and their implications for sustainable development in the Global South. In particular, I’m interested in agency, entrepreneurship and civic potency of individuals in addressing the pressing development challenges related to sustainable livelihoods. I have recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Wageningen University and hold a PhD in Development Economics and Management from the Université libre de Bruxelles. I have conducted research in Ethiopia, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Colombia and Burundi. I’ve published on topics ranging from microfinance and entrepreneurship to social economy and development policy in World Development, Oxford Development Studies Journal and European Journal for Development Research.
My research is highly practice-oriented; I have cooperated with UNICEF Burundi Innovation Lab agencies as well as a number of local NGOs in South America (CONDESAN, AGAPE) and Asia (Practical Action, Mountain Societies Research Institute).
Summary of project
Dr. Cieslik’s work at Cambridge, together with Professor Bhaskar Vira and Dame Barbara Stocking, focuses on youth and livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on public policy challenges for employment creation. The persistent rise in youth populations Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to continue until at least 2100. Developing locally and nationally appropriate employment policies and interventions is a key public policy challenge across the continent.
Department of Social Anthropology (2018-21)
PI – Dr Perveez Mody
I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Delhi, and specifically in a District court, where I looked at the legal and informal processes whereby couples legitimate their love through marriage. I am interested in anthropological theories about the constitution of castes and “communities” in India, the history of civil marriage law from the colonial into the post-colonial period, the politics of religious nationalism, changes in South Asian kinship, marriage and urban sexuality (sexual relations, conjugality, gender and the family), law and human rights and the ways in which the modern state transforms and bears witness to intimate relations such as those expressed in a love-marriage. My current work concerns an ethnography of South Asian marriage and kinship amongst two ethno-religious groups in East London.
Fellow – Dr Maria Ignacia Arteaga Perez
I graduated from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile with a BA (Hons.) in Sociology and came to the UK to pursue postgraduate studies in Social Anthropology. I hold an MSc. in Medical Anthropology (2014) and a PhD in Anthropology (2018) from University College London. My main research interest is in caregiving — its practices, possibilities and limits in different institutions and political economies. I explore this theme ethnographically. In the last seven years, I have looked at experiences of ageing, youth, disability and life-threatening medical conditions cross-culturally. My PhD thesis examined the everyday lives of colorectal cancer treatments in London (UK) through an analysis of the caregiving practices that both structure the treatment pathway and afford research participants the possibility of ‘getting on with life’. I am currently a teaching associate and affiliated lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. Alongside my teaching role, I am preparing research outputs in the form of peer-reviewed papers, a special issue, and a book manuscript based on my doctoral research, also co-organising a multidisciplinary workshop on practices of disease stratification.
Summary of project
From July 2019, I will be working with Dr Maryon McDonald and Dr Perveez Mody on a project related to the early detection of cancer in the UK, undertaking ethnographic research within a broad field that concerns the development of diagnostic technologies through to their clinical use and social effects.