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Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)

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Research Centres


The IAS has provided a home for already established research forums as well as newly formed initiatives. There is no uniform model for IAS Research Centres and they include the research element of extensive frameworks (e.g. CMII), externally funded units (e.g. CCHS), experimental forums (e.g. FRINGE) and thematically driven research clusters (e.g. CCVHGS and CREDOC).

Centre for Collective Violence, Holocaust & Genocide Studies

The twentieth century was one of the most violent periods in history, while the twenty-first century appears ever more precarious and unstable. Around the world, violence on racial, ethnic, religious, cultural and national grounds has far-reaching and long-lasting social consequences: increasing the risk of communicable diseases; diminishing access to food supplies, health and other public services; and increasing migration and human trafficking. And collective violence has deep-seated personal consequences, as individuals deal with the effects of persecution, abuse and trauma, often transmitted across generations. At the extreme, collective violence may result in genocide, as one group seeks to eradicate another entirely. Moreover, the resolution of issues around perpetrators and victims - whether in terms of retribution, compensation, reconciliation or in contested cultural representations - may persist for decades after specific conflicts have subsided.

Collective violence is socially, culturally and politically patterned: it affects members of groups defined by shared general features rather than personal identities; people may become perpetrators not from individual motives but because they are mobilised to act violently on the basis of group identities and wider causes. Violence can flare up episodically or be a persistent underlying feature of systems based on racism or sustained by repression and surveillance, with consequences for interpersonal relations over the long term. Precisely because collective violence is socially, culturally and politically patterned, we consider 'collective violence' as an analytical category in its own right. This requires a new way of thinking across disciplines.

The UCL Centre for Collective Violence, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (UCL-CCV) adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the processes, character and implications of collective violence, past and present. In addition to historical analyses of major incidents of collective violence - notably the Holocaust and other aspects of Nazi persecution, as well as genocides and other eruptions of violence across the world - we seek to make significant analytic contributions to understanding collective violence in political, cultural, geographic and social context, exploring also what follows in the wake of such violence.

We aim to:

Foster multi-disciplinary and collaborative research designed to transform understanding of the causes, character and legacies of collective violence;

Develop relevant collections of archival, oral and other sources, focusing across the spectrum - loosely defined in terms of 'perpetrators, victims and bystanders';

Develop theoretical frameworks and substantive insights that have a public impact, informing wider understanding of difficult issues, and where appropriate assisting the delivery of meaningful interventions.

Core themes and topics

Colleagues associated with the Centre for Collective Violence, Holocaust and Genocide Studies hold established positions in different departments at UCL and come together within the IAS for relevant events and interdisciplinary discussions. Areas in which colleagues currently work include (but are not limited to) the following interdisciplinary clusters and groups:

Persecution, Complicity, and Justice: this group focuses on: questions around complicity and perpetration, and social processes around what are conventionally termed 'perpetrators, bystanders and victims'; and questions of justice, reintegration, and representation in post-conflict periods. It seeks to understand both the processes at the time of persecution and the long-term reverberations of collective violence for those involved and for members of subsequent generations.

Visual Imagery and Collective Violence: colleagues associated with this group examine how visual images develop, sustain or challenge prejudices and stereotypes; the incendiary role of images in cultures of violence and violation, both historically and in the present; approaches to representation and interpretation of collective violence in sites and institutions for remembrance and public education.

The State, Education and Collective Violence: the focus here is on states and collective actors in intervention and pre-emptive action; predicting conflicts and flashpoints; the role of education in mediating potential conflicts and pre-empting outbreaks of violence, and in conflict resolution after periods of violence.

People

Research Associate: Dr Stefanie Rauch

Senior Honorary Research Fellow: Dr Joanna Michlic

Honorary Research Fellow: Dr Robert Knight

Affiliated Research Fellow: Dr Boaz Cohen

Research Projects

AHRC-funded project (2018-2021) Compromised Identities? Reflections on Perpetration and Complicity under Nazism

PI: Mary Fulbrook; Co-I: Stephanie Bird

Research Associate: Stefanie Rauch

Centre for Critical Heritage Studies

The Centre for Critical Heritage Studies (CCHS) is a collaborative international, interdisciplinary research centre, jointly run between the University of Gothenburg and UCL. It operates at UCL as an inter-faculty research centre led by the Institute of Archaeology and supported by the Institute of Advanced Studies. It involves researchers from across the University including the departments of Anthropology, Archaeology, Information Studies, and the UCL Urban Laboratory.

Funding for the Centre was awarded for six years from April 2016 by the University of Gothenburg Centers for Global Societal Challenges call for research centre funding. The Centre's remit is to respond to the challenges posed by heritagization processes and globalization, including the hegemony of 'North Atlantic universals' in heritage policy and practice.

The centre is conducting joint research, initially under five main thematic areas:

Making global heritage futures Embracing the archive - critical archival and digital humanities studies cluster

 

Alongside the thematic research areas, the Heritage Academy aims to be a bridge between the academic world and the surrounding society, in line with UCL's commitment to strengthening dialogue between research and practice.

  • Curating the city - transdisciplinary approaches in urban settings
  • Heritage and wellbeing
  • Heritage and science
Centre for Digital Humanities

Founded in 2010, the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities (UCLDH) is a cross-faculty research centre, bringing together a vibrant network of people who teach and research in a wide range of disciplines. 

Reporting to both UCL's Engineering and Arts and Humanities faculties, UCLDH draws on UCL's world-class research strength especially in information studies, computing science, and the arts and humanities. It supports and coordinates work in many institutional settings throughout the university, including the library services, museums and collections. The research facilitated by UCLDH takes place at the intersection of digital technologies and humanities. It produces applications and models that make possible new kinds of research, both in the humanities disciplines and in computer science and its applied technologies. It also studies the impact of these techniques on cultural heritage, museums, libraries, archives, and culture at large. Over the past five years, UCLDH has been involved in many ground-breaking research projects, some of which have won major awards.

Centre for Early Modern Exchanges

The Centre for Early Modern Exchanges studies the dynamic interactions between places, cultures and societies within Europe and beyond in the period from approximately 1500 to 1800, asking how these processes of exchange produced the states, vernacular literatures, cultures and material textures of the modern world.  From translation to trade, we are engaged in developing more complex models to account for the transformation of the globe across these three centuries. We host the interdisciplinary and interdepartmental Masters Programme in Early Modern Studies, run seminars, workshops and conferences and provide a home for the early modern at UCL.

Centre for Early Modern Exchanges website

Centre for Editing Lives and Letters

The Centre for Lives and Letters is a collaborative research laboratory populated by scholars interested in finding digital solutions to archival questions. We have expertise primarily in the early modern period (loosely, 1500-1800), but our focus is wide ranging, incorporating both the handwritten and the printed word, including letters, printed books, diaries, marginalia, libraries and archives, so we can extend outside these [time] boundaries. We are interested in using online tools for making archives matter, but we are also enthusiastic about creating conceptual frameworks and structures for understanding the larger questions surrounding the study of text and context. When presented with archival data, we seek to extend our knowledge further by testing the data with a pioneering digital method.

Centre for Editing Lives and Letters website

 

Centre for Multidisciplinary & Intercultural Inquiry

CMII is an important centre for multidisciplinary post-graduate programmes and related research areas. It draws on expertise at UCL from diverse fields including literature, art, film, history, geography, anthropology and population health. CMII houses Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, Film Studies, Gender Studies, African Studies, European Studies, Health Humanities and PPE of Health. It fosters research projects such as the AHRC funded 'Reverberations of War in Germany and Europe since 1945', 'Colonial Film' and the Cine-Tourist. It encourages research collaboration between colleagues at UCL as well as nationally and internationally, and participates in the Hermes consortium for literary and cultural studies, the British Comparative Literature Association, The Screen Studies Group and the Bloomsbury Gender Network.

Centre for Multidisciplinary & Intercultural Inquiry website

Centre for Research into Dynamics of Civilisation

The UCL Centre for Research on the Dynamics of Civilisation (CREDOC) seeks to understand the social phenomenon of 'civilisation' and to challenge the often politicised role it is being made to play in the modern world. 'Civilisation' describes a social phenomenon greater than the nation. It has been identified by materials, languages, institutions and habits that are spread over time yet remain linked to one another as an integrated system. Civilisation appears on the map of modern political debate, whether in international policy (where it is used to build transnational political structures) or in the popular and controversial  idea of a 'clash of civilisations'. Yet what is a civilisation? How does such a category still have value despite its compromised usages in the past? And why and how is it being utilised now in regions such as Africa, China, India or the Middle East to challenge and to remap social and political geographies?

Our aims are to:

  • create a network of interested researchers and stimulate collaborations within and beyond UCL
  • raise the profile and maximise the impact of UCL research on civilisation
  • encourage and generate new directions for research
  • develop an exciting programme of public events, workshops and lectures
  • offer small grants for projects and support for applications for external funding

CREDOC website

FRINGE Centre

The Centre for the Study of Social and Cultural Complexity

The FRINGE Centre explores the roles that complexity, ambivalence and immeasurability play in social and cultural phenomena. A cross-disciplinary initiative bringing together scholars from the humanities and social sciences, FRINGE examines how seemingly opposed notions such as centrality and marginality, clarity and ambiguity, can shift and converge when embedded in everyday practices. Our interest lies in the hidden complexity of all embedded practices, taken-for-granted and otherwise invisible subjects. Illuminating the 'fringe' thus puts the 'centre' in a new light. Learn More

The FRINGE Centre is an initiative founded and funded by the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies and housed at the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies.FRINGE Centre Logo

FRINGE Centre website

 

Gender and Feminism Network

The Institute of Advanced Studies recently founded a Gender and Feminism Network,  a new initiative designed to provide a focal point for UCL (as well as other London-based and international) scholars conducting research in and teaching about gender and feminism from across the humanities and social sciences. In doing so, we are building on the work already done by colleagues on the MA in Gender, Society and Representation and PhD in Gender & Sexuality Studies, which have been running at UCL for over a decade. We aim to bring a wide range of expertise and knowledge from across faculties, schools and institutes into productive interdisciplinary dialogue. In doing so, we seek to enhance the core mission of the IAS to sponsor critical thinking and engaged enquiry within and across conventional institutional boundaries.

So many scholars at UCL are engaged in their scholarship and daily lives with questions of gender, sexuality and feminist politics. We envisage the IAS Gender and Feminism Network as a hub through which to feature UCL scholars doing innovative work in this field, while also hosting talks and conferences featuring internationally-recognised specialists in the study of gender and sexuality.

If you have expertise or research interests in this field, please contact Philippa Hetherington, School of Slavonic and East European Studies (p.hetherington@ucl.ac.uk), who will be co-ordinating the network.

A schedule of fortnightly seminars, reading groups and a large international conference in Autumn 2016 can be downloaded here.

 

Health Humanities Centre

The UCL Health Humanities Centre draws together staff from different disciplines, departments and faculties engaged in teaching and research on matters relating to health, illness and well-being. Staff are currently based in the departments of History, Science and Technology Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Philosophy, Mental Health, Population Health, Global Health, Laws, Political Science, The Institute of the Americas, Geography, Political Science, The Slade School of Fine Art, and the School of European Languages, Culture and Society and the Medical School. It provides a UCL forum for teaching and research in the health humanities, through Masters programmes, conferences, seminars, workshops, and public engagement. It draws upon upon UCL's disciplinary strengths, while fostering further interdisciplinary collaborations.

The Health Humanities Centre was established in 2015 through joining together the Centre for Philosophy, Justice and Health, the Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines, and the former History of Medicine Centre. It forms part of the new UCL Institute of Advanced Studies and the Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural inquiry and is supported by UCL's Science, Medicine and Society Network.

Teaching

The UCL Health Humanities Centre runs two interlinked MAs:

MA in Health Humanities MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics of Health
Directors

Professor Sonu Shamdasani and Dr James Wilson

Health Humanities Centre website

  • Public Seminar on the History of Psychological Disciplines
  • Ongoing reading groups in the history of the medicine and the history of the psychological disciplines
  • Conferences and Workshops

The MAs share common core courses, while having specific routes. There are jointly administered through the Centre for the Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry.

Events

The Centre convenes the following regular events:

Fortnighty Health Humanities Work in Progress Seminar, which showcases current research Weekly Seminar on Social Values and Health Priority Setting The joint UCL/KCL Bioethics Colloquium
qUCL

qUCL is a university-wide network of staff and students that brings together teaching and research across UCL on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer (LGBTQ) equalities, identities and histories.

qUCL website

Secularity and Secularism Studies (SSS)

SSS is a centre for multi- and interdisciplinary research into secularity. Its work encompasses philosophical and political secularisms, as well as an array of so-called secular phenomena, be it atheist, non-theist and nonreligious populations, the de-sacralisation of literature and the arts, or any number of modern institutions that are designated as secular, including the university itself. SSS supports and showcases research from colleagues around UCL on these themes, and encourages research collaboration with national and international partners as well as across UCL. It provides a home for research projects approaching these topics from any disciplinary or cross-disciplinary perspective, including the John Templeton Foundation-funded project, 'The Scientific Study of Nonreligious Belief' (SSNB). The SSS also runs seminars, lectures and other events and hosts visiting fellows working in these areas.

Secularity and Secularism website


Area Studies Re-mapped

If we can no longer conceive of areas as distinct geographical regions, how can the study of area be re-thought? How can areas be mapped in ways that do not just emphasise their internal and external borders, but also their fluidity and contestation, their fringes and margins, their multiplicity and their transversal flows?

In addressing these questions, this initiative draws together a series of related movements across the fields of Area Studies, Modern Languages, Geography, History, the History of Art, Politics and International Relations, Archaeology and Anthropology, and beyond.

African Studies Research Centre

The UCL African Studies Research Centre (ASRC) serves as a nexus of collegial interaction and education for ongoing projects across the continent. Africa is the primary research area for more than 35 permanent members of staff at UCL and a new group of African Studies MA and MSc programmes, with streams in Environment, Health and Heritage, started in 2015. The ASRC also runs multiple seminar series and symposia which it coordinates with national and international academic partners.

African Studies Research Centre website

African Studies Research Centre events webpage

The Institute of Advanced Studies also houses the research activities of Megan Vaughan, Professor of African History and Health.

Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World

The UCL Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World (CSSA) brings together researchers and postgraduate students working on South Asia from across the disciplines. The Centre forms an important part of UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies, and promotes research and teaching related to the geographical region of South Asia and its intersections with the wider world, including the South Asian diaspora.

Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World website

China Centre for Health and Humanity

The UCL China Centre for Health and Humanity (CCHH) takes an interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching, and is strong in the social sciences: history and culture, archaeology, the environment, law and international health and development. It is committed to UCL's Grand Challenges especially as they relate to China: global health, sustainable cities, intercultural interaction and human wellbeing.

The Confucian concept Ren 仁, the quality that makes individual and society 'human' or 'humane', is at the centre of contemporary Chinese ethical discourse and CCHH will take up this debate in relation to health. We support interdisciplinary research and education in all these aspects of China's health, and China's impact on world health, past, present and future.

China Centre for Health and Humanity website

European Institute

The European Institute is UCL's hub for research, collaboration and information on Europe and the European Union. We work to stimulate new research and support multidisciplinary collaboration across the University and across its unrivalled span of disciplines. In addition, we provide a conduit between the University and the wider public, as well as policy-makers, civil society and the media. We offer a diverse programme of public events, provide expert analysis and commentary, build up networks and alliances and aim to provide an intellectually stimulating environment for researchers at all stages of their careers.

European Institute website

Institute of the Americas

UCL Institute of the Americas (UCL-IA) is a leading multidisciplinary specialist institution for the study of Latin America, the United States, the Caribbean and Canada. It acts as a focal point in the UK for students and researchers seeking to develop in-depth regional and continental knowledge of the Americas. As a centre for postgraduate study specializing in the social sciences and modern history of the Americas, it offers six taught postgraduate degrees, a suite of undergraduate courses, and provides specialist supervision to doctoral level, as well as mentoring of post-doctoral fellows, on a wide range of themes and all four main regions of the Americas.

Institute of the Americas website

Refuge in a Moving World

In 2016 we saw the highest level of global forced migration ever recorded, with over 65.3 million people worldwide currently displaced internationally or internally. People seeking refuge from conflict and mass human rights violations as well as poverty and persecution across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, but also from further afield, have crossed and resisted national boundaries both within and across these geopolitical areas. States, civil societies and individuals find themselves increasingly implicated in, and affected by, a series of interconnected conflicts and crises, with reverberations across all aspects of contemporary society. Affective and aesthetic questions as well as ethical and political ones have been posed by the images, narratives, testimonies and archives that these intersecting crises have engendered and unleashed. Cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research is essential to developing a nuanced understanding of, and a means of meaningfully responding to, the multiple human, material and representational effects that these crises continue to produce.

The 'Refuge in a Moving World' network is an initiative of the Institute of Advanced Studies in collaboration with the Institute for Global Prosperity, and led by Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Co-Director of UCL's Migration Research Unit. The network brings together experts on displacement, refugees and conflict from across UCL's research units, departments and faculties through research-led interdisciplinary events - including conferences, seminar series, workshops and public debates - in order to help us better understand the history, causes, experiences, representations and implications of these shifts in politics, people and perceptions.

If you have specialist expertise or research interests in these issues, please send your name to Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, who is coordinating the network and is Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit (e.fiddian-qasmiyeh@ucl.ac.uk).

Read more about our activities - including our new Refuge in a Moving World PhD Wing - on the MRU-Refuge in a Moving World website.

Refuge in a Moving World Logo

School of Slavonic and East European Studies

The UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) is the world's leading institution for research and teaching on Russia, the Baltics, and Central, Eastern and South-East Europe. The School's mission is to foster cross-disciplinary approaches to area studies, using expertise in our primary geographical region to generate knowledge and understanding of the broader world. Our work is organized into four interrelated programmes: Economics and Business; History; Languages and Culture; Politics and Sociology. With our spectacular library and award-winning building in the heart of London, at the centre of a vibrant network of national and international connections, SSEES provides a unique and dynamic environment where students acquire the expertise and skills that employers want, including an unparalleled range of languages.

UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies Website 

Projects


Compromised Identities? Reflections on Perpetration and Complicity under Nazism (AHRC | 2018-2021)

This three-year project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, is run by the Centre for Collective Violence, Holocaust & Genocide Studies.  Visit the website here.

Initiatives


IAS Book Launch Programme

We welcome proposals from any full-time member of staff who would like to celebrate their new book by launching it as part of our Book Launch Programme.

The launch should have some intellectual content, e.g. a conversation between the author and an interlocutor, a small panel discussion or a talk.  We will provide the space in the IAS Common Ground area (which accommodates approximately 100 people) and basic refreshments.  We would welcome the involvement of publishers with regard to signings and selling, but would then like them to contribute towards the provision of refreshments.

We plan to schedule these as evening events from 6 to 8 pm throughout the year at agreed times, pending availability.

We would also consider proposals from UCL academics who wish to engage in discussion on the occasion of the publication of books by non-UCL authors.

Please find more information here.

IAS Talking Points

Talking Points is a discussion forum and lecture platform that aims to bring IAS residents and Visiting Research Fellows into conversation with researchers across UCL. The format is either a lecture with nominated respondents from various UCL departments or a staged conversation followed by Q&A. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary exchange so discussants and interlocutors are drawn from a range of disciplines and fields. There is always space for audience participation/discussion. Talking Points is open to all researchers at UCL, both senior and early career, as well as postgraduate students. Please do come along and share in the debate.

IAS Residential Seminar

The Residential Seminar is held weekly during term-time and is a work-in-progress seminar open to IAS-resident Research Fellows, IAS Visiting Fellows and co-ordinators of the research centres based in the IAS.