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 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.
- Research Associates/Fellows: Dr Stefanie Rauch and Dr Bastiaan Willems
- Senior Honorary Research Fellow: Dr Joanna Michlic
- Honorary Research Fellow: Dr Robert Knight
- Affiliated Research Fellow: Dr Boaz Cohen
- 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.
- 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 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 Research into Dynamics of Civilisation
CREDOC's activities have now come to an end. Its programme ran from October 2013 to July 2018.
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?
- FRINGE Centre
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.
- Gender and Feminism Research Network
The GFRN provides a focal point for debate on gender and feminist politics at UCL. We bring together scholars from UCL and beyond working across the arts, humanities and social and political sciences.
The Network runs a series of research seminars, panel discussions, workshops and special events throughout the year. The aim is to provide a platform for the many researchers who engage with questions of gender in their daily lives as well as in their research and teaching at UCL, with a particular emphasis on intersecting politics of race, class, age, able-bodiedness and sexuality. We aim to bring a wide range of expertise and knowledge from across faculties, schools and institutes into productive interdisciplinary dialogue, supporting critical thinking and engaged enquiry within and across conventional institutional boundaries.
- 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.
- Post-socialist Art Centre (PACT)
The Post-socialist Art Centre (PACT) is a collaborative research initiative dedicated to the study of Central and East European art and visual culture in the period from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. During 2018-20 the principal activities of PACT revolve around the international research project Confrontations: Sessions in East European Art History, which seeks to illuminate the entangled histories of East European art through a series of itinerant symposia held at universities and museums at pertinent locations across Europe. This initiative is realised with the grant support of the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative and led by Dr Maja Fowkes and Dr Reuben Fowkes (translocal.org). In addition to seminars and events generated by the Confrontations project and hosted by the Institute of Advanced Studies, PACT also collaborates with the Department of History of Art and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies in devising programmes to promote scholarly and public engagement with the art and visual culture of the region.
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.
- Language and Meaning Centre
The Language and Meaning Centre brings together research which is relevant to explaining how meaning arises in language use. Questions about meaning in language frame the key challenges for all disciplines interested in language. Research at the Centre builds from contemporary work in linguistics and philosophy, and integrates methodologies from psychology, computer science, mathematics and economics.
- Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism & Racialisation
UCL’s Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism & Racialisation was established in 2019 in response to student-led demands for the transformation of the curriculum and a reparative reckoning with the powerful, but often unacknowledged, colonial and imperial histories of our university, our city and our nation.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Centre for Outer Space Studies
The Centre for Outer Space Studies was founded in 2019 to promote research and teaching related to the social study of space and our relationship to the cosmos and the planet. The Centre aims to act as a catalyst for serious debate, via talks, exhibitions, film screenings and other events that help us explore the wider socio-political impact of space science and the wider human relationship to outer space.
- Centre for Modern and Contemporary Britain
The Centre for Modern and Contemporary Britain (CMCB) seeks to build a vibrant and connected space for intellectual community and exchange that creates new synergies and productive working relationships across UCL and beyond. It enables students and scholars of modern and contemporary Britain to engage with each other’s work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, bringing the arts and sciences, theorists and practitioners, into productive conversation.
- Middle East Research Centre
The Middle East Research Centre (MERC), provides a focal point for in-depth research on the Middle East and North Africa at UCL. It promotes research and teaching related to the region and its intersection with the wider world, from antiquity to the present. The Centre brings together experts across several disciplines and departments, and serves as a vital hub for researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate students with an interest in the Middle East and North Africa.
- 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.
- Chronic Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa: A critical history of an 'epidemiological transition' (Wellcome Trust | 2015-2020)
This five-year project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, seeks to critically evaluate the history of what is viewed as an ‘epidemic’ of chronic and non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and provide an historical account of the evolution of chronic and non-communicable diseases in Africa, going beyond a simple account of ‘transition’, and to contribute to wider debates on the nature of epidemiological change. It is led by IAS Deputy Director, Professor Megan Vaughan. Visit the website here.
- Confrontations: Sessions in East European Art History (Getty Foundation | 2018-2020)
This two-year project, funded by the Getty Foundation's Connecting Art Histories initiative, is run by the Post-socialist Art Centre (PACT). Visit the website here.
- Creative Fellowship Programme 2019/20
- Chronicity and Care in African Contexts (British Academy | 2019-2023)
This four-year project, funded by the British Academy, seeks to contribute a 'whole-of-society' approach to current initiatives addressing the disproportionate burden of chronic diseases in Global Africa. Blending research and public engagement, the project entails a longitudinal social psychological study on chronic illness experiences and systems of care among London’s West African communities, and the development of a public engagement model for NCDs in continental and diaspora African contexts. The project is led by Professor Ama de-Graft Aikins.
Read more about the project here: https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/global-professorships/ama-de-graft-aikins
- 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.
- Reading/Seminar Groups
Marxism in Culture
The Marxism in Culture seminar series was conceived in 2002 to provide a forum for those committed to the continuing relevance of Marxism for cultural analysis. Both ‘Marxism’ and ‘culture’ are conceived here in a broad sense. We understand Marxism as an ongoing self-critical tradition, and correspondingly the critique of Marxism's own history and premises is part of the agenda. ‘Culture’ is intended to comprehend not only the traditional fine arts, but also aspects of popular culture such as film, popular music and fashion. Since relocating to the IAS, we have welcomed speakers including Maria Chehonadskih, Andrew Cole, Louis Moreno, Paul Rekret, Nizan Shaked, Dhanveer Singh Brar and Marina Vishmidt. We would like to thank the IAS for their generosity in hosting the MIC.
Literary London Reading Group
The Literary London Reading Group, part of the Literary London Society, has been running for eight years. During that time it has provided a forum for academics and members of the public to share their interest and enthusiasm for London’s literatures past and present, and has provided a platform for established scholars, early career academics and independent researchers to share their research with an audience within and beyond the academy. The reading group joined UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies in September 2019 and held three meetings before Covid-19 brought an early end to the year’s programme. As usual, the topics discussed were exciting and varied, ranging from the medieval narrative poem St. Erkenwald, to Michael Landy’s 2001 art event Break Down, to the sparse, Modernist poetry of John Rodker.
Migration Research Unit PhD Network
The Migration Research Unit PhD Network launched in 2019 and has, with the generous support of the IAS, expanded into a thriving research hub for postgraduate students conducting interdisciplinary research into migration at UCL. In co-ordination with the IAS Refuge in a Moving World network, the MRU PhD Network hosted a number of reading groups and training sessions on topics as varied as humanitarian assistance, refugee law, vulnerability and the politics of care. A highlight for the network included the running of a workshop at the IAS on soundscapes and audial methods in migration research, led by Dr Tom Western, now a Lecturer at the UCL Department of Geography. In the coming year, the MRU PhD network will be running regular writing, reading and discussion groups, and will be working toward publications on the affects of Covid-19 on migration research.
China Centre for Health and Humanity PhD Reading Group
We have had a regular postgraduate Reading Group that meets in the IAS rooms with Chinese students and students studying the history of medicine and film in China. Increasingly this is an online group which includes both UCL students, alumni and interested academics, but there is a core group that likes to meet face-to-face. We discuss readings suggested by the group and read work in its early drafts for both PhD and research fellows.
LAHP-funded Writing Group
The IAS seminar room was an invaluable resource for the London Arts and Humanities Partnership "Shut Up and Write" writing group during the 2019-20 academic year. Doctoral students from across London - UCL, King's, the Royal College of Art, Queen Mary, SAS and others - got together every Friday to work on theses, presentations, conference papers and field notes. The seminar room provided a quiet haven to study together and to motivate one another and share the day's writing goals.
This group launched in 2020 raising the following questions: How do we make sense of the current political moment? How can we locate the protests against police brutality and the U.S. administration’s militarised response alongside resistance against the rise in anti-Asian racism during the Covid-19 pandemic? What work can we do as scholars against white supremacy and the ways it is perpetuated and upheld in our political, institutional and social systems? How is Indigeneity related to the U.S. and global uprisings against these systems?
This series of discussions, reading groups and writing workshops aims to respond to these questions, looking particularly at the power structures that affect and enmesh Indigenous, Asian and African- American communities in North America. Building upon university-wide efforts to ‘decolonise’ the humanities at UCL, we will focus on critical and creative works, from film, literary and cultural criticism to poetry and prose, which address issues related to Indigeneity and settler colonialism in contemporary culture and thought.