Staff Research News
Since our last update in July 2021 the PCRC has seen some remarkable achievements by staff members: despite the ongoing pandemic we have maintained a large portfolio of internationally collaborative research projects, including fieldwork taking place in Ghana, Nigeria, Nepal, India, the Palestinian Territories, and South Africa, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) via the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). As part of the set of public events supported by UWS during COP26, PCRC co-hosted seminars and an interactive visit to Govan Graving Docks in Glasgow. These interdisciplinary events engaged with COP26 and the climate crisis by showcasing UWS research work with partners from across the global South.
In September, PCRC was delighted to host the visit of the Secretary General of the Higher Population Council (HPC, Jordan) and practitioners to work on a joint-research collaboration funding bid with the Global Refugee Health Research Network (GRHRN, University of Edinburgh) focused on young women and girl refugees.
We continue to establish PCRC as a multi-disciplinary and collaborative research centre, drawing together researchers and partner organisations with cognate research interests from across Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Our team offers a wide range of active, socially engaged, creative and equitable approaches to generating knowledge collaboratively, with the voices and perspectives of participants and communities at the core of our work. Ongoing projects funded via GCRF during 2021 include:
Dr Stephen Collins (School of Business and Creative Industries) “Developing strategies for arts-based engagement in combatting modern slavery” in Ghana
In 2018, Dr Collins was Principal Investigator for the GCRF funded project Hidden Histories: the untold stories of slavery and James Town, Ghana. Together with the local partners, the James Town Community Theatre Centre and James Town Walking Tours, the project investigated the links between historic slavery and modern slavery in James Town, Accra. As part of the project, the team identified three distinct forms of modern slavery operating in the area: young boys being taken from James Town to work in fishing on Lake Volta, young girls coming to James Town from the Central and Northern regions as sex and domestic workers, and female school leavers being trafficked to the Gulf States as domestic workers.
Following this, the project team carried out an investigation into the safeguarding of survivors at the community level. Focusing on survivors returning from the Gulf States, they found a distinct lack of formal and informal support structures. The taboo surrounding modern slavery at the community level has a double impact: it prevents survivors gaining the support they need but it also prevents their stories from being heard and so acting as a warning to vulnerable groups.
To address this issue, the research team are working with a group of twenty female senior school students in James Town who have attended four workshops over two weeks and are working with JTCT facilitators to produce an original performance that will be shown in their school. In order to bridge the gap between survivors and vulnerable groups in a meaningful way, the methodology was further developed and refined. The team previously engaged with survivors at the start of the project to develop a piece of verbatim theatre, this time they centred the project around community-based survivors as experts. Their testimony was used to develop the themes for the project, but they have also been engaged throughout, watching the performance as it is developed by the students and reshaping it as required. Their presence throughout the project has led to meaningful adaptations in the performance output, but also developed an informal space, where conversations between survivors and at-risk young people occur without pressure or stigma. This space has been particularly valuable for humanising survivor-experts in the eyes of the young people.
Working with the James Town Theatre Centre allows the project to engage with a well-established community interlocuter. Their ability to access school groups and activate community resources has not only enabled this project to run smoothly but also seeded further schools and community projects on modern slavery in James Town. As they are a drama group using techniques derived from Augusto Boal, the tripartite dialogue between the survivor experts, students and the community is active and solutions-based. Hence, the performance has the potential to make a real impact in breaking the taboo on modern slavery in the community and informing young people who might otherwise fall victim to human trafficking.
Dr Abeer Hassan (School of Business and Creative Industries) “Exploring biodiversity reporting and extinction accounting in a developing economy” in South Africa
Dr. Abeer Hassan has been working closely with Professor Warren Maroun, Witwatersrand University in South Africa on two important issues in corporate reporting and sustainability accountability: the loss of biodiversity and emergence of circular economy (CE). In the first phase of the project data are being collected from South African listed companies. The data are being hand-collected and coded with an emphasis on the accuracy and completeness of this unique dataset. The research will make an important contribution to the academic literature. It expands on the body of work dealing with the importance of accounting for and protecting “natural capital” by providing additional empirical details and alternate theoretical perspectives on the need to conserve biodiversity. This is complemented by a formal review of how companies are reporting on CE and the possible interconnections between CE and biodiversity. The researchers have completed the preliminary data collection and analysis of South African-listed entities and the first set of detailed interviews. Data collection and analysis will continue into 2022 with a focus on expanding the South African data and dealing with UK entities. The researchers are pleased with the progress to date and the fact that the project has supported postgraduate students working towards their honours and masters qualifications in South Africa.
Dr Kalyan Bhandari (School of Business and Creative Industries) “Community level tourism resilience in Nepal”
This project aims to understand the challenges posed by COVID-19 on community managed homestays in Nepal and help them build resilience by connecting them with larger tourism entrepreneurs. It collaborates with PATA Nepal Chapter and expects to build a strong network with more than 70-80 national and community level tourism stakeholders of Nepal through series of roundtables/workshops.
By the end of November, two roundtables with community managed tourism groups have been completed. These roundtables were completed face to face on site. The original plan of the project was to carry out all roundtables online, however, after a series of consultations with the local project partners in Nepal it was suggested that on-site face-to-face roundtables will be more helpful as they are more open and engaging. As there was also an easing of COVID restrictions by the Government of Nepal, the first two roundtables took part on-site in two homestay locations. The two community groups where the roundtables have been completed represent two very diverse geographical regions of Nepal. The Dalla community homestay (above pic) is managed by one of Nepal’s most indigenous ethnic groups and the second Panauti community homestay (below pic) is managed by all women entrepreneurs.
The roundtables have been very helpful in understanding the impact of COVID-19 on community managed tourism initiatives and measures they have taken to minimise the impact. Through the remaining roundtables, the project team would like to know about measures that have worked for the local community and those that they would like to continue. Final roundtables would also try to appreciate what support from government was expected compared to what was delivered, how the larger private sector tourism industry can contribute to tourism recovery and also exploring the idea of developing stronger tourism resilience in future. The response to all the above questions is very encouraging and it is expected that the project will provide useful insights on practical solutions to help build stronger collaboration between community-led tourism initiatives and the national tourism industry in developing long term partnerships to enhance strength and resilience in tourism in the future.
GCRF Funded Projects
Congratulations to the successful completion of 2020-2021 funded research projects via UWS GCRF Global internal seed funding:
- Dr Christian Harrison (School of Business and Creative Industries) and Dr Emilia Pietka-Nykaza (School of Education and Social Sciences) Empowering Women in protracted displacement in Nigeria: entrepreneurship, livelihoods and communities of resistance
Drawing on data obtained from interviews with women in protracted displacement in the (IDP) camp in Abuja namely, Sabon-Kuchingoro, Nigeria, this project aimed at developing the training of women in protracted displacement to strengthen their leadership and entrepreneurship behaviours to access livelihoods and fulfil their social and economic needs.
- Dr. Dalia Alazzeh (School of Business and Creative Industries) Investigating natural assets degradation in the settler-colonial context: the case of the Occupied Palestinian territories (OPT)
The degradation of natural assets in communities’ results in global biodiversity loss. However, this biodiversity loss might differ in spatial locations depending on factors contributing to the habitat loss. Parallel with the ongoing settler colonial domination practices of indigenous people is the ecocide and the biodiversity loss. The project aimed to unmask settler-colonial strategies that contribute to the degradation of the natural assets in a challenging context. The project fieldwork was conducted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Field workers assigned by our partner AN Najah National University were able to interview fishermen and farmers in the Gaza strip and the West bank. Interviews conducted were thematically analysed and insightful themes were presented such as settler state practices of enforcing fishing areas to a maximum of 12 miles have resulted in overfishing in those areas.
The recent war on Gaza has contributed massively to the destruction of farming areas and has increased metal pollution in sea and farmlands increasing biodiversity loss. Moreover, the separation wall crossing through farmlands fragments the ecological areas and endangers native habitats. Research findings will be used to inform future projects to reduce biodiversity loss in this context.
COP26 Events & Seminars
Parallel to COP26 events and in contributing to ongoing academic discussions on tackling the climate emergency, this trimester’s PCRC Seminar Series focuses on understanding the various political, economic and technical challenges faced by communities at the frontline of the consequences of climate change in the global South.
- On October 13th, Prof Graham Jeffery led an international webinar for the British Academy on Waste Work and the Politics of Knowledge based on his ongoing AHRC/British Academy/GCRF funded work in Dharavi, Mumbai. It examined current working conditions in Dharavi under the circumstances of the pandemic and the prospects for developing more equitable and authentic forms of knowledge exchange through the ongoing work of Compound 13 Lab (see www.compound13.org).
- On October 18th, PCRC in collaboration with the Scottish Energy Technology Partnership and provided a fascinating webinar on the methods and approaches to work together in tackling the consequences of climate change, energy and waste policy in communities living in acute poverty on the margins of cities. The presentation discussed forms of citizen science and informal knowledge that make a major contribution to carbon and waste reduction in the city, despite often being regarded as ‘informal’ and marginalised within urban infrastructures. PCRC member Prof Andrew Hursthouse discussed methods of hazard identification and risk assessment of natural and man-made contaminants along with sustainable strategies to ensure long term local benefits. The webinar ended with a presentation from Dr Uche Chukwura-Osoagba, Lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria. Each highlighted the political, economic and technical obstacles in achieving a genuinely sustainable models of circular economy while offering solutions to public health and economic equity and wellbeing. The presentation is available here.
- On November 3rd, during a hybrid webinar session from Glasgow Film City this trimester’s PCRC seminar guest speaker Prof Mathew Paterson (University of Manchester) offered a stimulating conversation on the underlying forces of cultural political economy – the pursuit of capital accumulation, and the embeddedness of climate change-generating practices in daily life. Drawing on his recent book, In Search of Climate Politics, Prof Paterson developed a particular account of the political dynamics surrounding climate change initiatives in Ottawa, Canada, exploring the implications for multi-level system change required elsewhere. A recording of the talk is available here.
- On November 5th, recently appointed Lecturer in Performance Dr Cat Fallow hosted a workshop based on her work with Peoples Palace Projects at Queen Mary, University of London at the The Landing Hub in Glasgow. It showcased an AHRC-funded project developing cultural exchange between young people in Wales and young Indigenous people in the Xingu territories of the Amazon documenting their experiences of climate change. More information can be found here.
- On Saturday 13th November PCRC Director Prof Graham Jeffery reviewed the outcomes of COP 26 with Dr Tom Wakeford from our collaborative NGO partner ETC Group, who attended throughout as an observer. You can listen to their conversation here.
Jordan Delegation Visit
In September 2021, Dr Dina Sidhva, Dr Kallia Kaparounaki and Prof Graham Jeffery, in collaboration with the Global Refugee Health Research Network (GRHRN, University of Edinburgh) hosted the visit of Dr Abla Amawi and a team of researchers from the Higher Population Council (HPC, Jordan). The series of face to face workshops provided a unique opportunity to discuss the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the lives of refugee women living in protracted crisis in Jordan, exploring issues of adolescent reproductive health needs; gender-based violence; serious illness; poverty and hunger. The team is preparing a large scale research bid focusing on the lived experiences of young refugee women in Jordan.
Interactive visit to Govan Graving Docks in Glasgow
On November 5th, PCRC contributed to a group of UWS students, researchers, COP26 delegates/ activists and NGO workers through a workshop and guided visit to Govan Graving Docks, an iconic waterfront heritage site that has been at the frontline of urban socioeconomic change for over four centuries and an important symbolic site of Glasgow’s entanglement in imperial maritime histories. As part of these events the team from Still Moving CIC and the Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative discussed their public art intervention ‘No New Worlds’, and participants also gained an introduction to the Govan Wetlands urban rewilding project. This workshop, organised by Prof Katarzyna Kosmala and Prof Graham Jeffery with UWS doctoral researcher Liz Gardiner, was part of a larger series of events at Film City Glasgow presented by the Division of Arts and Media, School of Business and Creative Industries, the Creative Media Academy, and PCRC, UWS.
Looking Forward 2022
PCRC will continue to prioritise increased internationalisation, building on strategic relationships with academic and public sector research partners at a national and international level. As our work develops, we are delighted to showcase the excellent research work of PCRC members through our Seminar Series in 2022:
18th January 1:30pm-2:15 Dr Dalia Alazzeh on investigating natural assets degradation in the settler-colonial context- the case of the Occupied Palestinian territories (oPt)
22nd February 1pm-2:30 Dr Abeer Hassan and Prof Warren Maroun (University of the Witwatersrand) Exploring biodiversity reporting and extinction accounting in a developing economy.
29th March 1pm-2:30 Dr Kalyan Bhandari on Community Level Tourism in Nepal: understanding the challenges posed by COVID-19 on community managed homestays in Nepal
26th April 1pm-2:30 Dr Stephen Collins on Developing Strategies for arts-based engagement in combatting modern slavery
Please get in touch if you would like to attend any of these seminars, which are held online.
In addition, we are pleased to share that our colleagues in UWS’ Centre for African Research on Entrepreneurship, Education and Development’s will be holding their Annual Conference on 27th and 28th January 2022. The theme is Enterprise, Innovation and Structural Transformation of Africa in a Post-Covid Era. Booking details are here.
You can follow PCRC on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PCRC_UWS and our LinkedIn group is here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8992009/ or on our website www.uws.ac.uk/pcrc where you can find regular updates on events, seminars and research activities.
Please get in touch if you would like any further information about any of our activities or you have a project or a proposal for collaboration. You can reach the PCRC team at email@example.com.