Projects

In total, CoHaB funds 12 Early Stage Researcher (doctoral) and 3 Experienced Researcher (post-doctoral) fellowships.

Early Stage Researcher Projects:

1) Nomadism in Law and Literature: Corpus Cartography in the Novels of the Roma Diaspora
Host: English Department, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Researcher: Emma Patchett
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Klaus Stierstorfer

The project undertakes to examine representations of the impact of legal systems on migration and constructions of home and belonging in the literature of the Roma diaspora. It will involve an interdisciplinary analysis of migration law and policy as it is refracted in works from the Roma diaspora. The research will employ elements of postcolonial legal theory to explore law’s narrative articulations of identity and citizenship. In addition, drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizomatic anti-genealogies as mapping theories of nationality and belonging, Emma Patchett will work within a Foucauldian framework, to address the construction of subjectivity and the negotiation of power within the diasporic space.
This research will draw on Foucault to go beyond Butler’s field of performative corporeality to explore how the body is constituted through diasporic discourses: reading the body as location, understood as constituted through diasporic discourses. It will therefore explore this situated-ness as it exists in a nexus of territorial power enacted through the legislative narratives of migration and control. The focus is mainly on novels by Louise Doughty, Mariella Mehr, Caren Gussoff, John F.McDonald and Jovan Nikolic; but also incorporates plays by Dan Allum and Alina Serban, and works of poetry by authors such as David Morley and Cecila Woloch. Emma has also started to take into account autobiographical works by Romani writers such as Maggie Bendall-Smith, Oksana Marafiotti, Walter Winter and Eva Petulengro.


2) Adoptions across Borders, Children and Diasporas: Representations of Transnational Adoption in South Asian Women's Writing
Host: English Department, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Researcher: Holly Morgan
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Klaus Stierstorfer

In the introduction to Imagining Adoption, Marianna Novy asserts that “[a]doption today exists at the intersection of many contested issues… the role of culture as distinct from heredity, the rights of children, the rights of parents, the relation of the individual to group membership, the rights of minorities, the rights of poor people, the role of the state in social engineering” (6), and these intersections are at the heart of this research.
The project examines Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine and Leave it to Me, Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s Secret Daughter, Bharti Kirchner’s Shiva Dancing, and Indu Sundaresan’s “Shelter of Rain.” In addition to these fictional texts, Holly Morgan includes Asha Miró’s memoir Daughter of the Ganges and Sasha Khokha’s documentary India: Calcutta Calling.  A large portion of this work focuses on adoptee identity construction, while subsequent chapters consider the way that maternal roles are defined, constructed, and represented throughout these works, as well as the way that the adoptive process is represented. This project allows for the trope of adoption in literature to become complicated by the processes of globalization and immigration, and provides another point of access from which to analyze hybridization. Through an examination of adoption-related literature written by female South Asian diasporic authors, Ms. Morgan will provide further insight into the ways in which the contemporary political climate influences family dynamics, as well as foster a greater understanding about how cultural identities are formed and maintained.

3) Nation, Home and Identity: An Inquiry into Diasporic Trajectories in Selected ‘Post- 9/11’ Pakistani Novels and Hindi Films
Host: English Department, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Researcher: Jayana Jain (Punamiya)
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Klaus Stierstorfer

The link between diasporas and countries of origin is by and large manifested with ambivalence and psychological apprehension; essentially because the diasporic subject is torn between different ‘homes’. Through the study of Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows (2009), Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) as well as Hindi films My Name is Khan (2010) and New York (2009), this project attempts to study the myriad representations of diasporic youth’s trauma, dislocative and unsynchronised quality of life, dismemberment and the material and metaphorical mutilations in the context of 9/11 terror attacks.
Thus, by constantly comparing and contrasting these representations, this projects aims to depict the subversive attempts of the chosen texts and films at negotiating the contradictions of cultural heterogeneity, nationalism, terrorism and diasporic identity. In addition, this research will also juggle with ideas put forth by Slavoj Žižek and Vijay Mishra pertaining to home, nation and fantasy to understand the corporeal or even “libidinal” investments of the diasporic youth in nations and to show how diaspora as Other has an important role to play in the construction of the fantasies of the nation-state as a Thing to be ‘enjoyed’.


4) Ethiopian Diaspora Roles in Transnational Labour Migration and Circulation of Migrants between Ethiopia and Host Countries
Researcher: Tekalign Ayalew
Host: Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholms Universitet

Traditionally migration scholars have argued that most immigrants assimilate to the host society and their homeland linkages deteriorate gradually. But emerging studies on diasporas and transnational migration indicate that international migrants and diasporas maintain strong networks and ties with their country of origin socially, economically, politically and culturally. This is further backed up by the advancement in information and communication technologies in today’s globalization era. But, while the diasporas transnationals live in receive special attention, the diverse nature of specific diasporic networks that facilitate transnational migration and also encourage circular migration is still poorly explored in the diaspora literature. Accordingly the project seeks to explore the various types of diasporic networks and transnational practices that facilitate transnational labour migration and circulation of migrants between Ethiopia and host countries (Addis Ababa, London and Stockholm).
Inspired by transnationalism, diasporas and social network concepts, this research project tries to address, amongst others, the following research questions: what are the diasporic networks and practices, on the ground and cyberspaces, that facilitate  transnational migration? How and why do diasporas get involved in transnational labour migration?  What types of Diasporas’ transnational activities encourage circulation of migrants between host and home countries? And what types of strategies and mechanisms do the prospective migrants learn from the diasporas to cross the western state borders?


5) Re-Doing Family across Borders: Gender, Age and Care Practices among Transnational Bolivian Families in Spain
Researcher: Tania González
Host: Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholms Universitet

The PhD project deals with the tensions and ruptures/continuities in gender and generational relations produced in a diasporic context among Bolivian families which have, at least, one of its members settled in Spain. In spite of the feminization of the Latin American migration flow to Spain and its implications for family life and care arrangements, there is still a lack of studies focused on family migration processes and on the family members who are left behind (children-parents, husbands-wives, sisters-brothers).
Currently Bolivia is seen as a country in diaspora. The high increase and diversity of migrants and their impact on their homeland have made Bolivia a relevant case for the study of transnational families. Hence, the study seeks to focus on subjectivity, emotions and micro-processes such as migration trajectories of Bolivian families, changes in family structures, and transnational caring practices.
The study is based on multi-site ethnographic fieldwork (Spain and Bolivia) and draws particularly on in-depth interviews with different members of the same family and, to a lesser degree, participant observation.


6) Home Acts – ‘Activist Performance’ and Ideas of Home among Young Chileans of Palestinian Descent in Santiago
Researcher: Siri Agnete Schwabe
Host: Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholms Universitet

Siri's PhD study focuses on the large but rather understudied Palestinian diaspora in Chile. More specifically, it explores how ideas about home interplay with what is tentatively termed ‘activist performance’ by investigating organized pro-Palestinian activism in Santiago. Motivated by the long history of Palestinian migration to Chile, the study further aims to shed light on comparative generational differences in what constitutes home and how home is constituted in this specific diasporic context. In more detail, the study seeks to uncover how young Chileans of Palestinian descent plan and carry out organized pro-Palestinian activism; if and in what ways ideas of home inspire, affect and are communicated through activism; if and how older generations partake (directly or indirectly) and possibly influence the youth’s ‘activist performance’; how, if so, generational differences manifest themselves in practice and, finally; if and how ideas of home are reproduced, transformed or in any other way influenced through activism. While the keywords here are home, performance, and generation, the project is in a more broad sense informed by the overarching themes of making/remaking diaspora, transnational practices, materiality, and gender. The study is based on long-term fieldwork in Santiago and draws particularly on participant observation, in-depth interviews, and, to a lesser degree, audio-visual material.


7) Authorship and Authenticity: Exploring Ideas of Self-Image and Belonging Among the Indian Diasporic Literati of Toronto
Host: Department of English, University of Mumbai
Researcher: Melanie Wattenbarger
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Nilufer Bharucha

Misunderstandings about diaspora communities, especially concerning professionals who live abroad, have led to the media and literary critics to call into question the motivations and identities of Indian-born authors who live in community abroad. By being Indian writers in diaspora who are still writing about their homeland, these authors are questioned as inauthentic authors and inauthentic Indians.
This project begins by exploring what motivates diasporic movements, particularly what political, economic, and social factors influence where Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) choose to be their homeland. By exploring the genesis of such a community, we can gain insight into the contemporary phenomenon of mass diasporic movement. This project will focus on four authors to serve as a foil from which to open the conversation on the genesis of diasporic communities and hybrid identity: Rohinton Mistry, Shaun Mehta, Jasmine D’Costa and Anita Rau Badami. These authors will be examined as representative, but not comprehensive, examples of Indian-born literati who form the Toronto community of Indian diasporic writers. By choosing to move from India to Canada, they have created hyphenated identities for themselves as Indo-Canadians. By doing so, they have set themselves and their work in a liminal place where they could be questioned as inauthentic by international critical circles and from the motherland by Indian critical circles.


8) Changing Faces and Places: Reimagining the Contemporary Indian Diaspora
Host: Department of English, University of Mumbai
Researcher: Ruby Rana
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Nilufer Bharucha

Punjabi-Sikhs make up a sizable portion of the Indian diasporic community in Canada, however Punjabi-Sikhs cannot, and should not, be taken to represent the Indian diaspora in Canada in its entirety. The Indian diaspora cannot be homogenized under one ethno-religious umbrella; it is a community in Canada that has a rich and vibrant tapestry of various religious, ethnic, linguistic and racial identities. Initially this project started out as an overview of the Indian diaspora; it has now has narrowed down to look closely at the Punjabi-Sikh community, its location within the Indian diasporic community in Canada, and how it has been represented in literary and cinematic works. Ms.Rana’s doctoral studies under the discipline of literature, pertain to narratives of Punjabi-Sikh identities in Canada. Specifically looking at narratives of fiction in contemporary literature and cinema, Ms.Rana looks at later generations, often the second generation, of the postcolonial contemporary Punjabi-Sikh diaspora in Canada, and how their experiences are narrated in her selected texts. Identifying tropes in the representations of Punjabi-Sikhs this project looks at and probes the ways in which Punjabi Sikh identities are changing in this Canadian diasporic context.
Using a series of interdisciplinary methodologies, such as literary and cinematic textual analysis, ethnographic semi-structured focus group meetings to gain alternate perspectives on texts, and autoethnographic reflections to map diasporic experiences, Ms.Rana uses her interdisciplinary training to bridge fictions with realities in the analysis and critique of textual representations of diasporic Punjabi-Sikh identities in Canada. The theoretical frameworks referred to in this work are largely under the realms of diaspora studies, cultural studies, narrative studies and topics pertaining to identity.  

9) Transnational Networks, Identities and Homes: Diasporic South Asian Women in Fiction and Film
Host: Department of English, University of Mumbai
Researcher: Iulia Rascanu
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Nilufer Bharucha

This project is a research study of the connections between various meanings of ‘home’ and diasporic identity with a focus on female South Asian characters depicted in works by diasporic female South Asian writers and film-makers as well as in India. International migration and the impact of transnationalism in our contemporary world are two significant factors that will be employed in the analysis. As the characters selected for analysis and interpretation are female, feminist theories will be largely applied in discussing and analyzing the relationships between women who can create a transnational network capable of defining a particular understanding of the concepts of ‘home’ and of ‘identity’; when women’s solidarity does not apply, they tend to let themselves be influenced by the concept of ‘love’ in choosing their ‘home’ which may be to return to the ‘home’ country, which is not to be understood as the final point of their migration. The researcher will try to identify the motives behind their choice and will make enquiries with respect to the follow-up of their return. If the freedom promised by the socio-cultural environment of the ‘host’ country was not enough to make them negotiate the two cultural environments, one of the challenges of the research project is to identify what is there after ‘the freedom’. The conclusions of the study will therefore be linked to the researcher’s ability to connect the notions of ‘identity’ and ‘home’ with those of ‘sisterhood’/’solidarity’, ‘love’, and ‘dediasporization’ of diasporic South Asian female subjects."

10) TechnoBodies of Apocalypse. Identity and Belonging in Blade Runner and Salt Fish Girl: Exploring the Liminality of the Posthuman
Host: Department of English & Creative Studies, University of Northampton
Researcher: Alba de Béjar Muiños
Supervisor: Professor Janet Wilson

This project entails a study of the figure of the cyborg/Replicant as a trope for the exiled, the migrant, and/or the outcast in contemporary globalized and hypertechnological societies in the West. Through the study of British director Ridley Scott’s acclaimed science fiction masterpiece, Blade Runner (1982), vis-à-vis Chinese-Canadian writer Larissa Lai’s second speculative fiction novel, Salt Fish Girl (2002), this project aims at showing how the cyborg is a pertinent figuration with which to approach questions of identity, belonging, technology, gender, or ethics in contexts that exceed the confines of the allegedly science fictional.
Although the figure of the cyborg has been profusely exploited in mass culture in the last few decades, a large part of the theoretical work with respect to this figure and to posthumanism is often missing from such representations. A good amount of Feminist scholars, for instance, have strongly embraced this figure’s potential since the work of Donna J. Haraway on the cyborg. Thus, a comparative analysis of Blade Runner and Salt Fish Girl allows us to realize how many of the cyborg’s most alternative and liberating facets remain underdeveloped in mainstream representations of this figure. By reading Scott’s film alongside Lai’s novel, I intend to elucidate some of this trope’s most empowering aspects as these two works perfectly illuminate changes to global politics, the economy, and society since the late 1970s. Whereas the representation of the cyborg in Scott’s film follows rather anthropomorphic and heternormative standards, Lai’s novel truly investigates what it means to be posthuman now that globalization and neoliberalism have drastically altered the traditional structures off of which identity, citizenship, or belonging were once derived. The goal of this project, then, is to reflect how hopeful alternative figurations such as the cyborg may provide a more adequate home for what are truly contingent, plural, and fluid identities in transit.

11) Diasporic Youth Imagining ‘Home’
Host: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies
Researcher:Špela Drnovšek Zorko
Supervisor: Dr. Parvathi Raman

This research project addresses the reception and interpretation of family narratives in the context of the second generation British-Yugoslav diaspora(s), in order to ask how mediated memories of Yugoslavia shape gendered notions of home, nation and belonging at the intersection of diaspora and post-socialism. Rather than focusing solely on confluences of a unified imaginary home, Spela Zorko is also interested in their absences or disjunctures, the differential longings for ‘home’ against a historical background that has emphasised unity and solidarity as well as divisions and essentialised ethnicity. Her emphasis on gendered imaginaries of belonging reflects both the fact that gender is always inextricable from discourses of nations and homes, and that it differentially shapes lived experience.
Starting with the question “What role does Yugoslavia play in the narratives of first generation migrants, and how is it understood by the second generation in the context of the British diaspora space?” Spela wants to ask what the concept of diaspora does to ‘nation’, through remembering, recounting, and forgetting, as well as what a nation does to ‘diaspora’, through political upheavals, discursive positioning, and new boundary formations.


12) The ‘Black’ British Women’s Movement and the Politics of ‘Belonging’, ‘Identity’, and ‘Home’
Host: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies
Researcher: Nydia Swaby
Supervisor: Dr. Parvathi Raman

Through an analysis of postcolonial feminist scholarship and the collection of empirical data Nydia Swaby’s research on the ‘black’ British women’s movement from circa 1979 until the present examines women’s groups and feminist organizations as sites in which diaspora subjects engage the politics of ‘belonging’, ‘identity’, and ‘home’. These themes are central to women’s activism, particularly among women from ‘overlapping diasporas’, in that the process of consciousness-raising involves forming a collective identity based on common experiences while advocating for the group’s multifaceted interests.
Using qualitative methods, the present research will conceptualize ‘belonging’, ‘identity’, and ‘home’ via the lived experiences of women activists.  Accordingly, in addition to composing a historical narrative on the ‘black’ British women’s movement as a whole, a central piece of this work will be to document both the organizational history of specific groups and the ongoing activities of group members. To draw out the correlation between these themes and the salience of lived experience, Nydia intends to incorporate mini life histories, or more appropriately activist life histories, of women who are involved in the movement. Ultimately, this research will question how conceptions of ‘belonging’ and ‘identity’ are negotiated through and alongside gender and the how the politics of ‘home’ are informed by the ‘marginal’ or ‘third space’ ‘black’ women in Britain occupy.

 

Experienced Researcher Projects:

1) 'The Dynamics of Migration' and 'Urbanism and Settlement'
Host: Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford
Supervisor: Professor Michael Keith

The post holder will be expected both to develop a post-doctoral programme of research that complements the work of COMPAS and the ITN network. The programme of work in CoHaB works at the interface of social sciences and humanities and we welcome candidates from a wide range of academic disciplinary backgrounds. The successful candidate will be expected to develop work that links to one or other (or both) of two clusters of research at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford: ‘the dynamics of migration’ and ‘urbanism and settlement’. More details of the work of these clusters of research can be found online at http://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/. Candidates will also be expected during their fellowship to work with senior members of COMPAS to develop further funding and international collaborative research proposals. The postholder will also be expected to make a teaching contribution to the ITN network.


2) Migrant Identities and Diasporic Lives: Narrating Mobility
Researcher: Dr Lynda Ng
Host: Faculty of English, University of Oxford
Supervisor: Professor Elleke Boehmer

The postholder will be expected to develop a postdoctoral programme of research that complements the work of the ITN network and of research on migration within the English Faculty. In keeping with the interdisciplinary research focus on postcolonial diasporas in the Faculty, the postholder will carry out a programme of work at the interface of humanities and the social sciences and we welcome candidates from a wide range of academic disciplinary backgrounds. The successful candidate will be expected to develop work that links to existing postcolonial and diasporic research interests in English. Under the heading ‘Migrant Identities and Diasporic Lives: Narrating Mobility’, she/he will investigate in comparative ways how narrative works to articulate, shape, and even dismantle identities, in a world context where diaspora is an increasingly dynamic concept, and migrant identities increasingly defined through fluidity rather than fixity. Candidates will also be expected during their fellowship to work with Professor Boehmer and other postcolonial colleagues to develop further funding and international collaborative research proposals.