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Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Research Funding and Strategic Initiatives

Lead name: Dr Tugba Basaran  

Department: Institute of Criminology (Faculty of Law)


  • Area Studies, Global inequality and Economic Development
  • Social, cultural, economic transformations  

  • Conflict, Conservation, Environmental Policy and Climate Justice  

  • Technology, Knowledge and Human Development

  • Legacies of the Past or Historical Transitions


Global crises, conflicts and emergencies require expertise and engagement across the collegiate university, together with voices of those affected. Whether the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan or the Syrian refugees in Europe, these situations have illustrated difficulties of understanding crises, mitigating their effects at home and abroad, whether in terms of politics of humanitarian aid, disrupted education, refugee arrivals or more broadly understanding conflicts in context, within their prevalent histories and cultures and offering appropriate responses. We seek to provide for synergies and efficiencies across the collegiate university in research and practice, allow crises to be analysed in historical, societal and regional context, and avoid simple, fragmented and uncoordinated responses.  

Global governance, knowledge, decolonization

Integrating area studies perspectives into our knowledge production and diffusion provides an important lens, if we conceive of area studies no longer as the expertise about others, but as a representation of voices from different areas of the globe. Our intent is to bring voices of those historically marginalized as objects of research to the forefront of research, policy and practice. This requires acknowledging a diversity of voices as well as the need for translations not only in words, but also concepts for productive dialogues. Our focus will be knowledge, crisis and displacement. 

Crisis and displacement

As initiated in phase 1 of this research framework, this project engages with crises, conflict and emergencies and its human consequences, whether in terms of immobility or mobility. Our focus is on:  

Conceptual engagements with the framework questions of empire, liberalism and decolonisation of knowledge within which crisis and displacement can be (re)configured, problematized and analysed, leading to a difference in policy and practices. See section research & teaching.  

Regional/country desks

We emphasize ‘voices’ from the countries/ regions, combining this with interdisciplinary expertise across Cambridge. We are also developing cross-cutting expertise, again with involvement of area-specialists, on education and public health. These desks will facilitate research collaboration across disciplines, but also allow for quick reaction capability to unfolding crises as to brief media and policymakers, as well as inform the collegiate university. See section impact & practice.  

Global networks of policy and practice, including the UN Global Compact on Refugees and UN Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (relevant links are already existing), but also national and European policies. See section publications & policies.


This workplan consists of three components: (i) research & teaching (with networks through study groups), (ii) impact & practice (with networks through region/country desks and emphasis on voices of those conflict-affected/diasporas), and (iii) publications and policy. All three components will be supporting each other. Co-production of knowledge takes part place under impact and practices, supported through collegiate university expertise under research and teaching, and leading to transformative and out-of-the-box thinking for publications and policy. For 2023-24, we plan to produce first research outputs, small grant applications and establishment of partnerships in/to conflict and displacement regions. 2024-25, our focus will be on large grants applications on knowledge, conflicts and displacement (covering multiple study groups, regional desks and external partners through cross-cutting topics) as well as philanthropic opportunities for individual regional desk and their work for displacement affected-populations. We will also produce through the regional desks impact-oriented output through co-production of nationally and globally relevant policy directives (such as through the Forum on Afghanistan). In and beyond 2025, we aim to produce, through these structures, multiple publications and impact-studies in anticipation of REF.  


Project benefits 

This project contributes in the first instance to “area studies, global inequality and economic development”, but equally has strong links to decolonization of knowledge and legacies of past. It also has links to conflicts, climate justice, transformations, technologies. SHSS has so far been missing a focus on crises/emergencies and displacements – particularly in relation to refugees. This project not only anchors this subject area, but creates research, teaching, policy and practice links across the School, the collegiate university, and into global academic and policy networks. It does so not by replicating other centers across the world (focused, for example, on refugees), but by taking decolonization of knowledge seriously in engaging with conflicts and displacement. 


Project use of HSS Interactive Mapping Tool for Networks & Research Collaborations 

This workplan will contribute to and make use of the HSS Interactive Networks with its multiple dynamic networks – internal, including early career researchers as well as external partnerships with HEI and non-HEI institutions. The networks promoted through this project are (i) various study groups, linking around core topics academics and researchers, (ii) various desks, linking around core countries/ regions, bringing together collegiate expertise together with diaspora- and conflict-affected voices; (iii) and linking both of the previous points, with wide policy networks. Multiple dynamic networks will contribute to synergy and efficiency in achieving project objectives.