British academy

British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowships
Full List of Awards: 2007



Professor G P Currie
Professor of Philosophy, University of Nottingham (H12)
Irony and Point of View in Representational Art

The point of view of a work of art is partly constituted by its restriction of visual access to the represented scene, as in the case of pictures, or by the use of a narrator whose knowledge of events is in some way limited. But points of view are also a means by which the author encourage certain evaluative and emotional responses to the events and characters of the depicted world. One aim of this study is to develop a theory about the relations between points of view as restrictions of access to information, and their capacity to guide the responses of an audience. But sometimes what appears to be the point of view of the work is actually presented ironically: there are indications, intrinsic to the work itself, that this point of view is defective in certain ways. Drawing on general considerations about the nature of communication, I develop an account of how the defects of points of view are indicated, and examine the effects of such irony on the work’s capacity to generate emotional and evaluative responses of an audience. Throughout, examples from the depictive, and especially photographic arts are used, along with examples from literature and film.


Professor M J Evans
Professor of Contemporary History, University of Portsmouth (H10)
New Perspectives on the Algerian War, 1954–1962

In order to deepen our understanding of how empires end, this project will focus upon the specific example of the Algerian War 1954-62, one of the longest and most contested episodes in the decolonisation process.  Although the war lasted from November 1954 to July 1962 the Socialist led Republican Front dramatically intensified the conflict in spring 1956.  This intensification was predicated on the belief in the universal civilising mission of the Fourth Republic derived from the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.  It was also powered by the conviction that Algerian nationalism was feudal and religiously fanatical in character.  Drawing upon archival sources as well as oral testimony this project will chart the conflict of values between the Republican Front and Algerian nationalism, analysing how and why this clash produced patterns of thought and action, such as the institutionalisation of torture and the raising of pro-French Muslim militias, which polarised choices and widened the war.


Dr C McKinnon
Reader in Political Theory, University of Reading (H12; S5)
Corrective Justice and the Precautionary Principle: Liberal Approaches to Climate Change?

Addressing climate change is the biggest political challenge we face, yet the dominant force in political theory of the last thirty years – liberalism – has remained strangely silent on the issue.  The (limited number of) existing liberal approaches to the climate change challenge mostly adopt the perspective of distributive justice. They ask: what is the fairest distribution of the burdens of averting and abating climate change across persons or peoples? Although important, this question misses two key aspects of the climate change problem. First, its intergenerational aspect: what do we owe as a matter of justice to any future generations harmed by climate change caused by our current activities? And second: are these obligations exhaustively distributive? The account of intergenerational corrective justice I will develop answers these questions in a way that complements, but radically expands the vision of, existing distributive justice-based approaches. The novel approach to be developed in this project consists of a Rawlsian defence of key principles of corrective justice fit to address significant harms visited on future generations by current activity causing CC. This approach delivers a radical supplement to existing CC policy and approaches to it, which will be explored through a defence of an intergenerational compensation scheme realising corrective justice. The limits of the approach will also be mapped through consideration of the harms it leaves untouched, i.e. those that are uncertain. With respect to these, the Precautionary Principle – often offered as fit for the role of regulating uncertain harms – will be given a qualified defence from a political liberal point of view. The heart of this defence will be that the uncertain harms that our current consumption habits and energy regimes could cause to future generations are nevertheless foreseeable, and fall under the purview of the political liberal approach insofar as they are catastrophic. This is not because such harms are in themselves the subject of any principle of justice, but rather because protecting future generations from them is necessary to preserve the circumstances in which these people can have motivating reasons to abide by principles of justice.


Professor L D Morris
Professor of Sociology, University of Essex (S4; S1)
What Makes a Judgement? A Sociological Case Study

This research addresses the connection between idealised conceptions of rights and the study of rights in practice. It does so through a focus on judgement, whereby universal standards are applied to specific cases, taking as an example the ten year history of legislative attempts to withdraw welfare support from in-country claimants for asylum. In particular, the research analyses the process of challenging such legislation, culminating in 14 judgements variously delivered by the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. These judgements are placed in the context of political debate and intent surrounding the legislation, the actions of civil society groups/NGO’s seeking to contest the legislation, and the role of solicitors and barristers involved in the challenge. Based on both documentary sources and qualitative interviews with key actors, the research addresses four empirical levels: political purpose, civil society mobilisation, the dynamic of legal argument, and the delivery and effects of the judgements. The research will then move on to draw out the theoretical implications of this case study for a sociology of rights and judgement.


Professor S A Moser
Professor of Archaeology, University of Southampton (H7; H11)
Archaeology and Egyptomania: Art, Design and the Development of Egyptology in Britain

Although many scholarly works have been produced on Egyptomania and its expression in architecture and design, the relationship between archaeology and the representation of ancient Egypt in the visual arts has not been seriously explored. Focusing on the depiction of ancient Egypt in Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century, this project seeks to investigate the connection between the major archaeological works on ancient Egypt and its artistic portrayal. Through detailed case studies on the ‘Egyptian Court’ created for the Crystal Palace at Sydenham in 1854, and the paintings of Sir Laurence Alma-Tadema and Edwin Long, Professor Moser aims to determine what the relationship between archaeology and Egyptomania was in Britain and whether it is epistemologically significant. If an important association between the two is found to exist, there are major implications for archaeology, Egyptology and art history; most notably, a recognition that there is a two-way knowledge exchange between academic knowledge and artistic responses to the past.


Dr K J Oliver
Senior Lecturer in American History, University of Southampton (H10)
American Religion and the Implications of ‘Deep Space’ Exploration, 1961–1973

The relationship between religious belief and the maturation of manned and unmanned deep space exploration in the 1960s and early 1970s has received little sustained attention from either historians of American religion or students of the US space programme. Yet many Americans in this period did make connections between their religious beliefs and their country's ventures into deep space. Popular and specialist journals regularly reflected upon the theological implications of a physical journey into the heavens, and potentially also of an encounter with extra-terrestrial life. Astronauts offered prayers, celebrated mass and read the Bible in space, and after their missions, a number turned to God or to other forms of spiritual exploration. Amidst concerns that religious observances in space might fall foul of the constitutional separation of church and state, millions of Americans wrote letters or signed petitions to NASA defending such observances: three and a half million of the four million items of correspondence that NASA received from US citizens between 1969 and 1973 came to be filed under the heading 'Scripture'. Meanwhile, the journey to the moon (long the focus of pagan belief and ritual), together with images of the luminous, fragile earth taken from deep space offered a stimulus to vitalist forms of nature spirituality, particularly those emerging around the margins of the environmental movement. The spiritual hopes and anxieties that Americans brought to the space programme, and the spiritual perspectives they gained - or failed to gain - as a result of personal (in the case of the astronauts) or vicarious (in the case of everyone else) experience of deep space exploration, will be examined in this project, the principal output of which will be a research monograph.


Professor R R R Smith
Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art, University of Oxford (H1; H11)
Roman Emperors and Greek Heroes: The Reliefs from the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias

The relationship of Greek cities and Roman emperors has been much discussed through written evidence and in terms of political and religious institutions. Images and archaeology from the East Roman world expand and adjust the terms of the debate. At the centre of this archaeology stands a temple complex excavated at Aphrodisias (S.W. Turkey) that preserves a near-complete programme of marble reliefs, beside which material from other sites is dispersed, heterogeneous, fragmentary. These reliefs have a detailed local context and show images of local gods, heroes, and myths together with images of Roman emperors and their conquests. They constitute a different and more complicated visual history -- firstly of how the Roman empire was embraced by local elites, secondly of how its emperors were wilfully re-shaped in local forms and colours, and thirdly of how the great inherited cultural assemblage of Olympian gods, Hellenic heroes, and their defining stories – represented through images and ritual – was constantly reproduced and reformulated for contemporary circumstances. The resulting picture is complicated and (in modern terms) partly contradictory. Models of assimilation, incorporation, or resistance will not do justice to this material and to the complex mental structures of these communities under the Empire. The culture is Roman, Greek, and local all at the same time – in different measures and different ways. My aim is to write a visual history of this culture through these reliefs from Aphrodisias that will describe this complexity.