Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Inaugural Lecture: Prof. Nina Laurie, "Geographies of return, identity and development"

Professor Nina Laurie of the Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, School of Geography and Geosciences, will deliver her Inaugural Lecture "Geographies of return, identity and development" in School III, St Salvator's Quadrangle on Wednesday 23 November 2016, 5.15pm. All are welcome.

Geographies of return, identity and development 

We are all ‘returnees’. Across our lifetimes we return at different moments to places, homes, communities, friendships, families, value sets and ways of being. Such movements change us. We carry into new spaces where and what has gone before. These geographical echoes help frame our understandings of where we arrive and what we feel we can do when we get there. This lecture explores how the experiences and knowledges of those who return influences the form and success of sustainable development in diverse settings. It draws on three decades of fieldwork in the global South and new research in coastal Scotland in order to emphasize the need for development policy makers to value the common experience of return. I highlight research on some of the globe’s most marginalised groups, indigenous people and women who have experienced trafficking, and examine how their experiences of return have shaped their rights based development demands. I explore how return can involve valuing traditional ways of knowing and doing, generating new collective group identities as development actors. As an example, I use this framework to introduce a new research agenda on sustainable development in Scotland through a new project ‘Rowing the Waves’ being conducted in partnership with St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club and the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association.

List of inaugural lectures for the academic year 2016-17

Monday, 7 November 2016

East Side Story: Historical Pollution and Neighbourhood Sorting

The East Sides of cities such as London, Vancouver, New York and Paris have historically been the poorest. Some, but not all, have gentrified more recently, and this gentrification has been at the centre of media attention. These observations uncover two questions. Why were these neighbourhoods poor to begin with, and why did some gentrify while others did not? Research conducted by Stephan Heblich (University of Bristol), Alex Trew of the School of Economics & Finance (University of St Andrews) and Yanos Zylberberg (University of Bristol) (http://www.spatialeconomics.ac.uk/textonly/SERC/publications/download/sercdp0208.pdf) suggests that this observation is the most visible consequence of the historically unequal distribution of air pollutants across neighborhoods. During the Industrial Revolution, many areas of Manchester, for example, were covered with layers of soot. Black stains on the pavements and buildings of areas such as Victoria Station or Ancoats in North-East Manchester remained until very recently. With the wrong weather, some areas could be submerged under dark, thick smog. This environmental disamenity made them unpleasant places to live and, in response, those who could afford moved to the neighbourhoods spared by the pollution. This sorting resulted in an unequal distribution of social classes across the city. Since the prevailing winds (The Westerlies) in London, Vancouver, New York, Paris or Manchester blow from the West to the East, the most visible component of such process ended up being the observed West-East differential in neighbourhood composition.

The authors examined nearly 5,000 industrial chimneys in 70 English cities in 1880 and use an atmospheric dispersion model to recreate the spatial distribution of pollution. The exercise was possible because of the fastidiousness of Victorian cartographers. These pioneering map-makers marked each building with landmarks such as factory chimneys. In addition, Victorian census-takers conducted detailed population studies over the nineteenth century.

There is a strong connection between the presence of air pollution and the share of low-skilled workers at the end of the nineteenth century. Such a correlation was absent before coal became the major energy source at the beginning of the century. The observed effect is substantial: the difference between being in the 10% and 90% most polluted neighbourhoods of Manchester was a difference of about 20 percentage points in the share of low-skilled workers. Most interestingly, the relationship between the presence of historic pollution and the share of low skilled workers in 2011 turns out to be quantitatively comparable to the one observed at the end of the nineteenth century. The previous result leaves one question unanswered. How could sorting caused by 1880 pollution be visible nowadays almost 100 years after the 1926 Smoke Abatement Act and 50 years after the Clean Air Acts (which quickly and considerably reduced the extent of coal-based pollution within cities)?

Available podcast:
http://www.wsj.com/podcasts/east-side-vs-west-side-a-division-of-wealth/BD78667E-602D-4FAD-A8EB-24B492E5DC1C.html

East Side Story: Historical Pollution and Neighbourhood Sorting

The East Sides of cities such as London, Vancouver, New York and Paris have historically been the poorest. Some, but not all, have gentrified more recently, and this gentrification has been at the centre of media attention. These observations uncover two questions. Why were these neighbourhoods poor to begin with, and why did some gentrify while others did not? Research conducted by Stephan Heblich (University of Bristol), Alex Trew of the School of Economics & Finance (University of St Andrews) and Yanos Zylberberg (University of Bristol) (http://www.spatialeconomics.ac.uk/textonly/SERC/publications/download/sercdp0208.pdf) suggests that this observation is the most visible consequence of the historically unequal distribution of air pollutants across neighborhoods. During the Industrial Revolution, many areas of Manchester, for example, were covered with layers of soot. Black stains on the pavements and buildings of areas such as Victoria Station or Ancoats in North-East Manchester remained until very recently. With the wrong weather, some areas could be submerged under dark, thick smog. This environmental disamenity made them unpleasant places to live and, in response, those who could afford moved to the neighbourhoods spared by the pollution. This sorting resulted in an unequal distribution of social classes across the city. Since the prevailing winds (The Westerlies) in London, Vancouver, New York, Paris or Manchester blow from the West to the East, the most visible component of such process ended up being the observed West-East differential in neighbourhood composition.

The authors examined nearly 5,000 industrial chimneys in 70 English cities in 1880 and use an atmospheric dispersion model to recreate the spatial distribution of pollution. The exercise was possible because of the fastidiousness of Victorian cartographers. These pioneering map-makers marked each building with landmarks such as factory chimneys. In addition, Victorian census-takers conducted detailed population studies over the nineteenth century.

There is a strong connection between the presence of air pollution and the share of low-skilled workers at the end of the nineteenth century. Such a correlation was absent before coal became the major energy source at the beginning of the century. The observed effect is substantial: the difference between being in the 10% and 90% most polluted neighbourhoods of Manchester was a difference of about 20 percentage points in the share of low-skilled workers. Most interestingly, the relationship between the presence of historic pollution and the share of low skilled workers in 2011 turns out to be quantitatively comparable to the one observed at the end of the nineteenth century. The previous result leaves one question unanswered. How could sorting caused by 1880 pollution be visible nowadays almost 100 years after the 1926 Smoke Abatement Act and 50 years after the Clean Air Acts (which quickly and considerably reduced the extent of coal-based pollution within cities)?

Available podcast:
http://www.wsj.com/podcasts/east-side-vs-west-side-a-division-of-wealth/BD78667E-602D-4FAD-A8EB-24B492E5DC1C.html

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Philanthropy today? Philanthropy tomorrow? Seminar question

On 12th and 13th October, the University of St Andrews is hosting an ESRC-funded seminar in Lower College Hall, St Andrews. The topic is ‘Philanthropy today? Philanthropy tomorrow? Reflecting on contemporary philanthropy and the opportunities and challenges ahead’.

The seminar follows events at Trinity College Dublin, Cass Business School City University London, University of Nottingham and the University of Strathclyde (further information on these is available at http://www.philanthropy.scot/philanthropy-to-the-rescue/).

On the 12th of October, we will explore foundations, international insights and the relationship between philanthropy and universities; on the 13th, collaborative, engaged and community philanthropy are the themes of the day. We have got some very senior national and international experts coming, including:

12th October

Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919)
Photo credit: Univeristy of St Andrews

  • Yunus Sola, Director, Academy of Philanthropy and Board Member of the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists 
  • Rupert Count Strachwitz, Director, Maecenata Institute, Germany
  • Diana Leat, Visiting Professor, Cass Business School and the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies 
  • Jenny Harrow, Co-Director, Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy, Cass Business School, City University 
  • Robert Fleming, Commissioner, Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Commission for Philanthropy 
  • Robert Dufton, Director of Campaigns, Sheffield University and former Director Paul Hamlyn Foundation 

13th October
  • Susan Wilkinson Maposa, Author of ‘The Poor Philanthropist: how and why the poor help each other’, South Africa 
  • Marie-Luise Stoll Steffan, Co-chair, Community Foundations Working Group and Regional Coordinator, Association of Community Foundations, Berlin 
  • Giles Ruck, Chief Executive, Foundation Scotland 
  • Barry Knight, Adviser, Global Fund for Community Foundations 
  • Caroline Broadhurst, Deputy Chief Executive, The Rank Foundation 
  • Beth Breeze, Director, Centre for Philanthropy, University of Kent 

The event is free and attendance at both or either of the days is possible.


The full programme is available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/philanthropy-today-philanthropy-tomorrow-tickets-27529400177

Please contact Dr Tobias Jung, Director, The Centre for the Study of Philanthropy & Public Good, if you have any questions.  

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Celebrating innovation in global popular cinemas

The Institute of Global Cinema and Creative Cultures (IGCCC) at the University of St Andrews invites you two days of celebrating innovation in global popular cinemas, shifting the paradigms of the 'original' and 'the ripoff', and re-imagining the global 'remake'.

Innovation over Imitation in Popular Cinema Beyond the West 

Film screening/discussion+Workshop - 7 to 8 October, 2016 
Institute for Global Cinema and Creative Cultures, University of St Andrews 

We seek to challenge the traditional vantage points of the West as the 'source' of global 'derivatives' with academics from the St Andrews' Department of Film Studies community, such as Prof. Dina Iordanova, Dr Dennis Hanlon and Dr Anjua Jain, guests such as Dimitris Eleftheriotis (Glasgow), Iain Robert Smith (London), Savas Arslan (Istanbul), Ahmet Gürata (Ankara) and Turkish-German director Cem Kaya, as well as the amazingly diverse cohort of our PhD students, including contributions related to the Gulf countries, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, China, Poland, India, Turkey, and more....


7 October 2016, The Arts Lecture Theatre, 6 p.m. 
The event will kick off with a screening of the acclaimed documentary 'Remix, Remake, Ripoff' / 'Motör'(2014), followed by a Q&A session with director Cem Kaya. Cem Kaya's documentary takes us into the heart of the quirky, mysterious, innovative bylanes of the Yeşilçam cinema of Turkey. At once notorious for is "rip-offs" of The Exorcist and Star Wars, yet inherently subversive by using creative means to bypass political censorship, Yeşilçam brought joy, adventure and thrills to generations of Turkish audiences. 'Remix, Remake, Ripoff' is the incredible story of Turkey's popular cinema - 7 years in the making and constructed from hours of archival footage. This screening will be followed by a Q & A with director Cem Kaya.

8 October 2016, Students Union, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A day of provocations, interventions and contributions from international scholars and observers, intended to turn the tables and challenge the traditional patterns that rely on the hierarchical positioning of "originals" from the West and "ripoffs" in global cinema cultures. Along with a special focus on Turkish and Indian popular cinemas, we will explore the 'uplifting lifting' found in the hot territories of other traditions of popular cinema, and will foreground innovation over imitation, making important methodological interventions. The full programme can be found at the end of this message.

The event is open to all interested parties. Join us, as we seek to chart the transnational journey that binds global audiences together through cinematic experiences.

Tickets (inclusive of the screening and conference-day refreshments) are available at: http://onlineshop.st-andrews.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&deptid=29&catid=31&prodid=467


Ticket prices: £10 (Regular) £6 (Unwaged/Student)

For any information or queries, please contact the organisers at: Shruti Narayanswamy (sn52@st-andrews.ac.uk) & Sanghita Sen (ss309@st-andrews.ac.uk)

For event updates on Facebook, please follow the Screening page: https://www.facebook.com/events/306068843104052/ and the Conference page: https://www.facebook.com/events/703610053127247/.

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Functions of Film in the British Empire


In 1941, William Sellers, the head of the recently formed Colonial Film Unit (CFU), published an article about African audiences, entitled ‘Films for Primitive Peoples’, in which he proposed a model for mobile film shows in Africa. Sellers suggested that a good way to get the crowd’s attention was for the commentator to ‘ask a question to which the obvious answer is “yes”.’ Such a question, Sellers suggested, might be “Are you proud to be British?”. The question would be asked three times, he explained, ‘almost every member of the audience will reply and their answer comes back in a roar.’ A decade later, when Sellers revisited these plans, the suggested question had intriguingly changed from “Are you proud to be British?” to “Are you all well?”

So why begin with this example? First, it provides a neat illustration of the shifting political situation within Africa in the last decade of colonial rule. The initial question (‘Are you proud to be British?’) also hints at the ways in which the CFU saw these film shows as political events, as a way of monitoring, addressing and homogenising disparate groups of colonial subjects. Film shows were imagined here as a microcosm of the empire; a way of organising the colonial space, for example through carefully outlined seating plans that reaffirmed traditional hierarchies. Reports also suggest that some government officials took most pride in discovering that the crowd had learnt to stand to attention at the end of the show and sing the British National Anthem.

Dr Tom Rice of the Department of Film Studies is currently working on a book on the Colonial Film Unit, which produced, distributed and exhibited film across the British colonies from the 1930s until independence in the 1960s, but his interest in this topic began almost a decade ago when Tom worked on a major 3-year AHRC project on colonial film. The project provided the perfect opportunities for a (then relatively) young researcher: working with major archives, part of a great team, multiple academic and public events, and the chance to research, write and publish extensively. However, there were also limitations here. As the project was focused on the individual films held within the British archives, inevitably there were ‘missing’ films and histories. It also became increasingly apparent that the government films told a partial story – they are often most interesting for what they don’t show – and that many of the histories that most intrigued Tom appeared beyond the screen.

The opening example provides a case in point. Sellers’ writing hints at the integral role of the local film commentator, who might set up the screening, provide an introductory lecture, answer questions, and translate and talk over the films. The commentator would offer call and responses, ask questions of the audience, outline the intended message of the film and direct where the audience looked on screen. He might talk over or replace the British voice on the soundtrack and, in this way, represented a new voice within African cinema. Audience responses show how the commentator could completely transform a film, even prompting widespread laughter during a film on venereal disease.

Looking at audience reports and government documents further confirms that audiences did not always respond as the authorities expected. At the height of the Emergency in Malaya (Malaysia), the government cancelled screenings of a propaganda film made by the Malayan Film Unit after reports that cinemagoers had cheered the onscreen appearance of communist leader Chin Peng. In Nyasaland (Malawi), the mobile unit was blocked from reaching its destination, while on other occasions nationalist leaders took to the microphone. In Ghana, a lamp was actually fitted to the screen to prevent unrest amongst the audience, using the cinema screen to light up political dissidence; an example of the film watching the audience.

Tom is now beginning a Leverhulme Fellowship, which will allow him to move further beyond the British archive (with research trips in Ghana and Jamaica) and access additional materials (films, interviews, government files, and has collaborated with the BFI to digitise the CFU’s quarterly magazine). In examining film’s role in administering, controlling and visualising a rapidly changing Empire, the book will provide a new historical perspective on the last decades of the British Empire. It will also offer a fresh take on British cinema – instructional and educational, often run by civil servants and sanitary inspectors – and, as we see the formative moves towards film production and exhibition in a number of countries, new insights into global film history.

You can view a number of the CFU films at www.colonialfilm.org.uk

Research: ‘Are You Proud to Be British?’: Mobile Film Shows, Local Voices and the Demise of the British Empire in Africa: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01439685.2015.1049863?src=recsys&

Friday, 19 August 2016

Applied photonics in the Southern Ocean

Dr Tom Brown,
School of Physics & Astronomy
So why did I, a physicist who is most at home in the darkened, well-controlled confines of a laser laboratory, find myself dressed in high-viz clothing climbing aboard a big orange ship in Tasmania in January 2016 about to set off for a three-month trip to one of the most isolated areas of the planet?

The story starts with a technique known as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), an imaging technique developed in the early 1990s that has had real impact – many optometrists now rely on these systems to provide 3 dimensional images of the retina and its underlying structure and it provides a unique method of diagnosing many important visual impairments. The technique has also found application in many other fields including imaging plaques within arteries and mapping the boundaries of cancer tumours. We have used the system we developed at St Andrews in many medical areas however we have also sought to develop its application in other fields, most recently in providing high resolution structural imaging of Antarctic Krill (Euphasia Superba), one of the most important animals within the food chain of the Antarctic that stretches all the way from microscopic algae to the Blue Whale the planet’s largest animal.


Antarctic Krill (Euphasia Superba)
OCT provides imaging of structure by relying on accurate depth measurement of light which is reflected from the boundaries between different tissue types within a sample. The depth can be measured to a thousands of a mm accuracy by relying on the phenomenon of interference, the effects produced when two waves interact with one another either causing cancellation of a large growth in the signal. A typical OCT system can give resolution of a few thousandths of a mm or better in three dimensions to depths of a few mm within living tissue.

Our studies on Krill started from important biological questions on the effects of ocean acidification on the structural development of the animals. We began by examining preserved lab specimens before shipping the system the Australian Antarctic Division aquarium in Tasmania, Australia to produce the first three-dimensional imaging of living animals.

In the last year we have also taken our technology to the Antarctic itself by taking part in the Australian Government’s K-Axis marine science voyage based on the icebreaker Aurora Australis, which brought together around 50 scientists from a range of disciplines including Physics, Biology, Oceanography, Ecology and Chemistry, to study an area of unusual productivity in Eastern Antarctic between the Kerguelen Islands and the Antarctic itself. We showed that our OCT system, which is normally used within a specifically built optics lab, can be deployed and generated high quality data within the marine science environment with measurements taken even as the ship was rolling by more than 12 degrees in each direction. We have also shown that a wide range of interesting species can be imaged using these techniques and look forward to starting a host of new collaborations with partners from a very broad group of interests contributing new knowledge to globally important effects of climate change and ocean acidification.

The work described in this post has been supported from several sources with EU funding enabling the original development of the system, EPSRC providing ongoing support through a Platform Grant and the Australian Antarctic Division, providing major in kind contributions for voyage costs and hosting experiments.

Throughout the marine science programme our photonics technology performed exceptionally and provided an important compliment to the other photonics-systems on board that provided both imaging and advanced experiments on plankton development. The fact that the ship then ran aground and we had to be rescued by a major international mission – well that might be a story for another post!

Dr Tom Brown, School of Physics and Astronomy

Research: 
M.J. Cox, S. Kawaguchi, R. King, K.Dholakia and C.T.A. Brown, “Internal physiology of live krill revealed using new aquaria techniques and mixed optical microscopy and optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging techniques”, Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology, 48, p. 455 (2015)

N. Bellini, M.J. Cox, D.J. Harper, S.R. Stott, P.C. Ashok, K. Dholakia, S. Kawaguchi, R. King, T. Horton and C.T.A. Brown, “The Application of Optical Coherence Tomography to Image Subsurface Tissue Structure of Antarctic Krill Euphausia superba”, PLOS ONE, 9, Art. No. e110367 (2014)