February 2016

I am pleased to report the publication of our edited volume Religion as a Category of Governance and Sovereignty in May 2015 by the European publisher Brill. The volume was the outcome of the British Academy conference which CISRUL co-hosted in 2010, and of the workshop held at Aberdeen in 2012. I was the lead editor of the volume, and contributed the introduction and a chapter, as did another CISRUL affiliate, Brian Brock.

Our second major publication will be the edited volume Political Community: The Idea of a Self-Governing People, which is the outcome of our 2013 and 2014 CISRUL workshops. There has been strong interest in publishing the volume.

Our publications will keep coming since we’re all developing plans for new research, and are actively applying to fund them. Several projects also have a focus on public impact. For example:

  • Andrea Teti (Politics & IR) already holds a major EU grant on Arab Transitions which look at the beliefs, values and behavior with respect to political and social transformations in 7 Arab countries, with a view to informing policy as well as making a string of publications.
  • I’ve just been awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh European Visiting Research Fellowship, which will allow me to complete the Political Community volume during my sabbatical semester next year at the Universidad de Málaga, home to the Civic Constellations network that CISRUL will be joining.

Another edited volume will come out of our 5th CISRUL workshop, which will take place this June on the topic of ‘Radical Protest in Constitutional Democracy’. The workshop will bring together many of the issues we’ve been debating in CISRUL over the past 4 years, including civil society, political community, and rule of law, as well as touching on many of the liveliest topics in the world today, including the policing of protest.

As well as the workshop, we held 2 public lectures last spring and have 2 more planned for the spring. The first public lecture last spring was by Professor Stanley Hauerwas, who is probably  the best-known US theologian. The second was by Professor Michael Keating, who is a leading authority on European nationalisms and was regularly invited by the BBC to speak on the Referendum last year.

We can also report that CISRUL’s first 4 PhD students have now successfully graduated:

  • James King was the first to complete, with a thesis on the political thought of 3 leading theologians, including Stanley Hauerwas who gave our public lecture last year. James is currently teaching Religious Studies at Ampleforth College, while he applies for postdoctoral fellowships.
  • Marek Szilvasi completed his thesis on EU Roma policy over the summer, and he is currently working as a Research and Advocacy Officer with the European Roma Rights Centre, though he is also applying for postdoctoral funding.
  • Alena Thiel was commended by examiners for her thesis on market trader associations in Ghana. She is now a Research Fellow of the prestigious German Institute for Global and Area Studies in Hamburg.
  • Ulisses Neto-Teto passed his PhD viva in January on Brazil’s Programme for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, which is an innovative Brazilian state programme designed to protect agrarian and other movement leaders facing death threats, allowing them to continue to struggle for human rights.

Given that these students are leaving, we’re delighted that we were able to admit the highest number of new PhD students so far, 3 of whom have since started in September and 1 in January:

  • Domenico Carolei is a lawyer by training, though with broad interests in political theory, who will study the accountability of Civil Society Organizations, with a focus on attempts in his native Italy by regional networks of CSOs to develop codes by which they could be held accountable, not only to donors but to beneficiaries.
  • Saerom Han is from South Korea but will study Egypt since 2011, especially how the labour unions which were the backbone of the Arab Spring have since been neutralized by the Egyptian military, principally by using anti-terror legislation to stifle their protest.
  • Aditya Mohanty already holds a permanent position as Assistant Professor of Sociology in India, but has been granted leave to study a PhD at CISRUL, on participatory urban governance in Delhi, asking whether the neighbourhood councils being set up (not unlike Scotland’s community councils) are managing to incorporate local citizens of all classes.
  • Alex Crawford will be the second history PhD at CISRUL and works on medieval Scotland, which may seem far removed from our contemporary concerns but this is the period in which many of today’s political concepts were forged, and he has already made brilliant contributions to our debates on constitutions, rule of law, political community and so on.

This brings to 13 the total number of students who are or have been in the CISRUL PhD programme. We continue to put considerable effort into ensuring the students interact with each other, as well as with us, in order to offset the notoriously lonely predicament of UK PhD students. We’ve also benefited enormously from having such an able, lively, diverse and cosmopolitan group of students, who engage fully in all our CISRUL events.

We’re now hoping to advertise further PhD studentships by the end of February 2016, to start in September 2016.

Finally, we’re focusing on encouraging prospective applicants for Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (e.g. from European Commission) to choose CISRUL as their host organization. To that end, we’re in the process of advertising funding to bring prospective Fellowship applicants for up to a week to develop their application with us.

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