September 2021

The DeCol Collective

Dr Rajapillai and Dr Velickovic co-founded the DeCol Collective with undergraduate students (Hannah Francis, Rebecca Inniss, Annabelle Detain, Mia Henderson and Misti Lekimenju) in the School of Humanities in 2019. Over the last 3 years, DeCol’s work has focused on a number of grassroots projects involving a student-staff partnership to decolonise the curriculum. DeCol’s most recent event, jointly organised by students from the newly merged School of Humanities and Social Science,  was entitled “Imagining a Decolonial Utopia” (the video will go up soon on their website), an exhibition intended to disrupt colonial structures through artistic expressions.
All students were also part of the university-wide Inclusive Practice Partners Scheme which evolved out of the Learning and Teaching Hub’s ‘Curriculum Advisers Scheme’ that was part of a broader, University-wide initiative called ‘Developing Learning Communities’, which aimed to develop a sense of belonging and community for students by means of student-staff partnerships. In 2018-19 and 2019-20, they worked in partnership with their students on a number activities, events and resources relating to decolonisation of the curriculum. More details about DeCol’s activities can be found on their website.
Since 2019, DeCol’s membership has grown exponentially to include over 120 staff and students from across the University. In 2021, Dr Velickovic presented a paper on decolonising the curriculum at SECP seminar series on decolonising research organised by Dr Heba Youssef. Since the School merger, Dr Rajapillai, Dr Youssef and Dr Velickovic have been actively involved in DeCol’s activities. They are currently working on a research paper exploring the grassroots approach to student-staff partnership to decolonise the curriculum and the formalised institutional approach to the same at the University of Brighton.

With Microbes

Mark Erickson has been working with Dr Catherine Will (Sociology, University of Sussex) on an interdisciplinary and wide ranging project titled ‘With Microbes’. The outcome of this collaborative project is a volume for Mattering Press (publication due in September 2021).
With Microbes brought together scholars from across Europe and across disciplines to consider and debate our multifarious relations with microorganisms in scientific, medical, domestic and cultural situations.

Mark and Catherine’s contribution to this project was a play about the most famous and well-researched microbe of all; Escherichia coli. Written in the style of an Ancient Greek comedy, the play presents episodes from the history of microbiology, and combines these with material collected from ethnographic studies of contemporary microbiology laboratories. The play was performed (virtually) at the 2020 EASST Conference.


Loss & Transience

In 2021, Lucia King and Prof. Rashmi Sawhney (Christ University, Bangalore curated the exhibition, Loss & Transience, at the Hong-gah Museum, Taiwan, showcasing ten contemporary artists/filmmakers from India. Project partners, alongside Hong-gah, were Chew’s Culture Foundation, Optoma (Taiwan) and Videoclub, the latter a UK-based distributor of international artists’ film. Concurrently, an online programme of film screenings and webinars brought together audiences, researchers and artists in UK, Taiwan and India. The artists/filmmakers showcased included world class pioneers: Ranbir Singh Kaleka, Gigi Scaria, Mochu, Avijit Mukul Kishore and Ranu Mukherjee Ayisha Abraham, Abhinava Bhattacharyya, Madhusree Dutta and Devshree Nath. Exhibited works were linked by their protagonists’ state of transience at key moments within the films; a transience associated with being a migrant, or the existential impermanence of losing one’s citizenship. Precariousness featured also in relation to socially exclusion in India’s urban planning, addressing current environmental catastrophes, and the contested status of Kashmir.


Generation Rewild

Whilst there is increasing evidence of the benefits of nature connection for health, wellbeing, community cohesion and driving environmentally-conscious behaviour, generation-by-generation we are increasingly disconnected from nature. Rewilding, including the reintroduction of key extinct species, is an increasingly advocated conservation approach, and this research will start exploring the unstudied potential for high-profile species reintroductions to (re)connect people with local nature and landscapes. Led by Rachel White, the study focuses on the reintroduction of the charismatic migratory white stork to Southern England. Specifically, this interdisciplinary research will initiate a longitudinal study to establish baselines and track change over time in perceptions of local communities towards the species and its reintroduction. Collectively, this understanding is essential for reintroduction success and designing transferable public engagement programmes to increase nature connection and ultimately help drive pro-conservation behaviour change.

Collaborators: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust ; University of Exeter

Funding: University of Brighton Rising Stars Award


The impact of criminalisation on women and feminist activist groups in Brazil

Led by Roxana Cavalcanti, this collaborative project funded by the British Academy (grant number KFSBSF\100004 aims to examine the criminalisation of women and feminist activists in Brazil. Since 2007, several restrictive laws affecting social movements and public gatherings have been passed in Brazil. Additionally, under the government of President Bolsonaro, Brazil has experienced an escalation of practices that dismantle policies and institutions that promoted social equality. This project extends our research with activist communities in Brazil by developing a wider investigation of what is happening to activist women in a new context of authoritarian governance. We propose to develop new knowledge about emergent forms of authority and resistance that seek to foreground perspectives on the contestation of space and governance.

Visit this project on our database of research activity


Activism and authoritarianism in Brazil

A body of research has begun to analyze the relationship between authoritarianism and the criminalisation of activism. However, few studies examine the voices of activists in the context of Brazil’s current political, economic and ecological crisis. Led Roxana Cavalcanti, this project (‘Activism and Authoritarianism: Understanding the social and environmental effects of authoritarian governance from the perspective of activists in Brazil’) was funded by a University of Brighton Rising Stars Award 2020-21.

It proposes to investigate how the work of activists has been affected by new insecurity, economic and political shifts. Its timely focus on the Brazilian case enables broader understandings of the scale and repercussions of global harms and threats to humanity. Brazil has experienced an escalation of practices that promote extractive capitalism at the expense of social equality, including the extensive fires for the growth of crops in the Amazon forest in 2019. Such forms of exploitation provoke resistance from indigenous communities in some of the world’s most unequal places. This project builds on Roxana Cavalcanti’s research in Brazil (Cavalcanti 2016; 2017; 2019; 2020) and widens my investigation of the work of anti-violence activists to develop a theory of resistance to authoritarian governance and socio-ecological crisis.

Anthropocene Psychology: Being human in a more-than-human world

SECP researcher Matt Adams is currently involved in building on a sustained period of interdisciplinary scholarship and research that contributed to his most recent monograph: Anthropocene Psychology: Being human in a more-than-human world (2020, Routledge). He is presently concerned with disseminating findings and insights from this scholarship and engaging in talks, forums, networks and conversations spanning the globe. Recent and forthcoming events include presentations for the Royal Geographic Society Annual International Conference and Royal Anthropological Institute Conference; and invited talks on themes emerging from Anthropocene Psychology for diverse organisations including the University of Stavanger, Norway; UK Government Cabinet Office; Westminster Education Forum (London, UK), Rendering Unconscious (Stockholm, Sweden); Extinction Rebellion UK; and Tetramap (Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand). He further develops current research, addressing environmental justice,  human-nature and human-animal relationships in an Anthropocene context for forthcoming articles in Current Opinion in Psychology, Qualitative Research, and Environmental Communication and in various commentary pieces for The Conversation and other platforms. He is now working on a UKRI funding proposal building further on the themes developed in Anthropocene Psychology through arts-based collaborative research.

Matt’s most recent piece for The Conversation builds on his research to date, addressing the role direct experiences of nature in childhood might contribute to care for nature – from conservation work to more radical forms of environmental activism – across the life span . Widespread circulation of the article was followed by an invitation to take part in a Green Network Event on the Climate Emergency at the Cabinet Office (2021).