Research and Prizes – March 2016

Steel factory, India


PhD student Amber Abrams has recently had a paper entitled ‘Engaging adolescents in TB and clinical trial research through drama’ accepted for publication. The journal Springer Nature will be using the paper as a special interest piece and pitching it to journalists to increase visibility and readership.

Dr Andrew Sanchez has had a paper published on the ability of offensive jokes to undermine intolerance, entited ‘Profane Relations: The Irony of Offensive Jokes in India’. In a paper published in the journal History and Anthropology, Dr Sanchez explains how exchanges of offensive humour enable people to distance themselves from the values that inform religious and ethnic violence. Based on research in a multi-ethnic workplace in India, the study shows how joking relationships between colleagues make an apparently offensive commentary on the public life of ethnic difference. Dr Sanchez looks at the unspoken political content of this humour, to show why such jokes do not always cause offence. The paper shows that the exchange of humorous insults implicitly critiques religious and ethnic violence, by suggesting that one’s personal relations are not governed by the principles of offence and retaliation. While communal politics never forgives insult and never forgets the past, Dr Sanchez argues that offensive joking operates on more tolerant principles rooted in the present. The paper can be found in full here.

Mothers who have postnatal depression are unlikely to have more than two children according to research carried out by Dr Sarah Johns with colleagues Dr Oskar Burger and Sarah Myers for an article entitled ‘Postnatal depression and reproductive success in modern, low-fertility contexts. Until now very little has been known about how women’s future fertility is impacted by the experience of postnatal depression. The team collected data on the complete reproductive histories of over 300 women to measure the effect postnatal depression had on their decision to have more children. The mothers were all born in the early to mid-20th century and the majority were based in industrialised countries while raising their children.The team concluded that postnatal depression, particularly when the first child is born, leads to lowered fertility levels. Experiencing higher levels of emotional distress in her first postnatal period decreased a woman’s likelihood of having a third child, though did not affect whether she had a second.Furthermore, postnatal depression after both the first and the second child dissuaded women from having a third child to the same extent as if they had experienced major birth complications. Further news on this publication can be found on the Kent news site, while the full open access article can be found here.

A study conducted by Kent’s Dr Amy Hinsley and Dr David Roberts, and published by Conservation Biology, represents the first large-scale global survey of wildlife trade via a social-media site, using the orchid trade as a case study. Orchids make up 70% of species listed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and some can sell on the black market for tens of thousands of pounds, thus providing the motivation for traders to bypass the rules aimed at preventing species from becoming extinct. Illegal traders are keen to find new ways to advertise and sell their plants on the black market, with social media emerging as the new way to do so.The researchers found wild orchids were being traded from all over the world, and recorded trade in rare and threatened species including one assessed as Critically Endangered.  At least two others are listed as protected in the country from which they were being sold. Although total numbers of trade posts are relatively small, the high proportion of wild collected orchids for sale supports calls for better monitoring of social media for trade in wild collected plants and other traded wildlife. The article, entitled ‘Estimating the extent and structure of trade in horticultural orchids via social media‘ can be found here, and a full news story on the Kent news pages.

Viva success



Many congratulations to PhD student Laura Montesi for successfully defending her thesis, ‘When the blood sweetens: Diabetes and vulnerability among the Ikojts of Oaxaca’, which examines how one Oaxacan community makes sense of their increasing rates of diabetes.



Congratulations to Dr Mike Poltorak who has been awarded the ASA National Award for Teaching and Lecturing in Anthropology. This award follows the Social Sciences Faculty Teaching Prize 2015, a nomination by the University for a National Teaching Fellowship in 2015, and Kent Union’s Best Teacher award in 2014. Mike has been commended for the integration of three research documentaries (Fun(d)raising, One Week West of Molkom, Five Ways In) on comedy in Tonga, volunteering in a Swedish intentional community and the dance and movement form of contact improvisation into teaching visual anthropology.

Funding Success



Congratulations to Daniela Peluso who has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant to examine ‘communities of practice’ within divisions of multinational financial services corporations that mitigate against corruption. Her study will provide an anthropological examination of how equity trading values are changing as companies self-regulate in response to the global financial crisis and widespread corruption.

SAC Research in the Media

DICE alumnus Dr Charlie Gardner has been interviewed about Madagascar’s spiny forest for the March issue of the BBC Wildlife magazine. The article, by Helen Scales, is entitled ‘Life in the Thorns’ and can be found in print and online.

Prof. Douglas MacMillan will be participating, as a member of the initial proposers’ network, in the newly-established COST Action “Ocean Governance for Sustainability”, led by Prof. Anna-Katharina Hornidge from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Germany. COST Actions are bottom-up science and technology networks, open to researchers and stakeholders for a duration of four years.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s