Area Academic Contacts: Professor Matthew Hilton, Professor of Social History, firstname.lastname@example.org; Professor Chris Skelcher, and Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer, College of Social Sciences, email@example.com
Transnationalism and superdiversity at Birmingham involves the movement of peoples, ideas and institutions across established geo-political borders. The two concepts stand at the intersection of ideas about nations and cultures with the historical and political processes of migration, state building, conflict and development.
Birmingham has long been a transnational city. Standing at the heart of the British industrial revolution, its raw materials and commercial products established trading links across empires and continents, from China to the new world. As a global city it represents one of the key nodal points through ideas, peoples and institutions move through, interact and exchange.
The study of superdiversity benefits from Birmingham being one of Europe’s superdiverse cities – a place where the old stable patterns of immigration have been transformed as people from around the world settle here and produce a rich mix of ethnicity, faith, culture, language and identity.
This makes Birmingham a living laboratory in which we can study the evolution of superdiverse societies, show the interconnectivity between local and global processes, and actively work with communities, governments, and businesses to address the challenges and opportunities.
The focus on Birmingham will be complemented by our strong connections with national agencies, as well as colleagues across Europe and globally who work in this field. SIRI will demonstrate the University’s mission of leading the debate on important issues of our day that have a civic, national and global dimension.
As a global university, scholars from across campus have made the entire world the object of study. They have focused on countries, regions and transnational interactions that break down and challenge our existing interpretations of imperialism and globalization.
Transnationalism and superdiversity are inherently interdisciplinary. Our work engages colleagues from social policy, applied linguistics, politics and government, social theory, conflict and security, development studies, computer science, medical sciences, history, religion, ethics, law, culture, area studies and other fields. This provides a rich theoretical and conceptual environment, but one ultimately directed at solving real world problems through advanced research and the production of new knowledge and applications.
Areas of active investigation
Specific areas of active investigation include:
Understanding processes of globalisation – including global governance, social and cultural interaction, economic development and systems of power and influence
Modelling and mapping transnationalism and superdiversity – including interdisciplinary work on population dynamics, socio-economic indicators, agent-based modelling, cross-border interchanges and simulation of urban systems in superdiverse cities
Entrepreneurship and globalisation – including the study of migrants’ economic skills and trajectories, micro-businesses and niche economies, economic dependencies between migrants and home communities, cultures of banking and financing
Governance in superdiverse cities and through transnational institutions – including forms of representation, political and governmental cultures, inter- and intra- community conflict, forms of mediation and decision-making.
Multilingualism – including approaches to education, media and web technologies, cultural aspects of multilingualism, understanding and misunderstanding
Cultural exchange – including both the high arts and popular culture, the drivers of cultural learning and the modes of everyday life in diverse communities and diasporas
Belief and values – including the study of religion, the transnational flow of ideas and the creation and articulation of value systems
Security and resilience – including policing and counter-terrorism, religiously endorsed extremism, conflict and co-operation
Environment – including the transnational consequences of resource use and extraction, sustainability and the management and control of global resources
Health and well-being – including public health, customs and practices affecting health, epidemiology, social care, social indicators, community well-being
Methodological advancement – including development of UoB’s community research model, interactive research with communities, governments and business.
Our transnationalism and superdiversity work attracts funding from the European Commission, ESRC, AHRC, government departments in the UK and abroad, local authorities, voluntary sector organisations, trusts and charities (eg Leverhulme, Wellcome, Nuffield), and business. We work with communities wherever possible, including our commitment to developing and training community and practitioner researchers. This funding enables the University to engage in original academic research as well as applied advice to governments and policy makers.
Research Teams and Centres
Specific research teams and centres working in this area include:
Key Research Leads
Professor Scott Lucas, who runs Libertas, the Centre for US foreign policy
Professor Corey Ross, engaged in global environmental history
Dr Kim Wagner, director of the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History and lecturer in imperial and world history
Professor Matthew Hilton, leader of a project on the role of British and transnational non-governmental organisations (www.ngo.bham.ac.uk ) and historian of contemporary globalisation issues
Dr. Jenny Phillimore – who leads our work on superdiversity and specialises in migration and its social, economic and policy consequences
Professor Adrian Blackledge and Professor Angela Creese – who are internationally renowned for their work on bilingualism and educational linguistics, and direct MOSAIC, our Research Centre for Multilingualism
Dr. Basia Spalek - who specialises in counter-terrorism, policing and minorities, victimisation, and religious diversity and directs our Communities, Securities and Global Justice Group
Professor Gurharpal Singh - Nadir Dinshaw Professor of Inter-Religious Relations and Deputy Director of Department for International Development (UK) funded research consortium on Religions and Development Research Programme based in the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham
Professor Jayne Parry - Professor of Policy and Public Health in the School of Health and Population Sciences
Professor Heather Widdows, Professor of Global Ethics