From fracking to mapping, five academics who push the envelope

Friday 2 August 2019

Most people would like to change the world but simply can’t. However, many academics at the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, regularly provide the data and insights for policymakers to do just that. And their endeavours have led to the announcement of five new promotions of distinguished academics.

Their contributions cross a wide range of topics and fields, from fracking to mapping, through human rights, conflict resolution, publishing and history of art and culture

Dr Damien Short, co-director of the Human Rights Consortium (HRC), becomes professor of human rights. He has spent his entire professional career working in this field, both as a scholar and advocate, and has researched and published extensively in the areas of indigenous peoples’ rights, genocide studies (see his latest book 'Redefining Genocide: settler colonialism, social death and ecocide') and environmental justice.

He is currently researching the human rights impacts of extreme energy processes (eg 'tar sands' and 'fracking') and has advised local governments and national government select committees, along with local anti-fracking groups, on the social impacts of energy projects. Last year he was awarded a major research grant as part of an £8 million Natural Environment Research Council/Economic & Social Research Council fund to investigate 'unconventional hydrocarbons in the UK'. The project will provide communities, statutory organisations, and policymakers with relevant information that will stimulate a more informed and thoughtful public conversation about the benefits and burdens of fracking.

Dr Ainhoa Montoya becomes a senior lecturer in Latin American studies at the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS). An anthropologist interested in post-conflict violence and legal disputes over natural resources, she is currently researching the relationship between the legal and moral as it plays out in environmental politics in Central America. Her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Academy (Global Challenges Research Fund). 

Her book, The Violence of Democracy: Political Life in Postwar El Salvador, explores ethnographically how Salvadorans have made sense of a violent peace and the political life of their country in the context of a liberal market democracy. 

Dr Montoya has also acted as an expert witness in asylum appeal cases in the UK involving Salvadorans, and is co-editor of the Bulletin of Latin American Research, the journal of the Society for Latin American Studies, and a co-convener of the London-based Latin American Anthropology seminar.

Dr Elizabeth Savage is now a senior lecturer in book history and communications at the Institute of English Studies (IES) where she is also director of the Printing Colour Project and co-director of the Book and Print Initiative. As an art historian, bibliographer, and printer, she specialises in the history of colour printing in late medieval and early modern Europe.

Her latest book is Printing Colour 1400–1700, the first-ever handbook of early colour printing techniques that ends where most histories of colour printing begin. Her next book, Early Colour Printing: German Renaissance Woodcuts at the British Museum, is forthcoming in October 2019. 

Dr Savage's research has won major awards, including the Wolfgang Ratjen-Preis ('distinguished research in graphic arts'). She has curated exhibitions of early colour prints at the British Museum and Cambridge University Library, and regularly contributes to exhibitions, most recently at the Louvre.

Dr Joanne Anderson, lecturer in the history of art at the Warburg Institute, has been appointed a senior lecturer. She is convener of the MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture, offered in collaboration with London’s National Gallery. She is a specialist on the imagery of Mary Magdalen, working with paintings, altarpieces, prints and glass, and has recently published the first art-historical book dedicated to the topic in the late medieval Alps.

Dr Anderson also researches 20th-century exhibition history. She is currently the co-investigator of the AHRC-funded research network, A Vision for Europe: Academic Action and Responsibility, which focuses on the Warburg Institute’s wartime exhibition practice.

She recently co-curated the exhibition, Image Journeys: the Warburg Institute and a British Art History, at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich and co-edited its accompanying catalogue.

Dr Alessandro Scafi becomes a senior lecturer in medieval and Renaissance cultural history at Warburg. He is the convenor of the MA in Cultural, Intellectual and Visual History. The author of Mapping Paradise: A History of Heaven on Earth, Dr Scafi has also written publications intended for a wider readership and audio-guides for museums and exhibitions, and has contributed to a number of cultural broadcasts, newspapers and magazines. 

In addition to essays on various aspects of the history of cartography and the history of pilgrimage, he has published several articles on Aby Warburg, the relationship between the Italian and Hungarian Renaissances and on Italian art and literature, in particular on Dante and Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini.

Since 2011, he has run at the Warburg Institute (and since 2016 at the Italian Institute of Culture, London) a series of Dante public readings aimed at the general public.