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Language-Based Area Studies

The Language-Based Area Studies (LBAS) centres were originally supported from 2006-2011 through funding from the AHRC, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Scottish Funding Council (SFC). Subsequent activity for the centres has been funded by the AHRC and British Academy until 2016 (further details below).

The centres were established with the aim of creating a world-class cadre of researchers with the necessary language skills to undertake contextually informed research in the Arabic speaking world; China; Japan; and Eastern Europe, including areas of the former Soviet Union. The five centres are:

Development Funding Scheme

A new scheme provided by the AHRC and British Academy (BA) builds on the original LBAS framework by supporting work based primarily in the arts and humanities and modern languages with a specific focus on outreach and partnerships. It does this through three development pathways:

  1. Developing and sustaining partnerships for knowledge exchange with relevant business and public policy organisations, for example through short-term internships and placements or through other forms of partnership working
  2. Developing and sustaining research networks and exchanges with academics in the UK and in other countries
  3. Developing networks to support specialist language training for postgraduate students in relevant language subject areas

In addition, the development funding aims to encourage greater cross-centre collaboration and to support activities which help the centres extend their work in other relevant strategically important areas and languages.

Work in these areas at all five LBAS centres was supported for an initial period of two years, February 2012 – January 2014. Further funding for an additional two years until January 2016 was subsequently approved by the AHRC.

Case Studies

The case studies below are provided to illustrate the range of activities supported by LBAS Development Funding:

Picturing China 1870-1950: Photographs from British Collections (BICC)

An exhibition of historical photographs, currently touring China, focuses on the shared history between the UK and China. The images on display were gathered by a BICC project (‘Historical Photographs of China’) from private collections of photographs taken, commissioned or purchased by Britons who lived in or visited China from the 1870s until the 1950s. They portray a country undergoing rapid change in its society, culture and heritage, as well as providing snapshots of expatriate life. Take a look at the AHRC’s Image Gallery for a selection of these photographs.

Far Rainbows: Russian and Soviet Science Fiction on Screen (CEELBAS & CRCEES)

An international workshop, jointly supported by CEELBAS and CRCEES, explored the political and cultural resonance of Russian and Soviet film adaptations of science fiction novels. It focused on how directors re-imagined on-screen the often heavily-coded ‘forbidden’ ideas expressed in Soviet science fiction. On-going interaction around the theme is encouraged through a collaborative blog, Snail on the Slope.

Kinuyo Tanaka retrospective at Leeds International Film Festival (WREAC)

A WREAC internship enabled Michael Smith, a PhD student at the University of Leeds, to curate and organise a workshop and retrospective on the work of the Japanese actress and film director Kinuyo Tanaka. This included screenings of five of Tanaka’s films, highlighted by Sight and Sound magazine as the ‘great attraction’ of the Leeds International Film Festival. Michael has been awarded additional funding by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation to produce a publication based on the retrospective and workshop. He also plans to submit postdoctoral applications for further work on Kinuyo Tanaka.

Learning to listen to and understand mass media broadcasts in Polish (CEELBAS)

An online resource created by CEELBAS aims to provide advanced learners of Polish with training for research that involves current affairs and relies on radio and TV (opens in new window). It provides interactive units of learning materials that focus on developing listening comprehension skills (typically considered quite challenging to teach without direct student / teacher contact).

Syria Trhough a Lens (CASAW)

Co-organised by CASAW and the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, a public screening of Syria Through A Lens celebrated the Syrian film producer and activist, Bassel Shehadeh (opens in new window). Shehadeh played an integral role in organising and documenting the peaceful protests that have swept Syria since the Arab Springs; he was killed during a government assault on a neighbourhood in Homs. Syria Through A Lens brings together a collection of works by and about Shehadeh, capturing the beauty of Syria and the inspirational courage of the Syrian people in the face of adversity.

Translating Storytelling (CRCEES)

Can storytelling connect us if we speak different languages? Can it cross geographic frontiers and bring us closer together? Can we find ourselves in stories told by speakers of other tongues? To explore these questions, CRCEES and the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh jointly hosted a public event which included tales from Poland, Russia, Georgia and Scotland.