research projects

This Page is dedicated to advertising ongoing and past research projects in London. Please,  send us the links to your projects website and/or a brief description and you might just find it here soon.

Ongoing Research Programmes:

‘A taste of Chan in everyday life’: Buddhist ethical teaching and practice in a London community

We are conducting a participatory study to understand the impact of Buddhist teaching and practice on the everyday ethics of members of a London community.

London Fo Guang Shan Temple is located in London’s West End and serves a diverse community. It was founded in 1992 as a branch of a global organization based in Taiwan and many of its devotees are first, second or third generation immigrants from Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong or other places with large Chinese populations. The organization, called Fo Guang Shan after the mother temple in Gaoxiong, Taiwan, emphasises the importance of ethics by putting Buddhist teachings into practice in worship, spiritual development, and everyday life.

The project is being run by a participatory research committee including anthropologists, monastics from the temple and lay volunteers and will try to understand how, for members of the community, Buddhism informs conceptions of the good life, spiritual practice and everyday ethics of social life.

South Asians Making Britain

As historians have shown, Britain has had a migrant South Asian population for over 350 years, since its early trading encounters with India. But the perception that a homogeneous British culture only began to diversify after the Second World War persists, and research into the South Asian diaspora in Britain has focused predominantly on this later, post-independence period. While this diasporic population has become increasingly numerous and influential since the end of empire, Asians in Britain were in fact engaging with and challenging canonical culture well before this time.

Building on historian Rozina Visram’s seminal work Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History, as well as scholarly initiatives by leading members of the core and advisory teams, this collaborative, interdisciplinary project seeks to uncover and examine South Asian participation in intellectual and literary networks, art movements, and activist groupings during this under-explored period of Britain’s multicultural history. By focusing on the early presence in Britain of South Asians, and on the numerous modes in which they inflected ideas of Britishness and laid the ground for the construction of new multiple identities, Making Britain seeks to heighten awareness of the breadth and depth of South Asian contribution to British culture.

Tate Encounters Britishness and Visual Culture

Tate Encounters is a three-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through the Diasporas, Migration and Identities Programme. The project started in April 2007 and involves three collaborative institutions: Tate Britain, London South Bank University and the University of the Arts London, through Wimbledon College of the Arts.

Home and Away: South Asian Children’s Representations of Diaspora

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Diaspora, Migration and Identities programme.

The research explores how South Asian children in East London (aged 8-13 years old) experience and represent ‘transnational lives’, whether this involves travel to ‘the homeland’, or being part of families and communities in which people constantly move. Katy Gardner and Kanwal Mand are working on the project with Benji Zeitlyn, who is associated with the project as doctoral student. The project involves collaborations with local artists and the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. The findings will be of importance to scholars of migration, educationalists, policy makers and the general public through publications.

Cityscapes of Diaspora: Images and Realities of London’s Chinatown

This eighteen month research project focuses on images of London’s Chinatown and the ways in which is it used by different groups, both Chinese and non-Chinese. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and carried out by researchers based at Middlesex University.

The project will explore images of Chinatown, its importance for different individuals and groups (both Chinese and non-Chinese) and the extent to which Chinatown ‘belongs’ to the Chinese community. It is also aimed to produce information relevant to community organisations and other agencies providing services for Chinese communities.

Life in the Suburbs: health, domesticity and status in early modern London

Directors: Matthew Davies, M.A., D.Phil., Vanessa Harding, M.A., Ph.D., Professor Richard Smith, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., FBA

This project seeks to investigate the character and development of London’s eastern suburb by examining the life of the inhabitants of the extra-mural parishes of St Botolph Aldgate and Holy Trinity Minories from c.1550-c.1700. Covering just under 80 acres running south from the parish of St Botolph Bishopsgate to the Thames, this area experienced a population explosion during the early modern period, from c.3,500 inhabitants in 1540, over 11,000 by 1650, to nearly 20,000 by 1700. The area offers a population with a unique range of social and economic experiences which allow the greatest possible scope for studying suburban living in early modern London. Moreover, it also offers an unprecedented array of sources, including parish registers, records of poor relief, numerous taxation and household listings, and the observations of the parish clerks of St Botolph.

London women and the economy before and after the Black Death

Researcher: Matthew Stevens, B.A., Ph.D., Grant Holder: Matthew Davies, M.A., D.Phil.

This project will shed light on the transformation of women’s status and economic importance across the later Middle Ages. Rapid population growth in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries resulted in high population density, labour oversupply, and low wages, and as consequence most women enjoyed few personal freedoms and low status. In the mid fourteenth century successive outbreaks of epidemic disease reduced the English population by 30-50 per cent over the years 1348-9 and 1360-1. As a result, it has been suggested, acute labour shortages in urban and rural areas afforded women new opportunities as workers, increasing their social standing, particularly in the period 1380-1430.

London and the Tidal Thames 1250-1550: marine flooding, embankment and economic change

Principal Investigator/Researcher: James Galloway M.A., Ph.D.

The lands bordering the tidal river Thames and the Thames Estuary have historically been highly vulnerable to marine flooding. The most severe of these floods derive from North Sea storm surges, when wind and tide combine to drive huge quantities of water against the coast, as happened to devastating effect in 1953. This project seeks to understand the occurrence of storm flooding in the past, and to explore the ways in which people have responded to the threat.

Diaspora Cities Research Project

Funded by The Leverhulme Trust, and based in the Department of Geography and The City Centre at Queen Mary, University of London, this research project proposes the idea of ‘diaspora cities’:

Conference call for papers

Migrants in the UK Sex Industry

The main aim of the project is to improve the understanding of the links between the sex industry and migration in order to:

Contribute to the elaboration of more effective policies and initiatives of social intervention on migration, prostitution, ‘trafficking’ and social exclusion.

Improve current public and academic debates on issues of migration, prostitution, ‘trafficking’ and criminality.

Produce an innovative, subject-oriented and ethical framework for studying vulnerable populations.

The project is funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council RES-062-23-0137) and is based at ISET, the Institute for the Study of European Transformations of the London Metropolitan University.

Dr Nick Mai is the principal investigator. For further details, contact Nick Mai at:

Sources of the Sacred, Migration Modernity and Religious Identity in Global London

The aim of this research is to explore the ways in which membership or association with a church community provides structures and opportunities to negotiate successfully the experience of migration – through the formation of new communities, access to information and support (material, social and/or emotional) and the practice of familiar devotions and customs.

The young foundation – Teenage pregnancy in Lewisham

This is a research project commissioned by the London Borough of Lewisham to look at how perceptions and expectations of young people in the borough impact on teenage pregnancy.

Completed Research Programmes:

Global Cities at Work: Migrant Labour in low paid employment in London

This ESRC project was designed to advance the academic understanding of the importance of migrant labour in global cities, to produce the first comprehensive empirical evidence about the role and experiences of migrant workers in low-paid employment in London and to highlight the implications for public policy.


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