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International survey post-Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have focused the attention of policy-makers, international and national organisations, journalists, health care providers and educators, particularly in low-income countries. To address What will happen when we reach the MDG target date in 2015?”, we are running a survey to gather views on wording, targets and indicators that will strengthen the post-MDGs discussions on health, gender and equality. We seek your views on how to facilitate the implementation of the global evidence-base on woman-centred, universal care that: a) strengthens sexual and reproductive health services and primary health care; b) delivers equitable, effective coverage; and c) reduces maternal and newborn mortality.    We do not ask your name/address.

Survey link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L95SLVV

 

The survey links to the international conference ‘Midwifery and the post MDG agenda’ to organised on 5th February 2014.  The conference focuses on the future of measurement of progress in the field maternal and newborn health and health-care provision to pregnant women, new mothers and their babies.  See:

http://news.bournemouth.ac.uk/events/event/midwifery-and-the-post-mdg-agenda-5-february-2014/

We have highlighted the forthcoming conference in a recent editorial in the international academic journal Midwifery.

 

Thank you helping us by completing this survey,

Prof. Vanora Hundley & Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

On behalf of the University of Southampton, ICS Integrare, Bournemouth University, Evidence for Action, the University of Aberdeen, Options, UCL.

 

Midwifery success in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight

Denyse King’s My Mini Midwife is due for publication in February.  Denyse King is Lecturer in Midwifery / Public Health Practitioner based in Portsmouth.

My Mini Midwife by Denyse Kirkby is published by VIE Books, a new imprint of Summersdale Publishers. The book is priced at £8.99 (ISBN: 978-1-84953-516-8)

 

The second success story is Wendy Marsh Lecturer/Practitioner in Midwifery also based in Portsmouth who had an abstract accepted for the ‘Safeguarding the Vulnerable International Symposium’ to be held at Bucks New University in High Wycombe.

 

Also the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health won three BU matched funded Ph.D. studentships.  The first two are with Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust:

An Exploration of the Community by Midwives and Maternity Support Workers in the Postnatal Period – supervisors: dr. Carol Wilkins, dr. Janet Scammell & dr. Sue Way

Just one drink!  An exploration of the conflict between harm reduction and abstinence in UK maternity care – supervisors: Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, dr. Liz Norton and dr. Greta Westward (PHT)

The third one is a new collaboration with the Isle of Wight NHS Trust:

Can Pelvic Positioning help women cope with pain in early labour – supervisors: Prof.  Vanora Hundley, dr. Carol Clark and dr. Sue Way

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen & Prof. Vanora Hundley

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

Good start of the year: Early crop of 2014 publications

HSC staff saw the fruit of their hard work in 2013 as a great number of papers have been accepted for publication or actually appeared in print in the first three weeks of January.  

 

 

There are a number of 2014 papers in health care journals, including papers in Nurse Education in Practice, The Practising Midwife, Journal of Clinical Nursing, Birth, ISRN Family Medicine, Perspective in Public Health, an editorial in Midwifery and two in the same issue of Health Science Journal.  There was also an early contribution from our social science colleagues in The Journal of Adult Protection and, last but not least a book chapter in Case Studies in e-Learning Research.

 

  1. Morley, D., 2014. Supporting student nurses in practice with online communication tools. Nurse Education in Practice, 14, 69-75.
  2. Bennett, S and Scammell, J (2014) Midwives caring for asylum-seeking women: research findings.  The Practising Midwife. 17 (1) p9-12
  3. Whitford, H., Aitchison, P., Entwistle V.A., van Teijlingen, E., Davidson, T., Humphrey, T., Tucker, J. Use of a birth plan within woman-held maternity records: a qualitative study with women and staff in northeast Scotland, Birth (accepted).
  4. Norton, E. 2014 The application of humanization theory to health-promoting practice. Perspectives in Public Health, (online first 2013)
  5. Sapkota, T., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2014) Nepalese health workers’ migration to the United Kingdom: A qualitative study.  Health Science Journal 8(1):  57-74.
  6. Hunt, J.A., Hutchings, M. (2014) Innovative group-facilitated peer and educator assessment of nursing students’ group presentations, Health Science Journal 8(1): 22-31.
  7. Harding, A., Sanders, F., Medina Lara, A., van Teijlingen, E., Wood, C., Galpin, D. Baron, S., Crowe, S., Sharma, S. Patient choice for older people in English NHS primary care: theory & practice,  ISRN Family Medicine (accepted).
  8. Norton, E., Holloway, I., Galvin K. 2014. Comfort vs risk: a grounded theory about female adolescent behaviour in the sun. Journal of Clinical Nursing. (online first 2013)
  9. van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V., Matthews, Z., Lewis, G., Graham, W.J., Campbell, J., ten Hoope-Bender, P., Sheppard, Z.A., Hulton, L. (2014) Millennium Development Goals: All good things must come to an end, so what next? Midwifery 30: 1-2.
  10. Parker, J.,  Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2014) Covert research and adult protection and safeguarding: an ethical dilemma? The Journal of Adult Protection (accepted).
  11. Hutchings, M, Quinney, A., Galvin, K.  Clark, V. book chapter IN: ‘The Yin/Yang of Innovative Technology Enhanced Assessment for Promoting Student Learning’ Case Studies in e-Learning Research.   Book is now available at:  http://www.academic-bookshop.com/ourshop/prod_2915879-Case-Studies-in-eLearning-Research-for-Researchers-teachers-and-Students.html

 

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

Marketing Colloquium- Recent Challenges & Advances in B2B Marketing 21st March 2014

Please click on link for further details on how to register for this free event organised by Kaouther Kooli. 

The event is aimed at Researchers and Practitioners in marketing. Please see http://news.bournemouth.ac.uk/events/event/marketing-colloquium-recent-challenges-advances-in-b2b-marketing-21-march-2014/ for further information on this.

The registration is now open for this free event on 21st March 2014 at The Executive Business Centre.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/myevent?eid=10060560407

Currently, the closing date for abstract submissions is 21st Feb.

 

Writing about academic publishing

Academics at the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health have published a series of articles over the past few years on aspects of academic publishing.  The latest addition is called ‘Writing an Abstract for a Scientific Conference’ which has been published recently in the Kathmandu University Medical Journal .1  As the title suggests the paper advises novice researchers and students on the best way to write a scientific abstract.  This paper also highlights some of the common mistakes academics make when drafting such abstract.

An earlier article in the series reflects issues around academic authorship, something which can be a tricky topic.  The paper addressed issues around who should be an author and who should not, the order of authors, and highlighted the different conventions that prevail in different academic disciplines.  The paper ‘Academic authorship: who, why and in what order?’ was published in the academic journal Health Renaissance.2

Further articles have focused on the basics of writing up qualitative research findings, 3 the general process of writing a scientific paper, including an attempt to answer the questions: “What to write? and “When to start writing?”4 and submitting such a paper to a peer-reviewed journal.One paper stresses the importance of selecting the target journal wisely6 and a further paper highlights some of the perils of the peer review process under the title ‘The long & winding road to publication’. 7

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen & Prof. Vanora Hundley

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health, HSC, Bournemouth University

 

 

References:

  1. Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen E., Hundley, V., Simkhada, B.D. (2013) Writing an Abstract for a Scientific Conference, Kathmandu University Medical Journal 11(3): 262-265.
  2. Hundley, V., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P. (2013) Academic authorship: who, why and in what order? Health Renaissance 11(2)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        www.healthrenaissance.org.np/uploads/Download/vol-11-2/Page_99_101_Editorial.pdf
  3. Pitchforth, E., Porter, M., van Teijlingen, E.R., Forrest Keenan, K. (2005) Writing up and presenting qualitative research in family planning and reproductive health care, Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 31 (2): 132-135.  http://jfprhc.bmj.com/content/31/2/132.full.pdf+html
  4. Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V. (2013) Writing an academic paper for publication, Health Renaissance 11(1): 1-5.  www.healthrenaissance.org.np/uploads/Pp_1_5_Guest_Editorial.pdf
  5. van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada. P.P., Rizyal, A. (2012) Submitting a paper to an academic peer-reviewed journal, where to start? Health Renaissance 10 (1): 1-4. http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/HREN/article/view/5997/4950
  6. van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V. (2002) Getting your paper to the right journal: a case study of an academic paper, Journal of Advanced Nursing 37(6): 506-511.
  7. van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada. P.P., Simkhada, B., Ireland, J. (2012) The long & winding road to publication, Nepal Journal Epidemiology 2(4): 213-215.  http://nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/7093/6388

Real Lives, Celebrity Stories Book Launch 29 January

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate the publication of  Real Lives, Celebrity Stories, edited by Bronwen Thomas and Julia Round, the Media School’s Narrative Research Group will host a book launch at 3 p.m on 29 January in the Casterbridge suite.  Featuring contributions by several colleagues from the Media School, including Shaun Kimber, Peri Bradley, Darren Lilleker and Sue Thomas, the book was inspired by the first symposium organised by NRG back in 2010 and explores narratives of ordinary and extraordinary people in television, film, fan cultures, comics, politics and cyberspace.  At the launch, the editors and contributors will provide a brief introduction to each of their chapters, and light refreshments and wine will be provided. All welcome.

 

BU’s best wishes to Dr. Padam Simkhada (HSC Visiting Faculty)

Dr Padam Simkhada, senior lecturer in ScHARR at the University of Sheffield was awarded the CEA Award of Global Health Research for his contribution to global research at a special ceremony at the Mahatma Gandhi University, India just before last Christmas. Dr Simkhada has been Visiting Faculty at BU in the School of Health & Social Care since 2010. He is involved in various BU projects, including the Fellowship awarded by the charity Wellbeing of Women, in association with the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), for research into Nepalese maternity services and women’s health from an international perspective. The research team consists of Lesley Milne, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, Vanora Hundley, Professor in Midwifery, Edwin van Teijlingen, Professor of Reproductive Health Research at BU, and BU Visiting Faculty Dr. Padam Simkhada.

 

Dr. Simkhada is also co-supervisor of HSC PhD student Ms. Sheetal Sharma.  Sheetal Sharma’s poster presentation recently won the best poster prize at a conference in Birmingham for the poster Getting women to care in Nepal: A Difference in Difference analysis of a health promotion intervention.   Sheetal is supported by Bournemouth University with a studentship and a Santander grant.

Dr. Simkhada has published over 70 research articles on issues such as reproductive and sexual health, migration and sex trafficking and maternal and child health.  Furthermore, he has been working to improve the quality of health research among higher education institutions in Nepal.

This Global Health Research Award for Dr. Simkhada has been reported widely in the media in India, Nepal and in England.

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal and Perinatal Health

Service Computing Seminar Slides

Speaker: Prof. Athman Bouguettaya, Head of School of Computer Science and Information Technology at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Abstract
Big data is here and in a big way. Big data is coming from all sorts of sources and means, including sensors, deep space, social media, smartphones, genomic, etc. The cloud has been instrumental supporting the storage and processing of the ever increasing amount of data. “Domesticating” the data, i.e., making it useful, however, has been a major challenge. Service computing is the next major evolution of computing that aims at transforming massive data into artefacts that are acted upon, i.e., services. Service computing is increasingly being recognized as part of a broader agenda in Service Science. In that respect, service computing may be viewed as the “engineering” side of service science. Service computing broadly focuses at providing a foundational framework to support a service-centric view of designing, developing, and exposing data (and applications), whether it is in the enterprise or on the Web. In that respect, the Web is and will undoubtedly be the preferred delivery platform of service-based solutions. More specifically, Web services are currently without contest the key enabler for deploying service-centric solutions. Fully delivering on the potential of next-generation Web services requires building a foundation that would provide a sound design for efficiently developing, deploying, publishing, discovering, composing, trusting, and optimizing access to Web services in an open, competitive, untrustworthy, and highly dynamic environment. The Web service foundation is the key catalyst for the development of a uniform framework called Web Service Management System (WSMS). In this novel framework, Web services are treated as first-class objects. In this talk, I will first motivate the need for a uniform service management to service big data. I will then overview the core components of a typical WSMS. I will conclude by describing our latest research servicing sensor data.

Events Management students from School of Tourism visit high profile venues at London field visit

The end of the last term saw the first year Events Management students in School of Tourism on a field visit to two high profile event venues in London.  Tours of ExCeL London, including their new Phase II ICC London space were given to the students by: Martin Avard  (Senior Events Manager) and Tom Edwards (Events Manager).  Students also visited the Barbican Centre in the City and had tours and presentations from: Samme Allen (Barbican Head of Sales for Business Events); Nia Edwards (Business Events Executive) and Oliver Hargreaves (Business Development Manager of Business Events for Barbican).

The field visit helped to underpin the first year students’ understanding of the nature, significance, organisation and impact of the events industry in contemporary terms, and also from a national and international perspective.

The first stop being ExCeL London students were divided into two groups and given extensive walking tours of the ExCeL’s vast space, including sections of two of their 4500 square metre exhibition halls. Students heard about the diversity of events including major trade shows and exhibitions such as London Boat show and the World Travel market.  This included the challenges of the venue hosting seven different competitive events as part of the London 2012 Olympics including for example boxing, fencing and wrestling competitions. They also toured the new ICC London (International Convention Centre) space of the venue, where venue hire can be in the region of £20,000 per day.

Their tour guides shared with the students details of their own career paths in their respective events management fields, through to managing the largest exhibition and convention space in the UK.  First year Events Management student Megan Aitchison said of the ExCel tour: “ExCeL is such a dramatic building that even when approaching the building it has a exciting feel about it. The size of the venue instantly made me think that any sort of event would be able to be hosted here without limitations.  We were shown that the versatility of the size and selections of rooms assist ExCeL with many incredible events that they host”.

The second tour on the day at the Barbican began with a staff presentation to the events students in Cinema 1, with a capacity of 280 people.  The students learned about the range and diversity of events hosted at the Barbican from corporate product launches, official AGM’s, the concert hall home of the LSO along with the hard work involved in delivering high end events and performances to its diverse clientele.  The students also had back stage tours of the main concert hall where they were given talks and tours by the Barbican technical team and included insight into:  backstage, main stage and lighting, and acoustics of Concert Hall events.  First year student Davina Gilbert took the following away from her visit there “the Barbican as a venue space was my favourite; immediately I noticed its personal atmosphere and friendliness. The layout was creative and felt like a mini adventure! You could tell the staff were passionate about their jobs and really believed in the space they were showing. Having a venue space that feels comfortable, friendly, creative and professional certainly speaks volumes more than just large spaces and formal settings”.

This industry specific field visit helps the students to contextualise their learning further in their course, and is a complement to content delivered as part of lectures, seminars, guest speakers and case studies more widely.   Content from the field visit continues to be embedded in one unit and across others delivered at level C.

Password? Not another one!

The increasing volume of academic activity on the internet coupled with a growing obsession about privacy and data protection means for many academics a rapidly expanding number of online accounts and associated passwords. This is, of course, over and above our regular dose of accounts and passwords as citizens of the virtual world. The average adult in the UK must have at least 25 internet accounts, for the bank/building society, supermarkets, phone companies, social media, airlines, trains, insurance companies, eBay, the website of the parents’ council of your children’s school, your electricity provider, the council tax, etc.

I feel as an academic, the burden is even worse. Every single time another scientific journal invites me to review a paper it opens an on-line account for me. Every time I apply for a grant from a funding body to which I have not previously applied, I am required to set up an account with a new password. When you apply for 20-odd grants every year and review manuscripts for a similar number of different journals the number of accounts and passwords add up rapidly. Then there are the other accounts and passwords related to work for sites such as this BU Research Blog, BRIAN, Survey Monkey, for the university for whom you act as external examiner, for Drop Box, the British Library, ORCIC, ACADEMIA.EDU, ResearchGate, Researchfish, Linkedin, and the list goes on.

These last few months I was reminded how non user friendly some systems are. First, I received new secure email account for my part on a REF sub-panel. The account name chosen for me is different from what I would have chosen and what I am used to at Bournemouth University. The importance of confidentiality for the REF work is clear so my password has to be different from anything I use elsewhere. Secondly, a few weeks later I attempted to put my name done for the tri-annual conference of the International Congress of Midwifery in Prague next year. It turns out you cannot join the conference without opening an on-line account first. The account name was automatically chosen for me and so was the password. Unfortunately, both are impossible to remember, neither the account name nor the password (which was case sensitive) were ones I would have selected personally.

There is some hope as some journals allow you to choose your own account name and password. Elsevier has brought most of its journals into one account, with your own email as the account name and all with the same password. Similarly a group of English-language journals in Nepal called Nepal Journals OnLine (NepJOL) use one account name for all participating journals. For the rest of my account names and passwords I can only follow the advice given by Stephen Fry on an episode of QI: “Write it down somewhere on a piece of paper”. The underlying idea is that the people who try to steal your internet account details sit in a bedsit in London or Hong Kong and won’t come to your office or living room to steal a piece of paper with computer addresses. The people who try to break into your house or office are looking for objects with a street value, such as your TV, phone or laptop, they are generally not interested in a piece of paper with some scribbles on it.

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

Jib Acharya awarded funded place on Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) workshop in Morocco


Congratulations to Health & Social Care PhD student Mr. Jib Acharya who has been offered a funded place at the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) workshop. The SUN workshop will be held in Morocco in early February 2014. The British Council and CNRST have launched a new five-year programme to encourage international research collaboration between ambitious young researchers from the UK and eighteen countries around the world. The forthcoming SUN workshop is a part of this programme. One leading team of researchers from the University of Southampton and from Morocco proposed this bilateral workshop to be held in Morocco to bring together early career researchers to discuss their research and start to build international relationships.

The selection committee wrote to Mr. Acharya: “the selection was challenging. The selection panel (UK and Moroccan coordinators and mentors), has chosen 16 applications that would contribute to and benefit from the workshop most”. The British Council and CNRST will cover the costs related to the participation to the workshop, including: travel (both international and local), visa, accommodation and meals.
Jib is delighted with his award. He commented: “It will give me a chance to build up networks with participants at this workshop. It will help to establish personal and institutional relationships.”

Jib’s PhD thesis is based on A comparative Study on Nutritional Problems in Preschool Aged Children of Kaski District of Nepal. His research applies a mixed-methods approach and he is supervised by a team of three BU supervisors: Dr. Jane Murphy, Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, and Dr. Martin Hind.

Cyber Security Seminars: Suggestions for Speakers and Topics

If you have been following my previous posts then you will know that today is the final Cyber Security Seminar for this semester.  We hope you have found the seminar series interesting so far.

We are currently planning the seminars for next semester.  Please get in touch if you have suggestions for potential speakers, or topics you would like to hear more about. Although the budget we have available is modest, we will do our best to accommodate your suggestions.

BU Hosts PSA Media and Politics Group Annual Conference

The Annual Conference of the PSA Media and Politics Group (MPG) was held at Bournemouth University on 13-14 November, 2013, attracting over 50 delegates from the UK and abroad. It was organised by BU colleagues Heather Savigny, Richard Scullion, Anna Feigenbaum and Dan Jackson.

A crisis of political engagement?

The conference opened with a keynote by Ruth Fox, the Director and Head of Research for the Hansard Society. Her talk titled: “The Media and Political Engagement: Helpful or Harmful to our Democratic Health?” presented some of Hansard’s recent data on political engagement and the media and politics. For Fox, the situation is no less than a crisis, with their data suggesting that the media has a lot to answer for, and little evidence that tabloids enhance the democratic life of the country. She also encouraged scholars to download and use their data and engage in further scrutiny of their work.

Dr Ruth Fox, Director and Head of Research for the Hansard Society

Minority Voices, Media and Politics

The primary theme of this year’s conference was ‘Minority Voices, Media and Politics.’ The conference explored the often problematic relationship between the media, politics and marginalised, silenced or minority voices in contemporary society. Taking a broad approach to the topic, our conference included papers from different disciplinary, methodological, historical and national perspectives; from the voices of extremist violence, to mediations of tear gas and representations of disability in the media. We were also treated to a keynote by Dr Emily Harmer (Loughborough University), who presented her research on press coverage of female politicians in historical perspective. We aim to take forward some of the conference papers into an edited collection on the conference theme.

Music and Beer

Our third keynote was more than just a Professor of American Literature and Culture, Will Kaufman is a musician whose keynote was a musical tribute to Woody Guthrie; the enduring voice of 1930’s protest music.

Prof Will Kaufman (UCLAN) delivers his musical keynote on Woody Guthrie

Alongside this musical feast, we decided to give the conference drinks reception something of a twist. We have all attended conference wine receptions, right? Memorable? Probably not.  We therefore wanted to make our drinks reception stand out, and offer something for those beer lovers like ourselves. Ably supported by our BA Politics and Media students (who are responsible for the funky logo!) we ran the inaugural Media and Politics Group beer festival. A selection of ten British ales was offered, each with accompanying tasting notes courtesy of BU’s Dr Darren Lilleker. We even got a bit carried away and designed a beer festival logo which was printed on conference glasses!

All modesty aside, it was a rip-roaring success, and something we will be doing for future events.

The MPG beer festival

Prof Ivor Gaber (City University/ University of Bedfordshire) and Dr Michael Higgins (University of Strathclyde) settling into their beer tasting…

 

Ideas in Conflict

The question of why our species engages in war is one that goes to the heart of human nature, often generating starkly polarised views as to whether the peculiarly human propensity to engage in organized conflict between groups is something ‘hard wired’ in our species or is simply a product of particular social systems that promote such behaviour. In considering this question an aspect often debated is the extent to which war should be seen as a fairly recent development, absent before civilization, or whether it has been around much longer going deep into the human past. In relation to this latter the answers people generate may depend largely on the kind of data they focus on. Past conflict can generally be detected via four strands of evidence: written sources, artefacts (weapons, armour etc.), defensive structures and human remains. Of these four, the first three come with a range of problems; weapons and defences may simply be statements of prestige or status and reveal little about how much actual conflict there was in the past, meanwhile written sources are characteristically biased and incomplete and together represent only 1-2% of the time modern humans have existed.
Instead our new book The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict (edited by Chris Knüsel, Exeter and Martin Smith, BU) focuses specifically on human remains in order to ask the question: ‘if human burials were our only window onto the past, what story would they tell?’ Skeletal injuries constitute the most direct and unambiguous evidence for violence in the past, and in fact offer clear and unequivocal evidence of physical hostilities reaching as far back as we have burials to examine.
Warfare is often dismissed as ‘senseless’ and as having no place in society. Consequently, its place in social relations and societal change remains obscure. The studies in this volume combine to present an overview of the nature and development of human conflict from prehistory to recent times as evidenced by the remains of past people themselves in order to explore the social contexts in which such injuries were inflicted. A broadly chronological approach is taken ranging from the Krapina Neanderthals, to Neolithic Asia, Precolumbian Peru, First World War France, and 1990’s Rwanda. However this book is not simply a catalogue of injuries illustrating changes in technology or a narrative detailing ‘progress’ in warfare but rather provides a framework in which to explore both continuity and change based on a range of important themes that hold continuing relevance throughout human development.
Taken together these studies demonstrate not only the antiquity of war but also the extent to which processes and mechanisms acting to promote or limit intergroup conflict in the context of prehistoric villages hold equal relevance for the global village today. We conclude that war may not be an evolutionary adaptation in itself but rather a by-product of other ‘hard-wired’ mechanisms that may be exploited as part of a social strategy by which individuals and groups attempt to advance their own interests. This is a heartening point as this means that rather than an inevitable human universal, war can be seen as something that might eventually be dispensed with altogether. The last word on human conflict is far from being written, but when it is it need not be a pessimistic one.

Bournemouth Professor to deliver the 2013 Corfield Nankivel Memorial Lecture

Professor Timothy Darvill OBE will deliver the 2013 Corfield Nankivel Memorial Lecture on Thursday 5 December 2013 in the Truro Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, Truro, at 7:30 pm. The title of his lecture is ‘Stonehenge Rocks’ and in it he will discuss findings from excavations at Stonehenge and in the Preseli Hills of Southwest Wales.

The lecture is hosted by the Cornwall Archaeological Society (http://www.cornisharchaeology.org.uk/winterlectures.htm)