"Health and Livelihoods in the Arab Region: Wellbeing, Vulnerability and Conflict"
The Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) is pleased to announce the seventh cycle of its Research Grants Program (RGP) on the theme of “Health and Livelihoods in the Arab Region: Wellbeing, Vulnerability and Conflict.” This theme will be carried over the next two cycles of the program.
The ACSS Research Grants Program (RGP) is a funding opportunity that aims to support research across disciplinary boundaries and methodological approaches on key themes of concern to the Arab region.
This program is funded by a grant provided to the ACSS by the International Development Research Center (IDRC), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Grants will be available to individual researchers (up to USD 20,000), teams of researchers (up to USD 35,000), and collectives and institutions (up to USD 50,000) whose research focuses primarily on Arab societies. Priority will be given to researchers residing in the Arab region. Grants are intended to support a maximum of 18 months for individuals and teams, starting April 2020 and ending October 2021, and a maximum of 24 months for collectives and institutions starting April 2020 and ending April 2022.
The theme of this cycle “Health and Livelihoods in the Arab Region: Wellbeing, Vulnerability and Conflict” responds to current turmoil and conflicts in the Arab region that have resulted in mass movements, displacement and migration within the Arab region. Those were accompanied by immense feelings of insecurity and social injustice, particularly among those who have come to be increasingly known as vulnerable groups of refugees and forced migrants as well as the disadvantaged groups in host communities. At the same time, in countries that have not witnessed conflict situations, neo-liberal practices such as the increasing privatization of public services and the retreat of the state from offering them, have equally exacerbated the sense of social injustice and deprivation.
In addition to the above, the political economy of conflict has created new markets and actors comprising international and local NGOs that have set in place new relations with governments and local communities. Those organizations have prioritized health and medical services they offer to the communities paying more attention, for example, to emergency health needs and relief and humanitarian assistance. Within this context, infectious and chronic diseases, reproductive health for women and the health of youth and adolescents are often relegated to a lower priority. Furthermore, these organizations engage in naming and categorizing vulnerable groups and beneficiaries. Categories such as political refugees, asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants, returnees and displaced persons reflect different types and degrees of assistance offered. They also impact health policies that directly affect local communities. At the same time, in ‘more stable’ contexts, vulnerable communities are not necessarily in a better situation; they too suffer explicit and implicit violence and marginalization resulting from the outbreak of disease and the implementation of privatization and market-driven policies. More analysis of health inequalities and structural violence against marginalized groups is much needed.
This call for proposals encourages applications that adopt social science approaches to the study of health in the context of conflict, instability and precarious life conditions. Health is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." This definition encourages us to examine health beyond the biological condition or absence of disease as it understands health in relation to people’s livelihoods, or means of living in the world, including their economic, cultural and environmental security.
A social science approach to the study of health in the Arab region should highlight the political, economic and social dimensions that affect health. It should also underline health as social experiences and practices as well as important narratives based on material grounds (medical infrastructure, health systems, medical labor and care). The study of livelihood too goes beyond the notion of ‘making a living’ that focuses only on the economic dimension of work. It should be used to examine means of livelihood, economic security, relationships with family, friends and work colleagues as well as the relationship with the environment.
The program aims at canvassing a broad range of research proposals from across the different countries and localities of the region. We encourage comparative studies that look at more than one country or location regionally or globally and particularly invite interdisciplinary proposals that link the social and health sciences and draw from approaches in the historical, humanities and arts fields. We also encourage proposals that critically engage with communities and countries of the region, as well as those that reflect on current methodologies of health and livelihood in the Arab region and propose fresh methodologies. We invite projects that adopt quantitative and qualitative approaches, mixed-methods, as well as those that critically engage with ethical considerations for conducting research among vulnerable groups and/or in conflict situations.
Among the topics that proposals could address are the following:
- The dynamics of health and livelihoods in protracted conflict and/or everyday violence
- Forced and economic migration and the transformations in communities’ livelihoods, health attitudes, behaviors and access to health systems and services.
- The role of cultural beliefs in health, cultural idioms, metaphors and representations of health and wellbeing in different social and economic ways of living, health systems, traditions and cultures.
- The role of religion and faith-based institutions in the provision of health care, and the development of health care as acts of religious charity not as rights of citizenship.
- Experiences and narratives of resilience and vulnerabilities in the context of health and livelihoods.
- Strategies of healthcare in the Arab region: global health policies, health services and institutions, the mechanisms and dynamics of health networks, rural versus urban healthcare and access.
- Biosecurity, nationalism and border control: the implications of health and disease in discourses, politics and policies of national security and border control.
- Historical approaches to health and livelihoods in the Arab region, including histories of health institutions and health systems (e.g. Western and Eastern medicine, psychiatry, herbal medicine, etc.), Health and medicine under colonialism, post-colonialism and neo-colonialism (e.g. the role of missionary medicine; the role of humanitarian medicine in different contexts; how neocolonialism transforms health), the transformation of social healthcare in the Arab region.
- The study of health from an institutional perspective: what is the role of the state, non-governmental organizations and practitioners in defining healthy bodies, vulnerabilities and practices of wellbeing in specific communities? What kind of health education is designed by these institutions and how do they affect communal understandings of health and wellbeing?
- The knowledge production on health, livelihoods and wellbeing in the Arab region: including research on curriculums for health practitioners (e.g. doctors, public health workers, nurses etc.), validation of international and local health measures and concepts, global diagnostic tools and their implementation in a local context, development of alternative and locally-embedded tools, definitions of health.
- The role of ethics in the medical profession, ethics and global neoliberal policies of healthcare, the ethics of researching the health of vulnerable individuals and communities (chronic patients, refugees, undocumented migrants, sick people) in the context of violence and conflict.
- Bioethics in the Arab region: Questioning the ethics of medical practitioners and medical practice in certain contexts and situations (e.g. medical practitioners and torture, the role of doctors during revolutions and social change).
- Health equity systems: How is health inequality reproduced and expressed socially, economically and politically? How do patients experience this?
- The relationships between health practitioners (e.g. doctors, nurses, social workers) and patients:
- How do health practitioners perceive, diagnose and represent patients, especially those with different socioeconomic, cultural, gender and sexuality dimensions?
- The daily struggle of seeking healthcare and access
- The illness narratives of patients, with an emphasis on chronic sickness
- Family and health: the role of family members in managing, diagnosing and seeking healthcare and access; the mother as a medical actor in the family; the way in which family reproduces health and wellbeing.
- For Individuals: Applicants must be citizens of an Arab country (defined as a member of the League of Arab States) - or refugees and stateless individuals from Arab countries - who are currently residing in the Arab region. Researchers whose origin is from one of the Arab countries but are residing outside the region are also eligible to apply but priority in selection will be given to those who are currently residing in an Arab country.
- For Teams: At least two members of the team, including the team leader/principal investigator, must be citizens of an Arab country and based in the Arab region. They may also be refugees or stateless individuals from Arab countries, who are currently residing in the Arab region. The remaining two members may include Arabs in the diaspora.
- For Collectives: The collective must be based in the Arab region. It must also demonstrate clear future plans to operate in the region. At least two members of the collective, including the principal investigator, must be citizens of an Arab country and based in the Arab region. They may also be refugees or stateless individuals from Arab countries, who are currently residing in the Arab region.The remaining two members may include Arabs in the diaspora.
- For Institutions: The institution must be based in the Arab region regardless of its original registration status. Institutions that are branches to international foreign organizations are not eligible to apply. The institution’s principal investigator and all co-investigators in the project must be citizens of an Arab country and must be based in the Arab region. They may also be refugees or stateless individuals from Arab countries, who are currently residing in the Arab region.
- For Individuals: Applicants must hold a PhD degree in the field of social sciences or humanities. Individual researchers in the early stages of their professional post-PhD careers are especially encouraged to apply. Individuals who expect to obtain their doctoral degree by January 2020 are eligible to apply.
- For Teams: At least two members of the team, including the principal investigator/team leader, must be holders of a PhD in the field of social sciences or humanities. The other two members must be holders a master’s degree in the field of social sciences or humanities at the minimum.
- For Collectives: At least two members of the collective, including the principal investigator, must be holders of a PhD in the field of social sciences or humanities. The other two members must be holders of a master’s degree in the field of social sciences or humanities at the minimum.
- For Institutions: The institution’s principal investigator must hold a PhD degree in the field of social sciences or humanities and demonstrate successful research experience. Other co-investigators must be holders of a master’s degree in the field of social sciences or humanities at the minimum.
This program is open to any discipline in the social sciences, humanities, and allied and interdisciplinary fields. Core disciplines include anthropology, demography, economics, history, political science, psychology, sociology, philosophy, literary studies and art history. Allied and interdisciplinary fields include architecture, geography, education, law, public health, gender studies, cultural studies, media studies, development studies and urban studies. Interdisciplinary proposals are encouraged. However, all proposals should be grounded in social science theory and methodology.
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