Parliaments and People in Africa and Asia

Parliaments and People in Africa and Asia

Giving grants for the study of Parliaments in Myanmar and Ethiopia

Emma is currently co-ordinating a research coalition at SOAS with Enlightened Research Foundation Mynamar (Yangon), Forum for Social Studies (Addis Ababa), Setaweet (Addis Ababa), Leeds University, JNU (New Delhi), Hansard Society on a programme called Deepening Democracy. The Global Research Network on Parliaments and People has been enabling researchers, artists and activists to discuss and imagine what democratic politics might look like in a more engaged and inclusive political world.

With Chilli (EMReF) and Tavoyan Women’s Union in Dawei, Myanmar

To promote the study of parliaments and people our network:

  • supports research, scrutiny and debate on the relationship between Parliaments, parliamentarians, civil society and citizens through grants, training and advice
  • encourages collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and between the arts, humanities, creative and cultural industries
  • communicates insights into Parliaments and people in ways that deepen democratic participation

Between 2017-2020 we have been focusing on supporting the development of research capacity in Myanmar and Ethiopia and neighbouring politically fragile states. So far we have given 46 grants to scholars and artists; you can find their publications and creative outputs on the GRNPP site.

This coalition is funded by a £2m grant from UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Global Challenges Research Fund.

Thawn, Bethel, Emma, Myat Thet and Their in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, 2020

Parliaments in Bangladesh and Ethiopia

A coalition of SOAS, University of London, Hansard Society and Forum for Social Studies (Ethiopia) was funded by a grant of £501,930 to research the role of MPs in public engagement and poverty reduction in Bangladesh and Ethiopia (2014-2017). This three-year research project, Parliamentary effectiveness: public engagement for poverty reduction in Bangladesh and Ethiopia, was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council and Department for International Development joint fund. This collaboration of anthropologists and political scientists in Ethiopia and Bangladesh examined the extent to which poverty reduction depends upon an effective parliament with MPs engaging with the public. 

The work of parliament and parliamentarians is changing within most nations: they can grow stronger as many countries develop processes of public engagement, but weaker in the sense that many citizens become still more disillusioned with their political leaders.  While political anthropology has greatly enhanced our understanding of how the state is embedded in society, this research explored the relationship between parliament, parliamentarians and individuals and groups within the public. We used qualitative methods of interviews, mapping, and observation, relying on anthropological, gender and actor-orientated approaches.