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Message posted on 20/11/2020

PLEASE SIGN & SHARE: Open Letter to UKRI from Anthropology PhDs, Supervisors and Staff and Anthropology Organisations

To all VANEASA members,

We are writing to you as UKRI-funded PhD researchers in anthropology at the University of Manchester. You will likely have heard about UKRIs alarming recent announcement that it would be offering extremely limited support to PhD researchers not currently in their final year. We are pushing back against this announcement.

It is our hope that you and your colleagues will consider signing this open letter voicing your support for current fieldwork-year PhD researchers and asking UKRI to provide 6-month funding extensions to all those affected.

UKRI has recently decided to offer only limited support to PhD researchers with funding end dates between 1st April and 30th September 2021 or with ongoing support needs, and no additional funds to those with end dates after 1st October 2021. Throughout the UK, many UKRI-funded PhD researchers have been prevented from starting fieldwork, or have had their fieldwork severely interrupted, by institutional and governmental restrictions on research and travel introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a consequence, the majority will find it impossible to complete their projects to a doctoral standard according to their original timeframes, as explicitly requested by UKRI, even as they follow advice to work with their supervisors to make changes and adjustments. UKRIs announcement has been particularly poorly timed, coming in the middle of a second UK lockdown and after eight months without updates to researchers in the middle of their PhDs.

The open letter is being sent out to all UK anthropology departments, organisations and associations (including RAI, ASA, EASA). It highlights the particular difficulties faced by fieldwork-year PhD researchers at this time, and asks UKRI to provide six-month blanket funding extensions to all those affected. As university funding policies are often adjusted to fall in line with UKRI policy, we are hoping that non-UKRI PhD researchers will benefit too.

We are therefore asking that all anthropology PhD researchers, their academic supervisors and other departmental staff (academic and administrational) sign this letter in support of their fieldwork-year colleagues, by Friday 4th December. Please also share it with your wider networks in case there are groups we have missed, including interdisciplinary PGRs, fields and organisations. Once we have collected your signatures, the letter will be sent to the heads of UKRI and the research councils.

If your fieldwork has been interrupted or postponed since March 2020, please feel free to send us a case study of up to 300 words outlining the particular difficulties you have faced. We are compiling anonymous case studies of how anthropology PhD fieldwork has been affected. These will be attached as an appendix to the letter when it is sent to UKRI and the research councils to support our requests. Please send these to alastair.lomas@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk.

We will send out an update on any progress during the week beginning 7th December 2020.

Many thanks for your support.

UKRI-funded anthropology PhD researchers at the University of Manchester:

Ben Eyre

Alastair Lomas

Jennifer Moore

Alexander Pegge

Fiona Potter

Alexandra Tomkins


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