I am about to initiate a new phase of applied research into the politics of love in the context of the emerging new political space. I first blogged on this a year ago on November 4th 2014 (see below). Then ‘the new politics’ was almost an unknown term, today it is everywhere. As I see it, if there was doubt then that there was real need for a new ethical politics there is none now.
As has been my practice over the last decade, this applied research will be in collaboration with the growing kenarchy research community that has been forming during that time. But there will be new partners too, because what is different now, and very encouraging, is that the desire for populating this space with a politics of love is appearing simultaneously in a whole variety of networks and places. This has made clear that it is time to be more strategic in research focus and to make collaboration more deliberate and specific.
I’m very grateful for the opportunity to research in the context of the Politics, Philosophy and Religion Department at Lancaster University and to be able to offer the postgraduate certificate of accreditation in Political Theology for Peace via The Richardson Institute that is located there. They have just renewed my honorary research fellowship until October 2018. Next July we will be holding the annual conference of the British Sociology Association Sociology of Religion Study Group (Socrel) in the department, focusing on the power of religion in the public sphere and which will hopefully have a new politics element (http://socrel.org.uk/) . There are other exciting developments in the pipeline.
However I’m convinced that what is also needed is a wider more relational research collaboration that recognizes the complementary opportunities offered by a number of different Universities, departments and institutes, and also the need for a support group that sees the relational deficit that the increasing commodification of higher education often causes and helps meet it in a way that’s for the good of the researchers, staff and academic institutions out there.
To this end a bunch of potential doctoral and postdoctoral researchers are meeting next weekend (November 27th-29th) with three objectives. i) to set out the practical research that needs to be done to bring a politics of love into a full-orbed body of work that can be culturally embedded in the newly emerging political space; ii) to identify research locations and potential academic supervisors where this could be pursued; iii) to raise a primary source of funding to undergird a three to five year research project; iv) to create a core relational and strategic research fellowship, taking the apostle Paul’s use of the Greek word koinonia, translated in English as ‘fellowship’ and which in Philippians 2 is aligned with love and kenosis. Some of us have been inspired in this by the achievements of the historical Clapham sect and the mythology of Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring!
An invited core is already in place for the coming weekend, but the plan is to then widen the collaboration with a meeting in February or March. So can I please ask for your help to carry this vision forward whether or not you are in the frame for the coming weekend, by inviting your comments along the lines of the following questions:
i) What do you think that a full-orbed applied research initiative in the politics of love would need to cover?
ii) Which locations and academic supervisors would you particularly recommend?
iii) Do you have any funding ideas or sources? – We are looking for primary funds that we can then make available for researchers so that they can submit proposals to the relevant institutions with their funding already in place, rather than them having to bid to academic and research agencies for funds from which only something like 6% of such bids are successful and relevant agencies often have criteria unsympathetic to a politics of love. Realistically a full time PhD costs £12,000 over three years in fees which with a contribution to living expenses of a further £12,000 per year comes to £48,000. Full time post-doctoral research posts generally earn £24,000+ per year. So we are looking for something in the region of £360,000 over three years to cover something like four doctorates and two post-docs, and including some shorter term postgraduate researchers in the field.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you!