We are delighted to welcome Naomi to the role of CDAS co-director following Jeremy’s departure to pastures new. Naomi is a lecturer in International Development based in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences and has been involved in the centre for the last few years. We asked Naomi if she could introduce herself to the CDAS community. Naomi, over to you:

“Jeremy’s Co-Directorship of CDAS provided us all with such a strong, reliable, thoughtful leadership and he will be deeply missed. I am glad he can remain part of the CDAS community. Thank you, Jeremy.

It is such a privilege to be the new Co-Director of CDAS. It is an intellectually inspirational but also deeply supportive Centre. Such an impressive Centre is a real gift to us from all the previous CDAS directors (and still current Co-Director in the case of Kate Woodthorpe). They have and continue to invest time and intellectual insight to make the Centre what it is. I am really grateful.

CDAS has an important season ahead both as it celebrates its 20th anniversary, and as it participates in the University of Bath’s strengthening of its research culture. This is also an important season for death studies more broadly because of the overlapping crisis that the world faces, from climatic change and environmental degradation to political polarization, famine and conflict. This has recently been flagged in work by Tony Walter, Jane McCarthy and others in CDAS. We urgently need to build on their work to think about how lessons from death studies can help us understand losses from these compounding crises, as well as how death during such crises, and in other parts of the world, changes our understandings of death, dying and its aftermath.

My priority will be to work with co-director Kate Woodthorpe and the whole CDAS community to ensure we enhance our collectively contribution during this period. A first aim is to increase the variety of contexts and geographic locations with which CDAS engages. As Co-Director, one initiative that I hope to start soon, with CDAS Visiting Fellow Khyati Tripathi, is a seminar series that draws on death studies from around the world. I am eager to find other opportunities to support and work with CDAS members to increase collaborative research, writing and grant development in diverse contexts.

In the last year, I have already started this work, and, through it, I have quickly come to realise what an amazing community CDAS is and how much can be possible with your support. I have applied, sometimes with CDAS members, to the British Academy, the ERC, AHRC and ESRC for grants at the intersection of both famine studies and death studies, and gerontology and conflict studies. I have worked with Sam Carr and Chao Fang to start a conversation and develop a proposal on ageing during armed conflict. I have also submitted a first draft of a co-authored article (with authors from Uganda, South Sudan, the UK and USA, including Henry Okoth, Jedeit Jal, Antonia Nannyonga-Tamusuza, Jane McCarthy, Ruth Evans and Dennis Klass from CDAS, including) to CDAS’s special issue of Morality on decolonising death studies. Plus, in July 2023, with Faculty funding, I hosted a workshop on the intersection of death studies and conflict studies with people from CDAS and the Conflict Research Group in Ghent, and three articles on the topic will soon be submitted to Third World Quarterly, Global Policy and American Ethnologist.

I bring to the Co-Director role a proven track record of research leadership, sitting on the London School of Economics International Develop Research Committee and as a Visiting Fellow at the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa at LSE. I was on the Senior Management Team of a UK government funded Conflict Research Programme and I am a Co-Investigator on the ESRC Centre for Public Authority and International Development (CPAID) based at LSE. I have also been PI on smaller projects in South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, and my biggest achievement during grant management has been the development of early career researchers in the UK and East Africa. I look forward to finding ways to support early career research with others in CDAS.”