The Hilary Hartley Prize

The School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies is pleased to announce that the Hilary Hartley Prize for 2016-17 has been awarded to Dr Natasha Carver. The Hilary Hartley Prize commemorates the life of Hilary Hartley, who died in 2008 while she was a PhD student in Politics. It is awarded each academic year for the best PhD thesis submitted by a SPAIS student.

Natasha’s thesis is entitled ‘“In Here, Everything is Questioned”: Gender, Marriage and Migration among Bristol-Based Somalis’, and was supervised by Professor Esther Dermott and Dr Katharine Charsley.

Natasha’s examiners, Professor Tina Miller, Professor of Sociology (Oxford Brookes University) and Dr Jon Fox, Senior Lecturer in Sociology (SPAIS, University of Bristol), judged her thesis to be ‘outstanding’. They noted that Natasha’s thesis, which treated its research subjects ‘with respect, sensitivity and compassion’, provided ‘not only a model of good ethical practice, [but] also shows how good ethical practices produce high quality data and compelling analysis and results.’ Natasha’s thesis, presented in ‘beautiful, sensitive, and accessible language’, offers an ‘incredibly richly textured presentation of these diverse experiences, capturing and presenting them in all their complexity, ambiguity, and ambivalence.’

Congratulations to Natasha! 

Thesis Abstract:

This thesis explores perceptions of marriage, marital relations and separation among UK-Somali migrants living in Bristol. Based on eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork including forty-four interviews, the thesis examines the widespread belief among the participant group that marriage, as a core component of Somali culture and society, is in crisis. Using narrative and discourse analysis, the thesis observes a gendered difference in approach to this perceived crisis. It shows how female participants dynamically rework their identities as culture-bearers by using religion to upstage and disqualify many cultural practices, reworking normative religious practice in the process. For male participants, the predominant points of reference through which they sought to forge their masculinity were those which resonated with idealized cultural norms in both Somalia/land and the UK. The thesis seeks to capture and describe the group-specific narratives which regulate and reproduce gendered cultural identities following migration, as well as identify broader dominant discourses which are used to sustain, justify and reproduce gendered identities.

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